This is the site of the ‘Toll Dale’ property, established as a farm in the 1850s by Richard Shumack and his wife Margaret.
The Toll Dale farmhouse stood where the O’Connor tennis courts are now located. The original homestead was a slab hut built by Richard when he was 20 years of age.
This area is located on a tributary of Sullivans Creek flowing into the Creek further south near Turner Primary School. It is reported that the farm dam was located where today’s Banksia Street wetlands were developed.
Richard was the son of John and Margaret Shumack who had migrated from Ireland in 1841 for better opportunities in Australia. They had been employed at Klensendorlffe’s farm on the Molonglo River and were the first tenant farmers of the Glebe Farm on the western boundary of Duntroon.
Richard’s brothers and uncle also bought land in the area:
- Peter Shumack Jnr and his wife Elizabeth owned Fern Hill, to the north of Toll Dale;
- Joseph Shumack and his wife Bridget owned the Canberra Inn, to the north of Fern Hill;
- Peter and Joseph’s uncle, Peter Snr and his wife Mary, owned Hawthorne Cottage near the Tennis Courts at North Lyneham.
The Banksia Street Wetland was developed in 2010 as part of a network of new and naturalised wetlands developed in the Sullivan’s Creek catchment in Canberra’s inner north. The others are at David St in O’Connor, Hawdon Street in Dickson and Goodwin Street in Lyneham. The wetland filters stormwater of nutrients and sediment and provides habitat for many birds and aquatic species of plants and animals (see Images 3-6). Local community members hold monthly working bees to assist the ACT Government to maintain the wetlands – check their facebook page if you’d like to get involved.