Aubrey Blewitt

Elvin Joseph Aubrey Blewitt

Block 41 Woden & Block 13 Stromlo District

Elvin Joseph Aubrey Blewitt was born in 1895 at Tuggeranong. His parents, Joseph and Bridget Blewitt, owned The Farm at Royalla, NSW, part of which became the site of the Royalla Solar Farm in 2013. Aubrey Blewitt enlisted on the 25th April 1916 and arrived a year later in France as a reinforcement for the 35th Battalion. He was wounded twice, the first by mustard gas during the Battle of Messines in Belgium in June 1917 and the second time in August 1918 near Bray-sur-Somme in France where he was shot in the hand. He returned to Australia in October 1918 with what was described as a "kidney tumour."

Woden Block 41

In 1920, Blewitt successfully applied for the Soldier Settlement Woden Block 41. The block was 645 acres (261 hectares) of land in modern-day Weston Creek and fronted what was then known as Uriarra Road. It included portions 4, 15, 20 and part of portion 14 in the Parish of Narrabundah (the part south of Uriarra Road). Blewitt's lease commenced on the 10th November 1920 at a rental of £147/16/3 per annum on a quarterly basis but during the next few years more than 70 acres (28 hectares) were withdrawn from the lease for Commonwealth purposes. Blewitt married Evelyn Grady of Tuggeranong the following year.

Google Maps image of area c2014 with Woden Block 41 boundary in red

Google Maps image of area c2014 with Woden Block 41 boundary in red.

In November 1925, Blewitt applied for another block of land as the Commonwealth resumed Woden Block 41 and absorbed it into Woden Block 24. He described himself as a widower with a three year old child (Evelyn Blewitt dying in 1924), twice wounded in the war and still incapacitated having only recently returned from Randwick Hospital. He had 1500 sheep, 600 lambs, two draught horses, 15 rams, 16 cattle, a spring cart and shearing machine harness, all unencumbered. He had owned his own sheep for five years and intended to reside on whatever block he was assigned, build a woolshed and sow lucerne.

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Stromlo Block 13 - Property Name: 'The Rivers'

Blewitt was allocated the lease for Stromlo Block 13 he called The Rivers, from 1st January 1926 to 31st December 1935. The block was 1120 acres (453 hectares) and went from the corner of Uriarra Road and Coppins Crossing Road northward to the Molonglo River, an area now incorporated into the new suburb of Denman Prospect. He was also granted grazing rights over 105 acres (42 hectares) fronting the Molonglo River. His brother-in-law, James Grady, held the lease for Belconnen Block 39 on the other side of the river opposite Stromlo Block 13.

Plan of Stromlo Block 13

Plan of Stromlo Block 13 1926 - Click on plan for larger view.

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From the time he leased Woden Block 41, Blewitt was regularly late with rent payments and admonished for his lack of action in controlling rabbits and weeds. Despite being in arrears on Stromlo Block 13 by almost £1000 in 1933, Blewitt was offered an extension of his lease for 25 years. He was dissatisfied with the terms, complaining that although Stromlo Block 13 was larger in area than his previous lease on Woden Block 41, it could only support half the number of sheep. He had 1000 sheep on Stromlo Block 13 but, he argued, because the existing rent was too high he had been forced to overstock.

Google Maps image of area c2013 with Stromlo Block 13 boundary in red

Google Maps image of area c2013 with Stromlo Block 13 boundary in red.

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After the death of his first wife, Blewitt married his sister-in-law Mary Grady in 1927. In 1931, Mary and her brother James proposed that she buy his Belconnen Block 39 but James Brackenreg (the Chief Lands Officer) recommended against it. He feared she would find herself in the same sort of financial position as her husband and suggested that both blocks be conjointly held by the Blewitts so that "we would have one good block and could remove from our lease roll Block 39, another lease which is considerably less in acreage than a Home Maintenance area."

Blewitt travelled to Sydney for regular medical treatment for his war injuries and spent much of 1940 in hospital. In 1946, about 412 acres (167 hectares) was excised from his block for a pine plantation. This became Stromlo Block 45 and generally was referred to as Blewitts Pines (and sometimes, Bluetts Pines).

Aubrey Blewitt farmed at The Rivers until his death on the 29th May 1961 after which Mary continued to work the property until her death on the 2nd September 1975.


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