Frank William Gifford
Blocks 27A, 32 & 39 Woden District - Property Name: 'Yarra Glen'
Frank William Gifford was born in Braidwood, NSW in 1888 to Joseph and Paulina Gifford. He was 26 years old when he enlisted in the AIF on the 11th September 1914, a few weeks after the start of World War 1. He was a motor mechanic and driver with the rank of Lance Corporal and was attached to the 17 Divisional Ammunition Park of the Army Service Corps. His unit was one of the few from Australia sent to the Western Front rather than Egypt. Gifford landed in France days before Christmas 1914 as a motor transport driver.
In June 1917, The Braidwood Review and District Advocate published part of a letter Gifford had sent to his mother. Recovering from illness in England the paper reported "He spent his leave with some friends in the south of England on a farm. He said it was grand to be back on a farm again, even if it was in a strange land." Gifford also shared his optimism that the war would soon be over writing:
"Although I have come to regard England as my home through being away so long, I can assure you I won't lose any time here after the war is over, providing there are some means of getting home. I don't really think we will be away any longer than another year. I think the war has a good chance of finishing this year. I hope so, anyway."
Gifford was then sent to an officer training school in England. After graduating as a 2nd Lieutenant, he joined the 34th Battalion in July 1917 as the fighting ended near Messines in Belgium. Later that year his unit fought at Passchendaele and then in April 1918 they stopped the German advance at Villers-Bretonneux. Gifford was evacuated with sciatica shortly afterwards and returned to Australia on 12th December 1918 with the rank of Lieutenant.
Woden Blocks 32 & 39
After the War, Gifford went onto the land at Bombay near Braidwood. In 1920, he applied for a Soldier Settlement block in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). In November that year, he was successful in getting a five year lease on the 779 acre (315 hectare) Woden Block 32, beginning on the 10th November 1920 at an annual rental of £181/15/4.
In 1922, he secured the lease for the adjacent 825 acre (334 hectare) Woden Block 39 on a short term lease, commencing the 1st October 1922 until the 9th November 1925. By March 1923, Gifford had fallen behind in his rental payments. He owed £150 on both of his Woden blocks, plus a small block at Mill Flat near current day Fyshwick. Gifford worked the land as a sheep grazing property although he had about 100 acres under cultivation.
Plan of Woden Blocks 32 (779 ac) and 39 (825 ac) in blue with the proposed Woden Block 27 in red.
Woden Block 27A
In August 1925, the Federal Capital Commission (FCC) proposed that Woden Blocks 32 and 39 be merged to become the smaller 1200 acre (486 hectare) Woden Block 27. In January 1926, a new 10 year lease was offered to Gifford which he accepted. The block had been slightly reduced in area to 1125 acres (455 hectares) becoming Woden Block 27A in the process. By this time, Gifford was married and living on the property which he called Yarra Glen, named after his wife Eleanor's home town in Victoria.
Plan of Woden Block 27A 1926. Click on plan for larger view.
Plan of Woden Block 27A showing cemetery road. Click on plan for larger view.
Google Maps image of area c2013 with Woden Block 27A boundary in red.
The northern boundary of Woden Block 27A ran adjacent to Uriarra Road and the Yarralumla Brickworks railway. At that time Uriarra Road ran from Queanbeyan through the fledgling Canberra and on to Uriarra Crossing. Both end sections of this road still remain with the central portion lost to suburban Canberra.
In 1926, the FCC requested access to Gifford's property to dispose of the "night soil" collection. The Chief Engineer and the Superintendent for Parks and Gardens had approved the use of an area called Clianthus Circle for this purpose. Gifford was also expected to allow alteration to his blocks fencing to accommodate this activity.
Federal Capital Commission Memo dated 4th September 1926.
Due to the block's close proximity to the Yarralumla Brickworks and the developing Canberra, Gifford received frequent requests from the FCC for workmen to enter his property. In June 1926, workmen employed in the construction of the water mains pipeline from Cotter Dam left gates to Woden Block 27A open. This resulted in some of Gifford's livestock wandering off. In a letter to the Commissioner of Lands dated the 8th June 1926, Gifford wrote "I have already lost one draft horse & lost one day of my time in looking for same without result."
Letter from Gifford to Commissioner of Lands dated 8th June 1928.
Gifford only remained on Woden Block 27A for another two years before he transferred the lease to George Blomfield Campbell of Springville, Euchareena, NSW. In 1928, Frank and Eleanor Gifford were leasing and working Block 3 in Hall District known as Horse Park.
Frank Gifford died on the 24th November 1953. The following death notice was published in the next days Sydney Morning Herald:
"GIFFORD Frank William. November 24, 1953, suddenly, at his residence, 93 Lakeside Parade, The Entrance, dearly loved husband of Eleanor, and loved father of June (Mrs. Roach U.S.A.), and Richard (U.S.A.), aged 65 years. At rest."
- ArchivesACT: Government Property & Tenancy Registers - Woden Block 27A ( PDF 1.49Mb)
- ArchivesACT: Rate Book : Territory for the Seat of Government - 1927 ( PDF 17.8Mb) - 1928 ( PDF 18.7Mb)
- ArchivesACT: TL918 (Part 1) - Block 27A Woden - G.B. Campbell
- ArchivesACT: TL918 (Part 2) - Block 27A Woden and 37 Canberra City - G.B. Campbell
- NAA: (A361) DSG23/1085 Block 32 Woden FW Gifford leasing matters
- NAA: (A361) DSG23/359 Block 39 Woden FW Gifford
- NAA: (B2455) First Australian Imperial Force Personnel Dossiers, 1914-1920: http://discoveringanzacs.naa.gov.au/browse/person/203840
- Nan Campbell – Yarra Glen, transcript from the ‘Garden of Memories’ section of the Brindabella News (Brindabella Gardens, Curtin)
- Soldier’s Letter - The Braidwood Review and District Advocate, 5th June 1917, p.2: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119238096
- Welcome Home - The Braidwood Review and District Advocate, 4th March 1919, p.4: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119237939
- Family Notices - The Sydney Morning Herald, 25th November 1953, p.34: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18397895