Frederick Shoobert

Frederick Wilde Alport Shoobert

Block 105D Gungahlin District & Block 16 Belconnen District - Property Name: 'Etaples'

Frederick Wilde Alport Shoobert was born on the 28th December 1873 in Balmain, Sydney. He worked as a groom at the Royal Military College, Duntroon from April 1915 until he enlisted on the 28th March 1916 in Sydney. He was accepted despite missing part of his big toe and lying about his age. He claimed to be forty but was in fact 42 years old. Shoobert served on the front line in France from February to May 1917 with the 56th Battalion (part of the 5th Division of the AIF). He was then hospitalised with haemorrhoids and piles and returned to Australia in August 1917. Shoobert resumed working at Duntroon after his discharge.

Gungahlin Block 105D

In 1920, Shoobert obtained a lease on Soldier Settlement Gungahlin Block 105D of 227 acres (92 hectares) that covered the Beltana Road area in Pialligo. Shoobert held this lease until 1926. After applications from butchers operating at the nearby abattoirs, the Federal Capital Commission (FCC) cancelled the leases for Gungahlin Blocks 105, 105A and 105D in Pialligo. These blocks would be used as stock resting paddocks.

Google Maps image of area c2014 with Gungahlin Block 105D boundary in red.

Google Maps image of area c2014 with Gungahlin Block 105D boundary in red.

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Belconnen Block 16

In February 1923, Shoobert applied for another Soldier Settlement lease and got his second choice, Belconnen Block 16. The block was 650 acres (263 hectares) in size and extended from Ginninderra Creek in the north to the Weetangerra Road in the south. It covered what is now the south western part of Latham, part of Holt near Kippax and much of Higgins.

Shoobert had £150 cash as well as 500 sheep and six horses. He owed £166 for a repatriation advance and stated in his application that he had worked as a sheep farmer for eight years on the Monaro and three years on his holding at Pialligo. He also had the promise of a £300 loan from his father-in-law, Joseph Oldfield from Queanbeyan. Shoobert's 25 year lease on Belconnen Block 16 began on the 14th June 1923 at an annual rental of £144/19/2.

Plan of Belconnen Block 16

Plan of Belconnen Block 16. Click on plan for larger view.

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Given that Shoobert already held Soldier Settlement Gungahlin Block 105D was highly unusual. This drew a query from Lands Inspector, James Brackenreg. Brackenreg believed that Shoobert now had two "living areas" and because Gungahlin Block 105D was rich agricultural land, it should be made available for vegetable gardens and pig farming. Also, it was discovered that Shoobert's brother-in-law, Ernest Oldfield, was working the land. Shoobert's lease of Gungahlin Block 105D was terminated in 1926.

Google Maps image of area c2013 with Belconnen Block 16 boundary in red

Google Maps image of area c2013 with Belconnen Block 16 boundary in red.

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Belconnen Block 16 already had a cottage on it. Shortly after moving there with his family, Shoobert was referring to it as Etaples, the name of the town in France where the 5th Division of the AIF had their base depot during the war.

By 1929, Shoobert was already in arrears on his rent to the tune of £371/13/11, including £115/7/10 for noxious weed destruction by the Federal Capital Commission (FCC). As the Depression worsened, so did his financial plight and by August 1934 his debt was £457/3/5. Over the previous three years different members of his family had been in the Canberra Community Hospital and he himself had been a patient there for 46 weeks. He also lost heavily in a firewood supply partnership.

In response to the threat of legal action in 1933, Shoobert wrote to the Crown Solicitor:

"Please do not think I meant to be rude to you. I simply have not a penny and indeed find it very hard to get enough food for my children. I have had only one eye for some time, a fly stung me and I am in a bad way and in fact I have a job to write this scrawl to you. I am to be x-rayed on Friday and operated on on Monday by Dr. James and Dr. Nott for internal trouble."

In September 1934, Shoobert came to an agreement with Austin Shepherd who held Belconnen Block 14. The lease was transferred to Shepherd for £2200, which included improvements valued at £1650 and sheep worth £550.

A later inspection of the property by a government architect stated that the block:

"Comprises a very old cottage in a very dilapidated condition and in my opinion is not fit for human habitation. All parts are in an advanced state of decay – floors are rough, open and broken, walls filthy, iron fireplaces falling down and windows and doors are in pieces."

Shoobert died on the 30th January 1945 and is buried in Woden Cemetery.


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