Henry Tully

Henry Tully

Block 6 Stromlo District

Henry Tully was born in Sydney on the 14th September 1888. He grew up at Duntroon where his father was the station manager in the 1890s and later on, The Springs near Captains Flat, NSW.

Enlisting on the 6th August 1915, Tully served with the 12th Light Horse Regiment in Egypt, Sinai and Palestine from the end of 1915. Tully was part of the charge of the Light Horse at Beersheba on 31st October 1917 where he was wounded in the thigh. After recovering, he fought with the Light Horse as they advanced across the plains of Palestine and entered Damascus in October 1918. Shortly after that Tully succumbed to malaria and ultimately returned to Australia in July 1919 suffering another bout of the disease.

After the war, Tully, a wool classer by trade, resumed working in the shearing sheds of outback New South Wales. On the 7th November 1925, he submitted an application for land in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) listing eight blocks in the Stromlo and Kambah sub-divisions. He was successful in getting his third choice, Stromlo Block 6. He apologised in a letter written from Carwoola near Bungendore, NSW for being unable to attend the Land Board hearing dealing with his application because he was working in the shearing shed there. He emphasised that he wanted to settle down and live on the land. By this time, Tully had unsuccessfully applied on three occasions for land, despite having £500 in cash and could raise £500 more. Tully's lease over the 1122 acre (454 hectare) Stromlo Block 6 commenced on the 1st January 1926 for ten years at an annual rent of £323/8/9 plus a survey fee of £28.

Plan of Stromlo Block 6

Plan of Stromlo Block 6. Click on plan for larger view.

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Stromlo Block 6 had previously been known as Walker's Paddock when it was part of the Yarralumla estate. It lay between the Murrumbidgee River and Uriarra Road, extending about five kilometres southwards from Uriarra Crossing. The paddock was named after Thomas Walker, a one-time partner of Terence Aubrey Murray of Yarralumla, who was a large land holder in early Canberra. Several former Yarralumla blocks were advertised for lease in 1914, with Stromlo Block 6 for ten years from 1st October 1914. During that period it passed through five owners before Tully successfully applied for it.

Google Maps image of area c2013 with Stromlo Block 6 boundary in red

Google Maps image of area c2013 with Stromlo Block 6 boundary in red.

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Careful attention was drawn to the residency requirement in the lease. At first Tully lived nearby with Aubrey Blewitt at The Rivers and it took him until 1928 to complete his house on Stromlo Block 6. He received a loan of £102 to build the house on the 23rd June 1927, repaying it in August 1930. The house was described as consisting of two rooms and verandah, built on wooden blocks with galvanised iron tank and brick chimney. The external walls were covered with Baltic weatherboards and internally lined with half inch Baltic pine. The building's condition was described as "fair but poorly finished." Tully appears to have never lived in the house.

Buildings on Stromlo Block 6

Drawings of buildings on Stromlo Block 6. Click on image for larger view.

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After a complaint from the Federal Capital Commission (FCC) in early 1926 about overstocking the land, Tully responded that he had 2500 sheep on the block because it was "carrying a very heavy coat of grass." He realised that he couldn't stock at that level all year round and that the normal capacity would be about 1200 to 1400 sheep. He also furnished proof of purchase dated the 18 January 1926 from W.R. Hyles of Woodland near Bungendore for 2500 merino wethers at 17/6 per head. The purchase terms were for half cash paid on the 16 July 1926 and the balance when the wool was received into store.

This immediately raised the suspicions of Lands Inspector James Brackenreg. The Hyles family already had arrangements with several Territory lessees to graze sheep and Brackenreg suspected that Tully was "dummying" on their behalf. An inspection of the sheep revealed they bore the Hyles brand but by August those remaining on the property had been branded with Tully's 'TU' brand.

Tully house plan

Hand drawn house floorplan by Henry Tully.

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For most of his tenure of the block, Tully was an absentee leaseholder preferring the life in the shearing sheds of New South Wales. In March 1928, he applied to transfer Stromlo Block 6 to his brother Andrew Tully so that he could devote the whole of his time to wool classing, which was his main income. With the onset of the Depression and the fall in wool prices, Tully was soon in arrears in rent for £161/4/4. He reckoned that the value of the wool from 1400 sheep was almost equal to one year's rent plus the cost of shearing. He believed that the carrying capacity of the block was no more than 1100 sheep in the prevailing drought conditions.

Despite a reduction in rent to £309/7/6 in June 1930, Tully owed almost £300 to the Commonwealth and applied to transfer the block to local grazier, Thomas Corkhill. This became part of a scheme to redesign Stromlo Blocks 6, 7 and 8 into two larger blocks as all three lessees had applied to transfer them to the Corkhill brothers, Thomas and Robert. Brackenreg had high regard for the Corkhill brothers and noted, "as for the existing lessees, they will not be a loss to the Territory." The transfer from Tully to Corkhill was registered on the 14th October 1930 for £1175 including an estimate of the value of improvements (the house and a water tank) of £250. The Corkhills transferred the then larger Stromlo Block 6 (now 1751 acres - 708 hectares) to Clive Milson two years later.

Tully married in 1932 and continued to work in the wool industry. On several occasions, he requested copies of his discharge papers from the war as returned servicemen had priority for employment. He wrote that "travelling around different woolsheds they were probably destroyed." Henry Tully died in Sydney in February 1978.


  • ArchivesACT: Government Property & Tenancy Registers - Stromlo Block 6 (PDF Icon PDF 796Kb)
  • ArchivesACT: Rate Book : Territory for the Seat of Government - 1927 (PDF Icon PDF 17.8Mb) - 1928 (PDF Icon PDF 18.7Mb) - 1929 (PDF Icon PDF 8.88Mb)
  • ArchivesACT: TL151 - Block 6 District of Stromlo - C.H. Wilson
  • ArchivesACT: TL902 - Block 6 Stromlo - R.G. Gale
  • ArchivesACT: TL7822 - Block 6 Stromlo District - Advance on Building - Henry Tully
  • NAA: (A361) DSG23/2432 - Block 6 Stromlo – Kelly Bros.
  • NAA: (B2455) First Australian Imperial Force Personnel Dossiers, 1914-1920: http://discoveringanzacs.naa.gov.au/browse/person/366553
  • Captain Edmund Harrison Cliffe and the Craven Estate by Patricia Frei, Canberra History News (CDHS Newsletter), June 2009
  • ACT Memorial - Tully, Henry: http://www.memorial.act.gov.au/person.php?id=3403

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