Fremantle Stuff > Early Days: Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Western Australian Historical Society

Early Days: Volume 6, 1962-1969

The Story of Alfred and Ellen Bussell:
Pioneers of the Margaret River

I. D. Heppingstone

Heppingstone, I. D. 1964, 'The Story of Alfred and Ellen Bussell: Pioneers of the Margaret River', Early Days, vol. 6, part 3: 33-45.

Alfred Bussell came to the Swan River Colony in the Warrior in 1829, a youth of 16 who had been educated at Winchester and by his eldest brother John, the head of the family and a classical scholar of Oxford. With his brothers he went to Augusta to help found the ill-fated settlement there. He seems to have enjoyed the pioneering life there, as he wrote to an uncle in England in 1832:

“My dear Uncle,
From the various hints I have been able to gather from our letters I perceive that you consider yourself too old for this part of the world. How can you take such a notion? We have in our country men much older and not so able-bodied as yourself. Uncle you are the very man for it, if you would but think so, completely I can fancy you up first in the morning rousing your men to work. ‘Bring your handspikes, here root out these trees, set the fire going, it went out last night. John, did you fold the sheep on the sandy bank? Yes—then yoke the oxen, we will plough it up before breakfast and get it in with barley.' But joking apart I strongly recommend you to come out. It is the very thing you would like. You are fond of fishing; our river abounds in fish; you are fond of gardening—here is abundance of land. Do you wish to keep cattle? There are your stock. You will have the pleasure of seeing a wild waste turn into a garden. Your com thriving, your fowls producing the desired increases. For Augusta is the very place—we have forty acres fenced and five in cultivation. This place certainly flourishes. Augusta bids fair to be one of the cities of Australia.”

By 1835 Alfred was somewhat disillusioned. He wrote to sister Bessie:
"My imagination is replete with destruction, sale of houses, land, horses, cows—separation; misery. We are eaten up with disorganisation. The Governor will not aid us.”

His youthful exuberance reasserting itself, he continues:

“After all this is all humbug. We are most thriving, though the most infant part of the colony. Look at our gardens, our cows, our horses. They are pretty things, they will increase I am sure they will.”

According to the Government Gazette of 1850 he held 1800 acres Pastoral and Agricultural lease in partnership with Dawson


and Ker on the south side of "Fairlawn.” He also had a block at the Broadwater where he lived. However, he still made trips overland to Augusta. Writing afterwards to The West Australian he says:

"I was employed by the Government after I ceased to reside at Augusta to transport provisions across country to Geographe Bay on pack saddle for the use of soldiers who were quartered there to protect people of the Vasse from the attack of natives, on condition that the settlers kept up their supplies from the depot (Augusta). I gave my promise to Captain Beete of the 21st always to superintend the transport which I always did. I made periodical visits once a month."

It is evident therefore that Alfred knew the country between the Vasse and Augusta very well.

In March 1851 the inhabitants of the Vasse petitioned the Governor, drawing attention to the outrages on property and stock perpetrated by the natives. In that year Alfred sent the following letter to the Colonial Secretary:

“I have the honor to request that you forward to His Excellency, the Governor, this, my application for the post of Police Constable in the Sussex district vacant by the removal of Police Constable Scott.
I should be obliged also by you informing His Excellency that I have for many years made the habits and language of the natives my study and that I have perfect assurance of my ability to perform satisfactorily the duties of the office.
I have the honor to be,
Your Humble Servant,

Alfred did not receive the appointment. Constables Clifton and Hester were sent over from Leschenault.

Alfred’s knowledge of native dialects enabled him later to record for posterity the legends of the tribes who lived at Margaret River.

In 1850 the population of Sussex was 303 whites, most of whom lived at the Vasse and at Wonnerup. But in 1854 Yelverton opened his saw mill at Quindalup and Robert Heppingstone had a bay whaling establishment at Castle Rock. Busselton was a sleepy hamlet enlivened by visits from American whalers with whom the local farmers were able to trade their farm produce for “Yankee notions” and for rum and tobacco, on some of which no duty was paid. It was also possible to make some money by hiring riding hacks to Yankee sailors who dearly loved to have horseback gallops while ashore.

The local correspondent of the Inquirer wrote on 17th April, 1850:


"The news by the Express was to the effect that Earl Grey had decided on making West Australia a penal settlement.

It was expected that the Colony would have the advantage of an increased Government expenditure. A market would be opened to the sheep farmer and the corn grower for the disposal of their mutton and wheat and labour will necessarily become cheaper and in consequence much land that has hitherto been allowed to lie waste on account of exorbitant rates of wages will be brought under cultivation. Also there will be an active demand for Colonial Produce and Manufactures.”

In the same year Alfred married Ellen, the sixteen-years-old daughter of Robert and Ann Heppingstone. Her father had come to Australia in the entourage of Captain Molloy but soon afterwards was given a block of land of his own at Augusta. Of him, Captain Molloy had written in his diary:

"One of my men, Robert Heppingstone, a very good honest man, I have placed in a town allotment and he has so far prospered since he left me that he has been enabled to lay in an ample stock of provisions for six months.”

Ellen was born at Augusta in 1834, and in the following year her father was drowned while fishing. Ann suffered a further blow. Captain Molloy reported on 22nd March, 1840:

“I have to report the destruction of a house belonging to the widow of the late Robert Heppingstone. The whole of the wheat (about 10 bushels) the family had to subsist on was consumed.”

Soon afterwards Ann married Sam Bryan and the family moved to the New River at the Vasse where Ellen was brought up. The marriage evidently did not please the Bussells as is shown in a letter written by John Garret to a friend: “Alfred has formed a connection beneath him in rank but his wife is a good amiable woman.” Archdeacon Wollaston evidently also thought that Alfred had let the side down as he records in his diary on 17th March, 1851: "Made a few calls and rested. Saw Alfred B. and his wife, the latter spoilt by her elevation.” However, the reverend gentleman’s comments on the Bussells and their establishment were, in the main, far from flattering.

After they had lived at the Broadwater for four or five years and had become the parents of two children. Ellen, a very practical young woman, became very dissatisfied with their prospects at the Vasse and decided that they must seek fresh pastures. On being asked by Alfred "But where will we go?” she said, "Anywhere, as long as we get out of this place.” They decided to go southwards. The exact date is not known but it was probably in 1855. The trip was made by six-team bullock wagon with canvas awning. The forty-


mile trip took severul days and the party consisted of Alfred, Ellen and two children, a man named Kelly and a native guide. After the second night Kelly said he could not stand the solitude of the bush and said he was going back. “Well, go!” said Alfred, “and henceforth this spot shall be known as Kelly's Farewell." For the rest of the journey then they were short handed; the faithful native drove, leaving Alfred to cut the track. At last one evening they came to a beautiful brook running through a short fertile valley to the sea. “We will stay here," said Ellen. Alfred named it Ellen’s Brook.

As there was a light rain falling, bark was spread over the wooden bed and they slept under it, their first home in the Margaret River district. Shelters for provisions and stores were made of jarrah bark, blackboy rushes, spearwood and paper bark.

Alfred was able to enlist the help of natives in the clearing of the fertile little valley of blackboys and peppermint gums, and soon crops of potatoes and other vegetables were grown, besides wheat and barley for grain, and oats for the stock. The cattle herds gradually increased and a dairy was established, but the going was not easy. Ellen wrote about this time:

“I have made a quilt for the children’s bed of paper bark. It is very warm but I do not know if it will last long.”

Ellen and Alfred chose a site for their home close to the stream, their sole supply of water, and only eight chains from the sea. Granite was used as a foundation for walls of wattle and daub, while jarrah slats formed the flooring. The rafters were also of jarrah. Limestone was burnt for plastering the walls. The roof was a masterpiece of native craft; paper bark was gathered from the banks of the Margaret River several miles distant and laid over the entire gable and battened down.

It is recorded in the Government Gazette of June 1858 that A. P. Bussell had been granted 20,000 acres Pastoral and Tillage lease at the Margaret River. In July 1860 he had taken up an additional 5,000 acres.

One of the servants at Ellensbrook was Adams, who had deserted the ship Eagle to escape the hardships and brutalities of life on board a whaler. Making his way to Ellensbrook, he stayed there for several years. It is said that to escape the troopers searching for deserters he hid in the boughs and among the creepers of the peppermint gums which on that coast lie almost horizontal as a result of the prevailing winds. It is also said that Alfred wrote a message with charcoal on a piece of bark and sent it by black boy to Ellen a jump ahead of the troopers, warning her of their coming. Adams afterwards purchased “Maryvale" and became a successful and highly respected farmer. Another who stayed to work at Ellensbrook and Wallcliff was the native Sam Isaacs who arrived as a curly-


haired little boy saying that he had lost his pigs. These he had been droving from Augusta to Busselton for Colonel Molloy. He was taken in and so liked the Bussells that he stayed on.

Another deserting sailor to find a haven at Ellensbrook was John Wragge. In 1857 Alfred was away at the Vasse and had left his wife and little daughters alone at Ellensbrook when one evening a ragged, unkempt object came to the house saying he meant no harm but was starving. The man, John Wragge, was weak and ill. Stifling her fears, Ellen fed him and provided him with a bed. He remained with the Bussells for some months, and eventually returned to England.

Some twenty years later the following letter reached Alfred:

“Mr. Bussell,
As I must have long since nearly passed out of your remembrance you will no doubt be surprised to receive any communication from me at all. And most likely my name has been entirely forgotten to you, a slight explanation will be necessary as the circumstances of our acquaintance occurred 21 years ago.

In the month of March 1857 I ran away from the American whaler Morea and after wandering about in the bush for nine days I was providentially brought to the place where you were just forming a station. The remainder of the circumstances you will no doubt be able to call to mind but I shall never forget how I arrived at that lonely bush station just at sundown, broken down and exhausted for want of food; finding Mrs. Bussell and her baby the only white persons present, you yourself having gone to the Vasse. I shall never forget my feelings when after having fed me and made me as comfortable as circumstances would permit, having caused a bed to be made under a peppermint tree, and her work for the night being finished Mrs. Bussell sat down in front of the only building on the place (a bark hut) and began to sing her infant to sleep (the tones of that voice are singing in my ears now—even at this distant period of time) and as she sang first one and then another verse chiefly from Watts hymns I was strongly reminded of my own home and dear mother far away, for hard and wicked as my heart was I had a good pious mother who tried to instil into my mind seeds of early piety. Weak and ill as I then was, it soothed and in some measure comforted me. At length as though the solitary scene had brought other thoughts into her mind she paused and after a few seconds she began singing very plaintively ‘Home Sweet Home.' It fairly broke me down and I cried and sobbed myself to sleep. Many and many a time since have I thought and spoken of that night. It will never be erased from my memory.

You will remember that I stayed with you until the commencement of the whaling season when I left to go to the Rock


Fishery, after which I stayed ut Mrs. Bryant’s when she came town with Mrs. Mason until the following February when I left in the Cherokee. You may or may not remember the morning I went aboard the Cherokee you were down at the "Tub,” und I promised to write and let you know what became of me. That promise I have never fulfilled until now and If you ever thought anything about the matter at all, most likely thought upon me as some ungrateful fellow who having once got away from those who befriended him in time of need never thought any more about them. But, Sir, that is not the case. I have ever remembered and ever shall remember with feelings of the most lively gratitude the kindness of Mrs B. und yourself.

I have often thought of writing to you and my mother has urged me to do so but I always felt that I could never acknowledge your kindness in such manner as I should like.

You will say, ‘Well, and after such a long silence what has induced you to write now?’ Well, Sir, a tardy acknowledgment is better than none. In the first place I write to express my gratitude to you for the kindness I received from yourself and excellent lady, and in the second place to congratulate you on the fact of having a daughter whose bravery and humanity is a theme of prafse throughout the world. It was only the other day I became acquainted with the circumstances by having a copy of the Christian Herald of 13th February put into my hand. The portrait on the front page was that of Miss Grace Vernon Bussell, the Australian Grace Darling. You may guess with what feelings I read the account and with what force the circumstances of my acquaintance with your family was brought to my mind and how I wondered which of your daughters it was, for their Christian names have become so mixed together with me that I cannot remember which is the eldest and which was the baby when I arrived at your place. But before I come to the end of the narrative I was deeply grieved to read of the bereavement you have sustained in the loss of Mrs. Bussell, a loss in which anyone who ever knew her will deeply sympathise, for a kinder more noble-hearted woman never lived as I shall always have cause to remember. But she has gone to her reward and though we shall see her no more on earth we may all meet in the country where though one’s deeds will be remembered against us no more for ever, not one good or generous action will be lost sight of. Though it was my lot only to be acquainted with Mrs. Bussell for a few short months I am convinced that she was in every sense of the word a Christian and this thought, my dear Sir, should help to sustain yourself and family in your calamity. Not dead but gone before.
Now Sir, I must bring this to a close. I do not know


whether you will Ihink it worth while to reply, but if you should do so, I should esteem it a great favour and feel in it a renewal of an acquaintance of which has been to me a source of great pleasure and gratitude. The greatest regret I have at this time is that I did not acknowledge your kindness before Mrs. Bussell’s death. I must close now with best regards for yourself and the young ladies.

I remain, yours truly,

JOHN WRAGG. Sheffield.”

Ellen played the piano and had a beautiful singing voice and it is said that she could have been successful on the concert platform if she had had the opportunity.

At Ellensbrook, relations with the natives appear to have been very good and there is no record of any serious trouble. In a letter to brother John in 1857 Alfred wrote of the natives:

"I can but not name that their grief was manifested in a wonderful manner; they sat beside and encircled the bereaved mother as she lent upon the fence, the tears rolling down their black faces. They sat a while in this way and then passed off in silence with heads down; it was very remarkable. Why did they feel or seem to feel for an infant's death in a white man’s home?”

In the same letter he describes a three-week trip to the Donnelly with his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Ker and young William Bryan:

I have made up my mind on starting from Ellensbrook to find, if possible, a nearer road to my Donnelly runs, and have actually shortened the distance by thirty miles. I always thought that the Blackwood might be crossed at the head of the navigation and have proved it now by the passage of five horses, two of them guided by feminine riders ..."

He ends the letter:

". . . after we had laid in fresh supplies at Bunbury's Station we kept moving steadily along nearly parallel with the coast. I wished to see the coast runs that people had begun to occupy. They are nothing like mine. We crossed the Blackwood and reached Ellensbrook the third day from the Donnelly.

The maaster’s cummen whome,' shouted a loud voice from a potato patch. ‘Where? Where?' and there was a pattering of small feet and a shriek of small voices, and there was Mrs. Deykin's little boy and my own five girls and there was a dismounting and a kissing and an ungirthing and a blowing of noses from the jaded among horses and among men”

By 1860 Alfred’s runs extended from Cowanup to the Donnelly River, which necessitated the erection of miles of post and rail


fences. Additions were made to the house and outbuildings. The dairy was built on a bridge over the stream where running water kept it cool.

Once during 1860 when the couple were the parents of five daughters, Fanny, Edie, Bessie, Charlotte and Grace, Alfred was away for a few days on the run. A wandering tribe of natives was camped at Meekadorriby, a waterfall near the homestead, and knowing that they found it hard to resist potatoes for roasting, Ellen went to the field to see if all was well, only to find the lubras busy scooping up the tubers with their wommas (digging sticks). They decamped in such a hurry that a baby girl was left behind. None of the native women would claim the child which was left at the homestead when the tribe departed. The little one was named Nilgee and became the pet of the family. She received the same education as the other children until she was twelve, when she returned or was taken back by the tribe. Until her death she retained the cultured intonation of her early teaching and always spoke in perfect English. She spent most of her declining years at Guildford always claiming "to belong to the Bussells.”

Like Topsy, Ellensbrook homestead just growed without much planning. To meet the needs of a growing family and to have more land suitable for cultivation a new home and a new site was needed. Besides, Ellen, distressed by the loss of an infant son Jasper, felt the need for a change of scene, saying, "Pigs and boys die at Ellensbrook." A position at the mouth of the Margaret River was chosen as the site for the new home. The natives called the place Wainewlynup, the place where the old man died, but the new settlers called it Wallcliff because of the walls of limestone rising from the river bank.

Bussell tradition has it that the Margaret River was named in honour of Margaret Wyche, a friend in England who was expected to follow them to Australia. The native name was Woodyche, a head man of the tribe. As was usual the natives had a legend to explain the formation of the river, as they did for the formation of most natural features in "dream time" before the incarnation of man. Some of these legends have been preserved by the Bussell family.

The new home designed by Alfred was a fine, faithfully built house of thick stone walls and choice solid jarrah. In 1865 it was at last completed and the letters A.P.B. and the figures 1865 for the year carved over the main doorway. As Alfred watched the carving finished he said “At last the victory.” But the men replied, "No, Sir, at last the Hennessy.” Fine brandy to celebrate a fine effort.

In 1866 Alfred and his family were installed in their commodious new home. The daughters were growing up. Fanny was fifteen, followed by Edie, Bessie, Charlotte and Grace. School lessons had been given by Alfred, but now a tutor was installed to teach the girls to sing and play the piano as well as the usual school lessons.


As time went, Ellen's lovely daughters had such a devastating effect on susceptible local and visiting swains that Wallcliff became known ns "Castle Dangerous.”

As well as cattle raising and butter making, cheese manufacture was being undertaken at Boojidup and Booranup. There were problems of marketing, however. Alfred wrote to Ellen from Perth:

"Colonial cheese will not sell in Perth and poor de Letch has our cheese in stock, for the very servants refuse to eat it, preferring English. As to butter I have made an arrangement for butter sales to Shenton. So he said to send all our butter to him.”

On another occasion he wrote:

"I spoke to de Letch today about butter and he says he will take half a ton of it but if it is not sent soon, butter will be brought in from Adelaide.”

When in 1872 Alfred was nominated to the Legislative Council the management of the estate was left in the capable hands of Ellen, when he was in Perth for Parliamentary sessions. Ellen wrote to Alfred at this time:

"My dearest Alfred,

The doctor and Ole Coe (ticket-of-leave man) are boating today. Tell Mr. Harris that I intend sending him a keg of butter soon. I think you had better order another cask and you can pay for it in cheese. They have killed one bullock at Boranup, very, very fat and salted it down. I hope I will be able to send two or three casks to Mr. Moore by the cart. Lockhart was here asking for beef. He says if I can send two or three small animals he will drive them himself so I must try to gather them and send them over tomorrow. We are so short of hands for this kind of work. And the state of the roads is far from good. The roads are so bad they will not be able to bring very much up at a time.”

On a more domestic note she wrote:

“I should like you to get a bath tub and a galvanised boiler, both good sized, we shall want another tub for our visitors.”

Baths were taken in bedrooms, hot water being lugged up the stairs. Again she writes:

“We are getting on famously with our dairy. We are sending this time half a ton of butter made between the two dairies Wallclff and Ellensbrook. Is not that good work?”

No separators in those days. And again:

“Only think, Old Coe caught seventy salmon last evening. Did you ever hear of such a thing? They have been salted this morning and if they cure nicely you can have some. But they


will not stand the journey yet. I will send you a few dried mullet."

As Ellen had not been well Dr. Bryan was brought down from Busselton.

In another letter to Alfred she wrote:

“My dear children are up with the dawn and are busy nearly all day with one thing and another. They have all the new cows to gather themselves, Sam (Isaacs) being away. Am sending love from all.

Your wife Ellen."

During sessions of the Council Alfred was often asked to stay at Government House with the Governor and his wife and was thus able to enjoy the home life of a delightful couple. Governor Weld often addressed Alfred as “Pilgrim Father" and though he and his wife stayed at Wallcliff, Ellen was never able to visit them, always saying that there were “too many babies." As far as is known she never visited Perth.

Alfred’s pride in his wife is shown from letters written from Government House:

“I have just had my photograph taken and tried to get yours for Mrs. Weld but the negative had got spotted and I was very sorry indeed. Should you be going to Busselton let your Pride take it and do not muffle the hands up but let half the hand be seen over the back of the chair, with the thumbs turned behind it, let the other hand turn gently down, presenting the back of it, but sufficiently straightened to show your pretty nails."

And again:

“. . . the dinner and dance are over. The Governor and I retired to his office and smoked a pipe. You do not know how much he praised you and me too. He wishes he could have you at Government House but he knows it could not be on account of your numerous babies. He knows Mrs. Weld would love you because you were one of those women who were born ladies and born so by the gift of God.”

By 1876 the last four children of the marriage had been born. They were John, Fred, Violet and Mena, and Ellen’s health was causing concern to her family.

Of the social life at Busselton, Ellen wrote to Alfred:

"The ball went off beautifully and everybody enjoyed themselves thoroughly. The children danced until morning and were very much admired. Their dancing surprised all.”

In December 1876 an event occurred that brought world-wide fame to the family at Wallcliff. Sam Isaacs, the coloured stockman,


while riding along the coast saw a steamer (the Georgette) quite evidently in difficulties being deliberately beached. Sam galloped to the homestead to tell the family who were busy making Christmas puddings and cakes. Sam Isaacs, the capable and reliable stockman, often told the story of the Georgette in after years around his camp fire. He related that he and the dashing Grace galloped to the scene of the wreck where he first lit two fires, one for the men and the other for the women. Then he and Grace rode into the waves to rescue the passengers and crew. When they were out as far as the horses could keep a foot-hold he swam his horse out to the ship, bringing in passengers three at a time, one in front of the saddle, one behind and one hanging on to the tail, to the waiting Grace who took them ashore.

From there they were taken to Wallcliff where they were provided with food and shelter. There was much criticism of the Governor and his Chief Secretary. It being thought that they were very dilatory in rendering assistance to the unfortunate castaways. The Herald, always critical of the Government, wrote: “We have never had such an unfortunate administration as we have at present.”

A correspondent in the Inquirer of 14th February, 1877, wrote:

“It has always been a mystery to people in the district why His Excellency the Governor was at Bunbury at the time of the accident and did not order provisions, clothes, etc., to be sent to those saved from the wreck. Mr. Bussell is fortunately one of the good old stock whose hospitality knows no bounds. So great was the demands on Mr. Bussell's larder that he was literally cleaned out of all provisions he had or could obtain, so large a number of people billeted on him without warning. I am sure I am only expressing the general feeling throughout the district when I say in all fairness Mr. Bussell ought to be reimbursed—I suppose by the Government. It happened that the dairying season was in operation at the time and the confusion necessarily put a stop to everything for about a fortnight. The cattle in full milk had to be turned out and it is easy to guess Mr. Bussell’s great loss on this account alone, to say nothing of the actual cost of provisions supplied to the passengers and crew. In addition, during the turmoil Mr. Bussell lost his entire crop of hay attending the passengers. Lastly, Mr. Bussell has lost his wife who was probably the most highly esteemed lady in the southern districts, whose noble acts only need to be known to be appreciated. There is little doubt that although the cause of Mrs. Bussell’s death cannot be ascribed to the stranding of the Georgette it doubtless preyed heavily on her mind.”

On 16th January, 1877, Ellen died—a few months after the birth of her twelfth child—aged forty-three. She was taken to


Ellensbrook for burial beside the graves of her infant sons Jasper and Hugh. Afterwards Alfred was to write: “I must bide my time and then be carried to Peppermint Grove and join my dear Nellie.

From Government House, Hobart Town, came this letter from his old friend Frederick Weld, dated 26th June, 1877.

"My Dear Pilgrim Father,

I was sadly grieved and so was Mrs. Weld to hear of your great and irreparable loss. I thank God that you have daughters to soothe your old age.

I hope that many years are yet in store for you and though I know that in one sense they must be sad, still you have much happiness to look back on and memory has its charm as well as enjoyment. I trust it may be so with you, but I cannot say how much and how deeply Mrs. Weld and I feel for you in your great and I fear lasting sorrow. I took so much to your poor wife. She was a true and honest woman and I could not but admire and respect her. As a Catholic I may say ‘May God have mercy on her soul and pardon any little offences in this life the best of people are subject to’.”

A comment on their married life was once given by Ellen herself in a letter to Alfred:

“Poor dear Johnie Brockman, I fear he has got into great difficulties. I hope his vessel will set him right again. It is a bad plan to have too many irons in the fire. We have never done that, have we dear? We have been a steady-going old pair and have had our share of difficulties

After Ellen's death Alfred resigned his seat in Parliament. His eldest daughter Fanny had married Johnie Brockman but had remained at Wallcliff. Charlotte married Donald McLeod, a North-West pastoralist; Grace married Fred Brockman, a surveyor, and Bessie became Mrs. J. G. Thomson of Brooklands, but Edie was still unmarried. In fact, she never married, never being able to choose a husband from among her many suitors. She is remembered at the Busselton Centenary Ball as a gay and vivacious old lady, displaying a pearly cluster ring that an American whaling captain had threatened to throw into the sea unless she accepted it. She had accepted it.

Alfred, aided by his eldest daughter Bessie, continued to manage his large estate. At this time M. C. Davies was developing his saw milling enterprises at Karridale, bringing about a considerable increase in population and a good local market for grazing and farming produce. However, there was no great or permanent increase in settlement in the district until the Group Settlements be tween the wars. Much of the land once held by Alfred is now the thriving settlement of Cowaramup.


In October 1882 while on a visit to his daughter Bessie at Brookhampton, he died after a short illness. Alfred was not buried at Ellensbrook, but in the graveyard of the pioneers' church at Busselton. The remains of his wife Ellen were afterwards removed from Ellensbrook and laid beside his. I think it can be said that theirs was a truly happy and successful marriage despite the difference in age and background.

In his will Alfred directed that the estate was to be divided between his two sons after John had attained the age of 23, with the proviso that his unmarried daughters, Edith Agnes, Violet May and Philumena Mary were to be maintained out of the estate. His eldest daughter, Fanny, was given control and management until John took over.

After the break up of the estate Edie acquired Ellensbrook and lived there until she died. Both Ellensbrook and Wallcliff are owned and lived in by descendants of Alfred and Ellen and it is to be hoped that these two historic homesteads will receive the attention of the National Trust if it becomes necessary.

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