Ellisland Days are Numbered
BY DI SNEDDON
This is a Not For Sale story with a twist.
The property has been sold to make way for the Singleton by-pass and for its owner, Joan Ingold, it is goodbye to a property she has been connected to since birth.
Joan, born in 1939, has had a long association with the 10-acre property. Her parents owned it and in 1961 it became her home, one she purchased with her late husband Frank.
Now she is preparing to leave and, in some ways, she is pleased Frank doesn’t have to experience this compulsory move. It is one thing to sell but quite another to know the home will be demolished to make way for the by-pass.
Joan is determined to remain positive, to hold the memories of this home in her heart and to look forward to what the next chapter in her life holds.
Within this home there have been significant moments. For instance, when her daughter Michelle suddenly decided to give birth, it was Frank that held this little baby in his arms first, delivering Lindie in the sitting room of the home back in 1997.
Sadly, or maybe appropriately, it was also the place that Frank took his last breath when he passed away at home in 2019.
The home certainly has a history. Built in 1865 by the Waddell family, it is only the two front rooms that still stand. A fire in 1932 almost burnt the property to the ground and the Waddells rebuilt behind those front rooms after the catastrophic fire.
The name Waddell may spring a spark in the memory of locals, and you are correct. Trooper Waddell was the only Singleton casualty of the Boar War and a memorial in his name and in memory of the sacrifices made during this early 1900 conflict stands in Burdekin Park.
Interestingly, cement work between the bricks at the front of the home is etched with perhaps Singleton’s first graffiti. Joan brings out a magnifying glass to expose the markings. Names, family moments including the words “A Great Cat” can be seen to the naked eye but only when pointed out.
Perhaps this too is something Joan may be able to salvage when the time comes for Ellisland’s demolition.
Joan’s parents, the Houlahans, purchased the property from the Waddells just after the 1955 flood. They had lived in the property next door where Joan was born. Needless to say, Joan has had a lifetime association with the Whittingham district which she has loved and will continue to love.
Asbestos and a growing family saw Joan and Frank complete a renovation in the 1980s. The only section of original home is those two front rooms that survived the fire. According to Joan, this renovation was much needed and came with its challenges.
“We had an outside dunny, an old kitchen, and Trevor Andrews did the job,” Joan recalls.
During the reno the bathtub was located behind a cabinet in the kitchen and Trevor arrived early only to find Joan in the tub.
“Yes, there were challenges,” Joan laughed.
Ellisland stands on a small incline, a couple of properties past Lancasters Garage along the New England Highway just south of Singleton.
You will always see the Australian flag flying and often a small head of sheep grazing in the front yard.
Offspring of that 35 head are now frolicking in the fields and it is this sight that always brings a smile to Joan’s face.
She doesn’t mind the sound of the passing traffic and knows her new home may not offer that, but the ever-positive Joan says she will enjoy the outlook of her soon-to-be new home that will take in views of the hospital’s cow paddock.
There are many things Joan needs to sort and potentially part with but one thing she is grateful to have moving with her is the bedroom suite hand-crafted by Bertie Griffin. It was a gift from Bertie to Frank and much-loved.
When you look at the craftsmanship and consider the memories the furniture holds, you can understand Joan’s relief that it will be moving with her and Bertie’s craftmanship will continue to live on.
Joan says she will take other treasurers, particularly the nameplate on her home, Ellisland.
“That will definitely be coming with me,” she said.
There are plants she will take; family members will be given bits and pieces including the bottle and ink bottle collection in the kitchen.
Her son aims to take the flagpole and the milestone indicator that stands beneath it. The indicator gave travellers an idea of the distance between Singleton and Maitland and was once cemented in the ground on the highway at the front of Ellisland.
You can see the memories build up in Joan’s mind as she reflects on her life at Ellisland. Walking around the property and you see, standing proud, is a Bunya Tree that dates back more than 200 years.
That is one piece of the property Joan doesn’t want to see knocked down.
“It is one thing about the house but if they touch that tree,” Joan said.
She is determined to remain positive and to keep those precious moments in her mind and in her heart, as will many others.
When you drive past make sure you take a peek and appreciate the history and family love this home has provided over time. It truly is a remarkable story.
Such is the price of so-called progress.