A History of Garroorigang

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Charles Thomas
Mr. Charles Thomas
Mrs. Thomas
Mrs. Thomas
The Homestead
Original Garroorigang showing outbuildings

Garroorigang was built by Charles Thomas and began life as The Mulwaree Inn.

Constructed from locally made bricks with beautiful cedar joinery throughout it consisted of 12 rooms and elegant brick stables set in a rear courtyard. The 1850s English hand pump, installed over the brick-lined well outside the stables, supplied water to the horses and the Inn.

Situated to take advantage of passing traffic to the Araluen goldfields near Braidwood, the Inn witnessed unwelcome visits by Ben Hall and his gang of bushrangers in addition to those of its more regular patrons from Goulburn's first race course, located on the adjacent farmlands.

Convict era handcuffs and pistol
Original wallpaper with scenes of horses and racehorses
Bottles and tankards from the old inn

Travelling bullock teams wending their way south and west would also outspan in the paddock beside the pub. But life as a pub lasted only 7 years. The imminent arrival of the railway in Goulburn and the petering out of the gold fields saw an end to the passing bullock teams leading to sale of the Inn. It was bought by Samuel Harborne Belcher, an English educator looking for a family home and a site for a boarding school.

Apart from the large cellar under what was once the bar, a few old bottles, the well pump and a rare surviving section of the original 1857 bar room wallpaper, evidence of Garroorigang's past as an Inn has faded over the years.

However, visitors can still appreciate the period through the many colonial items of interest, including relics of the convict era and bushranging days, to be found among the home's contents.


Schoolboys at Garroorigang

Samuel Harborne Belcher, a graduate in Classics from Trinity College Dublin, and former Classics Master at Clifton College Bristol, settled in Goulburn with his wife in 1862.

He purchased Garroorigang and its 200 acres of farmlands in 1868 both as a home for his family and as a permanent site for the private boarding school he had started in Goulburn two years earlier.

He converted the stables into the classroom which can still be seen today, and built a dormitory to house the students (now gone).

Harborne Belcher – founder and headmaster
Harborne Belcher – founder and headmaster
The stables, converted to classroom (showing well pump).

The dormitory
The Dormitory, 1880s
The schoolroom
The schoolroom today
In its heyday, approximately 30 boys of all ages, mostly the sons of established pioneering families from as far afield as Scone, Sydney, Bodalla and Yass, attended the school.

Harry Chauvel (later General Sir) of Light Horse fame at Beersheba was a student at Garroorigang.

Others such as Impressionist painter John Peter Russell, test cricketer H. H. Massie and the Mort brothers, also made their marks on history.

Famous alumni - John Peter Russell....
.... H.H. Massie ...
Mort Brothers
... and the Mort Brothers (on right).

Other boys were content to leave their initials, still to be seen, carved on the toilet door.

Students received a classical education including Greek, Latin and French in a curriculum also heavily influenced by the Headmaster's passion for cricket.

Belcher's prize bats from matches long past in England and in Australia still grace the study wall today.

Some 300 students passed through the school before it closed its doors in 1883.

The School XI, 1869
The School XI, 1869


Harborne Belcher
Samuel Harborne Belcher
Harriet Belcher
Harriet Belcher
Garroorigang’s conversion from a teamster’s Inn to a graciously furnished gentleman’s residence was completed by Harborne Belcher and his wife Harriet with little alteration to the structure. He converted the bar and adjoining parlour into a classic Victorian drawing room complete with fine English and colonial furniture including an Erard grand piano made in France in 1857. The dining room, library and bedrooms became elegant examples of Victorian style and have remained unchanged to this day. A barouche carriage, made in Oxford in 1859, was added to the stables. Complete with bells for the servants Garroorigang was by 1868 a gracious family home and a fine example of living in the Victorian era. Visitors to the home today can step back in time as they visit the rooms which remain largely unchanged from the time of Harborne and Harriet. On Belcher's death in 1920 Garroorigang passed to his elder son, Stuart Belcher. He had been educated at Garroorigang and trained as a Surveyor before settling on a grazing property, Eurimburra, at Rye Park.

In 1897 he married Annie Jane, step daughter of Andrew Hamilton Hume, nephew of the explorer Hamilton Hume.

Stuart and Annie moved to Garroorigang in 1920. They expanded the gardens and cherished the home's Victorian furnishings while adding their own touches from travels to Japan and America in the 1920s.

The drawing room, with its delicate wallpaper and grand piano and its original furnishings, evokes memories of a gracious style of life before the electronic age.

The stately dining room and elegant bedrooms, all still in use today, evidence the craftsmanship of a bygone era when things were made to last and fashion did not dictate taste.

The library, home to a collection of fascinating volumes, historical items and family memorabilia, remains the heart of the home.

Stuart Belcher
Stuart Belcher
Annie Belcher
Annie Jane Belcher

The carriage made in Oxford 1859
The carriage made in Oxford 1859

Dining Room
The dining room
Drawing Room
The drawing room
The library

Stuart Hume
Stuart Hume Snr, 1904-1985
Mrs Hume
Mrs. Hume 1907-1993
Widowed in 1947, Annie invited her nephew Stuart Hamilton Hume to move his family to Garroorigang and take over the property in 1950.

Passionate about Australia's history, Stuart and his wife laid the foundations for the home's long term conservation, cherishing its history but as a lived in family home, not a museum.

This continues today. As a result Garroorigang retains the warmth and aura of a family home, steeped in time, affording visitors a rare personal view of life over much of Australia's history.

Present owners, sixth generation Australians Stuart and his sister Jenny Hume, share personal links with that history, reflected in their descent from the brother of explorer Hamilton Hume .

He first explored the Goulburn region in 1817 before his epic journey overland from Sydney to Westernport Victoria in 1824, commemorated today by the route of the Hume Highway passing beside Garroorigang.

All images © Garroorigang. Not to be reproduced without permission.

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