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last updated:    18 October 2004

 

 

 

 

 

16. A GREAT PIONEER IN THE GROVE BY THE CREEK

It was the spring of 1878 and the air was thick with the noise of cicadas.  Huge stands of red box and messmate peppered a landscape of wattle and stringy bark.  Myriads of lorikeets, rosellas and parrots competed with cockatoos and galahs for the nectar of the flowering gums high in the foliage.  Lower down bellbirds, kookaburras, magpies and mudlarks plied their daily trade and here amongst them Joseph Stevenson lived and breathed the pungent air.  It was a unique Australian setting but not so different as to quash his memories of youth in Glasgow spent in rustic Kelvin Grove, a timbered park beside a shallow stream beneath the Glasgow University on Gilmore Hill.  He had left friends and family there and he thought of them now as he moved amidst his land holding.  It was 78 acres of paradise and he had nostalgically named it Kelvin Grove.

In October of 1878 James Donaldson the first Scottish settler in Kangaroo Ground visited his old friend in his Bend of Isles retreat.  James had returned from a trip to England and Scotland and had brought with him several acorns collected from the Great Windsor Park adjoining Windsor Castle.  The park was vast, comprising over 800 forested acres.  In that park, James himself, had collected the acorns from an oak planted in the 15th or 16th century.  As the two old Scots exchanged a glass of Bank Head wine for an acorn by the crystal water of Watsons Creek, it must have been for the benefit of posterity that they planted that acorn ten paces south of the Kelvin Grove home.  There in all its magnificence the oak that grew from the acorn still flourishes.  Watered by the flowing stream, it is larger than both the oaks that still grow in Kangaroo Ground on the original sites of the Donaldson and Stevenson homesteads. Standing sentinel on a shoulder of Watsons Creek the great oak marks out time in a part of paradise long since vacated by its earliest settler.  Joseph breathed his last breath at Kelvin Grove on November 1st, 1878 exactly 10 years to the day that his wife Ruth had departed his life. 

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