The Gregg Family
Contributed by Catherine "Katie" Wilson (nee Gregg)
in its natural state, produced magnificent stand of Eucalypts. Extremely tall Bluegums, with thick undergrowth predominated. Every gully was crowded with a variety of fern shrubs and trees. Tree ferns in abundance, shrubs such as Haze Musk and Christmas Bush; Clematis and Wonga Vine, both lovers the cool forest, climbed to great heights and, in Springtime produced masses of flowers, which were a joy to the eye. "Woodland Park"
Tall Blackwoods and Eucalypts towered above the lot. These gullies were a paradise for the many native birds and animals ... Lyrebirds were a common sight before the big fire of 1898, which unfortunately destroyed much of our indiginous wildlife.
Today, Bulga Park and Tarra Valley National Parks are an example of virgin forest as it was on "Woodland Park", when selected by Grandfather Richard Gregg in 1879, exactly 100 years ago.
Our Dad (John), often told us of the beauty of the natural bush; it was with mixed feelings that destruction of nature's beauty was necessary for the benefit of man.
The first dwelling on "Woodland Park" was situated near the Poowong-Drouin Road. Built about 1882, by Grandfather, with the help of his sons, this building was constructed of vertical slab walls, eight feet high and with shingled roof. With the exception of the windows and doors, all the building material was hewn by hand, from timber grown on the property and fashioned to perfection with axe and adze.
We assume that this log cabin was later transferred to a more suitable and delightful site on the hill or spur above, where the addition of a four-roomed, weatherboard cottage was built at a right-angle to the log cabin, forming an "L" shape. A large well was dug, covered with slabs of wood and a hand-operated pump was attached to supply water for the household. Conveniently close by, the well was situated within the angle of the two buildings. Altogether a great improvement in living conditions for the family and numerous visitors.
The log cabin consisted of one large room (kitchen/living) , with two small rooms at the Eastern end, which had a loft above them, to provide sleeping quarters for the boys.
One of my earliest recollections of our home, was the bush-timber ladder, inside, to the loft, and a longing to see what was up there, but of course, the loft was out of bounds to children.
From the time our parents, John and Grace, took over "Woodland Park", the log cabin was used only for laundry and storage. The earthen floor was hard and shining from years of clay washes, using mounds of clay built up by little land crabs. These were gathered and soaked in water.
The interior walls of the buildings were lined with hessian and beautifully patterned wallpaper. Good old-fashioned linoleum covered the cottage floors and white lace curtains were at the windows.
We loved that little old house and garden.
The houseyard was fenced with hand-split pickets, which made an, excellent fence. That our Grandparents and Aunts were garden lovers, was evident by the variety of flowers, shrubs and trees in the sizeable garden. Admired by everyone, and worthy of note, was a thick row of Arum Lilies, the full length of the fence, on the eastern side of the garden. These grew higher than the fence an flowered in profusion.
Sheltered by the end of the log cabin and the side of the cottage, group of Tree-ferns grew to perfection. Deep blue Hydrangea further along, were also greatly admired. The path from the fron garden gate was lined with a variety of flowers. Shrubs I remember best Were Purple Lilac, White Spiraea, Scented Viburnum, Weigela
Deutzia, Fuchsia and a huge Laurustinus, as well as numerous clump of Walsonias and Lilies. A massive Rambling Rose grew up over the side of the log cabin and clusters of small White Roses made a pretty picture when in full bloom. Dad kept the creeping rose controlled by slashing it to ground-level every few years.
As was the custom, wherever he lived, Grandfather established good orchard at "Woodland Park". As the first planting of fruit tree was destroyed by the 1898 fire, the orchard was replanted with two trees each of Pears, Apricots, Plums and Quinces, plus three or four varieties of Apples and a row of Cherry Plum trees along the Western
fence. A thicket of Kentish Cherry trees grew in a gully at the lowest end of the orchard.
Some of these Apple and Pear trees are surviving today, and still bearing fruit; at the age of, at least, eighty years.
After returning from the Boer War in 1902, Dad's brother Angus, then owner of "Woodland Park", built two large rooms, with fulllength verandah, at the Western end of the log cabin and close beside the cottage. This was as 1 remember the old home.
Prior to his marriage in 1907, Dad purchased "Woodland Park". I was nine years of age when he demolished all but the two latest rooms and rebuilt on the same site and over the filled-in well.
"Woodland Park" events of importance to the Gregg family, included the birth of Christina Catherine on 21st. August, 1883. Christina ("Teanie") was the youngest of Richard and Catherine's family and we believe she was born in the log cabin, on its original site. Mrs. L. C. Holmes was the nurse in attendance.
My brother Daniel (1915) and myself, Catherine ("Katie") (1908) were born in the little old cottage on the hill.
Two weddings were celebrated, in fine style, in the old home. Sarah, the eldest of Richard and Catherine's family, married Fred Umbers in 1896. A sister of the bride's Mother ... Mrs. Christina McDonald (nee McKay) and her daughters Mary and Chris McDonald, were among house guests at the wedding. In 1907, Euphemia ("Femmie"), second youngest of the Gregg family, married Donald McLennan. Years later our Mother told us of the preparation for that lovely wedding. The homemade wedding feast was served in the log cabin, which was beautifully decorated with masses of ferns and flowers.
When one is young and busy getting on with a life that seems neverending, old folk belong to the past, but now 1 am older, memories of the past are precious, particularly the happy years at "Woodland Park", Poowong