Wilkadene History feature

Original Settler’s Cottage

Old Wilkadene CottageBuilt in 1859 of locally quarried limestone, this was the head station of the old Murtho Run, an area about 4,000 acres which straddled the border of Victoria and extended to below what is now Heading’s Cliffs.

It was run by Edward Meade (Ned) Bagot, the owner of the great Ned’s Corner station, who made his fortune bringing cattle down to Adelaide at a time when there was a shortage of meat due to the influx of men returning from the goldfields.

In those days (the 1850s) what became the Hundred of Murtho was a squattage, and the lease for the Murtho Run was not taken by Bagot until 1866. By this time Ned’s Corner station ran about 3000 cattle and Bagot owned several properties including “Beefacres”, near Adelaide, purchased in 1854 from the sale of one mob of cattle brought down from Ned’s Corner.

By 1860, when big stockyards had been built here, Bagot employed George Critchell as boundary rider, and he and his family lived here for about twelve years. Tragedy struck the family when, in 1869, a son, George John, aged 2½, drowned, and then again in 1871, when two daughters Sarah, aged 14 and Thursa, 16, drowned together. Their graves, along with that of their father George are in the cemetery.

In the drought of 1876 Ned Bagot’s fortunes crashed and he lost his Ned’s Corner station as well as Murtho Run, which subsequently changed hands several times until it was bought by Arthur Wilkinson, who moved into the house with his bride, Caroline, in 1906 on the day they were married.

Arthur’s family were already successful farmers from Lindsey Cliffs station (now Kulkurna, upstream in N.S.W.) and within a few years his father had sold Lindsay Cliffs in order to buy land adjacent to Arthur’s property at Murtho, taking the combined holding to about 12,000 acres.

Arthur and Caroline lived in the old cottage where they raised six children until 1914, when they moved into the newly completed homestead now known as Wilkadene. Here four more children were born, including a daughter, Muriel, who died in infancy and is also buried in the cemetery with the Critchell family (a new plaque marks her grave). In the same year Arthur’s father, who had been living in another dwelling on the property moved into his new homestead now known as Murtho Park.

Historic Wilkadene Walk