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Gilead, one of Campbelltown’s largest suburbs, was named after the 400-acre (160-hectare) farm granted to Reuben Uther in 1812. He took the name from a biblical reference to the golden fields of wheat in Gilead and, when Governor Macquarie visited in 1815, Uther’s crop was impressive. Within a few years, however, he had sold out to Thomas Rose, an ex-convict entrepreneur, who renamed the estate Mount Gilead and extended it to 2460 acres (995 hectares) by buying adjoining land grants. By 1827 he had taken up permanent residence on the farm, where he improved Uther’s house, built an imposing stone and ironbark windmill and constructed the district’s first dam to collect run-off water.
The Rose family lost the Mount Gilead estate in 1864 when Henry Rose was one of many farmers ruined as drought, floods and rust blighted the staple wheat crops of the Campbelltown district. In 1867 the farm was taken over by Edmund Hume Woodhouse, a bank manager with a passion for agriculture, who saw the district’s potential for dairy farming. Under his ownership Mount Gilead became famous for its dairy and beef cattle. Although his son, Edmund Bingham Woodhouse, over-extended the enterprise and went bankrupt in 1890, the dairy industry continued at Mount Gilead. At the turn of the twentieth century, Charles Axam was leasing the bulk of the estate for dairying.
For the rest of that century, the large area between Appin and what is now the suburb of Rosemeadow was undisturbed. In the 1940s Mount Gilead House with its outbuildings was bought and restored by the Macarthur-Onslow family. The buildings still constitute the core of a working dairy farm.
To date, the southern outpost of Gilead has not been affected by the rapid postwar development elsewhere in the Campbelltown district. While suburbs such as Minto and Glenfield were built for young families, Gilead has been chosen as the site of a retirement village. Distance and zoning appeared to prevent dense development in Gilead until plans were unveiled in the 1990s to create a subdivision housing 20,000 people there. Although this scheme was aborted – because it threatened to pollute the Nepean River – there are new controversies about the location of a gas plant in the area.
CA Liston, Campbelltown: The Bicentennial History, Council of the City of Campbelltown, Campbelltown, 1988
J McGill, V Fowler, and K Richardson, Campbelltown’s Streets and Suburbs, Campbelltown and Airds Historical Society, Campbelltown, 1995
Campbelltown Macarthur Advertiser