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'Continentals' at 'Bleak House'

Updated: Jan 2, 2022

140 Years of social entertainment and carnival evenings at 'Bleak House', Clare

1. William L. Beare

On his retirement as manager of Bungaree, original Colonist William L. Beare built Bleak House in 1878 on a hillside in Clare, and laid out the garden. Mr. Beare's daughter Emmie was married to Mr. G. K. Soward, an architect of Glenelg, at Bleak House.

"After leaving Bungaree Mr. Beare built a home at Clare, which he named Bleak House, a singularly inappropriate name for so comfortable a dwelling. It is now occupied by Mr. Christison, and its name is changed to Weroona.

Mr. Beare was bit of an architect, and took great interest in the erection of St. Barnabas' Rectory, Clare, a house literally built upon a rock.

Mrs. Beare was a Miss Austin and sister to Mrs. J. W. Gleeson, of Inchiquin. Mr. Beare's later years were spent in Glenelg. He was a familiar figure at old colonists' gatherings on the 28th December."

  • 28 Agnes Street CLARE SA (opposite the Buchanan Street intersection, Clare)

  • Heritage listing includes Stables, Outhouse and Driveway.

  • State Place #10065; State heritage ID 14415

Mr. William Loose Beare

Mr. William Beare was an old colonist, as he had landed as a child of ten, with his parents, from the Brig 'Duke of York', on July 27, 1836, when the ship arrived on Kangaroo Island, the first ship to bring colonists (just 13) to South Australia.

On board as a boy of 10½, William Loose Beare was a son of T. Hudson Beare, the first manager of the S.A. Company, which established the Colony of S.A.

  • W. L. Beare's mother died 13 months later, and was buried in the old Kingscote cemetery, near the historic mulberry tree.

Were they the first Europeans to live in South Australia? Oh No!

Mr. Beare, remembered (pub. in 1928):

  • "We found a number of sealers on the island who, however, were chiefly engaged in obtaining wallaby skins.

  • These (were) mostly runaways from ships, for vessels used to come from Sydney to the island for salt and wallaby skins.

  • No doubt there were a few escaped convicts amongst them.

The Barque, Duke of York, a three-masted brig, which left London on February 26, 1836

At first these men were a little frightened of us, as they had been told a vessel would be sent from Sydney or Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) to take them off, but in a day or two they gained confidence in us, and brought us some splendid vegetables, as well as poultry, and other luxuries.

  • We found them useful to us in many ways:

    • One of these men at that time had been on the island for 22 years, and another for 12 years.

    • Most of them had black women ('gins') for wives, whom they had procured from the mainland.

    • There were also several black women there who came from Van Diemen's Land" (No doubt to avoid their massacre).

    • "The daughter of one of these is living on the island now, and is one of the most intelligent and witty women one could talk with.

  • Kingscote, where we formed our settlement, was named before we left England." Source: Kangaroo Island Pioneers Association

"My father, Mr. Thomas Hudson Beare, was in the employ of the South Australian Company for some years, and then went farming on his own account at Netley, between Glenelg and Adelaide.

  • After a number of years I went into the employ of Mr. John Taylor, as manager of Rylands station, near Kapunda, and then went on the Broughton for a year.

  • I was engaged for about 18 years by the Hon. G. C. Hawker, at Bungaree, staying there till 1872.

  • I lost my savings, made through pastoral pursuits, in droughts, and of late years have lived in retirement near Glenelg."

In the early 1870s Beare jointly purchased runs at Mount Serle and Ooraparinna in the far north, near the Gammon Ranges. Lack of success forced him to sell these properties, and he eventually retired to live in his property, "Netley", at Glenelg.

Renamed 'Sunnyside" briefly.

"It was 53 years ago since the driver took the (late son of) Mr. Thomas Hudson Beare's furniture away from 'Bleak House.'

The goods from 8 big rooms were carried on one huge waggon with a team of eight horses to Pt. Adelaide, where Mr. Beare resided for the rest of his life."

2. John E. Bray

Then John Eggleston Bray, a Councillor of Clare was the next owner, who named it "Ava Weanah" (Not named by Thomas Goode, see below).

  • BRAY.— On the 12th June 1893, at Ava Weanah (late Bleak House), Clare, born to Mrs. John Eggleston Bray, a daughter

  • Fri 27 Oct 1893 Death - Bray— On the 24th October 1893, at her residence, Ava Weanah, Clare: Eliza K., after three days' illness, of bronchitis and pleurisy, the beloved wife of John Egglestone Bray, and eldest daughter of Mr. William Kelly, aged 35 years.

A Rochester Oil Lantern similar to those used to light the garden

John Eggleston Bray (b. 5 June 1861, d. 1 March 1928), spent many years in the Northern Territory mainly working with the then Native Affairs Branch of NT Administration as a Patrol Officer.

  • Friday 3 January 1896, CLARE. The annual demonstration in connection with the local branch of the I.O. Rechabites was held on December 31. In the evening a Continental (carnival evening) was held at Ava Weanah, the residence of Rechabite Brother J. E. Bray. The grounds were beautifully lighted, and the weather being favourable the attendance was large. The programme consisted of glees, choruses, songs, and several pieces by the band.

  • Fri 6 Dec 1895 "A successful promenade concert took place at Mr. J. E. Bray's beautifully situated grounds, 'Ava Weanah' on Monday evening last. About 450 persons were upon the lawn, and the local string band and the public school fife and drum band discoursed pleasing music. Lady and gentlemen vocalists and instrumentalists did good service, while the members of the Cyclists' Club wheeled round the drive in fancy costume.

A Chinese lantern, similar to those used at Continentals

A stump speech by Mr. S. Smith provoked merriment. The entertainment was in aid of the Clare Victoria Benefit Society, the Secretary of which, Mr. T. S. .Stacy, in the absence of the Chairman, Mr. Christison, thanked the public for their patronage and support, the performers, and Mr. Bray for placing his grounds at the Society's disposal. The lawn and verandah were tastefully lighted with Chinese lanterns and Rochester lamps. The proceeds amounted to over £10."

  • Fri 21 Feb 1896 Continental, — A Continental in connection with St. Barnabas' Church, Clare, was held in Mr. J. E. Bray's pretty grounds, Ava Weanah (kindly lent for the occasion), on Tuesday evening last. The evening being a suitable one for out-door amusement there was a very good attendance, and the grounds presented a pretty appearance with Chinese lanterns, &c, hanging from the shrubs and trees. An attractive programme was presented, and met with the entire approval of the audience, judging from the frequent applause and encores. At the close of the programme the Rev. K. R. Webb, who acted as chairman, thanked Mr. Bray for the use of his grounds, and that gentleman suitably responded.

  • The Northern Argus recorded on Friday 20 November 1896 that "A variety fair in connection with the Clare Wesleyan Church was held at Mr. Bray's, "Ava Weanah", on Wednesday afternoon and evening last. A good attendance resulted, and the takings both at the stall and gates were satisfactory in every respect over £24 being taken. Good things of all description were provided for the public who spent an enjoyable time. In the evening Mr. Bishop's string band and songs enlivened the proceedings.

  • "Another Continental in aid of the Benevolent Society and Church of England Repair Fund was to be held at Mr. J. E. Bray's, "Ava Weanah", on Wednesday evening next, February 17 1897. An attractive programme has been prepared, and as this is the last continental of the season there should be a large attendance."

3. Thomas Goode

Thomas Goode was born at Pigeon House farm, Kyre Magna, near Tenbury, Worcestershire, a son of William and Catherine Goode. From the age of 14 he managed his father's farms, and for two years at Felton Court, the home of his uncle Matthew Goode, who was a successful breeder of Hereford cattle,[1]

He left for South Australia on the Hope with brothers Henry Abel Goode (1838 – 12 February 1921), William (ca.1840 – 28 January 1910) and Benjamin Powell Goode (ca.1841), arriving at Port Adelaide on 19 February 1858.[2]

  • Six weeks after his arrival in Adelaide he and a young man named Bruce rode the 120 miles (190 km) to Canowie Station with horses and cattle. His cousins Charles (afterwards Sir Charles), Samuel, and Matthew Goode, had country near Mount Remarkable, and they wished him to gain experience at Canowie before taking over Mount Remarkable for them.

  • After leaving Canowie he was general manager for the estate of (the late) J. H. Angas for ten years, having charge of Hill River Station (which became his base station).[1]

  • From 1903 to 1907 he was in charge of the Petherton estate (which was then sold to the Government for closer settlement).

In 1906 Thomas Goode, the pastoralist, and his two sons, Albert Powell Goode and Clarence Goode purchased Mintadloo station at Farrell's Flat six miles from Clare, and set about improving it.[1] - Source: Wikipedia

He also had moved to "Bleak House", now named "Ava Weanah".

  • FRIDAY, JANUARY 26, 1900. The Continental. — On Friday evening a Continental in aid of the Patriotic Fund was held in the grounds at Ava Weanah (kindly lent for the occasion by Mr. Goode), and was in every way a most pronounced success. The atmosphere was somewhat cool, but a pleasant contrast to the hot weather during the proceeding week, and the crowd that assembled numbered about 800 people, from all parts of the district. — The programme submitted was an excellent one, and was greatly appreciated. The Clare Brass Band and Mr. A. Bishop's orchestra rendered excellent service during the evening. Mr. T. S. Stacy (Mayor of Clare) addressed the assemblage when the end of the programme was approached, thanking the people present for their attendance.

    • 'Rule Britannia' was sung by the company, the audience joining in the last chorus.

    • The national anthem was then sung by the whole assemblage, at the conclusion Dr. O. W. Smith calling for three cheers for the Queen, his appeal being heartily responded to.

    • Provision, refreshment, and lollie stalls did good business during the evening. The net proceeds of the continental totalled about £28.

  • Around February 20, 1901, Harvest Thanksgiving services were held in all the Methodist Churches in this district circuit. And a Continental-style Fair was held on Wednesday evening on Mr. T. Goode's grounds, 'Ava Weanah,' and the financial results were highly satisfactory.

  • Saturday, March 16, 1901. A Continental Fair in aid of the Queen's Home Fund was held in the grounds of Ava Weanah on Wednesday evening last. The grounds were illuminated by powerful acetylene gas burners and Chinese lanterns, the acetylene gas generator used on the occasion, named ' The Victory,' is the invention of Messrs. White and Williams, and for which they have just taken out a patent.

    • Mrs. Christison, the hon. secretary of the Queen's Home Fund, and her committee, had taken the greatest trouble to ensure the success of the continental, and in consequence the result was most satisfactory. Stalls of various descriptions were well patronised by the large number of people present.

4. Mr. and Mrs. Willie Kimber

Mr. and Mrs. Willie Kimber (nee Miss Flora Seppelt) lived at Ava Weanah for many years, and several of their children were born there.

A KIMBER GOLDEN WEDDING. CLARE, September 17, 1902 Mr. and Mrs. C. Kimber celebrated their golden wedding yesterday at their son's (Mr. W. Kimber's residence, Ava Weanah, on Tuesday.

A large number of friends and relatives assembled to offer their congratulations. Amongst the members of the family present on the occasion were Mr. and Mrs. H. Kimber, of Athelstone ; Mr. and Mrs. R. Kimber, of Port Pirie ; Mr. and Mrs. M. Kimber, of Chatswood ; Mr. and Mrs. W. Kimber, of Chatswood ; Mr. J. Kimber, of Clare ; Mrs. W. R. Russell Evans, of Melbourne; Mrs. A. Roberts, of Kookyine; Mrs. F. W. Wheatley, of Adelaide.

During the day Mr. & Mrs. Kimber received numerous letters and telegrams of congratulation from friends in the different states.

Among others were noticed telegrams from Sir Jenkin Coles, on behalf of Parliamentary friends; from the Hon. Alfred Catt, Chairman of Committees in the House of Assembly; Mr. J.N.Browne, (Town Clerk) St. Kilda, Victoria; and Mr. and Mrs. B. Seppelt, Seppeltsfield.

  • During the afternoon Mr. and Mrs. Kimber held a public reception at Ava Weanah (Mr W. Kimber's residence), and the aged couple were kept busy receiving many friends.

  • Afternoon tea was served on the spacious lawn. Mr. Bishop's string band played from the balcony.

  • At the dinner 22 of the family sat at the tables. Messrs. Kindermann & Sons catered for the occasion.

Mr. and Mrs. Kimber came to the colony 66 years ago (in 1836). They were married at Trinity Church, North Terrace, on Sept. 16, 1852. Since then they have resided at the Burra, on the Victorian goldfields, at Mt. Horrocks, Watervale, Clare, Adelaide, and then Clare again.

Mr. Charles Kimber was amongst the pioneers of the fruit industry in this district and worked the Clare mill (now Ennis Park) for many years. He also represented the district of Stanley as its senior member from 1887 until 1890.

5. Mr and Mrs John Christison

Bleak House then passed into the hands of Mr. John Christison, brewer, who was the husband of the most generous occupant, Mrs. Dianne Christison, who named the house "Weroona" (Place of Rest).

In 1896 John Christison married Miss Frances Diana Hope, daughter of the late Mr. John Hope, of Wolta Wolta, who survived him for another 37 years.

Generous Mrs. Christison A Clare citizen all her life, Diana Hope was born in Clare at "Wolta Wolta", the Hope family residence in beautiful wooded country.

Mrs Christison was born in Clare in 1860 to John and Isabella Hope, and got married in 1896 to John Christison. She is best known for her benefaction of Christison Park - (now known as the Clare Caravan Park).

For some years past Mr. Christison had not enjoyed good health.

In 1909 he and Mrs. Christison visited England, and while there he consulted specialists with reference to his illness.

Old Clare Brewery which established the Christison family

On On his return to Clare from the old country he for a time enjoyed fairly good health, but a few weeks ago be was obliged to take to his bed. and the illness culminated in his death on Monday.

Mr. Christison was one of the most widely known and highly respected of the businessmen of Clare.

Mr. Christison had reached the age of 62 years, having been born at Dalbog, Scotland.

  • As a youth be was in a solicitor's office at Brechan, and afterwards went to an uncle in Gloucestershire.

Later on he managed an estate in the Isle of Wight.

  • In 1879 he came to South Australia under engagement to the late Hon. J. H. Angas, and managed the Hill River Estate for three years.

  • In 1882 he entered into partnership with Mrs. Filgate (daughter of Paddy Gleeson) in the Clare brewery, and later on purchased her share, conducting the business up to the time of his death.

For 29 years he carried on business as a brewer, and under his able control the business of the Clare Brewery expanded very considerably, (at the site of the present Knappstein Enterprise Winery).

He took a keen interest in public affairs, and was always foremost in helping forward any movement tor the advancement of the town and district.

He served a term as Councillor in the Clare Corporation, and was afterwards elected to the position of Mayor.

  • He also served a term as councillor for Armagh Ward in the Clare District Council.

  • He was one of those who helped to found the Stanley A. & H. (Show) Society, and held office from its inception as treasurer, and was also president at the time of his death, having been elected for a third year only on Saturday last.

  • He was a member of the Clare Institute Committee and also treasurer to that institution.


-- Lent By Mrs. John Christison

It was a gracious and kindly act of Mrs. John Christison to lend the beautiful grounds of her home, Weroona. Clare, for a fete in aid of the Clare District Hospital.

Mr. A. Bowley, mayor of Clare, declared it open, and brisk business was done at the various stalls during the afternoon, £70 being the result. The local Rangers, under their Captain, Miss M. F. Tilbrook. performed folk dances, and the school children, directed by Miss C. Dolan, gave a display of eurhythmics.

Mrs. G. E. Deland organised a parade of

decorated sunshades, prams, and bicycles.

Though the garden was thronged during the afternoon, and people moved about freely, not a vestige of damage was done, and the Girl Guides, under their captain (Miss J. Wien Smith) picked up the rubbish and bits of paper afterwards— a most praiseworthy-proceeding.

Mrs. Christison has had many kind thoughts about her garden, one of the beauty spots of Clare.

At Back to Clare week (Nov 1928) she placed a notice on the gate, inviting all to enter who cared to do so. and rest under the shady trees, where she had provided seats and tables for their comfort. Many responded to this kindly invitation.





Some time ago a committee was appointed in Clare to take up with the Director of the Adelaide National Gallery (Mr. Louis McCubbin) the arrangements for showing the famous Medici Prints in the Assembly Room at the Clare Town Hall.

These Prints have now arrived, and will be on exhibition from Saturday, August 20th to 27th, for one week only.

The whole wall space of the Assembly Room will be occupied with color reproductions of famous paintings by world masters of many ages and periods.

The opening ceremony will be conducted by Mrs. John Christison on Saturday, at 3 o'clock. There will be afternoon and evening sessions, and mornings by arrangement.

A lecturer from the National Gallery (Mr. J. C. Goodchild) will be present and lecture on the exhibition at all sessions until Monday evening.

Admission is free, and the hours of admission are: — Daily 2.30 to 5 p.m.: evening, 8 to 9.30 pm. The exhibition will also be open on Sunday.

This opportunity to see rare works is one that comes to country towns once in a life time, and is made possible by the Directors of the National Gallery, through the educational grants and facilities of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

School children can be admitted in groups. We would urge all lovers of Art to rally round this exhibition and assist the following committee,

Death of Clare's Finest Citizen.


ON Thursday, August 26, in the early hours of the morning Mrs. Frances Diana Christison, M.B.E., of Weroona, Clare, widow of the late Mr. John Christison, died at the Clare and District Hospital at the age of 88 years.

Clare has lost one of its finest citizens and outstanding personalities.

Born at "Wolta Wolta," in the beautiful wooded country on the West boundary of the town, a spot selected by pioneer John Hope, her girlhood was spent amid scenic beauty and the quiet of Nature. It was therefore natural that instinctively she had a great love for the Australian bushland and all that its flora and fauna means.

Her late mother held open house at "Wolta Wolta", and on many Sundays there were Sunday School Classes.

As part of Mrs. Christison's education she paid, a visit to Vienna and Venice, on the Continent, to continue musical studies, and combined with a flair for Art, she took a wide and varied interest in cultural works.

Imbued with a love of Country, her interests later in life found many expressions.

The field of education was dear to her heart, and she was frequently a visitor to schools of all denominations.

Lectures on Animal and bird life and the work of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals were given, and for a lifetime she worked unceasingly as local Secretary to foster the movement.

Never a worthy entertainment, school or church event; Town and district and civic affairs would have been held without Mrs. Christison took some active interest.

The Red Cross Society was her greatest work.

Secretary in World War One and supporting many relief funds such as the Belgian Relief, Australian Comforts Funds and Australia Days, she achieved outstanding work for her country.

In World War II. she was elevated to President of Clare Red Cross and only retired as the result of advancing years.

Her interest in the life of the people was of outstanding merit. Visits to the sick in homes or in hospital were frequent. An untold number of kindly acts and deeds marked her life and interest for the poor and needy, and for many years she was a member of the Clare Victoria Relief Society.

Due recognition was accorded by His Majesty the King when in the New Year Honors 1948, Mrs. Christison was honored by being made "A member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, 5th Class."

She. was married to Mr. John Christison, then aged 47 years, at St. Peter's Anglican Church, Glenelg in 1896, the service being conducted bv the Rev. Canon Green and the Rev. R. B. Webb, M.A., of Clare.

Mr. Christison died in 1911 and is buried in Clare Cemetery, predeceasing Mrs. Christison by 39 years. An outstanding freestone monument with the words "Kyrie Eleison" thereon, marks the spot.

By instructions under Mrs. Christison's will she was cremated at the South Australian Crematorium, West Terrace, Adelaide, on Monday August 30, when the Rector, Rev. John L. Bond, attended. So far as we can gather this is the first cremation of a Clare born citizen. The Urn and ashes were brought to Clare this week and the full funeral service in St. Barnabas' Church is to be held to-day (Thursday. Sept. 2, 1948 at 10.30 a.m.)

Read more: Generous Mrs. Christison Clare's Finest Citizen -- Mrs. J. Christison, M.B.E.

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