The origins of human habitation on the land that is now Highfield, go back at least 50,000 years.
These are the ancestral lands of the Wiradjuri Nation and for hundreds of generations this country was skilfully managed and cherished under traditional Wiradjuri law and custom.
A Ring Tree on Highfield
A Coolamon scar on a tree on Highfield. A coolamon is a carrying bowl made from the bark of certain trees.
On Highfield, there’s ample evidence of this former custodianship. In recent years, Wiradjuri Elders and Cultural Heritage Officers have surveyed the property and identified a number of significant cultural artefacts, including stone tools and ‘modified trees’. There are some very old trees on the property with scars denoting evidence of managed burning, canoe making and coolamon production. There are also two ancient ‘ring trees’, where a branch of the young tree was tied back and spliced to the main trunk to form a ‘ring’ or ‘window’. These items have all been registered with the Office of Environment and Heritage which ensures their protection. We are certain that there are more cultural artifacts to be found.
European influence in this district began in the 1830s as Wiradjuri land was seized and occupied by well-resourced settlers known as ‘squatters’. From the 1830s to 1948, Highfield was just a remote corner of a large squatter’s estate called Ellerslie Station.
Our EcoNest now stands on the site of the original Hut on Highfield, formerly known as ‘Hazeldell Hut’. It was an outpost (or boundary riders’ hut) of Ellerslie Station. It must have been an important outpost as a telephone line once connected Hazeldell to the main Ellerslie Homestead about 15km away.
In 1948, shortly after the end of World War II, Ellerslie Station was divided into more than 30 separate farm lots under a Government scheme known as War Service Land Settlement, often referred to as ‘soldier settlements’. The block of land that was to become Highfield, was held back for release until 1951, perhaps due to the lack of good road access.
A local farmer and shearer bought the block in 1951 and subsequently built a shearing shed and yards on the western side of the property when better road access became available.
In the 1980s, the property was owned by a local school teacher, who built a new cottage on the site of the current farm house.
In 2010, the property was purchased by the Nature Conservation Trust of NSW (subsequently taken over by the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage and their Biodiversity Conservation Trust) to establish a conservation covenant on the remnant box-gum woodland that covered two thirds of the property. Funding for this came from the NSW State Government as an ‘offset’ for the woodland that was destroyed to make way for the Tarcutta By-Pass on the Hume Highway.
In 2013 Highfield became our home. To acknowledge the critically endangered habitat protected here, we re-named this place Highfield Farm and Woodland.