Honour puts Corkhill family streets ahead
by Clair Low
Four generations of a pioneering Canberra family joined together yesterday to celebrate the honour of having a street named after them. The street in Action that bears the Corkhill name is 300m north of pasture the farming family occupied from 1893 to 1913. The street, built late last year, is off Barrine Drive near Lake Burley Griffin.
It was named to recognise Robert Corkhill (1863-1954) and his wife Catherine (1867-1952), early settlers in Canberra and local dairy farmers. Robert was born on the Isle of Man in the Irish Sean and, at the age of 20, sailed to Australia and travelled to Limestone Plains, now known as Canberra. in 1983 he married Catherine "Kitty" Rolfe and they moved to a cottage on the site of the present National Library of Australia.
Robert Corkhill was a grazier, dairyman and wheat grower. he and his wife raised 10 children at the cottage and had 26 grandchildren.
The Corkhills supplied milk to Canberra for close to 50 years until their 175 cows were auctioned in 1961. During the Great Depression they gave vegetables and milk to people who needed it. Catherine died in Canberra aged 85 and Robert died in Sydney aged 91. Both Corkhills are buried in Queanbeyan.
About 100 members of the Corkhill family, including in-laws, came to celebrate their special street including the oldest surviving Corkhill, Eileen Carter (nee Corkhill), 88, a granddaughter of Catherine and Robert.
The Corkhills, one of Canberra's earliest families, have lived in Canberra for five generations. Some maintain their family's farming tradition to this day.
Catherine wasn't the first Canberran on her side - her grandparents, Brian and Margaret Logue, managed the Duntroon dairy from 1845.
Margaret Sullivan, dubbed "the family's historian", said, "Our grandfather died in 1954, so it's taken a long time for someone who lived here that long to be recognised."
The street's location had a special significance for the family. "Our grandparents were very stauch Catholics and to think this street is so close to the bishop's house [the home of Canberra's first parish priest, Monsignor Hayden] where he used to live would have pleased them.
"He had breakfast with our grandparents every morning, he was like part of the family really."
Brian Corkhill, 73 another grandchild of Catherine and Robert, agreed the street was a great honour. "Some of these people have travelled seven or eight hours to be here. We have a great sense of pride for sure."
Oliver Maxwell, 13 of Forrest, is a great-great grandchild of Catherine and Robert. His mother, Donna Maxwell (nee Corkhill), is Brian's daughter.
Oliver said his family's street was "Pretty Special". "Everyone can drive past there and they might not know the significance of it, but we do. I'm very proud to be affiliated with the family, with both my families."