By Cathy Jones
‘Gundaroo’ was built in 1899 for its owner William Affleck MLA (1836-1923). The house is described in the 1986 Strathfield Heritage Study as:
A single storey Federation house with a symmetrical façade and a Marseilles tile roof. Elements include terra cotta finials, two projecting rendered gables with half timbering and timber finials, turned timber verandah posts and timber brackets, timber windows and a central entry. A neatly clipped lawn, perimeter garden, iron palisade fence and a gravel drive are important features in the streetscape. This Federation house is of local significance for its architectural qualities that contribute to the streetscape.
Affleck bought three adjacent blocks of land, lots 14, 15, 16 & 17, in 1886 from the subdivision of the Bushy Hill Estate. The land was located near the corner of Elwin Street facing Homebush Road. He built ‘Gundaroo’ on lots 16 & 17 as his primary residence and lived there until his death in 1923. He first built ‘Weymss’, 89 Homebush Road named after his place of birth and then ‘Gundaroo’ 93 Homebush Road and finally ‘Caledonia’ at 91 Homebush Road.
Affleck was born in West Wemyss in Scotland, where his father, Arthur was a storekeeper. He migrated to NSW in 1855 and settled at Gundaroo, a town in the NSW Yass Valley, where he established a successful store with his father. Affleck built the current general store in Gundaroo in 1880 and was largely responsible for the construction of the Presbyterian Church, bridge over the Yass River and other public buildings. His many civic activities earned him the name ‘King-Billy’. He was commissioned as a Justice of the Peace in 1876 and was a Freemason.
He was first elected to the NSW Legislative Assembly representing the Free Trade Party as member for the electorate of Yass in 1894. He served for a ten year period until his defeat in 1904. While serving as a member of parliament, he moved to Strathfield.
He was associated with Australia Protection Defence Association and represented Queanbeyan in the General Assembly Presbyterian Church. Affleck was also a devoted member of the local Presbyterian Church and helped fund and establish the Strathfield Church at 90 Homebush Road, which opened in 1921 (now the Western Christian Chinese Church). He authored two books “An Essay on the Best Means of Settling People on the Land” in 1893 and “Reminiscences” in 1916.
Affleck lived at ‘Gundaroo’ until his death in 1923. The subsequent owner of the house was his son, John Wishart Affleck (1868-1956).
‘Gundaroo’, 2004 February 8, Sydney Morning Herald
Malcolm S ‘Gundaroo 93 Homebush Road’, Strathfield District Historical Society Newsletter, Vol. 3 No.6 February 1981.
William Affleck, Former Members NSW Parliament, NSW Parliamentary Archive https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/members/formermembers/Pages/former-member-details.aspx?pk=702.
Sands Sydney Directory published by John Sands until 1932/3.
Strathfield Council Valuation List 1889-1900
Wise’s New South Wales Post Office Directory.