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Elizabeth Julia McKeahnie

Poet and pastoralist, Elizabeth Julia McKeahnie (1844 - 1919) was the daughter of Charles and Elizabeth McKeahnie, of Booroomba, Tharwa, then in NSW, now in the ACT. Her property, Blythburn, was adjacent to her parents', and the homestead which still stands was built in 1882.

Blythburn was an 810ha dairy and cattle property that Elizabeth established alone. She undertook most of the hard work herself, however, when she did employ others they were usually women. Local legend has it that from time to time, when men had to be employed, she insisted that they wear dresses.

Elizabeth Julia McKeahnie was a highly skilled horsewoman, and would regularly undertake the 55 km ride from her home, Blythburn, near Mt Tennant, (then NSW) in to Colinton, near Cooma to visit family members. Elizabeth was tall, well-dressed and was known to ride astride as well as the customary rode side-saddle. She also carried a small, pearl handled revolver.

Elizabeth was also a poet, and often found time to express her emotions in verse, especially on occasions when someone dear to her passed away. These verses were published in The Queanbeyan Age or printed on a small card edged in black.

After the death of her niece, Jane Elizabeth McKeahnie in 1877, Elizabeth wrote a poem entitled My Darling Niece and many of her poems reveal a theme of sadness. Other poems include Effects of the Drought, Alone and Dear Land of My Ancestors.

Legend suggests that Elizabeth wore a wedding ring banded in black and engraved with the initials KC in memory of Kenneth Cameron of The Waterholes, who died a bachelor in 1891. His gravestone in Queanbeyan Cemetery bears one of Elizabeth's verses with a plaintive reminder of her parents' refusal to allow the marriage:

Rest my beloved rest,
Your journey is over,
Again midst the blest,
We meet to part no more.

Sources: The McKeahnie family

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