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Isabella Spiller (1831–1924)

Isabella Spiller, n.d.

Isabella Spiller, n.d.

from Pastoral Review, 16 December 1924

Isabella Spiller, one of the grand old pioneers of Riverina, passed peacefully away on 4th November at her residence, Somerset Park Estate, near Morundah, N.S.W. She was married in the early sixties to John Henry Spiller, who had settled in Riverina as early as 1856, having made the journey from Sydney to Wagga by bullock waggon.

The late Mr. Spiller, who died in 1907, became associated with the late John Peters, and assisted him in the management of Gumly Gumly, Big Springs, Sandy Creek, and Tubbo Stations. The last named property was highly improved, and a fine flock of Merino sheep established under the supervision of Mr. Spiller, who afterwards bought North Yathong and Somerset Park Stations.

The deceased lady was the constant companion and helpmate of her husband in all his trials and struggles, and shared with him the vicissitudes and discomforts incidental to early settlement. The hospitality and kindness of the Spiller family were well known and highly appreciated throughout the district in which they lived, and there are very many who will lament the departure of this grand old lady, who had reached the patriarchal age of 93.

The late Mrs. Spiller has left four daughters to mourn her loss, viz., Mrs. D. L. McLarty, of Bundure, Jerilderie; Mrs. C. R. Rawlins, of Uroly, Narandera; Mrs. Boyd Macleod, of Tumbarumba; and Mrs. J. Mitchell, of Narandera. Mrs. Spiller was buried beside her husband in the Jerilderie cemetery.

"Oldhand" writes of Mrs. Spiller:—

"There are not many Riverina pastoralists, men or women, who can look back to the time when this very dear lady, now with God, was a power and a leader amongst the people of the great Murrumbidgee River district.

"Mrs. Spiller was born near Inverness in Scotland, and came out with friends to Australia in her early youth and married young. Her early married life was spent at Goree, N.S.W., and then at Tubbo, where the Spillers lived many years. Later they moved to Yathong, where sadness came with the loss of two daughters, who died within six months of each other, and where the only son returned from school to die at the early age of seventeen.

"Tubbo, Yarrabee and Goree as one property were managed by Mr. John Spiller in the early days for John Peters, an absentee owner, and the wide circle of bush friends who visited Tubbo knew just what delightful Australian home life meant. The children of these happy times are the grown-ups of to-day. Times change and people change, and as our hearts do not change just as speedily, some of us look back almost with feelings of regret to those pre-motor days when it was practically a day's journey to anywhere; but we got there all the same, and it was worth the getting!

"Mrs. Spiller loved the real Riverina—that country of great distances, packed full of miles from one end of it to the other—and she lived practically the whole of her life there, first at Goree, Tubbo, and Yathong, and the last twenty-eight years at Somerset Park.

"In the early Tubbo days, in spite of the great distances, there were rare district gatherings of people whose names and memories are household recollections to-day. Along the river the Robertsons were at Toganmain, the Clarks at Kerarbury, the Learmonths at Groongal, the Mills' at Uardry, the Baillies at Benerembah, the Waughs at Gogeldrie, and the Douglas' at North Yanco. Further east, Frank Jenkins owned the wide areas of Buckingbong, and away south were Samuel McCaughey at Coonong, John McCaughey at Goolgumbla, David McCaughey at Coree, Angus, Duncan and James Robertson at Yarrabee and Goree, and the Austins and Millears at Wanganella. T. Faed, brother of the great artist, lived at Butherwah, Watt and Thompson at Cocketgedong, the Simpsons at Nowranie, the McLartys at Bundure, the Falkiners at Boonoke, the C. M. Lloyds at Yamma, and the Cochrans at Widgiewa, and all helped to make life worth living for old and young alike. Cuthbert Fetherstonhaugh managed Brookong for William Halliday in the earlier days, and he and John McCaughey, who recently sold Yarrabee, where he was a close neighbour of Mrs. Spiller for many years, and James Robertson, of Athole and Melbourne, are the main living representatives of the early Riverina days.

"Mrs. Spiller was kindness and hospitality personified, and rode or drove thousands of miles to nurse the sick or wounded amongst her bush friends or relatives. A noble woman, nobly dowered, who spent all her talents in good service, and whose being was kept afire for ninety-three years in the strenuous service of rich and poor alike.

"Mrs. Spiller had a very great regard for the late Sir Samuel McCaughey, and mourned a loss that robbed her of one of her few remaining friends of olden days. They were both devoted to Riverina—that land of enchantment, of which it is truly said that no country on earth ever cast a greater spell on the heart of man or woman than it does on those who stay there long enough.

Original publication

Citation details

'Spiller, Isabella (1831–1924)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, accessed 27 May 2024.

© Copyright Obituaries Australia, 2010-2024

Isabella Spiller, n.d.

Isabella Spiller, n.d.

from Pastoral Review, 16 December 1924

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Macdonald, Isabella

Inverness, Inverness-shire, Scotland


4 November, 1924 (aged ~ 93)
Morundah, New South Wales, Australia

Cultural Heritage

Includes subject's nationality; their parents' nationality; the countries in which they spent a significant part of their childhood, and their self-identity.