The charming tales of the Gumnut Babies Snugglepot and Cuddlepie have entertained young and old for generations. A display of Mr. Lizard telling stories to the famous intrepid bushbabies (Australian Children's Classics) is situated in the Stirling Cottage Gardens.
The Lizard display panels were painted by local artist Anthea Ward and the Spider was made by Anne-Marie Gardiner in 2008. The four large murals on the exterior walls of the centre, were painted by Celestin Hutchinson in 2012.
May Gibbs connection to Harvey
May arrived in Australia aboard the ship S.S Hesperus in 1881, at the age of four. May's parents Herbert and Cecie Gibbs, left England to try their hand at farming in Australia. After landing in Adelaide, the young family settled on land one hundred kilometres to the north west of the city, only to be driven back to Adelaide by drought.
Herbert and his brother George formed a partnership with Dr. Henry Harvey and John Young and then took up land on the 'Harvey Estate' in Western Australia. Herbert, with son Bertie and brother George, sailed to 'The Harvey' in 1885, leaving Cecie to follow with May and Ivan. The family settled into life at 'The Homestead' on the fertile banks of the Harvey River and stayed there for two years.
The Homestead was built when the Estate was owned by Governor Stirling - sometime in the early to mid-1800s. Features of the cottage were its hexagonal shaped paving blocks and Sheoak shingled roof, fruit trees surrounding the cottage. May, along with brother Bertie and Ivan would take long walks through the bush, turning over stones, examining flowers and bird nests, and swimming in the river pools. At the age of nine, May was given a pony which she rode around the district, visiting the neighbour's farms. As there was no school in the area, the children were given lessons by their own mother at home. May displayed an early talent for drawing and was encouraged by her father, himself a talented artist. In later years May described her time in Harvey as the two happiest years of her life.
In 1887, after struggling to run the farm at a profit, the Gibbs family moved to Perth. May's Uncle George and new wife Ellen decided to stay on in Harvey. May spent many holidays at her Uncle George's house - visiting her younger cousins and wandering through the bush. She continued to visit Harvey for many years, entertaining her young cousins with stories and caricatures.
May went on to become one of Australia's best known and most loved authors and her illustrations have charmed children for many generations. It is believed that May Gibbs drew much of her inspiration for her stories and illustrations from her experiences in Harvey.
May Gibbs' Nutcote
Nutcote was the beautiful harbourside home of May Gibbs (1877-1969), Australia’s foremost children’s author and illustrator and best known today for her iconic story, The Complete Adventures of Snugglepot & Cuddlepie.
Now a house museum surrounded by delightful gardens, if you find yourself visiting Sydney, find time to visit. Located at 5 Wallaringa Ave, Neutral Bay. Entry fees apply.
1 James Stirling Place, Harvey WA, Australia