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The day First Fleeters met the Bidjigal people of the Eora nation.


Glenlee is part of one of the original Land Grants in Lugarno made by Governor Sir William Thomas Denison in 1856 to Thomas George Lee, son of a shoemaker from London. The property was sold in 1859 to John Blatchford, for 100 pounds, and again in 1886 to John Henry Geddes.


Geddes built a six-room timber house approximately where Boronia Parade sits today. Unfortunately he lost the land during the Depression of the 1890s when City Bank foreclosed the mortgage.


Otto Emil Matthei first saw the land when he and his wife, Anna Marie, and their two sons were travelling up the Georges River on a paddleboat heading for a Sunday school picnic. Otto became enchanted with the area and decided it was where he wanted to raise his family. 


The family occupied the Geddes house as caretakers for City Bank in 1908 until Otto’s finances allowed him to purchase 41 acres gradually until 1915.


They became became fishermen and oyster farmers and are important part of the oyster farming history of the area. 


In 1910, Otto built Glenlee, a homestead that still remains today, set on the hillside overlooking the river. He bought a cow, planted a mixed orchard, a vegetable garden and built boatsheds and wharves along the river frontage.


In 1920 the estate was subdivided and a gravel road was constructed and named Boronia Parade after the pink Boronia that flourished in the area. The road cost four hundred pounds.


The family farm helped them survive the Great Depression, providing milk, butter, eggs, fruit and vegetables. Over past decades the organic produce was made available to the community each Saturday, from a stall manned by Will and Alan Matthei, grandsons of Otto and Anna. Many Lugarno residents remember buying their produce and stopping to chat to the brothers.


Generations of the family have been instrumental in developing so much of the Lugarno we know today. They were founding members of the Lugarno Progress Association, and worked hard in establishing so much of the infrastructure of the town. Alan and William were two of the seventeen children in the first class at Lugarno School in 1933. 


Will and his wife, Jessie, continued to live at Glenlee until William’s death in 2018.

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