Glenbarr is renowned for its large two-storey timber and stone homestead that was the home for four generations of the Rankine family for over 80 years. It was one of the first homes built in the Strathalbyn area – built around 1842 for William Rankine and his family. It was the centre for family gatherings, church services and town picnics. Many of the outbuildings are still excellent examples of early settler life. Despite some modifications, much of Glenbarr has remained unchanged from previous generations.
The Girls Guides and Children’s Camps
Glenbarr Homestead and the 35 acres around it was sold by the Rankine family 1923 to Richard Giles. Glenbarr continued to be used as a family home for many years until Richard’s niece Miss Daphne Bowman rented the site in 1939 as a training site for the Girl Guide movement. With the assistance of fellow youth worker Kathleen Bateman it was used to support the war efforts. After the war Daphne purchased the Glenbarr property in 1945 and the site was established as a campsite to continue to offer the experience of country living to children. The stables and hayloft were converted to an eating hall and chapel; the girls slept upstairs in the main homestead and the Barn was a dormitory for the boys. The cottage that was near the stables was used for wet weather activities in the early camp years and later for staff accommodation and housekeeper’s quarters.
The Bowman Bateman Foundation
In 1975 the administration of the campsite was handed over to the Glenbarr Bowman Bateman Foundation. It remains a campsite, and is run almost entirely by volunteers. The formal gardens are currently undergoing restoration with plans to maintain and improve the homestead and its collections for future generations to enjoy. It has always celebrated its Scottish heritage and been a focus for youth-related activities, while maintaining a strong religious foundation. Through the generosity of the Glenbarr Bowman Bateman Foundation this tradition can continue.