Stoneybank Settlement was originally settled by James Phillis in the 1850’s. Arriving in Australia in 1839 on the Duchess of Northumberland, James Phillis was one of the earliest pioneers to settle in the township of Mt Pleasant.
Originally a farmer from Kent England he along with his wife and eight children made the journey to Australia. Susannah’s life in Australia was very short, infact several weeks after arriving she died leaving James and the eight young children to fulfil the dreams they may have shared.
James pursued labouring employment in and around Adelaide for the next few years, adjusting as best he could to the circumstances. Over the years James accumulated many land holdings with Stoneybank Farm being one of them. Samuel Tapscott found employment from amongst the abundant number of sheep farms in the Mt Pleasant district and married Harriet Phillis, a daughter of James. The young Tapscott’s settled on Stoneybank, a dairy farm which James passed on to his daughter.
They had fourteen children in total, six daughters and eight sons. Their homestead was built here, adjacent to a water reserve. In the years of the horse and buggy, it was used as a watering point and stopover on a journey between the Murray Flats and Adelaide. Stoneybank Farm remained in the Phillis family until late 1940's, but during the wool boom in the early 1950’s the property changed ownership several times. From the late 1950’s until late 2000 no one actually resided at Stoneybank.
Robert Groth purchased the property in 1984. He was genuinely impressed with Phillis’s foresight to establish their homestead in such a secluded, picturesque location. This was motivation enough to bring the ruins back to life. Over 17 years “Stoneybank Settlement” was slowly restored.
During restoration a false floor of red gum timer was discovered constructed above the original flag stone floors, as dampness must have been a major problem in the early days. There was only a small section of the roof remaining on the main homestead and “Lakeview Cottage”, which was the original dairy, was literally a ruin with only three walls standing. The other buildings, “Dovecote and Lavender Cottages” were in some what better repair.
During the early stages of restoration the lake was constructed and thousands of native trees were planted around the property. A bird sanctuary was fenced to one side of the lake, where many birds find haven and where the resident swans nest every year.