Kangaroo Ground Presbyterian Church
The first Europeans to own land in Kangaroo Ground were James and Isabella Donaldson, arriving in Port Phillip (Melbourne) on 17 December 1841 from Scotland,. They purchased 1 square mile (258.6 hectares) southwest of the present Church and their first house was a bark hut. As they were of mature age they employed tenant farmers to cultivate the land. These farmers were all Scottish emigrants, many of whom purchased land surrounding the Donaldson’s in subsequent land sales.
Like other settlers, as soon as they had made a home for themselves and their families, they desired church services as in their homeland. The Rev. James Forbes, the first minister of Scots Church, Melbourne, had written in 1840 to the Colonial Committee of the Church of Scotland asking for suitable ministers to be sent out. In response to this appeal the Rev. Peter Gunn arrived in January, 1842 and was specially appointed to serve the Gaelic speaking people in and around Melbourne.
The records state that there is no photograph available of Rev. Gunn as he declined to be photographed on the ground that “the making of images is forbidden”. In the “Early History” he is described as “a quiet young man” and one of the present parishioners says that her grandfather, as a small boy, apparently told his mother he should have been named “Pistol” rather than “Gunn”. Such an image is inconsistent with that recorded by Mr Woiwod: “(He was said to have been of) ample proportions and to have exercised… forcible pulpit manners, including the frequent taking of snuff or ‘sneeshin’. To drive home his lessons more cogently he would lean over the edge of the pulpit until his congregation was afraid – and the younger ones hoped – that he would overbalance and tumble out.”
The Donaldson’s built a substantial home at the centre of their property called Kangaroo Hall. From 1843 to 1853 the Rev Gunn conducted church services at regular intervals in the Donaldson’s barn.