Sunnyside: A Place In Australia

From the outset, it had been arranged that some of the 1400 acres of land that was purchased for the school should be subdivided into smaller parcels and sold to Adventist families for a reasonable cost. An allotment of 120 acres was set aside for this purpose and on July 7th 1895 Ellen White negotiated to buy the first allotment. She picked a plot of 40 acres situated on the northern side of the estate and paid $1350 for the land. The reason she chose to buy so early was that she knew the money was needed for building the school.

She had plans to divide the land into several portions to be used for different purposes. She wanted to leave some of it as woodland and use other parts of it for an orchard and garden and for grazing. Of course, the primary focus of the plot would be a choice portion for a home which she decided would be a small cottage so as to prevent an unending flow of guests from streaming through and taking advantage of her hospitality.

Work on the new property began with the erection of three large tents to house the family and the necessary logistical operations like a kitchen to prepare meals. Ellen  White oversaw and participated in much of the work herself. She helped to clear out the land for an orchard and then went down to Sydney to buy fruit trees. She also drove her own team of horses down to the lumber yard to purchase lumber and planted many of the trees that would populate the orchard herself. The little cottage that was completed in 1896 and named Sunnyside, served as her home and office until 1900.

Ellen White’s Time At Sunnyside

During her time at Sunnyside, Ellen White wrote the Desire of Ages, which is a masterpiece on the life of Christ. She would write between 3 and 7 am when everything was still and there was no chance of anyone interrupting her work. Sometimes she would write outdoors under the shade of the trees just in front of her home. In addition to the Desire of Ages, Ellen White also completed and published Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing during her time in Australia.

Life in the middle of the Australian bush was not easy. The land was wild and swarming with Kangaroos, Wallabies and other native animals who can be aggressive and difficult to manage at the best of times. In order to ensure the protection of the property, Ellen White purchased a dog, more precisely a watchdog and christened him with the regal name of Tiglath Pileser after the ruthless and mildly barbaric King of Assyria.  

During her stay at Sunnyside Ellen White worked hard to form bonds with her neighbours. She often visited them and shared produce from her orchard and garden. Once a messenger came bearing the news that Billy Cloutsen, their neighbour’s son was terribly ill. The Cloutsen’s were a large family who lived in Dora Creek and the father of the family was bitterly opposed to Seventh-Day Adventists, not allowing a single Adventist to set foot upon his property or cross it.

However, in this hour of crisis Sarah McEnterfer and May White went out to Cloutsen place and did a great deal of work to help the young man and he significantly improved under their care.

There were numerous other cases of this nature where neighbouring families brought their sick children to Ellen White’s or Willie White’s home to be nursed back to health. In every instance, the family and Sara McEnterfer worked tirelessly to help the young ones recover. The parents were grateful and the little home at Sunnyside soon became a lighthouse in the community. This simple work of caring for the sick and needy was richly repaid years later in post World War II times when the school at Avondale was in desperate need of building materials. One of the proprietors of a building supplies firm remembered Mrs White and the care she showed to those in the community and willingly bent over backwards to make sure the school was supplied with the needed materials.

Further Reading

  • White, A.L. (1983) – Ellen White: The Australian Years