Henry Penny Senior of Green Hills Farm from which the township 24 km from York takes its name, was born at Bowerchalk near Salisbury Wiltshire, England in 1835. In his twenty-first year Henry Penny came to Australia, arriving in Fremantle on the ship “Berkshire” the trip extending over 103 days.
He made his way to the Avon Valley and had his early colonial experiences working on a farm at Katrine near Northam and later at Tipperary, York a property owned by Samuel Burges Esq. Originally he leased a small farm of 40 acres and added to his income by working in the flourishing sandalwood industry. In 1867 he was in a position to seek a larger holding and secured 200 acres of the pastoral lease of the Parker Bros. He thus formed the nucleus of the fine farming estate so prominent in the Greenhills District today. A true pioneer of agriculture, he added to his holdings and surrounded his fine shingle-roofed Georgian Homestead and farm buildings with over 200 acres. At the property today rest the remains (and receipt) for a Sunshine harvester purchased in 1903 for the sum of one hundred and seven pence. It was the sixteenth “Sunshine” produced in Australia and came to Greenhills from Melbourne. Henry Penny’s business interests included many shops in the nearby township of Northam.
Mr Penny was one of the founders and the first chairman of the Greenhills Road Board and was an active participant in all affairs of public concern. He was a key figure in the erection of an Agricultural Hall which was the first institution of its kind in Western Australia. The Church of England was built in 1882 and Mr Penny played a leading role in securing the extension of the railway to this district.
Mr Penny returned to his homeland may times, on occasions taking his daughters for up to six months at a time. No doubt they were very much loved and admired by those in England and daughter Leah Penny from her marriage to Charles Mills produced Beryl, a beautiful young lady who in 1926 was crowned the first Miss Australia. Whilst in England Mr Penny bought equipment such as boots, ploughs and spades to sell to those on their way to the Goldfields as Greenhills was the main route at that time.
The Government Gazette of 1891 notes that Sir John Forrest came to Greenhills to look at the extension of the railway. “By this time the encomiums of the visitors had left nothing further to be said in praise of Green Hills as a ploughman’s paradise. Then turning again onto the main road at its junction with the route to Boonmull and past the new foundations for the Agricultural Hall and a hundred yards further and we were in the hospitable gates of Mr Penny’s homestead where Mrs Penny and her lady friends had prepared a sumptuous repast…”
Green Hills Farm is now called Korrawilla. It is a vast land holding of many thousands of acres and is farmed by the fifth generation of the Penny family. As keenly committed to agricultural advancement and community life as Mr Henry Penny Senior the present Penny family is well known and highly respected for their astute farming practises and determined preservation of historic buildings and sites. Korrawilla is recognised by the National Trust and is on the Heritage Register of Australia. Tourist coaches bring travellers to see the Homestead and stables which are in good condition. A shingle roof is still on the North wing under a new roof.
The notable pioneer’s descendants, Mr Henry Graham Penny and his son Henry Simon Penny now use modern farming practises to run Korrawilla as a traditional wheat and sheep property.