Showing posts from May, 2010


Near Nowra on the south coast of New South Wales is the harbour of the Australian Capital Territory, Jervis Bay. Captain James Cook (1728-1779)(bio here) originally sighted the bay and named St George's Head on St George's Day April 1770. Cook called Point Perpendicular (today's Lighthouse site) 'Long Nose'.

Today the safe harbour is known as Jervis Bay after the British Admiral John Jervis (1735-1823)(bio here). It was named in 1791 by Richard Bowen (1761–1797)(bio here) who had served under Jervis. George Bass (1771-1803)(bio here) visited Jervis Bay when he surveyed the South East coast of Australia in 1797.

Captain James Cook Wikipedia photo (here)
As was usual with colonial expansion, in 1822 Traditional Owners were quickly displaced when Alexander Berry took up the land in the Shoalhaven area. They were (moved) to the 'Wreck Bay Aboriginal Reserve'. Smallpox and syphilis soon significantly reduced the local Aboriginal population. By 1932 only 50 Aborigi…


Canberra's first arboretum (info here) was established at Westbourne Woods in the Canberra suburb of Yarralumla. In May 1913 horticulturalist Thomas Charles George Weston (1866-1935)(bio here) was put in charge of the afforestation of the new city of Canberra.

The establishment of gardens, parks, and plantations (post here) were to be Weston's responsibility whilst at the same time propagating for and establishing a forestry industry in the area of the Australian Capital Territory.

Weston had to overcome the remoteness of Canberra's location, infertile soils, windswept plains and rabbit infestation when he began establishing plants suited for Canberra's developing landscape. He also wanted to reserve all hilltops around Canberra preserving their tree cover enabling the collection of native seed.

Westbourne Woods.
Image (here)

Weston established the Yarralumla Government Nursery complex the same year. Weston also tried to ascertain which species of tr…


The original settlers of the 'Limestone Plains' (present day Canberra) came to the new territory with basically only their flocks of sheep and small herds of cattle. Upon arriving to establish a 'station' or 'run' tents were used by the new colonists as accommodation until such time as slabs of timber were split and used to erect 'slab huts'.

Slab Hut - Wikipedia article (here)

Native timbers of the area were used for housing, stockyards and outbuildings. These huts were replaced over time by more substantial timber houses and sometimes of pise' (rammed earth) like Rose's Cottage (post here) at Isabella Plains. The more substantial homesteads, buildings and church were built of stone.

The Duntroon Dairy (post here) built  in 1832 was the first stone building on the Limestone Plains. It was made of material collected from the adjacent Mount Pleasant. In 1833 the owner of the 'Duntroon Estate' (post here) Robert Campbell (1769-1846)(bio he…


The first sheep station on the 'Limestone Plains' was established in 1824 by Joshua John Moore (1790-1864)(bio here). Moore became the first pastoralist of today's Australian Capital Territory when he was granted a ticket-of-occupation for over 2000 acres (over 809 hectares) on the newly discovered 'Limestone Plains' (todays Canberra).

An overseer and a number of Convict stockmen of Moore's constructed 'slab huts' and stockyards on Acton Peninsular at the base of Black Mountain. The property was originally called 'Canberry' after the Aboriginal word for the area. Today's National Capital of Canberra is named after this word meaning 'meeting place'.

1843 Map showing Canberry Wikipedia image (here)
Robert Campbell (bio here) established the second station in the area when his overseer John Ainsley (post here) a former convict then 'ticket of leave' man established the 'Duntroon Estate' (post here) for Campbell a year late…


'Woden Homestead' is the oldest domestically occupied building in the ACT. It has a strong association with the early development of the region and with important figures in the region's history, including a lengthy connection with the Campbell family. The property still operates in a reduced capacity. I am still researching the property.

Woden Homestead (circa 1904-14)  Image NLA (here)
Woden Valley was a sprawling plain in a beautiful valley that nestles between Red Hill and Mount Taylor in the (now) Australian Capital Territory. It was once a plain consisting of large areas of stock fodder with scattered woodlands. The length of the valley was watered by the Creek (or Yarralumla Creek). The creek flows to it's junction with the Molonglo River below the Yarralumla Homestead (post here).

View from Red Hill across Woden Valley to  Mount Taylor. Image Wikipedia commons (here)
The Woden Valley was owned by Dr James Murray who purchased 2,500 acres (1,012 hectares) of land…


'Canberra... a good sheep station spoiled.'

It was said for many years that Australian's or more specifically the Australian economy 'rode on the sheep's back' and the Australian National Capital region was no exception to that saying. Large sheep stations were established on the sheltered, well watered and fodder covered plains of Duntroon (post here), Klensendorlffe's (post here), Springbank Station (post here), Ginninderra Station, Woden Station, Tuggeranong Station (post here), Lanyon Station (post here), in the Molonglo Valley (post here), Cuppacumbalong (post here) and others beyond the Murrumbidgee River and on the Monaro (post here).

Parliament House with sheep grazing in front (circa 1941) NLA image (here)
The area at the time the 'Territory for the Seat of Government' was established in 1911 held (recorded) 224,764 sheep and the export of the areas wool helped evolve the Australian economy. In 1909 Frederick Campbell a descendant of Rober…


During the mid 1920's Canberra needed to house more families working on the construction of the new Federal Capital. A settlement of 120 wooden cottages were built for workers near a causeway that was used to carry trains across the nearby Molonglo River.

Sydney Morning Herald, Friday 20th March 1925 NLA Trove (here)

Note: The railway causeway itself was operational from 1917 until 1922, when it was washed away by a flooded Molonglo.

On the 20th September 1928 this new residential area of Canberra was gazetted as 'The Causeway'.  HM Rolland, the designer of the cottages also designed the cottages at Westlake and Acton. The cottages were based on the same style as the earlier camp at 'Westlake' (post here) and were of a wooden construction. The buildings were described simply as 'portable timber cottages'.

The young City of Canberra at this time still had no purpose built venue for community gatherings or entertainment. In 1926 with voluntary labour and mat…


"Over the hill and down into the hollow
Theres a path we all follow
To this place we still call home" Plaque erected by Westlake children at 'Westlake'
In the early 1900's Walter Burley Griffin (1876-1937)(bio here) named an area of  'Klensendorlffe's Paddock' (post here) near the soon to be built Parliament House, 'Westlake'. At first the area was used to house workers building the new city of Canberra in camps consisting of tents. One camp was established in the 'hollow' of a natural saddle of the area's landscape called the 'Gap'.

This natural feature led down to the nearby Molonglo River and is thought to be an Aboriginal (post here) pathway from Black Mountain to Tuggeranong (post here). An old road (circa 1850's) from the nearby quarry was said to have been established on an existing Aboriginal pathway. Aboriginal scarred trees (post here) at Westlake and reported stone artifact scatters on Stirling Ridge by a Ngu…


In 1839 a land grant was made to William Klensendorlffe (1789-1861) of a parcel of land on the 'Limestone Plains' (modern day Canberra). Klensendorlffe was a German free settler arriving in the colony in 1818 after serving in the British Navy. Since the early 1900's Klensendorlffe land has been the political heart of Australia.

From early times the area was known as 'Klensendorlffe's Land' and was marked as such on maps of the era. Klensendorffe constructed a large two story stone cottage on the Molonglo River flats and called it 'Elizabeth Farm' presumably after his wife Elizabeth. It is known that his land's included the present day Parliamentary Triangle, Stirling Park and the embassy district of the Canberra suburb of Yarralumla.

'Klensendorlffe's Paddock' was described as 'Principally of gently undulating land timbered with gum (box), ironstone and slate outcrops. It supports three sheep to the acre. The green timber is not suit…


The present site of the Australian Capital Territory and it's city of Canberra was decided after an extensive search.  The site was chosen in 1908 as a result of survey work done by the Government Surveyor Charles Scrivener.

Charles Scrivener (1859-1923)(bio here)
He surveyed numerous sites for the construction of Australia's new capital, finally settling on Canberra.  John Gale, the publisher of The Queanbeyan Age (1831-1929)(bio here) and Federal politician King O'Malley (post here) campaigned strongly for the Canberra area.

In December 1908 Scrivener was chosen to determine the best city site and water-catchment territory for the new capital. Scrivener forced his small team 16 hours a day completing  the survey in two months, an amazing feat when one looks at the outlying topography of the Australian Capital Territory. (there is a good read (herepdf) about the original survey showing detailed maps.

Canberra Contour map NLA image (here)
He suggested a boomerang-shaped terr…