Showing posts from June, 2010


Even before the Commonwealth was born, a Royal Commission was established in November 1899 to report on 45 proposed sites for a new Federal Capital. The newly appointed Commissioner, Alexander Oliver (1832-1904)(bio here) handled the New South Wales government inspired commission. Oliver undertook to complete reports on several sites.

After the Federation of the Australian States (info here) in 1900 the question on where the capital was to be located was addressed when an agreement was made, and provision included in the new Australian Constitution (info here). The site for the new capital city of Australia was to be within New South Wales but not closer than 100 miles (161 km) from Sydney.

Graffitti on a wall outside the Burns Club in Kambah ACT (circa 2009)
Though a site had not been confirmed, opposition to the proposed locations prompted a strong reaction from the populace in Victoria. This reaction saw a political movement arise in Maffra Victoria (near Sale). The organisers of th…


This clipping from The Canberra Times dated 4 June 1954 describes the conditions under which the first survey teams mapping the newly formed Australian Federal Territory had to operate, in the very early 1900's.
The newspaper article quotes Mr. Arthur Percival (1879-1964)(bio here) former Commonwealth Surveyor-General whilst addressing the Canberra and District Historical Society.

Below is a video showing a 100 year old original border marker.

By Spinningreel - 'Stakeout of Canberra' (2 Minutes 19 seconds)


In 1934 Canberra, the Australian Federal Capital, and outlying areas of the Australian Capital Territory experienced floods that damaged infrastructure such as the wooden Tuggeranong Creek Bridge going to Cooma. The bridge sustained irreparable damage and as a result required replacement. The bridge was relocated a short distance and required a deviation in the road.

The Argus - 31 October 1934 Clipping NLA Trove (here)

The Sydney Morning Herald - 31 October 1934
clipping NLA (here)
The same flood washed away the suspension bridge at the Canberra Golf Links and the low level bridge at Lennnox Crossing on the Molonglo River was damaged. The repair bill for the capital was recorded to be over 8,000 pounds. The creek today cascades through the rocks and appears to be calm and gentle belying it's terrible potential as evidenced by the reports of destruction and the steep banks of the creek upstream of the bridge.

The new bridge is now a relic of the road to the Monaro (post here) and rema…


Another couple of theories on the origin of the Australian Capital's name. The first one from Mr Slater in 1931 basically attests to the word 'Canberra' being Gaelic and gives an explanation as to why it is so and the second from Mr Percival theorises that Canberra was named after a small tree that grew in the area, a small tree with red berries that apparently resembled a cranberry...

The Sydney Morning Herald - 26 August 1931 Clipping NLA Trove (here)

The Canberra Times - 4 June 1954 Clipping NLA Trove (here)

Newspaper clippings (I) has several more theories (here)


When one thinks of the game of croquet, images of  ladies at 19th century garden parties, or perhaps the game played by Alice against the nasty Queen of Hearts in Lewis Carroll's 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' come to mind. Canberra in the Australian Capital Territory has a long association with croquet with the Canberra Croquet club house and greens nestled at the foot of Australia's Parliament House.

A form of the game was originally observed being played by peasants in France and was dated to proliferate from Ireland to England circa 1850 with Spratt's rules of croquet (bio here) published in England in 1851. In the beginning croquet was most popular among women. It enabled them them to play a game outdoors in the company of men. As such early games of croquet were carefully chaperoned.

The game of croquet is played on a level 'court' roughly the same size as two tennis courts. Croquet is actually more akin to billiards. By using a 'mallet…


A little background before the video...

Construction of the Cotter dam (info here) occurred bettween 1912 and 1915 to provide a reservior for the new Australian Federal Capital of Australia, Canberra. The reserviors catchment is predominantly in the Namadgi National Park (info here) which supports 3 dams in a 'chain of ponds' the Corin, Bendora and Cotter.

Image ACTEW library (here)
The ACT's water storage capacity is to increase by constructing a new 76m high dam wall downstream of the existing Cotter Dam, this will cover the existing 26m dam wall. Increased storage - current 4.7GL new capacity 78GL. The expansion process started in 2004

The organising authority, the Australian Capital Territory Electricity & Water (ACTEW) corporation (website here) have a video explaining their efforts to record the history and heritage of the cotter dam and it's Indigenous and European archeology. Several local Aboriginal organisations have ongoing consultation with the ACTEW.


The village of Ginninderra in today's Australian Capital Territory was established in 1826 privately to support the people who worked on 'Ginninderra Station' initially, and later for the surrounding stations and workers. By 1850 it had developed into a thriving, prosperous settlement. The village developed into a community of timber slab residences, outbuildings, post office, public school, Catholic Church, a blacksmith's workshop (post here) and a police station. As the remote community developed it became the centre for the district’s social and sporting activity.

In 1882 the police station was opened and manned by the New South Wales police. The police station had a station residence built in 1905 which provided accommodation for the constabulary up until the 1940's? when policing was administered primarily from the Hall village and later from Canberra.

On the 23rd July 1902 after reports of suspicious characters who may have been involved in the murder of Cons…


Europeans first settled the Mulligan's Flat area of today's Australian Capital Territory in the early 1820's. The old coach road to Bungendore (post here) passes through the flat and the area supported a small rural community. The Mulligan's Flat public school was built to educate the local resident's school aged children in 1886, by volunteer labour (most likely the parents). The small wooden 'slab' school house measured only 5' X 10'6" x 7' (1.5m X 3m X 2m), the walls were whitewashed, and the roof was made out of bark stripped from nearby trees.

Slab cutters with tools of the trade
The little school operated for the next 17 years until it's deterioration warranted the erection of a more suitable structure in 1913. The 'old slab school' however remained in use as a lunch shelter. The new school was square 6m X 6M (20' X 20'), had a brick hearth and chimney, a corrugated iron roof, a water tank and an outhouse.

Shows a ma…


The name of Australia's capital city 'Canberra' was decided upon after the federation of the Australian colonies in 1901. Following the decision to establish a Federal Capital a name had to be decided upon. The name 'Canberry' was recorded as early as 1825 on Joshua John Moore's (1790-1864)(bio here) correspondences with the government regarding his property "Canberry Station" on the Limestone Plains, Murray Shire, Argyle County, New South Wales.

Moore definitely named the station, however he was a vacant landowner who never lived on what was then only an outstation formed by an overseer and a few convict stockmen living in bark huts. If Moore's name was of Aboriginal origin, it would have been his overseer and assigned convicts who had the initial contact with the natives and later passed on the Aboriginal name for the area to Moore.

Baroness Gertrude Mary Denman (1884–1954)(bio here), the Australian Governor General's wife, named the…