Early Canberra

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Howie's Hostel Camp 1923-1927

Posted on April 16, 2012 at 8:40 PM

In early 2012 a photograph found in the Canberra & District Historical Society collection showed in the background two trees that I recognised.  This led to the knowledge of the site of not only the cubicles, but the Mess and other buildings on the site.  The area is in Block 3 Section 128 Stirling Park, Yarralumla Canberra.  The sites of the 25 two and three bedroom cottages in the settlement have survived. They are on the hill above the Hostel Camp along either side of a 19th century track that still crosses the hill.  The men of this camp built the Hotel Canberra - originally known as Hostel No 1 - built to house federal politicians and other VIPs.  Contractor John Howie & Sons was a Sydney firm who continued to build other buildings in Canberra.

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50 Comments

Reply Colin Rundle
9:48 AM on May 20, 2013 
Dear Ann,
I was just wondering where you got the photo of the two men standing on the traction engine at the top of this page. I have that photo and several others given by my grand mother Florence (May) Hawke of Westlake. She said that my grandfather Andy Hawke was the man on the right standing on the wheel. Do you have any information on the photo?
Reply Ann Gugler
6:53 PM on May 20, 2013 
Colin Rundle says...
Dear Ann,
I was just wondering where you got the photo of the two men standing on the traction engine at the top of this page. I have that photo and several others given by my grand mother Florence (May) Hawke of Westlake. She said that my grandfather Andy Hawke was the man on the right standing on the wheel. Do you have any information on the photo?
Reply Ann Gugler
6:56 PM on May 20, 2013 
Colin you are correct - the photograph was given to me by Marjie (nee Hawke). I knew her from a small child. She took me to school.
Reply Ann Gugler
7:13 PM on May 20, 2013 
Colin, I should have added. The photograph was taken on Stirling Ridge in Stirling Park - then Westlake. On the top of the Ridge are remains of the drop down to the sewer tunnel below - deepest shaft in the system - around 200ft from memory. One of the three surviving brick sewer vents heritage listed is a bit further down the hill. The Hawke family came from Araluen and several generations of the family lived in Westlake cottages. There was also a single men's camp along the bottom of the ridge in 'The Gap'. This photograph is a very important one in that it shows the traction engine etc - mullock from the tunnel were brought up from the working site by buckets and transferred to the skips and then taken along the ridge and dumped. There was also a very big dump of mullock from below next to the sewer vent. It was grey in colour - limestone. I would love to see your other photographs. Ann
Reply Colin
7:34 AM on May 22, 2013 
Thanks for that Ann,

Very informative. I do remember now that mum said she had spoken to you. I had a vague memory that my grandmother thought the photo might have been taken near Mt Ainslie, but clearly not. Next time I'm in Canberra (maybe later this year) I'll see if I can dig out the other photos.

Thanks for all of your great work!
Reply Ann Gugler
6:22 PM on May 22, 2013 
thanks Colin - let me know when you are coming to Canberra and I can show you the site of the photograph. Below in the background are the Westlake cottages one of which may be no.36 - one of the Hawke cottages. Ann
Reply Colin
11:17 PM on May 23, 2013 
Thanks Ann, that would be great! Will be in touch. Colin
Reply Ann Gugler
2:32 AM on May 24, 2013 
look forward to hearing from you. ann
Reply Joseph Stabler Boyle
4:37 AM on April 1, 2014 
Photograph of dining room at Ainslie Migrant Hostel 1960
Reply Ann
5:20 PM on April 1, 2014 
I've never seen photographs of the interiors of the hostels Post War 2 and look forward to seeing it. I am a novice at the workings of web pages so apologise for not being sure where it is. Ann
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