Early Canberra


Stirling Park Yarralumla - site of Howie's Settlements & Tradesmen's Camp

Posted on June 15, 2010 at 1:39 AM

Block 3, Section 128 Stirling Park Yarralumla is another part of the park that is set aside for possible development.  This is the eastern section of the park and in and on its soil are the remains of Ngunawal use and the sites of Contractor John Howie's Settlement and the Tradesmen's Camp. The men of the former settlement constructed the Hotel Canberra (1923-1925) and the latter worked on the Provisional Parliament House between 1923 and 1925. 


John Howie built 25 two & three bedroom cottages for his married men and a recreation hall. For his single men he had 18 timber cubicles and a recreation hall for them.  The Burns Club was founded in the Mess of the Hostel Camp in1924.  Many of Howie's men were good Scots and were amongst those responsible for the planting of a Rowan tree near the Presbyterian Church.  Rowans are also found throughout the park.


The article in the General Section that shows the gps readings of some of the sites in the area of Howie's settlement is intended to allow the reader to know a little more about this area.  The map that marks the area is only a beginning.  The whole of Stirling Park is an archaelogical site that still contains the evidence of human habitation that includes the Ngunawal and early construction period of Canberra when men lived under canvas, timber cubicles and in the small timber cottages in Howie's and The Gap.


Nearby to Howie's on the western side of the creek that still tries to run through the Stirling Park (old maps refer to it as a deep water course) is the one surviving septic tank of the type used in the early settlements and suburbs prior to the availability of the sewer system in 1927.


The sad thing is that no full archaelogical study has been made or is proposed. In 1999 I did show an archaelogist employed by the National Capital Authority (NCA) a number of the European sites within the park and these are marked throughout Stirling Park with concrete posts painted yellow. But sadly, this area was not noted in the last report carried out for the NCA.  Instead the 700 who lived in the area of Stirling Park and Capital Hill (then Westlake) in 1925 were crowded into the area known as The Gap - Section 22, Stirling Park, Yarralumla.


The fuller article with photographs of the sites marked on the map taken in June 2010 alongside photographs taken in the 1920s will shortly be added to the Hidden Canberra Web. http://hiddencanberra.webs.com/historyofcanberra.htm

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