Early Canberra


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Early Canberra-General by Ann Gugler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Based on a work at http://earlycanberra.webs.com/.


Promotion to bring visitors to the city began before the opening of Parliament.  Accommodation in hotels was limited and a number of tourist parks were established in the early years.  One was at Acton near the area of Lennox Crossing, another at the Cotter and so on. I am not sure where the visitors who camped on the May 9 1927 day, but it is well recorded that the expected numbers did not arrive.  There is a well known story (to the old timers) of the burial of Wilkie's pies.  Because the expected numbers did not arrive the pies not sold were buried in a now unknown site.  Following are a number of articles that tell about the promotion of our city before it was a city.


The Argus 22 November 1924

CANBERRA HOSTEL [Hotel Canberra]

Manageress Appointed

Having decided that, in view of the sale of leases at Canberra on December 12, the No 1 Hostel [Hotel Canberra] must be open for the reception of visitors by December 12, the No 1 hostel must be open for the reception of visitors by December 10, Senator Crawford (Assistant Minister) said yesterday that the Home and Territories department had appointed Miss Southwell as temporary manageress. Senator Crawford added that the future control of the hostel would be a matter for the consideration of the Canberra Commission, which would have to decided whether the hostel should be carried on under the aegis of the Ministry, or whether another effort should be made to induce an experienced hotelkeeper or caterer to take a lease of the premises for a number of years. Miss Southwell has for sometime past the manageress of Yarralumla, the historic homestead at the Federal Capital, which has been used for the accommodation of members of Parliament and other visitors to the Territory. It is expected that everything will be in readiness for the reception of visitors in two or three weeks.

[Miss Southwell later became the manageress of the Hotel Kurrajong where she remained for many years.]



Queanbeyan Canberra Advocate 26 February 1925


On Saturday, February 14th a wedding that created great interest was celebrated at St Gregory’s Church Queanbeyan when Miss Monica Read, eldest daughter of Mrs J Read of ‘The Pines’ Ainslie, was married to Mr W Jackson O’Sullivan (late pilot Royal Air Force), son of Mr P O’Sullivan of Paisley Scotland. The ceremony was performed by the Rev Father Haydon.

The bride who was given away by her brother, Mr Tom Read, wore a dainty gown of shell pink brocaded morocain; the court train of pink satin was lined with georgette and trimmed with hand-made flowers of silver tissue.  The white tulle veil and wreath or orange blossoms, lent by Mrs O Throsby-Young of Wagga was arranged mob-cap fashion. The bridal flowers were a beautiful shower bouquet of white sweet peas, daisies, cactus dahlias, pale pink lilies and ferns with tulle and satin streamers.

As the bride entered the church Miss M Cullen at the organ played the Bridal March, and the Wedding March as the happy couple left.

Miss Eileen Read, sister of the bride acted as bridesmaid and was prettily attired in a frock of mauve georgette with shaded ostrich feathers and black hat. She carried a bouquet of pink carnations, pale heliotrope asters, asparagus fern, with pink and heliotrope streamers, and wore a pearl ring the gift of the bridegroom.

Mr J Newman was best man.

Mrs Read, gowned in black moracain with touches of oriental and black hat, carrying  a sheaf of dark red cactus dahlias, gypeopgbain [?] and ferns, with dark red satin streamers, received over a hundred guests at the Hotel Canberra where the reception was held.  The function was unique in the history of the Federal Capital insomuch as it is the first time a reception and wedding breakfast was held in what may be termed Australia’s most up-to-date hotel, and in honour of such an occasion the management provided a wonderful repast. A feature at the breakfast was the wedding cake, which was made and presented by Miss A Sheebey [? Word not clear] of Yass.

Sydney and the Blue Mountains were chosen for the honeymoon, the bride travelling in a mode [?] moracain costume, hat en suite.

The future home of Mr and Mrs O’Sullivan will be at Canberra.



Queanbeyan Age 18 August 1925


The spacious ballroom at the Hotel Canberra was a brilliant scene on Friday evening last, with tastefully arranged orchestral stand, in the centre, and multi-coloured streamers from which gay balloons were swinging as they hung from the ceiling, and the artistic effect of the variety of costumes worn by the company as they gracefully circled in the ballroom, to the music of the ‘Stromberra’ Orchestra was a scene equal to any similar function organized in the State Capitals. As over 250 were sold by the committee and many paid as they entered, the result financially will reach the object aimed at, viz:- a new organ for Canberra’s Historic Church at Ainslie. [St John the Baptist Church Reid –originally part of Ainslie, then South Ainslie before the final name change to Reid].  The committee are to be congratulated on the success achieved, there was not a hitch to mar the pleasure of patrons from start to finish, although, at times the floor was fairly crowded with dancers.

The vestibule leading into the ballroom as well as the verandahs on each side, were tastefully decorated with bunting and wattle. The carpets and lounge chairs were a boon to many between the dances.  The streamers and balloons, which decorated the ballroom were the gift of Mrs Gorman and they were artistically arranged by Mesdames Gorman, Duffield, Davies and Miss Hawkins, the hon secretary assisted by the Rev FG Ward.

The ‘Stromberra’ Orchestra comprised Dr and Mrs Duffield of Hotel Canberra, and Messrs Glassy and Daley of Canberra; the wore attractive fancy costumes and headgear at the ‘Harlequins’, and their music, piano, violin, flute and bass viol for quality and time was much appreciated and frequently applauded.

The company included visitors from Sydney, Goulburn, Yass and Queanbeyan. The ingenuity of many was taxed to introduce a new idea in fancy dress. One group deserves special mention on account of the attractiveness of their display; Mrs Crace of Gungahleen, brought a party of eight who took the part in every detail, with wands, garlanded with flowers, and ribbons of various hues as ‘Pompadours.’

The following is a description of some of the dresses worn:-

·         Mrs John Goodwin, Canberra, ‘Bridge’

·         Mrs JH Butters, Canberra House, ‘Night’

·         Mrs Gorman, ‘Chinese lady’

·         Mrs Rowse, Hotel Canberra, ‘Persian lady’

·         Miss C Land, Acton ‘Rainbow’

·         Mrs Les Edwards, Acton, ‘Apple Blossom’

·         Mrs JC Brackenreg, Acton, ‘Chance’

·         Miss Davies, ‘Red Indian’

·         Mrs Duffield, ‘Harlequin’

·         Mrs J Hollingsworth, Gungahleen, ‘Knitting Bag’

·         Miss G Kedwell, Sydney, ‘French Artist’

·         Miss MF Hayman, Canberra, pink and blue Mid Victorian’

·         Miss Mignon Jowett, Blandfordia, ‘Madame Pompadour’

·         Mrs Hunt, Blandfordia, ‘Gipsy’

·         Miss Rosy Hunt, Blandfordia. ‘Victorian Age’

·         Mrs Jowitt, Blandfordia, ‘Felix the Black Cat’

·         Mrs Loughrey, Canberra, ‘Night’

·         Miss Wolf, Canberra, ‘Black and Gold Butterfly’

·         Mrs Lawrence Rudd, Canberra, ‘Early Victorian Silhouette’

·         Mrs Butler, Blandfordia, ‘Lady Target’

·         Mrs F Cox, Blandfordia, ‘Pink Rose’

·         Mrs McKenzie, Duntroon, ‘Night’

·         Miss Beryl Butler, Blandfordia, ‘Gipsy’

·         Miss Southwell, Hotel Canberra, ‘Queen of Diamonds’

·         Miss Dorothy M Hawkins, Hotel Canberra, ‘Red Indian’

·         Mrs Cyril Davies, Hotel Canberra, ‘Chinese Girl’

·         Mrs GA Crease, Blandfordia, ‘Sunflower’

·         Mrs Worrall, Blandfordia, ‘Lady Tennis Player’

·         Mrs John Deans, Hotel Canberra, ‘Hawiaan Costurme’

·         Miss J Marriott, Blandfordia, ‘Tennis Player’

·         Mrs T H Tyson, ‘The Hill’ Queanbeyan, ‘Carnival’

·         Mrs Alan Scott, Canberra, ‘Jazz Pierette’

·         Mrs WG Woodger, Eastlake, ‘Persian Princess’

·         Miss Finlay, Eastlake, ‘Gipsy’

·         Mrs JH Calthorpe, Queanbeyan, ‘Persian Princess’

·         Miss Hetherington, Canberra, ‘Powder and Patches’

·         Miss McGowan, Acton, ‘Nurse’

·         Miss FM Allen, Queanbeyan, black beaded and georgette and silver.

·         Mrs Cyril Murden, Eastlake, gold lame and blue georgette.

·         Miss Mayo, Queanbeyan, black georgette, gold trimmings

·         Mrs Pat McManus RMC Duntroon, cherry and silver evening gown

·         Mrs J Mildenhall, Canberra, pink moiré

·         Mrs O’Sullivan, Canberra, Alice blue velvet

·         Mrs Walter Merriman, Yass, black chiffon velvet, trimmed gold tissue

·         Mrs PL Sheaffe, ‘Acton House’ Canberra, grey georgette, steel beads and black satin coat

·         Miss M Land, Acton, rose moracain, feather trimming

·         Miss M Cox, Queanbeyan, flame taffeta and gold hand made flowers.

·         Miss Constance Forsyth, Blandfordia, pale blue chasmere-de soie

·         Mrs JF Brigden, Yass, black velvet

·         Mrs Mill, Barber Yass, white beaded black georgette

·         Mrs RS Shannon, Eastlake, cream chamuese and georgette with bead trimmings

·         Miss Mawson, Duntroon, black chiffon velvet

·         Mrs AT Cameron, Eastlake, black crepe-de-chene

·         Miss Laura Wilkinson, Queanbeyan, shell satin and silver

·         Miss K Dalton, Canberra, mauve chenille

·         Miss V Thwaite, Canberra, blue georgette, trimmed fringe

·         Mrs L Marriott, Blandfordia, black velvet

·         Mrs PF Douglas, Eastlake, wine crepe-de-chene with shaded fringe

·         Miss F Weston, Canberra, green brocaded moracain trimmed green ostrich feathers

·         Miss L Hibberson, Queanbeyan burnt orange figured moracain

·         Mrs Edmonds, Queanbeyan, satin meteor brocade

·         Miss E Hawes, Queanbeyan, apricot crepe-de-chene, gold lace trimmings

·         Miss Doris Priddle, Ainslie, flame charmonte, ostrich trimmed

·         Miss Edna Gamble, Blandfordia, jade green brocaded moracain, with feather trimmings.

·         Miss Eileen Read, Ainslie, blue moracain trimmed squirrel

·         Mrs Waterman, Canberra, brown velvet

·         Mrs A Butcher, Canberra, gold moracaine satin beaded in silver

·         Mrs FB Heritage, Duntroon, Cycamen minon [?]

·         Miss Dot McInnes, Queanbeyan, Sunset in touca satin and gold

·         Miss K McNeely, Queanbeyan, silver lame and blue georgette

·         Mrs Richardson, Queanbeyan, yellow and silver silk velvet

·         Miss Phelan, Canberra, jade green velvet, Oriental trimmings

·         Mrs Miligan, Sydney, black hand beaded moracain.

·         Mrs WT Farrow, Hotel Canberra, evening frock

·         Miss B Harriott, Yarralumla, white voile with gold en…

·         Miss McKellar, Lindfield, Sydney, daffodil crepe romaine trimmed nasturtians, rainlbow tulle scarf to tone, and red brocaded plush evening coat.

The majority of the gentlemen appeared in evening dress. Those in fancy dress were particularly thorough in details of the various characters they assumed.

·         Dr McKenzie, Duntroon, ‘Uncle Tom’

·         Mr A Nish, ‘A student in cap and gown’

·         Mr P Taylor, Hotel Ainslie [later Gorman House] ‘A Collingwood Lady.’

·         Mr D Hunt, Blandfordia, ‘An Indian Officer’

·         Mr Rowse. Hotel Canberra, ‘An Arabian Prince’

·         Mr Williams, Gungahleen. ‘ A Padre’

·         Mr JD McColl, Ainslie, ‘A Chaffeur’

·         Mr RC Farr, Sydney, ‘A French Artist’

·         Mr WG Woodger, Eastlake, ‘A Shiek’

·         Mr Henry Smith, Blandfordia, Monsieur Beaucaire’

·         Mr W Potts, Canberra, ‘A Hollander’

·         Mr C Marriott, Blandfordia, ‘A Girl’

·         Mr Cyril Davies, Hotel Canberra, ‘Simple Simon’

·         Mr WB Rimmer, Hotel Canberra, ‘A Barrister’

·         Mr JH Calthorpe, Queanbeyan, ‘A Shiek’

·         Mr SJ Ryan, Queanbeyan, ‘An Italian Dancer’

·         Dr Duffield, Hotel Canberra, ‘Harlequin’

·         Mr CS Daley, Canberra, ‘Harlequin’

·         Mr Glassy, Acton, ‘Harlequin’

·         Mr F Henley-Smith, Blandfordia, ‘Monsieur Beaucaire’

The fancy costumes were shown with good effect when at 10pm the company were formed up ‘in fours’ and a grand march was made around the ballroom, which elicited applause.  Form two deep was the next command and then single file. Mrs Crace’s party of ‘Pompadours’ were in the lead of the march.

As there were a such a number to be catered for the Marshall led the way to the dining hall and the first contingent, according to numbers issued when the ball tickets were handed in, sat down to an excellent and well served supper.  The tables looked attractive, the decorations were japonica and autumn leaves; this work was done by Mrs John Goodwin and was much admired.  The dancing was kept going during supper, for which ample provision was made by the committee.  A work must be added to compliment the management and staff on the manner in which, in spite of the large attendance the visitors were server, every detail was anticipated with the result that was no delay or confusion which cannot be said of most functions in other places.

Dancing was kept going till about 1am.  The orchestra were most unselfish in their desire to help satisfy the demands of the company and the success of the evening undoubtedly was due in a large measure to their voluntary work and excellent music. Other friends of the movement gave them a rest on a few occasions with piano accompliment.



The Argus, Melbourne Vic 27 August 1925


After inquiring into the proposed erection of a fourth hotel at Canberra, the Federal Public Works Committee in a report tabled in the House of Representatives yesterday, recommended that the construction of such a building to accommodate 120 guest be put in hand as early as possible in order to meet the plans for the early transport of the seat of government to Canberra.

The committee stated that in pursuance of the plan adopted of providing for a large proportion of the residential accommodation required at Canberra in the early stages by means of hotels, the Hotel Canberra capable of accommodating 180 guests and the Hotel Ainslie [later renamed Gorman House] (80 guests) has been erected; and a third hotel, the Hotel Brisbane [Hotel Kurrajong], was in course of erection.  The representations for an additional hotel has been made to provide further necessary accommodation for members of Parliament, civil servants  and the general public.  The design of the building was in conformity with the ideal garden city and provided for the dining and other public rooms in a main central structure with its sleeping accommodation in separate pavilions grouped around the main building. The estimated cost as submitted to the committee was £55,000 and the plan provided for completion about 12 months from the date of commencement. The furnishings would probably cost an additional £10,000.

Efforts had been made by the committee, the report state, to ascertain what would be the probably tariff of this hotel.  It was stated in evidence that the charges would probably be midway between those of the Hotel Canberra and the Hotel Ainslie and might be expected to be about £3 per week. [The average wage of a labourer was between £3 and £5 pounds per week.] It was realized, however that in the initial stages of Canberra it might not be possible to make such charges as would be necessary on a commercial basis to cover interest, sinking fund, &c on the capital cost of the establishment and that consequently some concessions might have to be made. The chairman of the Federal Capital Commission (Mr JH Butters) had expressed the opinion that while endeavouring to make the hotel self-supporting, the tariff during the secretarial stage of the city would have to be adjusted to meet the salary of the public servants who were compelled to obtain accommodation there through lack of facilities elsewhere.



Queanbeyan Canberra Advocate 4 March 1926


Mr Bruce made his first official entry as Prime Minister into the Federal Capital during the week-end and visited all its principal buildings and administrative offices. He had a conference with the Federal Capital Commissioners, whom he urged to expedite building and other operations.

The Prime Minister expressed satisfaction with the work that was being done, and stated that it was his desire as Prime Minister to have the Federal Government permanently transferred to Canberra in March 1927, at the latest.

The Commissioners assured him that their year’s programme of works involving the expenditure of approximately £2,000,000 was being framed with that object in view.

The decision of the Federal Government to transfer the administrative offices permanently to Canberra early next year necessitated a variation of the building construction programme. The Commissioners had, according to the earlier decision of the Federal Government, to have only a nucleus administrative staff in Canberra for a few years at least, built an administrative block to hold the skeleton staffs, and that is at present almost ready for occupation.

The Commissioners are providing for the additional administrative staffs by converting the Hotel Kurrajong, now nearing completion into Federal offices. The Federal parliamentary buildings and suites of offices all will be completed by the end of the year. Concurrently, arrangements are being made for the erection of the permanent administrative block of buildings to the winning competition design of Mr G Sydney Jones, architect of Sydney. It is expected that this block will be completed by about 1930, and, in the meantime, temporary accommodation is being provided to meet all requirements, including the national library.

The Hotel Kurrajong was built to accommodate 180 visitors and to provide additional facilities for members of Parliament, journalists, and other visitors to Canberra, during the sitting of Parliament.  The hotel will not now be available until 1930 to the Hotel Acton is being erected, at which the residence charges will be about three guineas weekly.  The present charges at Hotel Canberra, the leading hotel in the area, is £5/5/- weekly and £1/1/- daily.  There is also the Hotel Ainslie [renamed Gorman House 1927], occupied mainly by civil servants, who receive special concessions. Four large boarding hostels are being erected.  On the present basis now ruling in Canberra, the cost of living is from 20 to 25 per cent more in the Federal Capital than in either Sydney or Melbourne.  It is believed that this percentage rate will be reduced somewhat when the population of Canberra becomes nearer to 10,000.  It is now about 3,000.

The Commissioners are endeavouring to meet the housing problem in a practical manner. Contractors are engaged in the erection of a number of five, six, and seven roomed houses.  Within a month tenders will be invited for the erection of 500 moderate-sized houses, the whole of which are to be completed within 12 months from the date of contract. A new kiln is being erected to make bricks and tiles for the contractors. Another plant will manufacture concrete blocks.  The houses of six and seven rooms will cost the prospective purchasers from £1,800 to £2,000 and the capital charges for the land will vary from £150 to £250 for the 99 years’ lease. Under the new contract it is believed that the building charges will be reduced by from 15 to 20 per cent on present prices. The Commissioners will arrange that up to 90 per cent of the cost of the building and land can be secured at an interest rate of six per cent, the repayments to be spread over a period of 35 years.

‘There is at present a most helpful community spirit existing in Canberra,’ said Mr Butters, chairman of the Commission, ‘and the commissioners are encouraging that in a practical way by the provision of suitable grounds for all kinds of sports. The commissioners have no difficulty in getting all the labour that is wanted at Canberra; in fact, for every vacancy there are a score or more applicants.’

Transport within the Federal Capital will also have to be considered by the Government and the Commissioners. Canberra is being laid out as a garden city, which necessitates considerable distances between residences and the main administrative blocks, the Parliament buildings, and the shopping centre. The roads at present are ‘bush roads,’ badly cut up owing to the haulage of heavy wagons.

A small motor car will be almost a necessity for those who will reside in Canberra and this is recognized by the Commissioners, as in all the moderate sized homes a garage is being constructed. It is also contended that this will materially add to the cost of living in Canberra. The problem of transit is causing considerable anxiety to those who will have to make their future homes there, judging by the representations that have been made to the Commissioners on this head.

Mr Butters stage that the Commissioners had a roads policy for a five year period, but that until the excavations had been completed and the heavy haulage done it would be useless for them to make good roads in the Federal Capital.

‘it is the policy of the Commission,’ said Mr Buttes, ‘ to have first-class roads through all parts of the Federal Capital. The main roads that will have to carry heavy traffic will be of cement concrete [the two cement concrete roads were Commonwealth and Wentworth Avenues] whilst the main roads that will not have to carry heavy traffic will be of asphaltum concrete. Roads through other areas where there will only be light traffic will be made on the principle of penetrative bitumen and gravel, top-dressed to prevent dust, the latter being for roads in the residential areas, where the traffic will not be considerable.



Queanbeyan Canberra Advocate – incorporating the Queanbeyan Leader Thursday September 30 1926


Broadcasting will play an important part in the historic functions at Canberra on October 11 and 12. On the former day the Marquis of Salisbury on behalf of the House of Lords will hand over the Speaker’s Chair for the new Commonwealth Parliament House. This ceremony will be broadcast by station 2FC.

On Tuesday October 12, the Empire Delegation will be entertained at an official ‘at home’ at Canberra and the music for the evening will be broadcast from Sydney, being picked up on loud speakers at the scene of the  festivities. A feature of the evening will be national choral numbers in praise of Australia, Canada, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and other parts of the Empire. Scot Sanders, the Scottish humorist will also be heard by radio for the first time before leaving for London.

The Canberra Times 7 October 1926


Canberra will be the scene of a historic ceremony on Monday next, when the members of the United Kingdom branch of the Empire Parliamentary Association will present the Speaker’s Chair to Federal Parliament House.

The visiting delegation of the Empire Parliamentary Association number 68 will pay a three day visit to Canberra, and more than 90 members of the Federal Houses of Parliament will be present.

State houses of Parliament will also be represented at the gathering which will rank second in importance only to the official opening of the Houses of Parliament which will take place in May next.

A comprehensive programme has been mapped out by the Federal Capital Commission for the entertainment of the visitors.

[par]liamentary Association will leave Sydney on Sunday evening by special train at half past ten for Canberra.  According to the original plan, the delegates were to have left Canberra at 9 o’clock on Wednesday morning for Yass, proceeding thence to Burrinjuck and joining a special train again at Bowning. The visit to the water storage and hydro-electric works atBurrinjuck has been abandaoned. Instead the visitors will leave Canberra on Wednesday afternoon for Harden from which point they will motor through the Reverina in order to get a glimpse of life on the sheep stations.

The programme at Canberra is as follows:-

·          8.10 am – Special train arrives Canberra Railway Station

·          8 am to 8.30 am – Visitors conveyed by cars to Hotel Canberra

·          9 am – Breakfast

·          10 am – leave for Parliament House.

·          10.15 to 11.15 am – Inspection of Parliament House.

·          11.15 am – Refreshments in lunge and dining room of Parliament House

·          11.45 am – Presentation by United Kingdom Branch of Speaker’s Chair to  House of Representatives Chamber

·          1 pm – Lunch Hotel Canberra

·          2.15 pm – Leave for tour of inspection – Acton, North Ainslie, South Ainslie, to Hotel Canberar.

·          3 pm – Arrive at Royal Military College Duntroon.

·          3.10 – 3.15 pm – Parade and inspection Royal Military College

·          4 pm – Afternoon tea Royal Military College

·          5 pm – Return to Hotel Canberra

·          7 pm -  Dinner Hotel Canberra

·          8.30 pm – General Meeting of Empire Parliamentary Association.


·          10 AM – Leave on tour of inspection, Capitol Hill, Eastlake, Manuka Circle, Telopea Park School, Blandfordia, The Nursery, Government House.

·          1 pm                - Lunch Hotel Canberra

·          2.45 pm – Leave for Mount Stromlo

·          3.45 pm – Afternoon Tea, Mt Stromlo

·          4.15 pm – Leave for Cotter Dam

·          5 pm – leave Cotter for Hotel Canberra

·          8.30 pm – Commonwealth Government ‘At Home’ at Hotel Canberra.


·          9 AM – Motor to Yass; Bowning; Merilba; Swift’s Crossing; Weston’s 70 miles. Thence by launch on Burrinjuck Lake to Dam  3 miles. Lunch at Officers’ Mess, Burrinjuck. Narrow gauge railway to motor cars. Thence back to Special Train at Bowning 25 miles.



The presentation ceremony will take place on Monday at 11.15 am in the House of Representatives. An inspection of Parliament House will take place from 10.15 am until 11.15 when refreshments will be serviced in the lounge and dining rooms.

The installation of the Speaker’s Chair of the House of Representatives has been completed and the chair has been draped with flags preparatory to its unveiling on Monday.


 A large Union jack and a Commonwealth Flag cover the chair and these will be drawn aside by a green silken cord at the presentation on Monday.



The Canberra Steam Laundry was built in the light industrial area of Canberra - Ainslie - now part of Braddon - in 1926

Queanbeyan Canberra Advocate 27 July 1926


On Wednesday afternoon, at the invitation of the Directors of the Canberra Steam laundry Ltd, a number of shareholders and residents of Queanbeyan and Canberra were afforded an opportunity of inspecting the laundry at Ainslie and seeing how the work was accomplished.

The building is a fine brick structure and in it is installed modern machinery calculated to do the maximum amount of work with minimum of labor. The washing machines, dryers, mangles and irons are all electrically driven and are of Australian manufacture being supplied by McKenzie Bros of Sydney. The collar-moulding machine and oil feeder for the furnace being the only portions of the machinery not of Australian manufacture.

There is ample space in the laundry and receiving and dispatch rooms; special electrical drying compartment, and an airy room is provided for the girls to partake of luncheon. At present there are 21 employees, including the manager and manageress, Mr and Mrs Kelly who explained the working of the various machines to the visitors, who were all deeply interested.

Afterwards an adjournment was made to Hotel Canberra where afternoon tea was served.

Mr WG Woodger on behalf of the Directors of the Steam laundry, thanked the visitors for their presence and said that when it was first proposed to establish a laundry he had visions of dirty soapy water, and the horrid steamy atmosphere of the ordinary wash-house, but after a visit to one of the city laundries his viewpoint was changed. He claimed that the machinery in the Canberra Steam Laundry was 95 per cent Australian made and the best that money could buy.  Inspection of both English and American machinery was made before deciding to purchase the Canberra Steam Laundry compared favorably with any in Sydney or Melbourne, and as regards prices they were the same as the Laundry Association’s, and the laundry had received the contract from the Federal Capital Commission.

Mr Butters, Chairman of the Commission was glad of the opportunity to thank Messrs Deans and Woodger, and said that after visiting the laundry he would be pleased to wear a clean stiff shirt and collar there from, and the excellent p0lant was sufficient indication that the public could count on good work; he hoped they would support it and put money into the shareholders’ pockets.



Canberra' first garage erected in what is now the suburb of Braddon was named CANBERRA GARAGE.  The following article in the local paper gives an overview of the contstruction and opening of the garage which was situated near the pines planted that crossed Northbourne Avenue.  They still grow on the site.   The Northbourne Camp was not far from the site of the garage.  On the south side of the Molonglo Brodie's Garage followed and Hunt's Garage at the rear of the Hotel Canberra. I have seen a photograph that shows a bowser outside Hayes & Russell store at Eastlake (now Kingston) for motorists to fill up. This was not a garage, just a bowser.  

The Canberra Times 25 November 1926


Completion was reached at the beginning of the last week of the Canberra Garage which is the latest industrial building of Canberra.

The building which occupies a corner position in the industrial area of Ainslie [now Braddon] is a fine example of the treatment of a minor industry in the lay-out of the garden city.

The Canberra Garage which was completed on November 15 and opened for business on the same day, under the style of the proprietor, Canberra Garage Limited, is situated on Block 9,Section 28 of Ainslie, the site which was purchased at the first auction sale. Building however, was not commenced until about the middle of the present year, when the architect, Sir Charles Rosenthal, accepted the contract of Messrs painter and Dixon.

The lease has a frontage of 100 feet to Road A 18 and of 150 feet to Road A6.  Adjoining the lease on the 100 feet frontage is a bakery belonging to Canberra Bakeries Ltd, while on Road A6 a plantation, which is about three years old, adjoins the site. Advantage has been taken of the lease conditions to have erected on the site a dwelling place to be used as the manager’s residence as well as the main industrial building. The appearance of the completed work from Road A6 is a pretty example of what Canberra aims to provide in every direction. The garage stands on the main corner of the block while the cottage is set back a few feet on the other end with the plantation set in the background affording a pleasant setting.

In the design of the garage itself provision has been made for entrances on each of the four sides. The main building is 50 by 100 feet, being built of brick, a corner entrance is afforded on the street corner, another from Road A6, a third from the same road, but through the space between the garage and cottage, and the fourth is from A18 through an open space left in the side of the lease. Roller steel shutters are provided at the entrances, two being 12 feet and two 10ft 6 inches in width respectively.

The main entrance is on the street corner facing 3[or 20 – blurred] feet on an angle, with returns which create a pleasing effect. Seven panes of plate glass form two large show windows, one of which is capable of displaying two cars, while the returns into the entrance give display from two sides. In the entrance a curb protects the widows from possible damage by cars. The façade covered by the windows is embellished by a suspended awning verandah, under which are placed two bowsers, one on either hand at t he entrance.

The awning verandah and show rooms are ceiled with Wunderlich art metal ceilings and over the windows has been provided with a mezzanine floor, access to which is provided by a stairway from the main floor of the garage. The space thus made available is utilised for the storage of stocks of tyres, bubes, oils, spare parts and accessories.

The interior of the garage is divided into offices, the main garage floor and an engineering shop. Two offices are built in the end facing Road A is of 4 by ¾ inch vertical Oregon lining.  Similar material provides the enclosure for a complete engineering shop which houses a complete repair plant. Oxywelding plant is also installed at the Western end of the building, lead covering protecting the benches against acids.

The floor of the garage is made up of four inch concrete base with a …[blurred ¾ ?]finish. Thee pits four feet deep in depth by six feet in length and two feet wide are provided for repair work.

A feature of the construction of the building was the roof which was erected on steel principally with 50 spans with a projection of two feet beyond the face of the wall to allow for ventilating eaves. The street corner being cuta away in order to provide a roomy construction more difficult. The roof is about 5,600 square feet, and is of salvus iron with brown structural paint which affords a pleasing contrast with the cream walls of the exterior walls.

The manager’s cottage is a four roomed dwelling with the usual offices and stands a comfortable distance from the main garage building and, is within a few feet of the long rows of pines and other trees which form the plantation.



The Canberra Times 13 January 1927


December brought to a close a year of great achievement in Canberra, and the month progress report of the Federal Capital Commission shows that the year ended in the height of a busy period in all directions.

A feature of the report was the increase in residential undertakings, and private enterprise showed substantial increase in all directions.


The construction of Parliament House is not practically completed. All mechanical services such as the installation of Heating and Hot Water Systems and the provision of Yacuum Cleaning Plant, are on the verge of completion. Woodblock paving is finished with the exception of polishing and the laying of rubber flooring has been commenced.

The provision of furniture generally is being expedited and deliveries from the various from the various contractors will be arriving in the near future.  Good progress is being maintained with all external services, viz kerbing, guttering, road formation, grading of grounds, provision of parking areas etc.

The construction of Government House and the Prime Minister’s House is in its final stages, and the furbishing of both buildings is being urgently dealt with.

The Public Offices and National Library Building is proceeding satisfactorily.

Good progress is being made with the Forestry School at Westridge [Yarralumla], all brickwork being completed and the roof pitched. The external plastering is well advanced and the provision of joinery is in hand.


Hotel Kurrajong was opened to the public prior to Christmas, and so relieved the Hotel Canberra of much tourist traffic.

Hotel Acton is nearing completion, and tenders for the supply of furniture for this hotel have been invited.

The four boarding houses are well advanced and it is hoped that they will be ready for occupation by March next.

Tenders have been invited for the provision of an Infants’ School at Ainslie.

Plans and specifications and quantities have been prepared for extension to Telopea Park School, and tenders for this work will be invited in the near future.

A contract has been let to Mr WH Mason of Queanbeyan for the erection of a Railway Station at Canberra and its construction is now under way.

The erection of a store Building at Eastlake [JB Young Kingston] is being undertaken by Mr JG Taylor. The brickwork of this building is up to floor level, and filling it up to floor level has been done.

Additions to Canberra Hospital have been put in hand.

At the Solar Observatory, Mr Stromlo the erection of a laboratory and sun telescope has been commenced.


Cottage construction at Ainslie, Blandfordia [Forrest], Eastlake [Kingston] and Telopea  [Barton] for the accommodation of Civil Servants is showing marked progress.

Seven timber cottages in Canberra Avenue [around Corroboree Park Ainslie] Ainslie were completed and 16 are in hand.

Three brick cottages at Ainslie [Braddon] were built by day labor and 20 are in hand.


Engineering activities are represented by Sewerage construction and Reticulation,  Water Supply, and Bridge Construction.

The Sewerage Treatment Works at Western Creek are in final stages of completion.

The inverted siphon is completed with the exception of 16’ 4” [16 foot 4 inches] of tunneling on a small drive and 41’ of concreting.

Sewerage reticulation at South Ainslie [Reid], Blandfordia Subdivision No 5 [Griffith], Civic Centre Shopping Block is in hand.

Water reticulation from Wellington Avenue to Eastlake Esplanade is proceeding satisfactorily.

Stormwater drainage at Eastlake and Telopea is almost completed.

Road construction at Hotel Acton and at the business blocks, Eastlake is well advanced.

A contract has been let to Mr W McDonald for the construction of a bridge on the Yass Road at Ginninderra, and the work has been put in hand.

The number of workmen employed during December was 2,811.


The activities of private enterprise in the various suburbs are represented by the following:

·         At Ainslie[Braddon] 2 cottages were completed and 8 more are in hand.

·         A Cordial Factory, being erected for Mr TJ Sheekey, is practically completed.

·         The construction of a Hall at Ainslie for the Presbyterian Church Authorities is well advanced, the brickwork being completed and the roof started.

·         At South Ainslie two cottages are in course of construction.

·         Four cottages are in hand at Red Hill.

·         One shop was completed at Manuka and the erection for 5 more in hand.

·         On Block 2, Section 1A Manuka, excavations have been completed in connection with and up-to-date theatre. This building is being erected by Mr JG Taylor for a Syndicate, and will be known as the ‘Capitol Theatre’.  It is thought that with equipment it will cost approximately £22,000, and will provide seating accommodation for 1200 to 1500 people.

·         At Eastlake one Cottage was completed and 13 Cottages and 11 Shops are in course of construction.

·         Three Banks, 2 Insurance Buildings and 12 Shops are being erected at Civic Centre.

The Canberra Times 24 March 1927


‘The monthly progress report of the Federal Capital Commission reveals further activity in all directions for the transfer of the Seat of Government;

The constructional work at Parliament House is practically finished. The rooms are now ready to receive the furniture, which is arriving daily. It is expected that all furniture will be placed into a position by the end of the present month. Carpet and linoleum laying generally is well in hand. It may be stated that a carpet measuring approximately 50ft x 33ft has now been laid on the floor of the House of Representatives. All electrical and mechanical services are on the verge of completion.

The surrounding area is the scene of much activity. Concrete kerbing and guttering, the gravelling of paths and the formation of roads are almost completed. The edging of gravel paths around the gardens was commenced during the month and is making good progress.

To add to the beautification of the gardens surrounding Parliament House the formation of an artificial lake has been put in hand. This lake will be constructed immediately in front of the House and its approximate size will be 100 feet in length and 300 feet in width.

Operations at the Public Offices and National Library Building are proceeding rapidly [this refers to the original National Library in Kings Avenue – not the present building].

Work at the Prime Minister’ residence and also at Government House is confined practically to sand papering floors and general cleaning. The furnishing of these buildings is well in hand.

Good progress is being maintained in connection with the construction of the Commission’s four Guests’ Houses.

At the School of Forestry Building Westridge [Yarralumla], all fixing is in hand. Plastering is advanced and the ceilings have been finished. Painting is now proceeding.

Extensions to provide additional class-room accommodation are to be carried out at Telopea Park School. The plant for this work is now on the site and the laying of the foundations has been commenced.

Excavations for all trenches in connection of an up-to-date infants’ school at Ainslie have been finished. The concrete has been laid and reinforced and the brickwork has been completed in cement mortar to floor line. Portion of the work has proceeded to a height of 4ft 6in above the floor level. The shelter shed is in course of erection and is ready for tiling.

The contract for the new Commission store building at Eastlake [Kingston] is proceeding satisfactorily. Good progress has been made with additions at Canberra Hospital. Approval has been given for the provision of a new motor garage at Eastlake[Brodie’s Garage], and the work will be put in hand shortly.  The contract for the erection of a new railway station at Canberra is proceeding satisfactorily.

A public building is to be erected in Commonwealth Avenue adjacent to the Hotel Canberra.  Tenders for the construction of this building have been invited and returnable on March14.

Cottage construction at Ainslie [Braddon], South Ainslie [Reid], Ainslie [Braddon], Eastlake [Kingston], Blandfordia [Forrest] and Telopea [Barton].

Engineering activities are represented by sewerage construction and reticulation, water supply and bridge construction.


During the month a large amount of leveling off was done and gravel paths formed at the sewerage treatment works, Western Creek.

Most of the plant at these works has been dismantled. The construction of the sewerage siphon has almost been finished. Driving has been completed and only a small amount of concreting remains to be done.

Sewerage reticulation services at South Ainslie, Blandfordia re progressing favourably. Eleven thousand seven hundred and ninety-seven feet of pipes have been laid on these two works at an average depth of 247 feet. The sewerage work at the Civic Centre shopping sites has been completed; other reticulation services are in hadn at the Public offices and National Library building, Hotel Canberra and the Prime Minister’s residence. [The Hotel Canberra, cottages etc in use prior to the completion of the sewerage system were connected to septic systems.]

Stormwater drainage has been finished at Eastlake and Telopea Park. Similar work is in hand at Ainslie. Water reticulation work has been completed at Public Offices and National Library and Section 8 Blandfordia [Griffith].   Good progress has been made with the Wellington Avenue and Russell services. A commencement has been made with the water supply for the gardens surrounding Parliament House.

Road work is progressing in all districts.

Experimental work in connection with sealing gravel roads within the city area is well in hand. Road making on the Telopea Park subdivision is well advanced. Reconstruction work between Commonwealth Avenue and Hotel Canberra to the bridge is making good progress. Extensive kerbing and guttering is being carried out around Eastlake business blocks and also at Ainslie. The formation of footpaths and plantations on the Blandfordia sub-division is in hand.

It is expected that the contract for the construction of a bridge at Ginninderra Creek on the Yass Road will be completed by the end of the present month. The number of workmen employed by the Federal Capital Commission at the end of February was 2928.


At the Civic Centre shopping block there are 30 shops, 4 banks and one insurance building in course of construction. The building which is being erected for the Australian Provincial Assurance Co is proceeding satisfactorily.  The brick work has been completed all round to the first floor level, including the façade on the building line.  The brickwork on the building line of the premises are in course of construction for the Commercial Banking Co of Australia has been laid to a height of 10 feet.

Structural work with the exception of shop fronts has been completed in connection with the Queensland National Bank.  The construction of the Commercial Banking Co of Sydney, premises is proceeding satisfactorily. The brick work all round has been finished.  Roof timbers are being pitched, the façade brickwork has been erected and all joists have been laid. Satisfactory progress is being maintained in connection with the erection of the Commonwealth Bank. The brick work at street angle and around the yard at the rear has been erected up to first floor level.

The building in course of construction for the Bank of Australasia is progressing favourably; the brick work has been completed up to the first floor level. On Lot 21, Section1 a commencement has been made for the erection of a building for the Bank of New South Wales [now Westpac].

At Ainslie, one cottage was completed during the month, whilst five others are in hand. The Presbyterian School Hall has been finished. At Manuka 17 shops are in course of construction. The Capitol Theatre is showing good progress.  Six residences are in hand at Red Hill. Seven shops were completed at Eastlake during the month. Eight others are in hand. Three cottages were finished and there are 14 in course of erection. There is one cottage in hand at Telopea Park.


The Canberra Times 17 June 1927


City progress during the month of May was marked by approach to completion of several additional accommodation houses for the Federal Capital Commission.

Considerable progress was also made during the month in the construction of Secretariat building No 2 and the provision of additional classrooms at Telopea Park School.


Sixty-three shops were under construction by private enterprise, together with 39 cottages, seven banks, two insurance buildings, a church and a bakery while foundation work for two schools and a convent [St Christopher’s Manuka] was proceeding.

The principal structure at present being erected in Canberra is the Commonwealth Offices, which will house the Commonwealth National Library, and will also provide office accommodation for several of the Commonwealth Departments shortly to be transferred to Canberra.  This building consists of three main sections known as the Southern, Central and Library blocks.  The carpentry work in the Southern block is almost completed. In the Central Block the carpentry work is also well in hand, the handrails and reads to the staircases are being fixed and the installation of lifts is nearly completed. In the library block the plastering has been completed.


Word in connection with the provision of additional class-room accommodation at Telopea Park School is up to the first floor level and the laying of a concrete floor is at hand. The brickwork on the second wing is laid practically to the first floor level.

At Ainslie the erection of an infants’ School, under contract for the Commission, is making good progress. Drainage work is almost finished, and the main roof is practically tiles. Brickwork of outbuildings has been completed and the roof has been pitched and ready for tiling.


The erection of Brassey House, Beauchamp House  [Ian Potter House] and Hotels Wellington and Ainslie is on the verge of completion. Operations in connection with the provision of additional accommodation at the Bachelors Quarters Acton are drawing to a conclusion. The contract for the construction of a new store building at Eastlake is making satisfactory headway. A new Garage is being built at Eastlake by day labour, for the  Commission, and the brickwork of this building is well in hand.

The proposal to erect an Assembly Hall [later Albert Hall]  is still under consideration.

The work of providing additional accommodation at Canberra Hospital is making satisfactory progress, and is on the way to completion.


Cottage construction is proceeding in all suburbs. Approval has been given for the construction by day labour of a residence for the Principal of the Forestry School at Westridge [Yarralumla] and commencement of the work will be made shortly.

Activities at the Solar Observatory Mount Stromlo comprise the provision of a sun telescope building, a Reynolds telescope house and the erection of a residence for the Director of the Observatory. These are proceeding satisfactorily.


The sewerage treatment works at Western Creek have been completed and are now in full operation. The inverted sewerage syphon is also finished with the exception of the construction of one manhole. Sewerage reticulation and water reticulation services are proceeding at the North Ainslie [Ainslie] and Westridge [Yarralumla] sub divisions. Progress is being maintained with stormwater drainage work at South Ainslie [Reid] subdivision and at Blandfordia Sub-division No 5 [Griffith].


Considerable constructional progress is being maintained by private enterprise in all suburbs.

At Civic Centre seven banks, two insurance buildings and 32 shops are in course of erection. The new premises for the Queensland National Bank are completed with the exception of some painting. Brickwork for the Commercial Bank of Australia has been laid and concrete footing for the Government Savings Banks of New South Wales have been finished. The brickwork of the building for the Bank of Australasia has been completed up to the first floor level. The north part wall for the Bank of New South Wales is built to the first floor ceiling height. The erection of premises for the Commonwealth bank and the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney is proceeding.

On Lot 2, Section 25 Minor Industries sub-division Ainslie [Braddon] a bakery is under construction for the Canberra Building and Investment Co. There are 15 cottages being built by private enterprise at Ainslie, five cottages at South Ainslie, seven at Red Hill and twelve at Eastlake.

Four shops are being erected at Eastlake and 26 at Manuka. The brickwork of the Capitol Theatre at Manuka is about three-quarters completed, and all frames have been fixed.


Foundations for the Church of England Girls Grammar School (which is in course of construction on Sections 1 and 2 Blandfordia) have been excavated and concreted, and brickwork for footings has been put in hand. Excavations are being taken out preparatory to the erection of the Roman Catholic Church School and Convent at Manuka.






The Mercury Hobart Tasmania 28 January 1928

THE MAINLAND DAY BY DAY From Our Special Correspondent

CANBERRA Friday – City With One Garage

An amazing number of Sydney people concurred that the appropriate celebration of Anniversary Day was to see the national capital.  The crowds of tourists who motored through yesterday and to-day were as numerous as at the peak of the Yuletide vacation, and it is apparent that many are making a week-end trip of it.  Each accretion of visitors emphasizes and interesting feature of Canberra – that is it a city of only one garage. [sic there were three at this time – one at Ainslie, another at the end of Wentworth Avenue – Brodie’s – and Hunt’s garage at the Hotel Canberra.] When the hostels and villas had been finished the Commission found they had no bricks left for garages in Canberra, and wood being an anathema in this city of marble halls the only garage in Canberra is the one that had been built at the rear of the Hotel Canberra, the leading hotel of the Capital. This garage incidentally, is a corrugated iron structure. It is a common sight to find lines of cars parked overnight under canvas outside the other hotels. Tourists show signs of annoyance when they discover that only guests of the Hotel Canberra have the privilege of garage accommodation, but the residents are accustomed to it by now.  They reflect philosophically that a bus which stands up to the roads in the Federal Territory will come to no harm in an open-air parking overnight.


The Canberra times 10 November 1939


Does your car cause domestic upheavals? When you wife has to be continually washing your clothes getting grease stains out of your shirts after you have been crawling under your car – is it any wonder she gets annoyed?  All this is unnecessary work and can be avoided by taking advantage of the specialized lubrication services offered by Mr WJ Hunt of the Hotel Canberra Garage situated immediately behind the Hotel Canberra.

You will please your wife and be more that satisfied yourself by placing your car in the hands of this automotive expert. Besides the multitudinous duties of service station, and garage proprietor, Mr WJ Hunt carries a complete stock of accessories, batteries, tyres, tubes, cables etc and is completely equipped for vulcanizing and battery charging. Just ring Canberra 751 and this firm’s resources are at your service.

Another feature of WJ Hunt’s garage is the provision that has been made for giving cars complete personal service on a monthly plan. This service includes battery, tyres, oil changes, greasing, washing etc and is carried out at a nominal charge – arrangements may also be made with the proprietor for part-servicing at special rates.  Mr Hunt, who incidentally, has been established for over ten years, carries out the preparations for inspections to motor vehicles now required before re-registration.

Mr Hunt is prominent in musical circles. He is a singer of note, a member of the Musical Society and is actively associated with the Eisteddfod. He came from Birmingham in 1921 and opened his garage here in 1928, consequently he is one of the oldest-established garage men here.

Either coming to or going from Canberra, the careful motorist will call at WJ Hunt’s Hotel Canberra Garage. Expert advice, water, air and service are free and a reasonable charge is made for accessories.



The Canberra Times 6 May 1927


An enjoyable dance took place at hotel Kurrajong last Friday evening on the eve of the official closing of the hotel, when over 100 guests attended. The decorations were artistically done in yellow and black, and colored balloons.

The frocking was very pretty. Noticed among the merry-makers were: Miss Harrison in a graceful gown of cardinal georgette; Mrs Cyril Davies in an uncommon frock of shaded pink georgette with a rainbow effect in green and gold; Mrs Leslie Fussell’s pretty frock was of sapphire blue velvet, and sleeve lace cerise roses; Mrs Brodziac, cerise georgette beautifully embroidered in chalk white beaded design; Mrs Thorold Casboulte, gold tissue, oriental design in green; Mrs Keith Waugh chose pale blue silk georgette panics; Mrs Colin Mackenzie (Duntroon) wore black taffeta, gold lace and gold shoulder pony; Mrs JTH Goodwin, apple green taffeta with black sequined net overdress; Mrs John Dean’s pretty gown of powder blue georgette beaded design in color; Mrs Rutledtge pink georgette heavily beaded in crepes to tone; Mrs Alexander Nattler, blue taffeta and georgette; Mrs Fleetwood black lace and georgette; Mrs Pocock black taffeta blue and cyclamen relief; Mrs Parkes duchess blue georgette; Mrs Sutherland Cinnamon georgette, gold lace; Mrs Newton, white crepe-de-chine, blue motifs outlined with crystal beads; Miss James (Orange), georgette; Miss Force, duchess blue georgette inlet with silver lave, coloured posies; Miss Kilburn (Melbourn) powder blue lace, crimson rose shoulder posy; Miss Southwell, handsome gown of black embossed chenille georgette, gold lace, vest, crimson roses; Miss David striking frock of coffee pleated georgette design in golden  ro…over gold lace; Mrs Simmie, shot blue taffeta; Miss Finlay crème gulpure lace, red posy and girdle; Miss Small gold lace over viewz rose georgette, golden brown posy; Miss Butler, white georgette, embroidered  red design, Miss Smith blue taffeta flower motifs; Miss Marriot, flame crepe-de-chine; Miss Rutter, salmon crepe-de-chine, gold lace hem; Miss Orr, black velvet and georgette; Miss Thwaite, electric blue taffest and gold lace; Miss Frazer, black brocade diamante ornaments; Miss Ordesk (Duntroon) emerald green satin, design in gold roses; Miss Knight royal blue velvet and georgette; Miss Marshall black taffeta white lace collar; Miss Simmatt powder blue taffeta, pink and mauve frills; Miss Webb Cyclamen figured crepe-de-chine; Miss Drew, bois de rose, crepe-de-chine girdle and flowers to tone; Miss McNealy (Queanbeyan) green beaded georgette; Miss Sender (Queanbeyan) green beaded jumper suit; Miss Priddle flame chamante; Miss Scott, maise satin, blue velvet girdle; Miss Reilly, silver lace over silver tissue; Miss Unverhan, silver tissue pink and mauve georgette panels.

The Canberra Times 4 October 1928


Hotel Ainslie will be closed from Friday owing to the small number of guests. It will be re-opened when the occasion warrants it.  A number of the guests who resided there have already been transferred to Hotel Acton. The remainder will follow. The increased tariff obtaining at Hotel Acton will not affect the transferred guests as the Commission considers that there people could hardly be asked to pay the higher rates after being forcibly removed from the residences of their choice.

The Canberra Times  15 January 1930


No decision has yet been reached regarding the provision of a building for the Patents Office which is likely to be transferred from Melbourne in the near future.

About 40 rooms are required for the purpose and Hotel Acton, which is not a paying proposition could meet this need being just about the required size.  Another reason for the Hotel being used in this way is that the Hotel Kurrajong which is also a losing proposition, would have more boarders, who would be there all year round, and not merely while Parliament is sitting.

It was learned in well informed circles yesterday that if Hotel Acton is made available for the Patents Office there will still be sufficient hotel accommodation in Canberra without reopening the Hotel Ainslie.


The Canberra Times  8 March 1930


Protests are being voiced in Canberra against the closing of the Hotel Acton for residential purposes and its use for office purposes instead of using the Hotel Kurrajong which already in the past expenditure has been incurred in making provision for offices. 

The two hotels are largely similar in lay-out and Hotel Kurrajong is closer to the main Government offices.

Shopkeepers at City will probably make a protest to the Minister as it is claimed that the removal of guests from Hotel Acton will detrimentally affect their trade while it is also pointed out that the housing of the Patents office in Hotel Kurrajong would be more in keeping with the city plan. Moreover, the loss incurred in Hotel Kurrajong is greater than that of the Hotel Acton.

The majority of the residents at Hotel Acton have sent a petition  to the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Blakeley) giving added reasons against the use of the hotel for office purposes.

It is claimed that Hotel Acton is one of the most conveniently situated hotels in the city. It is close to Civic Centre where several departments are housed; to the Commission Offices; and is right on the ‘bus route.  The Kurrajong although on the ‘bus route is far from most of the city conveniences and compared with the Acton, is very poorly situated.

If the Hotel Acton were closed there would be no residential hotel north of the Molonglo, and it is claimed that the Hotel Acton possesses by far the best position of any hotel in the Territory having a splendid outlook in all directions which is important from the tourist point of view.

The hotel has 11 garages, approximately nine of which are permanently occupied even in slack times, while in busy times they are sometimes all taken. The Kurrajong has only six garages. There are no suites of rooms at Kurrajong and at least one suite is permanently occupied at Acton.

To fit Hotel Acton as an office building would involve a very large expenditure whereas Hotel Kurrajong which has once been used as offices could much more readily be reconverted.

The number of guest during session time will be too great for the Kurrajong alone. At such time the accommodation required for Members of Parliament is such that it would be impossible to add to that number the guests at the Acton. During last session every ‘single’ room at the Acton was taken.

The transfer of guests from the Hotel Acton would, to a certain extent, adversely affect business at Civic Centre.

It is suggested that the best solution of the difficulty would be to open the Hotel Canberra to Members of Parliament at a rate similar to that which they are at present paying at the Kurrajong. There would be no greater loss in this as the extra business at Hotel Canberra should provide for any increased expenditure necessary. At present, it appears to be largely unoccupied. If this action were taken Hotel Acton would easily accommodate the remainder of the guests and tourists.


The Sydney Morning Herald  7 May 1930


Canberra, Tuesday – For some time the Federal Government has been endeavouring to let by tender the Hotel Ainslie, the Hotel Wellington and Canberra House, formerly the residence of Sir John Butters when Chairman of the Federal Capital Commission. The Federal Cabinet has decided to accept the tender of Mr FM Parer of Caulfield (Vic) for the lease of the Hotel Ainslie and of the Federal capital branch of the Returned Soldiers’ League for the lease of Canberra House. It was decided not to lease the Hotel Wellington which is being conducted by the Commission. The other two buildings have been closed for sometime.

The West Australian Perth 8 May 1930

This paper included the news reported in The Argus  of the same date but added:

Mr Parer’s lease of the Hotel Ainslie is for ten years at £1,352 a year, which represents a return of 3¾ per cent on the capital outlay of the hotel (£38,000)…Canberra House is to be let at £364 a year for three years…


The Argus Melbourne 20 August 1930

HOTEL CANBERRA - Rationing Work of Staff

CANBERRA, Tuesday – So seriously did the closing of Parliament affect the demand for hotel accommodation that consideration was given to the advisability of closing the Hotel Canberra, as well as the Hotel Wellington, the Hotel Ainslie, and the Hotel Acton.

If it had been decided to close the Hotel Canberra, the Hotel Kurrajong would have been the only hotel left open. It has been decided, however, to leave the Hotel Canberra open as well as the Hotel Kurrajong, but economies will be effected by closing eight of the ten pavilions in the Hotel Canberra. A system of rationing work among he staff has been put into operation, and today 25 members of the staff left for one month’s holiday without wages. Upon their return the remainder of the staff will be dealt with similarly.

The Mercury Hobart Tasmania 9 October 1931


Canberra, October 8. The Hotel Ainslie which has been unoccupied for three years is to be leased by the Government to the Canberra Returned Soldiers’ Club for two years at a rental of £15 a week.

The West Australian Perth WA 25 October 1931


CANBERRA, Oct 24 – A definite proposal for the handing over to private enterprise of all hotels in Canberra will probably be made to the Minister during the week when Mr Stacey (UAP, SA) will move to this effect in the House of Representatives.  Mr Stacey has made a close investigation of the losses on the five hotels in Canberra, and he said to-day that he was convinced that under private enterprise they could be made to pay. Only two of the hotels at present are being run by the government – the Hotel Canberra and the Hotel Kurrajong. The Hotel Ainslie will shortly be reopened by a private lessee. The Hotel Acton and Hotel Wellington are closed.

Any proposal to hand over the hotels to private management would have to take into consideration the very heavy capital cost, the consequent interest charges and the accumulated losses since they were opened.  The capital value of the Hotel Canberra is £160,980, that of the Hotel Kurrajong is £91,718, that of the Hotel Acton £84,281, that of the Hotel Wellington £35,353 and that of the Hotel Ainslie £37,151. The accumulated losses on the hotels are as follows:- Hotel Canberra £13,017; Hotel Kurrajong, £3,785; Hotel Acton £3,773; Hotel Wellington, 1,253; and Hotel Ainslie £1,224.

Although no figures are available it is understood that in recent months, when tourist traffic has been heavy and the Hotels Canberra and Kurrajong have been full the losses have been reduced considerably.


The Canberra Times 3 November 1932


Losses amounting in aggregate to £385,565 were incurred on the five hotels and other hostels conducted by the Government in Canberra from the time they were first put into operation up to June 30 last. The losses included interest and other charges.

In direct contrast were the profits made on the Kingston Café and the City Café which totaled £14,742.  In the case of the Kingston Café the profit was £8,507, while the City Café showed a return of £6,355.  A loss of £60 was shown by the café at Manuka. [These cafes sold liquor following the allowance of the sale of liquor after the 1928 vote].

In supplying these figures in the House of Representatives yesterday in reply to a question Mr Baker, the Minister for the Interior (Mr Perkins) submitted a statement showing that the aggregate losses on all Government controlled establishments in Canberra to June 30 last were as follows:-

Hotel Acton £31,953, Hotel Ainslie £18,888, Hotel Canberra £127,852, Hotel Kurrajong £49,216, Hotel Wellington £17,772, Beauchamp House [now Ian Potter House] £19,073, Brassey house £10,213, Gorman House £10,213, Bachelors Quarters £36,635, and Printers Quarters £35,926.

After the profit made on the two cafes had been deducted the aggregate loss was reduced to £371,183.

It was pointed out by Mr Perkins that of this amount £77,008 represented a working loss, the balance of £294,175 being depreciation and interest on capital and maintenance reserve charges. The working loss, he said, as occasioned mainly during the early years of the hotels, the figures for 1930-31 and 1931-32 during which time the establishments were under departmental control, being £3,948 and £2,918 respectively.


The West Australian Perth WA 1 December 1932


CANBERRA, Nov 30.- The first licensed hotel to be conducted in Canberra under private enterprise will be opened as a licensed hotel to-morrow. Beer is to be sold at a price one penny less than that ruling in administration hotels, and for one hour to-morrow free beer will be obtainable at the Ainslie – the first occasion in the history of Canberra that this has been done.


The Canberra Times 7 February 1933


Having successfully disposed of Hotels Ainslie and Wellington to private enterprise, the Federal Government contemplates leasing Hotel Canberra. It is unlikely that tenders will be called for the building as the Ministry is believed to favour private negotiations in view of the successful outcome of the private efforts to lease Hotel Wellington.

It is understood that if negotiations are successful, Hotel Kurrajong may be closed to the public and reserved solely for the use of members of Parliament.


The Canberra Times 14 February 1933


There is every possibility that Hotel Canberra and the liquor cafes conducted by the Government at Civic Centre and Kingston will shortly be handed over to private control.

It was stated yesterday that the Commonwealth Government has entered negotiations with Tooth and Co Ltd of Sydney for the leasing of the Hotel Canberra and the cafes.

Colour is lent to the report by reason of the fact that stocktaking is ant present being carried out at Hotel Canberra, but there is no foundation for the rumour which has been current in Canberra during the past few days that the staff of the hotel has been given notice.

That the Government is decidedly anxious to relieve itself of the heavy strain upon its financial resources caused by the losses encountered by the running of the hotels has been clearly evidenced by the leasing recently of the Hotels Ainslie and Wellington to private enterprise.

Hotel Canberra has proved easily the most costly of the hotels controlled by the Government and for the five years ended June 30 last losses on working maintenance and interest charges aggregated £127,852.

Since Hotel Ainslie opened under private control in November last, the profits of the liquor café at Civic Centre have been sadly depleted, and it is more than likely that when Hotel Wellington is opened under the management of Mr Ryan towards the end of this month that the Government controlled café at Kingston will share a similar fate.

The manager of the Hotel Canberra (Mr Evans) ill go on leave to-day and it is his intention to go to Sydney. In his absence the hotel will be managed by Mr Millett.otel Canberar, but thHo


The Sydney Morning Herald 10 December 1941


CANBERRA, Wednesday.- A ‘beer rush’ occurred to-day on the Hotel Ainslie Canberra, which is about to be converted into a women’s hostel.  Hundreds of dozens of bottles of beer which had been allotted to the hotel for Christmas trade arrived from Sydney and were immediately made available for sale.

Customers came by car, lorry, sulky and on foot from all parts of the Canberra area to buy what they could.


The Sydney Morning Herald 29 December 1945


PERTH, Friday – Allegations that girls living at the Government Hostels, Hotel Ainslie and Gorman House in Canberra were suffering from malnutrition because of insufficient and inferior food, could not be substantiated state a report released by the Minister for the Interior, Mr HV Johnson to-day.

The report was made by Mr HJ Lamble of the NSW Government Tourist Bureau, who was appointed to inquire into allegations about Government hostels made some time ago by Senator Dorothy Tangney. Mr Lamble was assisted in the inquire by Mrs IA Conn, a dietician.

Mr Lamble reported that food at the two hostels was ‘good to better’ in comparison with average boarding houses and hotels except for some items.

He state that a piece of cheese rind found in a lunch package supplied to Miss Joy Norton at the Hotel Ainslie had been placed here through negligence, but without malice. There was ample wholesome cheese at the hotel.

Mr Lamble found ‘gross carelessness and indifference’ on the part of the management and staff of Hotel Ainslie.  He stated Mrs Hoar, the manageress responsible had since resigned.

He recommended that as the Commonwealth Government would soon be opening two new hostels in Canberra, an officer trained in nutrition should be appointed to supervise the planning and preparation of meals.

The Minister for the Interior, Mr Johnson, said that the reports showed that that there had been a lot of wild exaggeration. Some of the suggestions in the reports would be investigated.



Stirling Park, Yarralumla site of Howie's Cottages

The old road shown in the 1913 map is the same track shown crossing the above photograph.  The quagmire is the green area that is shown as creeks to the right of Howie’s Cottages in the earlier map.   No 4 marks the cross roads and to the right of the quagmire was the site of the Tradesmen’s Camp.  The road near Lotus Bay is Alexander Drive and bottom – Forster Crescent.  The above marked sites are only a few – others will be added with time including the Tradesmen’s sites and others in the park.  On the day when this work was carried out the quagmire lived up to its name – inches of water.

The track that runs up to Forster Crescent continued down the hill from the point of 4.  It is not clear in this photograph but it did continue down to join the track seen just above 17 and continued across to the Hotel Canberra.  The Quagmire is the green area. The area to the left of the quagmire is Contractor John Howie’s Settlement – 1922- c1930/31. The Tradesmen’s Camp 1923-1927 is to the right of the Quagmire.

1.     Marker post, Hostel Ablutions’ area.

2.     Concrete slab – lavatory block Hostel Camp

3.     Old road near quagmire

4.     Cross-roads NW and EW intersection. Pile of river rocks on upper right side of road as going up the hill. The stones put there to stabilize the land.

5.     Pile of large uneven coarse rocks, old Holden fender, rocks that may be part of garden bed of chimney stack. Large dead tree cut back – probably the tree in the street Howie’s cottages CDHS photograph. The car is on the site of No 3 Howie’s Cottages.

6.     Wheelbarrow pile of concrete near the man hole and tree with metal hooks etc in trunk.  This would be the area referred to by Walter Sheen as about 50 yards from their house (4 Howie’s) – the sewer miners used explosives at 12 midnight – so loud the

children had to have cotton wool In their ears to stop them from waking.

7.     Recreation Hall for married couples – Howie’s Cottages

8.     Dug out building platform – possibly one of the sites of shared lavatories for Howie’s.

9.     2 X toilet block platforms

10.   Aboriginal scar on tree stump

11.   Western end of Howie’s where it joins the modern walking track. This road would have joined a road closer to the that is referred in early maps as a deep water course.  Near this creek in Block 4, Section 128 which is an undeveloped road, is the only known temporary septic tank of type built in the FCT (now ACT) before the sewer system was completed.

12.   Roadway junction Y junction.  The old road joins the surviving part of the track connecting the area with the Hotel Canberra.

13.   Quarry or early mining site – one of two.  Small scale limited mining – probably for gold took place on this hill and on Stirling Ridge (Section 22, Stirling Park, Yarralumla) –

probably in the 1860s when John Morrison had a tenant farm in the area.  John Morrison Jr of Tralee was born during the time this family lived in the area.

14.   Howie’s house –  originally identified as No 2, but now think – 4 – Site of Sheen’s cottage

15.   Dump for 4 – major dump area that still has 1930s and earlier glass including purple (pre 1916). Exotic hedge shown in NCA map – to the east running NS

16.   No 3 Howie’s House

17.   Concrete surveyor’s mark – old concrete posts marking.  There are others within the area- still to be marked on map.

18.   Possible site for the CDHS photograph to be taken from the old road on the end near the Creek.  No 3 is the light toned house third from the end top side. The cross road can be seen between the cottages and behind the trees.


19.   Old car remains, dump and house site where a painter lived – Hamilton? The cottage was 3 Howie’s

20.   Howie’s House site 1 or 2 – ice making metal container. One of two left on the site.  The container was filled with water and frozen.  The ice was made at the Cordial & Ice Factory at Civic, owned in the 1920s by TJ Sheeky and later by the Commonwealth Cordial Company.


21.   Toilet slab – photograph of Freeman children taken c1925/26 showing the lavatory on the block.  Pre-1926 concrete, pile of broken bricks – same as at Hotel Canberra – to south behind the slab.

22.   Freeman’s tent site – probably previously tenanted by Mrs Erikson, Mess Caterer for Tradesmen’s Camp – moved into a Westlake Cottage in 1924 when they became available.

23.   Marker Post – old Tradesmen’s Camp 1923-1927 – ablution block – Study area. Iris plants growing.

24.   Ablutions Block area of Tradesmen’s Camp – running down the slope N-S direction. Near the road there are a number of stone arrangements that are probably Aboriginal in origin.


Canberra & District Historical Society


By AR Jones, Under Secretary, Department of Lands, Sydney NSW


Paper prepared by AR Jones, Under Secretary for Lands, Sydney and read before the Goulburn District Historical Society at the Goulburn City Auditorium on Friday evening 25th July 1952

Mr President, Ladies & Gentlemen

I esteem it a very great honour to have been asked to read a paper before your newly formed Society.  The immediate question confronting me, of course, was what would be an appropriate and interesting subject for such a paper.  I was aware of the immense wealth of information regarding Goulburn itself to be found in the late Mr Ransome Wyatt’s excellent publication, ‘The History of Goulburn, NSW’ and felt sure that I would need to go further afield.

And so my choice eventually fell to ‘Lake George,’ though even here I have no doubt that much of the data I have, with great interest and pleasure, gathered from original sources – including documents in the Mitchell library and plans, field books, and papers in my own Department – has already been published.

Lake George has at all times been an intensely interesting and fascinating subject.  It presents a problem to all inquiring minds and has an appeal to men of all callings, including the geologist, the surveyor, the engineer, the pastoralist, the historian, the sportsman and the layman.  I approach the subject of this evening merely as one of the last mentioned group.

I appreciate the fact that I am addressing a Historical Society and that historical accuracy – rather than mere entertainment is indicated.  At the same time, I have endeavoured to make my address as interesting as possible and in this connection I am greatly indebted to Mr BT Dowd of the Department and his friend and colleague of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Mr WL Havard, who, of their own volition, have undertaken to cover as much of it as practicable with lantern slides.

The lake, as you know, is situate about 25 miles south-westerly of this city and is approached by the Federal Highway which after leaving Goulburn, runs through Yarra and Collector, reaching the northern end of the lake about 5 miles from the latter town. Skirting the western shore of the lake between it and the precipitous Lake George Range, the road cuts through a gap in the range called ‘Geary’s Gap’ and then continues in a south-westerly direction to the capital city of Canberra, about 23 miles further on.

The lake which embraces (on an official estimate) an area of about 38,500 acres, is the largest in New South Wales. It is 2,230 feet above sea level.

Lake George Range at its northern extremity, where it junctions with the Main or Great Dividing Range, is called the Cullarin Range.  There are quite a few high peaks on Lake George Range, some of which are Trigonometrical Stations and overlook the lake, including ‘Carter’ 2,987 feet; ‘St George’ 2,910 feet; ‘Purromumba’ 2,905 feet; and ‘Smalley’ 2,852 feet.

Several creeks and watercourses enter the lake on the eastern side, including Allianoyonyiga Creek, Taylor’s Creek and Butmaroo or Deep Creek; and on the south side, Turallo Creek which rises above the town of Bungendore.  Within a short distance of the lake on the east are some important peaks established as trig stations including ‘Ellenden’ 2,956 feet; ‘North Base’ 2,262 feet; and ‘Osborne’ 2,938 feet.

And having fixed the site of the lake and its relation to the towns, roads, mountain ranges and other features that we know so well today, let us cast our minds back to the time when there was no settlement in this part of the country and the while man had just come upon the lake – a vast expanse of water, the sanctuary of myriad birds and a pleasant camping place of the blacks, who knew it by the name of ‘Wee-ree-waa’.

It was the year 1820; and outside the County of Cumberland no settlement of consequence had taken place in the colony. The Hunter River lands were being examined; but the great sandstone barrier – the Blue Mountains – which had held back settlement for twenty-five years, had only a few short years before (1813) been mastered by Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth. Evans had extended their exploration over the Main Dividing Range (1814) and later into the territory south-westerly of present Bathurst, discovering the Lachlan River.

Some occupation of grazing country had been allowed to stockmen in the Bathurst district; but settlement by grants of land did not commence in earnest until after the eighteen twenties (`1820s).

To the southward, many individual explorers had penetrated the country; and parts of the Illawarra were occupied in 1816, but no settlement had taken place across the Wollondilly River up to the time of the visit of his Excellency the Governor Lachlan Macquarie to the Argyle district in 1820.

Two years before, Lake Bathurst (known to the natives as ‘Bundong’) had been discovered.  A party comprising, among others, James Meehan (the Deputy Surveyor General), Charles Throsby and Hamilton Hume had crossed the Nepean River at Hassall’s farm near Camden, on the 5th March 1818, and proceeding south-westerly had passed the site of what is now the town of Marulan, to Jerrara and Bugonia Creeks where, after an examination of the rough country about the Shoalhaven gorges, it was decided to divide – Throsby, George Grimes and two natives going eastward towards the Coast and Meehan, Hamilton Hume and four other men south-westerly. (See Meehan’s Field Book No 143)

It was on the 3rd April 1818, that Meehan’s party came across the lake, which was afterwards given the name of ‘Lake Bathurst,’ in honour of Earl Bathurst, Secretary of State for the Colonies.

Charles Throsby, whom I have just mentioned and who figures again shortly in relation to Lake George, had arrived in Sydney on the convict ship, ‘Coramandel’ as surgeon, in June 1802. He was then about 25 years of age. In 1804 he became Assistant Surgeon in the Government Service.

Subsequently he was appointed Magistrate and Superintendent in the Newcastle district, but owing to ill health resigned in 1809.  He decided then to go on to the land and on 1st January 1810 was granted 950 acres, just south of Liverpool. For some years, Throsby engaged in farming on this property which he called ‘Glenfield’, but also spent much time exploring parts of the unknown county to the southward.

In a letter written from ‘Glenfield’ on 25th August 1820, Throsby advised His Excellency Governor Macquarie of his return the day before from what he called ‘the new country.’ Road work, he stated, had advanced beyond the ‘Wallandillie’ River, leaving ‘that extensive and beautiful country open for any purpose it may be required for.’

The remainder of his letter is important to our story and I quote it as written:

Conceiving it of importance to gain every information of the country that had not heretofore been visited, to the SW of the lake discovered by Mr Meehan in 1818, where another large lake is said by the natives to be situated, which empties its waters in a southerly direction and called by them, Wee-ree-waa, I fitted out Joseph Wild and two of the road party, at a very trifling expense, and parted with them about forty miles in advance of the workmen…I have directed him to endeavour to find that lake, and send me in every information relative thereto…as early as possible after his return, which I will then do myself the honor to lay before Your Excellency.’

Joseph Wild, complying with these instructions given to him by Throsby, ­made the actual discovery of Lake George on Saturday, 19th August, 1820.

In that event, it is of importance that we should know a little of the discoverer himself.

It appears that Joseph Wild had, sometime after his arrival in the Colony, been assigned to and accompanied Robert Brown, the eminent botanist, in his research work both here and in Tasmania, between the years 1802 and 1805.  He had later lived for a time in a hut at Wingecarribee Swamp, was an excellent bushman and had become very friendly with the natives, which made him exceptionally useful guide to the explorers operating in the southern unchartered districts between about 1814 and 1823.  In the latter year he was constable for the Argyle District. Charles Throsby writes of him that ‘tho’ and illiterate man, is very useful, intelligent in the woods, and may be depended on.’  Wild died in 1847 at the advanced age of 88 years and was buried in the old Bong Bong Cemetery near Bowral.

Wild’s account of his discovery of the lake is given in a letter written for him to Throsby by Sylvester Hall, clerk to the road part, from ’Wollondellie’ under the date of 28th August 1820. It is an interesting document and I record it in full:-


                                                                                                                                Monday 28 Aug 1820


                This afternoon we have had the satisfaction of seeing Joseph Wild and his two companions returned from their journey, of which he desires me to give you the following account.


On the day you parted from him (Saturday, the 19th) after a direction about SW he came in view of the lake Weerawa from a hill at four miles distance and arriving at the N end of the lake turned towards the southward on a level bank, grassy to the water’s edge, the land good pasture but unfavourable for cultivation – from hills the party saw the fires of the natives who appeared numerous:- they pursued their course on Sunday over capital land to the southward by the bank of the lake, and slept between tow creeks on the E side:- On Monday 21st he followed the lake and encamped at a creek at the southern point – all this day over very excellent land, fit for any purpose, clear of timber – a strong westerly wind occasioned a heavy rolling surf like the ocean. On Tuesday the men rested and slept at the same hut as on Monday – Joseph Wild went to some hills about four miles distant to look out – large hills preventing the view of anything remote except snowy mountains to the SW a very wide valley clear of trees and superior land runs for the southern end of the lake upwards of twenty miles – this night the water of the lake fell six inches. On Wednesday 23rd the party began to return and then perceived an opening in the range of hills on the south west bank of the lake, which opening Joseph Wild has every reason to believe is a river – he could perceive reeds and other appearances of a river and was sorry to leave it behind without examination; the party being small he did not wish to disobey your instructions, in case an accident might happen – they passed that night near the lake to the eastward and on Thursday turned from it to be NE but could only proceed about six miles before encamping for heavy rain – the ground scrubby and barren.


On Friday morning the 25th August he pursued a direction NE and from a large hill saw Mr Meehan’s plains and lagoon called Bundong, as it had previously been visited he passed it at a distance – from this lagoon to Weerawa Lake Joseph Wild judges the straight line may be about twenty miles – this day the hills were stony and full of brush wood but the plains very capital land – at night slept the Head of Murwary Plains, crossing them on Saturday the 26th on which night the party slept at your Hut when Mr W MacArthur accompanied you.  On Sunday 27th crossed Wollondellie River at a good place half a mile lower than when Mr W MacArthur went with your party – slept at Cookbundoon River and on Monday arrived safe and well at out Huts in Wollondellie.


The lake was brackish and unfit for use, extending N to S at least thirty miles – at the N end about two miles across but widening to about ten miles, full of Bays and Points on the east side, very beautiful; only one Island perceived, near the mouth of a creek, inhabited by great multitudes of white sea gulls;  -the wood is in general Box and Blue Gum with a little Stringy Bark. Emu very plentiful and seen in small flocks – tracks of some large kangaroos found but none seen in the neighbourhood – Swans, Geese and Ducks of different kinds in abundance, but it was too cold to catch fish.  The floods had been very high, number of egg shells were found supposed to be those of ducks destroyed by the water and the crows – also the claws of large cray fish.  The stones in the points on the eastern bank are a kind of slate – the western bank appears to have a straight uniform bold shore (except for the opening mentioned) very lofty hills, nearly alike in height, rocky but good pasturage:- the grass had been burn in the neighbourhood of the lake by the natives and was springing into nice feed – three creeks run into the lake at the SE. The plains towards the eastward are of immense extent, clear of wood, all beautiful land, not swampy, though many small lagoons of fresh water.


                                I am

                                  Sir, your ever obedient

                                      Humble servant

                                                S Hall.


Throsby lost no time in sending a copy of this report to His Excellency the Governor. His letter of 4th September 1820 expressed gratification at the success of the small party he had fitted out and parted with on the 19th August, on which same day it appears they discovered the great lake they were in search of.


No doubt His Excellency on receipt of the news would be most anxious to see for himself at the first opportunity this interesting and exciting discovery; and accordingly suitable arrangements to that end were made.  The Governor and his party were to set out from Parramatta and proceed to Lake Bathurst, where they would join forces with a party to come across country from the town of Bathurst and including Mr John Oxley (the Surveyor General) and Mr Commissioner JT Bigge from England, who was then in the Colony investigating its general administration.


The Governor’s journal of this ‘tour of inspection,’ as he termed it, makes interesting reading and I have perused it many times, following the route itself, as far as practicable, on the map. I am sure if I could read it to you verbatim it would hold your interest, too, for apart from its personal character it covers a country you know so well. In fact the actual route taken by the party passed, in its closing stages, close by the present city of Goulburn – just on the other side of Malware.


With the risk of unduly lengthening the paper – but in hope of adding interest to it – I propose to briefly follow the progress of that historic journey south to the ‘great lake’.


On Monday 16th October 1820, his Excellency records in his diary:-

Having resolved to make a tour of inspection to the new country some time since discovered by Charles Throsby Esqr to the south west of the Cow Pastures, I set out this morning and half past 6 o’clock from Parramatta on my intended tour in my carriage, with my old faithful valet George Jarvis…


I sent off my heavy baggage on Friday last, the 13th instant, together with my servants under charge of Thomas Evans the Orderly Dragoon, appointed for this duty with orders to halt at Stone Quarry Creek in the Cow Pasture till my arrival there. The party to accompany me on this tour consists of Major Antill, Lt Macquarie, Mr Meehan, Dr Reid R Nacy, the Revd Mr Cartwright – and Mr Throsby; the two latter and Mr Meehan having appointed to meet me at Liverpool or on the road beyond it.’


I have obtained a helio copy of Robert Dixon’s map of the Colony of New South Wales, which was published in London in 1837, and on it I have indicated as accurately as practicable the route taken by the party. I propose to leave this map with you as part of the records of value you are collecting.


After leaving Liverpool the Governor’s party proceeded by the Bringelly and Cow Pastures Roads to the ford over the Nepean River; inspected the Government cattle (about 550 strong) at the Stock Yards situate about three miles from the ford; and the Governor, pleased with the beauty of the spot, called it ‘Cawdor’ in honour of Mrs Macquarie’s family.


The first night was spent at Stone Quarry Creek (now known as Picton). Next day the party was joined by Charles Throsby at Bargo; passed through ‘Kennedy’s Brush’ and entered ‘this tract of land called Mittagong; camped for the night after 24 miles travel, which His Excellency recorded was ‘rather too long a journey for heavy loaded carts.’


The following day they crossed the Mittagong Range and then over the ‘Wingecarribee River by a good sound pebbly ford where the country opens in to very rich pasturage.’  Here they came across ‘a numerous herd of about 400 herd of cattle belonging to Mr Throsby feeding in a rich fine meadow on the west bank of the river, looking sleek and fat.’  The Governor also met Joseph Wild at this spot who told him that the road had been completed to the summit of the Cookbundoon Range about 40 miles ahead and the carriage and carts would be able to ascent it very easily.


Incidentally the Governor records that Mr Throsby ‘not having yet given any particular name of designation  to his new estate in this fine country, I have, with his own consent, named it Throsby Park.’  This grant of 1,000 acres is situate at what is now Moss Vale, on the eastern side of the railway station.


A day was spent in examining the country in this vicinity and the Governor regretted that Mr Macquarie and his son Lachlan were not with him to participate in the pleasure he felt ‘on beholding so beautiful a landscape.’  During the day’s outing they ‘saw a vast number of large forest kangaroos.’


The following morning the party set out early and ‘arrived at St Patrick’s River, a very pretty clear little stream, running northerly and with a good bridge over it.  About a mile from the little rivulet we came to the Wallandilly River about 12 yards wide in most parts and a very fine stream of water, being quite fresh.’


Camp was made near the ford over the river and the Governor and Mr Meehan mounted their horses and viewed Mr Hannibal MacArthur’s establishment about four miles away, where, it is recorded 1854 sheep and 165 head of horned cattle grazed ‘in most excellent pasturage.’ (This would be the present ‘Arthursleigh’).  The overseer presented His Excellency with ‘two wild turkey eggs, a stuffed squirrel and a piece of rock     Chrystal, all the produce of the district of Wallandilly.’


Next morning the camp was astir between four and five o’clock and the party had completed 15 miles by 11.20am, bringing them to the Cookbundoon River, where they pitched camp.  They had now arrived, His Excellency records, ‘within 30 miles of Bathurst Lake.’


The following day was Sunday but the entry in the journal is a four o’clock rising.  They ‘crossed the Cookbundoon River twice within half a mile of each other,’ and then negotiated – not without great difficulty – the steep and rocky Cookbundoon Range, the Governor naming the ascent and descent Wild’s Pass, after Joseph Wild, the overseer of the road party previously mentioned.


It was here (to use the Governor’s own words) ‘we fell in with, Nagaray, a fine old patriarchal native of 70 years of age with his family of wives, sons and daughters – in all 8 persons – all of  whom Mr Throsby had engaged to accompany us to the great salt water lake recently discovered by Joseph Wild.’


That same afternoon (22nd October,  1820) the party ‘reached the left bank of the principal branch of the Wallandilly River,’ crossed over to the right bank by a very good ford and travelled along the bank ‘till it took a sudden bend to the westward and where a small rivulet from the south east joins it.’  Here the country opened out into a very extensive plains to the westward, known by the natives as ‘Mulwarry’ but which (records the Governor) I have named ‘Breadalbane Plains.’


This ford over the Wollondilly River, was, no doubt that now shown on the maps s ‘Throsby’s Ford’ at Kenmore.


From the junction of the rivers the party continued on their journey in a south easterly direction to a point about four miles from the ford and there pitched camp for the night.


This would be in the vicinity of what we now know as Landsdowne Bridge, and it is to be noted that on  that Sunday afternoon in October, 1820, the first white men had passed over the outskirts of the present City of Goulburn, that is, on the far side of Mulwaree and through what is now the suburb of Eastgrove.  It is, of course, remembered that Meehan and Hume, returning from their discovery of Lake Bathurst some two years before had passed about two and half miles easterly of the future city.


Goulburn of course, was not then in existence.  The original town site in the bend of the Wollondilly River at North Goulburn and near its junction with the Mulwarree, was not laid out until the year of 1829.  This plan of the Township of ‘Goulburn Plains’ is G621 in the Department of Lands, but there is a later plan catalogued G800B by Surveyor Hoddle in 1833, of the ‘Town of Goulburn’ in its new position – where the main centre is today.


Our vice-regal party continued their journey across the Goulburn Plains – ‘a most beautiful rich tract of country…and containing not less than fifty thousand acres of good land.’  They saw ‘several flocks of fine large emus, some fine large turkeys’ and a big kangaroo, which the dogs killed in the brush adjoining Lake Bathurst.  This lake, appeared, we are told, ‘quite a little sea, covered with innumerable flocks of wild ducks and a great many black swans, which last looked most beautiful floating on the surface of this grand piece of water, which is perfectly fresh and good.’


The party reached Lake Bathurst at 6pm and pitched their camp an hour later, on the eastern extremity, after eight days journey from Parramatta. 


The governor expressed keen disappointment at not finding Commissioner Bigge and his party at the rendezvous and the next day he spent examining the surrounding countryside.


There was doubtless a varied lot of bird and animal life there in those days. The Governor mentions that on his way back to camp he shot a large wild turkey, ‘weighing at least eighteen pounds, with very rich variegated beautiful plumage.’ A ‘native dog’ was also killed in this locality.


While the Governor’s party anxiously awaited Bigge’s arrival, Throsby, ‘wishing to reconnoiter in person the great salt water lake,’ had set out to do so, attended by Wild, Vaughan the constable and two native guides.  He sent Wild back the following day with a note stating that loaded carts could proceed the sixteen miles to the Wee-ree-waa lake quite easily by remo9ving dead fallen timber en route.


Mr Commissioner Bigge, accompanied by Mr Secretary Scott, Mr Oxley, Mr Cordaux, Dr Hill and Charles Fraser (the Colonial Botanist) besides ‘ a numerous retinue of servants, all mounted, having seven pack horses to carry their baggage’, eventually arrived at Lake Bathurst camp about lunch time on Thursday 26th October.  It has been estimated that the combined party assembled at Lake Bathurst camp would number approximately forty persons.


The next two days were eventful ones and I quote the Governor’s record of them in full:-


‘Friday 27 Oct At half past 6am breakfasted and …sent off the whole of our baggage for the great lake, following it ourselves immediately after for the first six miles we travelled though plains and open forest, then got into a broken hilly country for about six miles more. At the distance of about four miles from it, and from the top of a hill on the left of the road, we had a partial view of the great lake, which even at that distance looked very fine.  The last four miles to the lake was through fine open forestland or rich plains, (this was very a very beautiful tract of fine open forest land, but chiefly clear of timber and rich land- I therefore called it Campbell Plains in honor of Mrs Macquarie) and at 1pm we reached the north east shore of it, but where we could only see about one half of it.  At this point, however, we were all most highly gratified and delighted with this noble expanse of water, and the surrounding scenery.  The baggage proceeding on by a more direct course, we rode along the summits of the ridges which gird the lake in order to obtain a fuller and more complete view of it, and from every succeeding hill our admiration of the magnificence and size of this noble sheet of water increased.  We proceeded on from where we first made it for four miles farther along the eastern shore of it, and then encamped at 3pm on a very pretty plain, near a fresh water creek, distant about nine miles from the north west extremity of the lake, and twenty miles from our last ground. This situation was recommended by Mr Throsby by a note he had left with one of his men for me; having gone on himself early this morning to the southern extremity of the lake to try to get hold of some natives of this part of the country to serve as guides to conduct us to the new river, Murrumbidgee.  We were all a little tired after our journey to this beautiful lake, the day being very warm and sultry.  At 6pm dines, drank tea at half past seven and went to bed at nine.


Saturday 28 Oct.  Got up at 5 o’clock after very refreshing good night’s rest, breakfasted at half past six. Mr Throsby not having returned from his excursion as was expected he would do, either last night or very early this morning, we determined on going in quest of him and to explore the southern part of the lake, and the adjacent country, for which purpose we set out at 8 o’clock, attended by some of our servants, leaving the rest in charge of our camp, which we left standing.  We travelled over an open hilly country for about 3 miles along the east side of the lake, and at 9 saw a smoke on the western side of the lake, and at 9 saw a smoke on the western side of the lake which we concluded proceeded from a signal fire made by Mr Throsby, which was soon confirmed to be the case of our seeing with our glasses Mr Throsby himself riding along the shore on his way back to our camp, but as we all wished to see the southern extremity of this fine piece of water, we pursued our ride thither to meet Mr Throsby; our way lying through a very great extent of flat land, composed of open forest, plains and meadows for 7 or 8 miles at least, the soil generally good, fine herbage, and full or fine large ponds and lagoons of fresh water.  These ponds were full of black swans, Native companions and ducks – and when we came to the south end of the lake it was covered with innumerable flocks of black swans, ducks and sea gulls.  We tasted the water of the lake here, and it was quite fresh. After having viewed and explored the southern extremity of the lake, we proceeded along the western shore of it for about a mile and hopes of meeting Mr Throsby until such time as we discovered the track of his horse back the same way he came, from which it was evident he had passed the plains to the southward of our track out.  We therefore returned back to camp nearly the same way we came after a ride out of at least 12 miles and as much home again, halting between 2 and 3 o’clock under a tree about the middle of the plains, and close to a fine running fresh water creek, to take some refreshment, which I had directed to be carried out for us. These plains being likely to terminate my present tour of inspection southerly, I have named them in honor of the noble chief of the Campbells, Argyle Forest. It now appears evident that there is no outlet or river flowing from this lake, which is the more extraordinary as the waters of it are now proved to be positively fresh, and the size of it so great, it being at least eighteen miles long by five broad.


We arrived in camp and ¼ before 5 and found Mr Throsby had arrived there about half a mile before us.  He now states to us from the information of his native guide Taree that the new river Murrumbidgeee, which we came in quest of and were all so particularly anxious to see and explore does not flow from the great lake at all, but that it has its source at the back of the hills which skirt the western shore of the lake, and flows from thence in a south easterly direction towards the coast, and that it would take us three days to reach it.  We have consequently abandoned all thoughts of going to explore the new river at this time, leaving it to be traced to the sea by future discoverers.


We sat down to dinner today at half past five, and after dinner we drank a bumper toast to the success of the future settlers of the shores of Lake George, which name I have given to this great and magnificent sheet of water in honor of His present Majesty.  We drank tea early and went to bed at half past nine.’


Surveyor General Oxley has left on record, too, his impressions of Lake George as he first saw it on that October day, 1820.  He says (Field Book 172)

‘At three arrived on the banks of the Lake, of which we had previously had a view from a Range of Hills about 11 miles from our Morning Station. The Lake of great extent – probably 15 to 18 miles from N to S and may be on a Medium from 5 to 7 miles wide. The trees dead to a considerable distant from its present shores, evidently denoting that no stream has existed in its waters. The water remarkably soft, though turbid and tasting more like water long kept confined than living water.


The lake bounded on the West by a table chain of Rocky Hills, having an elevation from 800 to about 1500 feet above the level of the lake. One the East the shore is low and Sandy with Rocky projections, nothing but small trees in the vicinity. I think our present station near its centre.’


His concluding journal entry is that: ‘The Governor this day named the large sheet of Fresh Water Lake George in honor of His Majesty.’


Next morning (Sunday 29th October, 1820) the party started on their return journey home, via Lake Bathurst, where they arrived again about noon. I am not concerned to trace their movements back to Parramatta but it is of great interest, I think, to note that the first Christian service in the Goulburn district was held that day, on the shore of Lake Bathurst.


The Governor’s diary reads:-

‘At 4 pm the whole of our party, including our servants, carters etc etc being assembled in, and immediately under the fly of my large tent (which had been left standing here) the Revd Mr Cartwright performed Divine Worship, and gave us a very excellent appropriate sermon, strongly impressing the justice, good polity and expediency of civilizing the aborigines, or black natives of this country and settling them in townships.’


It must have been an impressive service, for mention is made of it also by Oxley in his field book (No 172).  He records that:-

‘In the course of the afternoon Prayer and a Sermon were read by Mr C the latter on duty of affording relief to and attempting the ultimate conversion to Christianity of the Native Inhabitants of New Holland.’


That first religious service was commemorated 115 years later when, on Saturday 30th November, 1935, the Right Reverend Dr Burgmann, Bishop of Goulburn, before a large assembly, unveiled and dedicated a fine stone memorial on the approximate site where it was held.  No doubt you know the spot well.


His Excellency’s journal discloses that he arrived back in Parramatta on the afternoon of Monday, 6th November, 1820. He was alive to the necessities of the colonists and to the possibilities of the country he had just traversed, as before the month was out, the Sydney Gazette (25th November 1820) contained the following ‘Government and General Order’, issued from Government House, Parramatta:

                His Excellency the Governor, accompanied by the Honorable the Commissioner of Enquiry having recently made a tour of Inspection through the country lately discovered to the Westward and Southward of the Cow-Pastures; and having ascertained by personal survey, that a large Portion of the Country is a rich soil well adapted for the purposes of Agriculture and Pasturage, his Excellency has thereon taken into consideration the present exhausted state of the pasture lands on this side of the Nepean in the county of Cumberland, in part arising from its being overstocked, but principally from the destructive ravages of the Caterpillar, by which they were some time since visited; and being anxious to extend some temporary relief to the Graziers as the said New County as the said New Country may afford, is pleased to notify that such settlers, as are possessed of Herds or Flocks may send them for a time to be hereafter limited, to depasture the fertile tracts of the New Country, they undertaking to do so at their own risk, and subject to the following restrictions and regulations:-

1.        ….The Land now offered for the Service of Stockholders being situated between cow-pastures and the Chain of Hills termed the Cookbundoon Range. Persons wishing to avail themselves of the present liberty are to resort to that place exclusively…all persons meaning to avail themselves of the present indulgence are required to furnish to His Excellency’s Secretary an  Account of the Number and Description of the Cattle they propose sending for Pasturage to the Said New Country…


By way of interest I quote the terms of a permi9t issued in pursuance of this Order, to one, Robert Jenkins on 27th November, 1820, to send his cattle to the south. It runs as follows:

        To the Constable on Duty in the Cowpastures and to all persons concerned.

Permit Mr Robert Jenkins of Sydney to proceed though the Cowpastures to the new Discovered County lying between Bargo Brush and Cookbundoon Range with  three hundred and fifty (350) Steers and the undermentioned stockmen and Servants, viz:

                        Wm Chapman         )

                        Peter Hale               ) convicts


Signed JT Campbell Colonial Secretary 27th Nov 1820’


It was natural – and it is reasonable to suppose – that in this wise stockmen took their flocks and herds to the southward and eventually to the shores of Lake George.


Before, however, entering upon that phase of our subject, let me lay emphasis on the outstanding matter referred to the foregoing pages, namely the actual discoverer of the lake.


There can be no doubt about it that t he honor lay with Joseph Wild who discovered it on Saturday, 19th August 1820.


I do this because just about a century later, that is, in March 1919, there was quite a spate of letters published in ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’ regarding the discovery of Lake George.


In one of these letters the late Mr John Gale of Queanbeyan asserted that it was discovered by a couple of blacks, acting as scouts for Governor Macquarie in the year 1812.  Gale’s authority was said to be a story told to him by the Rev Robert Cartwright – before mentioned.


Despite contradictory  and, I should think, convincing evidence adduced by the late Henry Selkirk, Research Officer of the Department of Lands, at that time, Mr Gale repeated the story in his published work (1927): ‘Canberra History and Legends.’  In this he states that he made the acquaintance of the Rev Mr Cartwright in 1855 and that on one of his subsequent periodical visits to him at the Parsonage at Collector, Cartwright told him of his first contact with Lake George.  He thought it was in or about the year 1812.  He was then officiating as chaplain to the Governor and the vice-regal party was visiting at Wollogorand on the Breadalbane Plains.  One day an excursion was made into the country southward and the party camped the first night at Rose’s Lagoon about three or four miles from Collector.  Next day a couple of aborigines, sent out as scouts, returned with the news that they had read the sea just ahead.


The story proceeds that ‘the Governor and the entire party were puzzled at this statement…and they packed up and went forward to see for themselves…There at their feet and stretching southward as far as the eye could see, was a vast sheet of water, whose billows were rolling in upon the foot-hills of the eminence whereon they stood, as the vertitable billows to the ocean – if it were not part of the Pacific itself.’


Everything seems to me to contradict this story. His Excellency Governor Macquarie, we know, put every detail of his administration on record and it would be a strange thing indeed if he made no mention anywhere of such an important discovery and what would have been an item of outstanding interest in the history of the colony.


But, it would be stranger still, if having seen the lake in 1812, eight years later he would be recording in his diary such passages as these:- ‘23rd October 1820…all of whom (speaking of certain natives) Mr Throsby had engaged to accompany us to the great salt water lake recently discovered by Joseph Wild….’


Certainly the Governor laid no claim to its earlier discovery and it is incredible that he could write as he did of the lake in 1820 if he had previously seen it in 1812.  At least, one could reasonable expect some reference to the earlier visit and some comparisons.


If anything more were needed there is the report of Mr Commissioner Bigge, who alludes to ‘the lakes that have been recently discovered in a south-westerly direction’ and, referring particularly to Lake George says: ‘Dead trees were observed at a considerable distance from the present shores, and the person who had discovered it in the month of August preceding U seemed impressed  with the belief that the expanse of water had considerably increased.’


Mr Gale states that the fact that the Governor made no mention  of the 1812 trip is no proof that there was no such discovery but ‘it is regrettable (he does say) that nothing whatever has been found in Macquarie’s private papers referring to the incident. ‘


The title of his book is ‘Canberra – History and Legends’. This is, perhaps the legends!


So we return to the recorded 1820 discovery of the great south lake and the subsequent drift of settlement towards its shores. The records disclose orders for land and promises of land in the immediate vicinity of the lake within a few years afterwards, to be confirmed in due course by the deeds of grants to the promises or their legal representatives.


On the eastern margin of the lake an area of 2,000 acres was granted on the 11th July 1835, to James and Francis Cooper, but it was in pursuance of an order which had been made on the 1st May 1824 in favour of Robert Cooper.


‘Kenny’s Point’ on the lake perpetuates a name long associated with Lake George.  On the opposite side of Allianoyonyiga Creek to Cooper’s 2,000 acres was promised to Francis Kenny by His Excellency Sir Thomas Brisbane on 27th August 1825, and confirmed by Crown Grant to him dated 31st August 1838.  Even earlier on 2nd June 1824 he had been promised the 120 acres on the point which still bears his name, and, after his death, the Crown Grant issued on the 9th September 1840, to his trustees, Thomas Hammond and Mary Kenny.


An earlier promise was Major Rhode, who was authorized to take possession of 2,560 acres fronting the eastern shore of the lake on 10th June 1829, and this land was granted on the 5th August 1835 to Joseph Hickey Grose – evidently his successor in title.


There was James Atkinson to whom 1920 acres fronting the lake was promised on or before the 24th June 1829. The grant, known as ‘Mount Ellendon’, issued to William Lithgow on the 27th November 1837.  The latter also purchased lands with lake frontage immediately to the north and south of ‘Mount Ellendon’.  For  the area of 2,000 acres on the north it is interesting to note that he paid 5,000 pounds in 1834; and the following year he purchased 1,180 acres on the south – granted to him 6th November 1836. Lithgow who was at one time Colonial Auditor, also had a 2,000 acre grant in the Goulburn District, well known as ‘Kenmore’.


Joseph Thompson of Liverpool was the early promise of 2,560 acres fronting Butmaroo Creek, on the south-east margin of the lake and of which he was authorized to take possession on the 27th November 1828.  This property (known as Grantham Park) was subsequently granted to him on the 7th July 1835.


Adjoining that grant on the south, and with frontage also to Turallo Creek, an area of 1,078 acres was purchased in 1835 for the sum of 269 pounds 10 shillings by Joseph Barrow Montefiore.  On the southernmost shore of the lake and on the opposite side of this creek, Henry Brooks on or before the 8th December 1828 had been promised 400 acres by His Excellency Sir Ralph Darling and this land was granted to his trustee Patrick Hill on 30th March 1840.


Richard Brooks received a grant of 4,000 acres extending south the Bungendore, dated 23rd September 1833, in furtherance of an order of the 27th May 1825.


The only large grant with frontage to the western side of the lake was that of 1,020 acres to Richard Guise on 23rd August 1838, being the land he had purchased that year for the sum of 255 pounds. This is at Geary’s Gap.


And there is, of course, the well known grant to Terence Aubrey Murray of 2,560 acres on the northern shore, extending to Collector, called ‘Winderadeen’. It was dated 6th August 1838, but was actually the land granted to Terence Murray (his father) under an order issued at the Horse Guards, London, on the 8th June 1826 in consideration of his services as an officer of the British Army for upwards of ten years and of which he was authorized to take possession on 3rd September 1828.


Terence Aubrey Murray, you may recall, had a distinguished career in the Colony.  He was elected as representative of Murray, King and Georgians, in the Council in 1843 and member for Argyle in the enlarged constitution of 1856.  In 1857 he was minister for Lands and Works; In 1860 Speaker of the Legislative Assembly; and in 1862 President of the Legislative Council.


Generally speaking the persons I have mentioned were the earliest settlers in close proximity to the lake, but, of course, there were also early settlers in each direction away from it.  There was, for instance, Dr Thomas Braidwood Wilson’s ‘Janefield’ – a grant of 2,560 acres to the east and William Balcombe’s grant on the Molonglo 12 miles to the south, which he occupied under the permission granted to his late father on the 16th May 1825.


And now the advent of the first Surveyors to the lake to define its boundaries, plot the surrounding country and measure lands for alienation.


In August 1828, Mr Assistant Surveyor William R Govett traced the western side of the lake, while, at the same time, Mr Assistant Surveyor Robert Dixon was traversing the northern and eastern sides and the creeks flowing into it. Govett’s name is associated with ‘Govett’s leap on the Blue Mountains and a memorial at Blackheath today commemorates his memory.


Dixon on his plan (G.1.533) shows many items of interest, which were in existence at that time (1828) including Mr Kenny’s occupation of what is now known as ‘Kenny’s Point’.  ‘Mt Ellenden’; and Captain Thompson’s homestead, ‘Currandooly’ on ‘Butmarro Creek.’ He linked up with Govett’s traverse of the west side, and continuing his survey along Tuarllo Creek he showed the location of Captain Brook’s station, ‘Bungendore’ about three miles from the lake and Mr Neil’s ‘Majura’ property, some four miles further up stream.  He terrace Turallo Creek to its source and then turned westerly across the Molonglo Plains to locate Mr Balcomb’s Station on the Molonlgo River called ‘Winnolun’.


Surveyor Robert Hoddle, who laid out the Town of Goulburn in 1833 was at the lake many times in the 1830s and in effected measurement of a number of the early grants including Terence Aubrey Murray’s 2,560 acres at the Collector end in 1834. 


Sir Thomas Mitchell, Surveyor General (1828-1855) was at the lake in 1828 and says of it:-

                ‘It was a sheet of water 17 miles in length and 7 in breadth.  The water is slightly brackish, but quite fit for use, and the lake was surrounded by dead trees, measuring about 2 feet in diameter, which also extended into it until wholly covered by the water.  An old native told us she remembered when the whole was a forest – a statement supported by the dead trees in its bed.’


It was as early as September 1828 that Mitchell reported that three trigonometrical base lines had been laid down in the colony, two in the vicinity of Botany bay and one at the north end of Lake George, a mile in length. The work was carried out in connection with the production of the map of the Nineteen Countries published in 1835, a map of great historical import.


The initial work of Mitchell links Lake George with the Trigonometrical Survey of New South Wales. While the existing survey had its inception in 1867, the shores of the lake were again chosen and, in 1868, the measurement of a new base line there was commenced.  The work then carried out was, however, abandoned in conseq2uence of an abnormal rise in the waters of the lake, which covered parts of the line to a depth of 2 feet 6 inches; and in 1870 a fresh site close to the former was selected and a new base line was measured.  It is situated on the south eastern side of the lake and is approximately five and half miles long. It is marked by five stone pillars, nearly equidistant apart and it is from this base that the triangulation of the State of New South Wales has now been extended.


We have noted the settlement that took place around the lake in the 1820s and it is of considerable interest to record an account of the journey of one William Edward Riley, who visited there in December 1830.  The Riley papers in the Mitchell Library cover his journeys to certain outlying parts of the Colony, including the Argyle and Lake George territory. He visited Hannibal MacArthur at ‘Arthursleigh’, William Lithgow at ‘Kenmore’, Captain Rossi near Goulburn, and other settlers till on 30th December 1830, he records:-

                Started this morning with Lithgow, and a young man of the name of Allen for the former’s farm on Lake George, distant about thirty miles from Rossiville.  In our way over that portion of the plains that lies near Gibson’s we saw many wild turkeys and succeeded in shooting a fine large bird of the Bustard tribe…There are several sheep and cattle stations (on tracts occupied without authority) between Gibson’s and this point, and an extensive tract of wooded pasture beyond which might be profitably employed for grazing either sheep or cattle, but for the deficiency of water, which even in this moist weather was very apparent and from the absence of any creek of even a temporary nature can never be remedied, and must consign this part of the district to perpetual solitude. Neither is the style of the country worth mentioning until within as few miles of Lake George, where the dividing upland ranges intervene that separate the Eastern from the Western waters and from an elevated point of which we obtained a magnificent view, not only of the Lake itself but of the country we had recently traversed and of the neighbouring plains, both of Goulburn and Breadalbane.  There the aspect of the country materially improves, both in regard to utility and the picturesque and continues promising until after a gradual and somewhat tedious descent through thickly wooded pastures of high grass in the midst of which we found a young man (a currency lad) had squatted down with his wife and established a flourishing farm.  We emerged into an open plain of considerable extent that skirts the waters of the Lake and bears a high grass little diminished as yet by the herds of cattle and flocks of sheep that browse upon it.  Passing though this plain for four or five miles and leaving the farm of Mr Rhode on our left and that of Mr Kenny on our right, the Lake lying in the last direction, we at length arrived at Lithogow’s where we found young Allen’s brother, George and his wife, a pleasing little Scotch lassie plainly, but not uncomfortably established in a turf hut and both busily employed in the cares of the farm.  The establishment, which merely consisted of one or two or more huts of similar materials, one used for a dairy, and the other for the labourers on the farm seemed mean enough, but I scarcely considered that circumstance when I surveyed the fine expanse of water beside which it formed so principal and beautiful a feature.  Before me lay the Lake in placid stillness bearing on its bosom hundreds of black swans that floated along in apparent consciousness of beauty and stretched in one great sheet of water about 6 miles in diameter in either direction.  For the water of the Lake, although not brackish is, and fond as cattle and sheep are of it, notwithstanding found unsuitable for culinary purpose.  The land in its vicinity is also of perhaps better quality than that further off, leaving those considerations out of the question. There are several spots within half a mile of this creek on the plain I have mentioned where a delightful residence might be found, which, combining with itself both hill and dale, wood and open plain, field and water could probably not be surpassed in point of natural advantages by any other in the interior of NSW.


‘cl Dec. Out shooting on the Lake, but could not propel our crazy leaky boat sufficiently fast to get within shot of the swans…we, however, Brought down a few wild ducks, which, with teal, wild geese and etc are very numerous on the lake and in the neighbouring creeks.’


Describing the Lake country, Riley goes on to report that:-

                The land on the plain near the hut is of excellent quality as was evinced by the promising appearance of the wheat, barley and maize raised on a small paddock enclosed by the temporary tenant of the farm without any assistance in the way of manure or careful tillage of the soil.  Lithgow’s business being concluded we proceeded this morning in pursuance of his wish to extend his researches to Molonglo plains, a beautiful open flat of about 12 miles in length by about 5 in width lying in the midst of lofty mountains, some 21 miles south of Lake George and occupied in part by the establishment of Mr W Balcombe, the eldest son of the late Colonial Treasurer.  In this interval of 20 miles of gently undulating country only two farms occurred, the one of small extent and devoted principally to dairy purposes, under the charge of a married overseer, the other embracing an extent of nearly 10,000 acres and occupied as a sheep and cattle station by the Meal Contractor for the supply of the troops, and etc, during the year and both lying on, or near the Lake.’


Riley’s reference to the water of the Lake as ‘not brackish and fond as cattle and sheep are of it,’ leads one to reflect on the varied opinions expressed from time to time regarding this water.  Joseph Wild in 1820 had reported it ‘brackish and unfit for use’; Governor Macquarie had set out to view ‘the great salt water lake’ and had come away with the conclusion that ‘the waters of it are now proved to be positively fresh’; Surveyor General John Oxley, who accompanied him, recorded that the water of the lake was remarkable soft, though turbid and tasted ‘more like water long kept confined than living water’; and in 1828 Surveyor General Thomas Mitchell had reported it to be ‘slightly brackish, but quite fit for use.’


More than half a century later, in his Presidential address to the Royal Society of New South Wales (on 6th May, 1885) Mr HC Russell, BA, FRAS, Government Astronomer made copious references to Lake George, and of its waters, in particular he says:-

                ‘Lake George is called a fresh water lake, and some have even gone as far as to propose to use it as a reservoir for the supply of towns.  When there I ascertained that no one could use the water on account of its purgative properties, one glassful being quite enough to satisfy those who made use of it; and it is there said that the water running into the lake from the Currawang Copper Mine had poisoned all the fish.  This is not literally true, for there are still fish in the lake; but very many were killed some years since, presumably by the cause mentioned.  I obtained some of the water, and am indebted to Mr Dixon, of the Technical College Laboratory for interesting information as to what the water contains.  It is quite evident that with 187.5 grains of mineral matter per gallon the water cannot be used for domestic purposes; and from the fact that this matter is constantly being added to, it cannot improve, unless it were possible to withdraw large quantities of the water, and supply its place with rainwater; but during by far the greater number of years during which the lake has been known, viz. sixty-four years, the supply of rainwater going into it annually has not been equal to the evaporation, and there is no other outlet.  After the great flood of 1870 the lake during the last fourteen years has gradually decreased by nearly a foot per annum, and similar conditions existed before; and it is therefore obvious that it would not be possible to wash out the salts with rain water and artificial drainage except in wet years – perhaps once in twenty years.’


The Currowang Copper Mine referred to by Mr Russell was about 3 miles north of Lake George, situate on portion 8 of 960 acres, Parish of Currowang, County of Argyle, and was operated by the Currowang Copper Mining Company formed in 1865.


In the Annual Report of the Department of Mines for the year 1880 (page 59) it is stated that three samples of water from the mines had been received by the Department for analysis with special reference to their poisonous action on the fish in Lake George.  The conclusion it reached was that the water ‘would necessarily be poisonous to fish, and flowing into a lake without an outlet, would ultimately render the whole of the water poisonous.’


But Mr Russell’s views were not supported by Mr FB Cipps, civil Engineer, who addressed the Royal Society the following year (1st September, 1886) on ‘Our Lakes and their Uses.’  Gipps argued:

                The baling of water from the mine into a creek connected with the lake must have contaminated the water in the  immediate vicinity, but is certainly not sufficient cause to account for the death of fish miles away from the locality…as regards to the brackishness of the water, it must be patent to any one who studies the condition of the lake, that, owing to its shallow depth round three sides that induces great evaporation, owing also to its confinement and to the character of some of the rocky ridges enclosing it, certain salts would aggregate, making the water unpalatable, and perhaps after exceeding long sessions of drought, injurious; but change those conditions, and I maintain you could ensure pure, palatable water at all seasons. By throwing the flood waters if another river into the lake, and by constantly drawing it off in large volumes, the noxious salts would quickly be dispersed.  All the stream supplying the lake are fresh, and most of the large deep waterholes and gravel drifts in the plains above and below it, supply excellent drinking water.  Even when the lake itself is fast drying up, sheep and cattle drink and thrive on its water, whilst as it recedes, it leaves a nourishing pasturage of wild parsnip, a large succulent cane grass, which stock of all kind devour with avidity. This proves that its water possesses valuable properties favourable to irrigation.’


But to come to more recent times I find on the Departmental files the recorded statement of Mr HB Mathews, Surveyor General (21st September 1931) that:-

                The water in Lake George, except that entering by the tributary gullies in times of heavy rainfall, is unfit for stock at all times. At the present time, after a year of very heavy rainfall, the water in the deepest part of the lake is less than four feet deep, is well away from the banks and is quite useless for any purpose.


The owners of the land adjacent, who rent the lake bed for grazing purposes, have provided water in dams, tanks or wells on the higher lands along the banks….Until the recent heavy rains the lake bed was dry and these tanks, wells, etc afforded the only water supply for the thousands of stock depasturing on the lake.  Springs are also available on some of the adjoining alienated lands and are used for stock watering in addition to the tanks and wells.


Recent analysis of several samples of soil of the lake bed show a salt content in all parts and ample evidence is available to prove that the water of the lake is useless for any ordinary purpose.’


And today I am advised by our good friend, Mr Arthur Peirce, present District Surveyor at Goulburn, and who himself for years past has kept close watch on the behavior of Lake George, that:-

                The water in the Lake is not, and never has been suitable for human consumption or stock. The analysis of the soil in the lake bed shows a small proportion of salt in the soil, but not sufficient to make it useless for growth of pasture. Waters of the lake itself would contain a greater proportion of salt. Lessees of the lake bed provide fresh water for their stock either in dams filled with the surface flow from the surrounding hills or in shallow wells.’


There have been, of course, and always will be divergent views, but to leave now this aspect of the quality of the water of the lake and to turn to another absorbing question of how the waters ‘come and go’ in the lake, I refer again to Mr Gipps, Civil Engineer, who, in his 1886 address to the Royal Society stated that on reflecting on all the conditions connected with the fall of the water in the lake, he was led to distrust the theory that evaporation was the sole cause of it, and to rather favour the presumption that is was phenomenal, thus resembling the remarkable Lake of Zirknitz, in the mountain fastness [sic vastness?] of Illyris, which disappears and refills according to seasons owing to its bed being connected with subterranean vents in limestone, which fissures readily.


Gipps certainly felt that evaporation was not the whole story, but that some underground agency was at work, supplying and draining the lake, and that in some years this agency was more powerful than in others.  Extended observations, he thought may discover that fissures and springs in the limestone belt, and trap rock that traverse a portion of the basin, may be accountable for the fall and rise of the lake waters.


Mr CS Wilkinson FGS, Geological Surveyor, in discussing Gipps’ theories said it was his impression after taking levels around the margin of the lake, that it had at one time an outlet on the western side into the Lachlan River and that there was there an underground channel now buried.  The limestone masses in the locality were not continuous and in patches hardly extended more than half a mile in length.  These beds as a rule, run north and south and not east and west.  He thought it quite impossible for the water to escape through them, and it must be through an old channel now filled with gravel.  The limestone formation would not account (in his opinion) in any way for the leakage or drainage from the lake.


In December 1886, Mr Russell, the Government Astronomer, read another paper before the Royal Society (Vol XX pages 241-160) entitled, ‘Notes upon Floods in Lake George.’  In this he stated that he had been ‘working for many years trying to elucidate the sort of mystery that seemed to hand about Lake George,’ but he re-asserted his view that the lake had no outlet except evaporation. 


The paper contains very valuable data from all sources as to the state, extent and level of the lake at various dates throughout its history, but in view of its length and detail I can invite your attention to it. The testimony and the careful observation of many people who knew the lake intimately are recorded there.


The large map I have with me was prepared in 1887 in the Department of Lands to accompany Mr Russell’s paper and I propose to add it also to your collection – for it sets out all the information available at that time, including the water lines from all the old surveys, which are of very great importance because of their accuracy.  From this map, Russell drew the conclusion that ‘the lake is smaller than has been frequently stated authoritatively.  It certainly never was 20 miles long since white men have known it, and probably not for thousands of years, although at some distant period it must have been much more than 20 miles long, with a depth of at least double out greatest record.  The proof of this is to be found in the gravel thrown up by it, the extent of flat land at both ends and thee unmistakable relics of great floods.’


In his earlier address Russell said: ‘In the absence of levels it is impossible to say what was the extreme size of the lake in its wet period, but, I should think, at least 40 miles long and 10 or 12 wide.’


Apart from these and other incidental remarks, I do not propose to enter into details of the lake levels at various times – when it was full and when it was dry.  There is a lot of data available in that connection and it is, in itself, sufficiently interesting and comprehensive as to form the subject of a separate paper. I hope someone will take it up for presentation to you.


I would like to say something regarding the use of potential use of the waters of the lake for irrigation, recreation and other purposes.


In 1886, in ‘Our Lakes and their Uses,’ Mr Gipps had said: ‘ Here lies this large expanse of water, inert, impure, a source rather of mischief than benefit to mankind, because of its fluctuations. What can be done with it?’


Many passers by today asks the same obvious question. Gipps in his time, propounded a scheme for an outlet tunnel from the lake under Geary’s Gap, a contour canal along the divide of the Murrumbidgee and Lachlan Rivers, and thirdly a supply canal from the Molonglo River to the lake.   The head of the tunnel was to be located in the gravel drift, fully 20 feet below the level of the lake. The contour canal from the outlet of the tunnel would command the rich agricultural lands of the Yass River Valley and, if sufficiently extended, the towns of Gundaroo, Yass, Binalong, Murrumburrah, Young, Cootamundra and Temora. It would, he considered, offer facilities for irrigating half a million acres of rich agricultural land. By drawing off the lake continuously through the gravel drift, it would be perfectly clear, and very shortly sufficiently clear for the supply of towns  A length of 42 miles of canal from the Molonglo, discharging into the lake through Geary’s Gap, would be necessary.  It would supply Queanbeyan with water for domestic and industrial purposes, besides irrigating a large tract of country on the right bank of the Murrumbidgee, below that town.


A Royal Commission in 1887 on the Conservation of Water in New South Wales included Mr Gipps as one of its members. The Commission was of the opinion that water conservation was fast becoming the greatest question with which the Government and people of the Colony had to deal and it was felt that the value of Lake George as a natural reservoir could not be over-estimated if complete surveys bore out the cursory examinations of Commissioners Donkin and Gipps, and should it be possible to effect the proposed diversion of Snowy water into the lake it was not improbable that, by commanding thee divide between the Murrumbidgee and the Lachlan, a considerable supply could be devoted to irrigation, and to the use of miners in the towns of Temora, Young, Wombat and Grenfell Goldfields.  The Commission considered that as the mining industries of those fields were in a languishing condition and would continue to be so while the water supply was precarious, a series of surveys should be undertaken for the purpose of ascertaining whether the several schemes were possible of accomplishment.


Ten years later (1897), Colonel FJ Home, who was commissioned by the Government of New South Wales to report on the prospects of irrigation and water conservation stated that with regard to lake George, that:-

                ‘In order to take water out of the Lake, a long tunnel through the range would be required, and if drawn on to any extent the lake would soon run dry.  It was suggested some years back that flood-water might be led into the lake from the Murrumbidgee River near Umaralla, but a journey along the railway from Queanbeyan to Cooma was quite enough to show that the difficulties to be encountered would be enormous, even if the levels allowed it, which appears open to doubt; in any case, a tunnel would be required into the lake as well as out of it.  It does not appear, therefore, that the lake can be utilized in anyway.’


This is the answer of a competent authority to the question: ‘What can be made of the lake waters?’  Whether it is a final or conclusive answer I cannot say.


On 12th May 1923, Mr JJ Baker, then District Surveyor at Goulburn submitted to the Minister for Lands a scheme which he thought worthy of his consideration.  Mr Baker stated:

                ‘Lake George is a lake when sufficient rain falls to fill it up. This filling is mostly accomplished by about six creeks which have a watershed of considerable area. None of these creeks come into the west side of the lake, which, as a matter of fact, is bounded by a steep escarpment. The bed of the lake on the western side is almost level and not often covered by water more than a few inches deep blown across by winds, - the ground being so level.   The water is very much impregnated with salt and one immersion kills the grass for a long time…My suggestion is the construction of an embankment, say three feet high in the position shown on the sketch (approximately down the centre of the lake).  If this were done the lands within the embankment (west side) would become excellent grazing.’


In April 1931, the scheme was referred by the Minister to the Department of Public Works, having in mind that it would make an area of from 12,000 to 16,000 acres available for settlement and at the same time provide work for relief of unemployed.  The scheme envisaged the straightening out of Collector Creek and the building of an embankment 5 to 7 feet high with the object of keeping dry that area of land on the western side of the embankment.


Following investigation by Works Department engineers it was advised that the scheme was practicable form an engineering point of view and that it was eminently suitable as unemployment relief work.  At the same time it was pointed out that the matter of impounding waters was one requiring serious consideration, as well as the matter of the catchment area which would feed into the area cut off from the lake by the embankment.


The cost of a 5feet wall was estimated at 30,000 pounds and of a 7 feet wall at 48,400 pounds.


A report was also obtained at that time from the Department of Agriculture (22nd April 1931) and it indicated that, even in the surface soil, the salt content would be too high to permit profitable cultivation of the establishment of satisfactory pasture.  It was stated that to improve the soil to the point where it would be productive, it would be necessary to provide means whereby the soil could be thoroughly washed to remove the salt. This would mean frequent flooding of thee land with fresh water and the rapid draining off of this water.  It would also be necessary to lower the water table by means of a drainage scheme.  While this was the course adopted in removing salt, the peculiar nature of the soil in the Lake George bed would make the process exceptionally difficult, and it was extremely doubtful that even if the water and works were available the salt could be effectively removed. It was obvious, however, (the Department of Agriculture state) that the drainage works that would be necessary in connection with the improvements of the soil would be so costly that its improvement by this means would be impracticable.


As you know, this reclamation scheme never materialized into an actual undertaking.


With much of the foregoing available at the time he wrote his book, ‘Canberra – History and Legends’ (1927) Mr John Gale advanced other interesting theories regarding the lake.  I will mortgage a few minutes of my time to mention them. It is beyond doubt (he says) that in by-gone ages Lake George was an active volcano and that its present bed is an extinct volcano.  Pumice stone and scoriae are frequently found on its shores and to this day earth tremors of a local character occasionally occur in the neighbourhood of the lake. He supports the theory of underground drainage; and I quote:

                The rapid subsidences of the water of Lake George have to be accounted for, as has also its filling again in comparatively short epochs. The following theory is a commonsense one.  There is on its eastern coast and towards the north extremity of its present basin, a bay known as Kenny’s Point. Here in the driest of times, there is always a morass wherein cattle love to wallow and browse on the rank herbage it produces.  Some convulsion of nature apparently opens a fissure there which has provided outlet for the heretofore permanent waters. Where that escaping water goes will be shown later on.  The result, however, is the conversation of an island sea into fat grazing land.’


Now as to the theory of refilling: it has already been said that the morass at Kenny’s Point was always a favourite resort of the cattle depasturing on the bed of the lake.  Now the constant trampling of the ooze in which the herbage grows in the locality named would naturally choke and render impervious to water the volcanic crevice and thus prevent further escape.  The consequence would be the filling up again of the bed of the lake.  This is one theory, at least to account for the alternating from a plateau of rich herbage to an extensive sea, till another earth tremor re-opens the fissure.


As to what became of the escaping waters, even that has been traced…They would, without doubt, find their way into a subterranean river, and, in fact, do so.  There is in the neighbourhood of Mount Fairy, a series of Limestone Caves down beneath the floors of which running water, more distinctly than at other times, is heard pursuing an eastward course. In a direct line these caves cannot be more than seven or eight miles from the point of the lake, whence its aqueous contents finally disappear.  Nor can there be the least doubt that the water heard flowing beneath the floors of the Mount Fairy caves is that escaping from Lake George.’


I was pleased in my reading and research to come across a very recent report (1951) by Mr LC Noakes, Acting Senior Geologist, Commonwealth Bureau of Mineral Resources, Geology and Geophysics, on the ‘Fluctuations of Water Level at Lake George,’ and most interested to read his observations as a scientific man.  There is, he says, no surface outlet for the waters of the lake and there is no evidence to suggest that significant quantities could escape by seepage, so that the quantity of the water retained in the lake represents the balance between water supplied by the run-off and that removed from the lake by evaporation – factors which are almost entirely dependent upon climatic conditions.


Mr Noakes was of the opinion that future fluctuations of water level in the lake would be almost entirely dependent on the climatic conditions which cannot be reliably forecast and, from this point of view of development as a recreational area, it would be wise to assume that the lake would steadily diminish, as it did following the floods of 1916 and 1924.  The lake, he thought, may, therefore, be almost dry in three to eight years dependent on weather conditions, but its effective life as a recreational resort may only be of the order of two to four years. He was dealing with the question of how long a considerable body of water might remain in the lake, as local reports of a depth of 30 feet had prompted the Advisory Council of the Australian Capital Territory to investigate the possibility of developing the lake as a recreational resort.


And this serves as an appropriate introduction to another phase of the Lake – its use for recreation and pleasure.


It was Surveyor General Oxley who, as far back as October 1820, remarked that ‘abundance of wild fowl afforded amusement for the sportsmen’ of his party. All subsequent reports have spoken of the bird life on the lake. Today it is a great pleasure to view that vast expanse of water, to note the return of the swans and other birds to it and to realize that the lake is actually a Bird and Animal Sanctuary proclaimed 12th September 1919.


At one time a steam yacht, employed in meteorological research and several small sailing vessels graced its waters. It is also recorded that towards the end of the last century it was the venue of a sculling race for a purse of 50 pounds promoted by Bungendore residents.  The contestants were Bubear (from England) and Stevenson (New Zealand) and the race took place over a three mile course.


Mr District Surveyor GH Sheaffe of Goulburn in April 1909 reported that the lake was then dry but that after a wet season it contained water for 10 or 12 years.  Boats were kept on it and when the Federal Capital was commenced he was of the opinion that it would be resorted to as a point of interest for many tourists.  It was unique feature and when water was there it had many attractions for tourists and local visitors.


Within recent times, as you know, the Canberra Sailing club has used the lake for sailing and have a small shed erected for that purpose on its shores.  A paragraph in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ of Sunday 18th November, 1951, announced that the Club’s first race on the Lake was started the day previously by Major General Hopkins.


So far as fishing is concerned, it is on record that Murray Cod were successfully established in the lake by Terence Aubrey Murray, somewhere about 1850.  The fish were transferred in the fry stage from the Murrumbidgee River to the lagoons and ponds on his Collector Estate.  During the great flood of 1862 the water from these ponds overflowed into the lake itself carrying with it a large number of fish, which by that time had become very prolific.  During 1893 it was reported that the lake literally abounded with fish.  So plentiful were they that the Fishery authorities of the day advocated the use of an otter trawler to capture them. The extent of the fish population was graphically demonstrated when the lake dried up in 1902.


It appears that Lake George is not a good trout water. In summer, water temperatures tend to become high owing to the large amount of shallow areas and the absence of sheltered and timbered shores. These features, together with high evaporation, tend to produce brackishness. Should re-stocking at any time be contemplated the native species particularly cod, would seem to be the most suitable for the purpose.


Regarding the facilities afforded by the lake to sportsmen, it might be mentioned, also, that in 1929 when the lake was a dry bed, serious thought was given to its possible use as a motor speedway. It was inspected by experts, including the international racing-car driver Norman (‘Wizard’) Smith; and the special representative of the ‘Goulburn Penny Post’ in reporting the inspection (1st November 1929) stated that ‘its surface almost as hard as concrete and to all appearances absolutely level, Lake George is perhaps destined to become the premier racing circuit of Australia and equal to the world’s best.’ That hope has not been realized.


No history of the lake would be complete without reference – however brief – to the operations of the bushrangers in its neighbourhood in the 1860s. One such ‘hold up’ took place at Geary’s Gap on the 26th January 1865.  Here the bushrangers took up their position and bailed up and robbed and held captive all travelers on the road during the morning.  Their subsequent doings that day are now matters of history, well known to you all, including the visit, at sunset, of Ben hall, Gilbert and Dunn to Kimberley’s Hotel at Collector and the shooting in cold blood by Dunn of Constable Nelson.  The memorial  standing today on the spot pays silent tribute to the constable’s bravery in that tragic happening of almost ninety years ago.


If the waters of Lake George have never been used for irrigation, the bed of the lake has – as the waters have from time to time receded - provided excellent pasturage for innumerable stock.


Many of these early Crown grants to which I have previously referred were described as being bounded in part by the lake and the grantees and their successors in title consideration that they had thus an unquestioned right to follow the water as the lake itself diminished in size and to depasture their stock on the bed thereby released to occupation.


On the other hand, the Crown never admitted any claim to riparian rights in the bed of the lake; and it is seventy years ago now since Mr Edward Twynam, the District Surveyor at Goulburn with great foresight, recommended that the whole of the bed be reserved from sale.  ‘There could,’ he said, ‘ be little doubt as to the expediency of such reservation.’  His idea was to protect the bed of the lake, which after a period of drought was very valuable for grazing.


Such a reservation was made – Water Reserve 161, notified in the Government Gazette of 31st July 1882 – and is still extant.


In February 1899 the Collector and Currawang District Progress Associations complained of the action of landowners in fencing in parts of the lake which it said ‘ completely spoils the beautiful scenery and should the lake at any future time be re-filled boating will be very dangerous, if not absolutely impossible owing to the many fences stretching in all directions.’


On 21st November following, Mr Conditional Purchase Inspector JS O’Hara reported that a large number of cattle were fattening on that part of the lake from which the water had receded and that parts of the land had been fenced – partly for grazing and part for cultivation- which appeared to him to be an attempt to take control of the lands. He pointed out that the landowners were also objecting to the stripping of wattle bark on part of the lake bed; but he was quite convinced after making a searching inquiry that none of them had any claim whatever to the grass on the Crown land.


Questions were asked in Parliament in June 1900, by Mr Carroll MP as to the alleged use of the lake bed, without payment, by landholders; and the Crown about that time sought the advice of Counsel, who advised that the grants made of land fronting Lake George, did not confer on the grantees any right to the bed itself.


Annual Leases for granting grazing were subsequently applied for by adjoining landholders and granted to them by the Minister (21st November 1902) covering the whole of the bed of the lake.  These leases continued in force under adverse or favourable conditions, according to whether the lake was covered by water or dry.  It is of interest to note that a common condition of the granting was that ‘the public shall have free access to the lake, when it again contains water, for recreation, boating and fishing.’ (cf Annual Lease 02/129, Queanbeyan, Robert Crowley Cooper).


A rather informative decision of the Local Land Board at Goulburn on the 28th April 1920 when dealing with an application by John F O’Connell for a Special Lease over part of the bed of the lake, is worth recording for it answers a number of questions which are frequently asked.


The Board, after taking considerable evidence, reported that:- ‘It is abundantly clear that the basin of the lake when dry is not fit for cultivation. Moreover, the basin is the only for periods of uncertain duration suitable for grazing and this land is at any time liable to be quickly covered with water, which may remain for an indefinite period.  This is illustrated by the official records which show that the lake has only been wholly dry  on four occasions since 1817.  Yet although it was comparatively full in 1916 when Mr Chinney of Bungendore had a launch there, it was quite dry in the early part of this year, 1920.  Again from 1846, when it was dry, to 1863, it contained but little water, whilst in the seventies it reached the highest known level, remaining comparatively full for about 10 years,  a steam launch then plying there….The water of the lake basin is an ever varying quantity.  A close study of the official records since 1817 gives no clue whatever to any cycle in this connection.’


On the 8th April, 1931, the Minister for Lands (Hon JM Tully MLA) gave directions for the cancellation of the Annual Leases covering the bed of the lake so that upon termination of the notice at the end of the year the question of the disposal of the land otherwise might be considered.  The leases were accordingly cancelled as from 31st December, 1931


Meanwhile in Parliament, on 4th August 1931, the Minister delivered his second reading speech on amending Crown Lands Bill, one clause of which provided, in effect, that in any case where land was granted or otherwise alienated by the Crown and such land was described as bounded by or measured with a boundary along the bank of any lake, the boundary of the land would be the actual bank of the lake, as existing at t he time when the Crown surveyed the land for disposal.  Owners of the granted land would, therefore, would have no claim to any portion of the bed of the lake, which remained Crown property.  Further, owners would not be entitled, without authority from the Crown, to use any portion of the lake bed or to any rights of access over it.


This clause in the Bill, the Minister said, put beyond doubt the Crown’s view that it had ownership in lake beds, such as Lake George.


The matter was warmly contested, particularly in the Legislative Council, but the provision was eventually passed into law and stands today as Section 235A of the Crown Lands Consolidation Act 1913.


A design of the lake bed into blocks for Special Leases for ‘grazing’ was subsequently made and applications for them were invited up to 31st December 1931.  There was considerable demand for the blocks and, in the result, the greater part of the bed of the lake was allotted by the Crown to various holders under Special Leases.  Generally these lake leases have terms at present current to the 31st December 1952.


It is of historic interest that following this establishment of a large number of new holdings over an area which was hitherto not within any particular parish, a new ‘Parish of Lake George,’  in the County of Murray, was approved and a published map placed in Departmental use in August 19334.


And here I think we must leave our subject. Much more, of course, be said, for in preparing the paper I have found the greatest difficulty in keeping it within reasonable and interesting limits.


There is a romance about the lake (as you will agree) and in thinking it over  it all it seemed to me quite in keeping that, on its margin today, many ex-servicemen of World War II should be happily and successfully developing their farms, comprising parts of those early Crown Grants to William Lithgow, Joseph Grose and others, and more recently forming parts of the well known properties of ‘Willeroo’ and ‘Currandooley’ acquired by the Crown in June 1946 and October 1947 respectively for soldier settlement.


On Saturday evening 28th October 1820 His Excellency the Governor of New South Wales, Lachlan Macquarie, drank – you will remember – ‘a bumper toast to the success of the future settlers of the shores of Lake George’ and we may be sure that he included them all.

Proposal for New Tourist Camp Site

The Canberra Times, 24 November 1932.



At a meeting of the Canberra Tourist and Publicity Committee on Tuesday night the establishment of a model motor tourist camp which would be an example for Australia to follow was discussed.


As a preliminary step it is to be suggested to the Department of the Interior that the present tourist camp on Acton Flats be transferred either to the site of the old No 1 Camp on Capital Hill or to No 4 Camp.  At No 1 the water is already laid on, though no buildings at present exist.  At No 4 the barracks are in existence, and little expense to convert.  The establishment of a camp would encourage persons who would not patronise hotel accommodation to stay longer in Canberra.  The NRMA will also be approached for latest information regarding Tourist Camps.


An appeal was made by members for ... [word obscured] use of Canberra photographs on Christmas cards as a means of advertising the National city and steps are being taken to place a definite proposition before the public.


The suggestion will be made to the management of Canberra Hotels that photographs of Canberra’s beauty spots. Preferably in colour should be displayed on hotel walls.


Transport and hotel interests in the territory will be approached with the suggestion that to encourage bookings agencies in the various States to take greater interest in Canberra, all such bookings should bear a commission of ...(word obscured) per cent.


Letters were received from various ..stering and tourist organisations or ...ring co-operation and seeking literature.  The NRMA proffered full support and agreed to make mention of .. Kangaroo Club map in its next  is..., together with details of other activities of the Committee.


Arrangements are being put in hand for signposts at the entrances to the city advertising tourists where guides are obtainable.

Canberra's Pine Forests

The Canberra Times 21 June 1927




The need for conservation of timber resources and the planting of additional forests has of late years been urgently impressed upon the nations of the world, and in many countries the re-planting of depleted areas is now proceeding steadily.

Perhaps nowhere in the world, however, has a more comprehensive scheme of afforestation been undertaken than in the Federal Capital Territory. From small beginnings forests have made their appearance on many of the hills and in the valleys of the Territory, and the passing of each year marks some advance in  this monumental work.

The plain country of the Territory, such as the large plain on which the city is situated is naturally treeless and devoid of any woody vegetation but the intervening hills were originally well wooded with box, stringybark and gum, most of which was cleared to provide grazing country in the early days before Federation, and is still being cleared – except on the hills in the vicinity of the city, where it is reserved, although practically all the timber of any value has been used for construction works in connection with the development of Canberra.

The mountainous country to the west of the Murrumbidgee is still heavily timbered with stringy bark and gums, and the higher slopes carry a fine belt of valuable mountain ash, which is at present inaccessible on account of the rough nature of the locality. Frequent uncontrolled bush fires, have, however, since the advent of white man and especially graziers in New South Wales to the west of the Territory, caused tremendous damage to the area as a forest by injuring and destroying the larger trees, preventing the successful advance of re-growth and consuming the organic content of the upper soil, thereby lessening its fertility.

The early settlers have dotted the plain country with small plantations and specimen plants of exotic trees such as pine, the elm, the oak, the locust tree and the hawthorn, planted mainly around old homesteads and as small copses in their paddocks as protection against the bleak westerly winds which are a feature of the district.

In May 1913 Mr TC Weston was appointed Afforestation Officer for the Territory, and immediately realising the urgent necessity for experimental work in connection with the growth of such long lived plants as trees on an area naturally treeless, set up a nursery at Acton, where work was commenced.  Amongst the gardening work special attention was given to the rearing of many different tree species, both indigenous and exotic, as he could obtain the seeds of. This work has been carried on consistently ever since, although it was soon found necessary to transfer the bulk of the operations to the larger area available at Yarralumla and from where the first experimental plantings were made in 1915 into Westbourne Woods, and continued ever since.

At the same time it was decided to clothe the slopes of Mount Stromlo facing the city, on which the timber had been destroyed for grazing. In view of the economic importance of such a large area, it was decided it could be satisfactorily handled as a forest to supply merchantable timber, and it therefore was planted on forest lines, the main plantings consisting of pinus insignis, which has proved most successful, although many other species have been tried on a limited scale. This planting has been carried on annually ever since, and to date about 1200 acres of plantations are in existence.

Early in 1926 a Chief Forester was appointed to take charge of the forestry work of the Territory, and the old Afforestation Branch became the Park and Gardens Branch confining its attention to park and garden work within the city and the Afforestation of the surrounding hills for scenic purposes.

The present intention is to carry on the forest planting from the Stromlo across the Molonglo and across the bare hills on the north-eastern side of the city to Black Mountain forming an urban forest and a background of scenic value, a profitable commercial proposition, and a decided protection to the city against the bleak westerlies which so frequently sweep up the Molonglo Valley from the west and north-west.

Simultaneously with this planning on Mount Stromlo an attempt has been made to increase tree growth on other hills surrounding the city, by the formation of small plantation at Mount Majura, Mount Russell, Red Hill, Mugga Mugga and Eastlake park.

Mount Majura was practically treeless and barren until it was reserved from grazing in 1919 to permit the natural regeneration of the native species, with the idea of forming a fodder tree reserve. With this end in view about 20,250 trees, mostly kurrajongs, were planted during the years 1919 and 1920.

During the years 1917 and 1918 about 10,000 trees of various species of eucalyptus were planted on portion of Mount Russell.  In 1925, 5,000 more were planted.

At Red Hill, a small area, about six acres, was planted with various species of bottle brush during 1917 and 1920.

Mugga Mugga was planted with box trees, with the idea of forming a grey hill as follows:- 1918,  21,581: 1919, 7,585: 1920 and 1921, 2,000.

Eastlake Park was planted with 100,000 redwoods in 1919, and 23,000 in 1920 with the idea of forming a redwood grove. Locality not altogether suitable, and the failures were replaced by 20,500 cedars in 1923.

These smaller areas remain in charge of the Superintendent of Parks and Gardens as part of the scheme of city beautification.

In 1918 and 1919 about 36,500 cedars (mostly derus deodara) were planted at Green Hills, but failed to survive the drought in 1919. In 1923 about 10,000 more were planted and found successful.  About 10,000 cypresses planted in 1918 have grown satisfactorily. During 1917, 1918 and 1920 about 10,000 cork oaks were planted nearby, and are progressing satisfactorily.

In 1925 about 25 acres were planted with various conifers at the sewer outfall works.

These last three areas will be included within the forest to be formed between Stromlo and Black Mountain.

In 1919 and 1920 about 3,500 kurrajongs were planted and a large amount of wattle seeds sown on Bullen Ridge, on the steep bare slopes of the western side of the Murrumbidgee near its junction with the Cotter, with the idea of preventing erosion, and the results have been satisfactory.

In 1926 a commencement was made with the afforestation of the Cotter Valley, by the establishment of a plantation of 100 acres of various conifers at Uriarra.

A forest area has also been taken in hand in the Kowen district, where it is proposed to convert poor grazing country into a combined pine plantation and firewood forest.

Schemes are on hand for the management of forests and other large areas of the Territory which are more suited to forestry than any other form of utilisation.

Owing to the difficulties experienced in obtaining seed supplies from abroad during 1926, following a poor seeling year, the planting operations for 1927 will not be as large as was anticipated.

Stromlo                  100 acres

Green Hills            50 acres

Uriarra                   100 acres

Kowen                    100 acres

The area of effective forest plantation in the Territory at present is estimated as under:-

Stromlo                  1,200 acres

Green Hills            50 acres

Uriarra                   100 acres

TOTAL                    1,350 acres


During the 1926-27 fire season the fire protection of the Territory was organised and controlled by the Forestry Branch, with satisfactory results. The forest area under direct fire control was as follows:

Stromlo                  2,500 acres

Green Hills            150 acres

Uriarra                   2,500 acres

Kowen                    5,000 acres

TOTAL                    10,150 Acres


The Westlake Hall

The Westlake Hall

The major camps and settlements in the Federal Capital Territory were provided with a Mess Hall.  These halls, built by the government, were moved from site to site by steam driver traction engines. 

At Westlake (now Stirling Park, Yarralumla and Capitol Hill) each of the Commonwealth camps and settlement, as was the norm, had their own halls.  The only private settlement at Westlake erected by Contractor John Howie in 1922 also had halls – one for his married men and another for his single men who lived in the nearby Hostel Camp.

The sites of Westlake Hall (Block 22, Stirling Park Yarralumla) and Howie’s halls (Block 3, Section 128 Stirling Park Yarralumla opposite modern Lotus Bay) are still clearly seen.

The exact site of the Mess used by the Tradesmen (1924-1917- block 3, Section 128 Stirling Park) in their camp is not as clearly marked. However, the sites of the ablution blocks on the other hand are.  They are on Block 3, Section 128 Stirling Park Yarralumla below the area of the Singapore High Commission in Forster Crescent Yarralumla.   The plans for the new additional ablution blocks on this site were discovered in National Australian Archives in Canberra and these match the descriptions and what is found on the ground.

The area where No 1 Labourers’ Camp Capitol Hill (1923-1927), Westlake stood is now covered by the developed areas of the hill.  One of their rubbish dumps, however, has survived below a walking path that begins near Scrivener’s Plan Room.


The first Westlake Hall used by the people who lived in the 61 cottages in The Gap, Westlake was the Mess used by the men of 3 Sewer Camp Mess (1922-1925). Up until the time this building became available a room in Cottage 29 was used by the community.  I was aware that this hall was renovated and enlarged around 1930, but not the full details. The National Library of Australia on-line newspaper articles have revealed further information about the transformation of the old mess into a larger hall.

No 29 Westlake was first least to the Gates family. In 1929  George Sykes moved in and remained the tenant of this cottage until it was pulled down in mid 1965.  The majority of the Westlake cottages were sold and removed to new sites, but George’s had a fire and could not be sold. – the site of this cottage is the area where one of our two Westlake plaques has been erected.)

Following are some of the newspaper articles referring to the Westlake Hall which was the centre of community activities that included eg Play centre; church; children’s Christmas parties; Engagement parties, farewell’s, euchre parties; dances, gymnasium etc.

The articles reveal that the original hall was pulled down in 1930 and replaced with the Mess building from Eastlake Camp.  Prior to that the decision to move the Eastlake Mess one from Red Hill Camp was chosen.  [NB the mess hall for Eastlake Camp was burnt down towards the end of 1928 – this may be a second one? Or was the Red Hill one used?]

The Canberra Times 24 June 1930




Cr Rowe was further informed that a building from the Red Hill camp could be made available for use as a public hall at Westlake, and if the removal and construction were undertaken by voluntary labour, the suggested replacement of the existing hall might be considered...

[In the same article was a reference to the ] ODOURS FROM THE SEWER

Cr Rowe asked the chairman whether immediate action could be taken ‘to remove the cause of the offensive odours emanating from the main sewer vent at Westlake.  The chairman: There has been no complaint during the four years that the sewer has been in use. Reports fail to indicate the presence of any unusual and offensive odour...[the article continues with the opposite view being states and even today when one walks on Stirling Ridge Yarralumla (site of the heritage vent) it is possible to find it by following the stench.]

The Canberra Times 4 September 1930


New Westlake Hall

Among useful works being carried out this week by the Unemployment Relief Committee is that of the demolition of Westlake Hall, which is in a very dilapidated condition. It will be replaced by a mess room from Eastlake. This mess room served its purpose during the development stage of Canberra and it no longer required at Eastlake. The Committee is also engaging men in regrading  the hockey ground at Reid.


The Canberra Times 22 October 1930


Westlake Hall

The new Westlake Hall was officially opened on Saturday evening last. Messrs TM Shakespeare and R Rowe spoke briefly on the need for developing a community spirit and dancing followed.

The entertainment was in aid of the Canberra Relief Fund. During the evening novelty dances were held and interest was very keen.

The unemployment relief fund will benefit approximately by 12 pounds and it is the intention to hold another dance in aid of the cause.



The Canberra Times 12 March 1936


(United Ancient Order of Druids)

The Federal Start Lodge No557 UAOD was founded on October 24 1925 at the Westlake Hall. The lodge was opened by a delegation of Grand Lodge officers from Sydney, led by the Grand President Bro W Harris and the late Grand Secretary Bro RA Harry.

There were 25 new candidates initiated on the opening night, and the first office bearers to be elected and installed were: Arch Druid, Bro HE Giles; Vice-Arch Druid, Bro A Lambert; Secretary, Bro P Turnell; Treasurer, Bro W Hannard; Bards, Bros, A King and J Jenkins; Guardians, Bros Purday and Rooney.

The lodge prospered during the boom years of the territory and transferred its place of meetings to the Friendly Societies Hall, Kingston. [This hall was formerly one of the Engineers Mess buildings opposite the Power House.  Today it is the Scout Hall in Hovea Street O’Connor.]

Despite the inroads of the depression the lodge has picked up during the last four years and now has a membership of 60.

Members have helped to keep the lodge in its satisfactory position are P/A Bro Lambert, P/A Bro J Hawins, P/A Bro CL Sutton, P/A Bro HE Young, P/A Bro C Jeanette, P/A Bro R Booth and P/A Bro WL Cottingham.

The present officers are: Arch Druid, CL Sutton, PDPPA, Vice Arch Druid, Bro C Sullivan, Bards Bros E Chipperfield, H Hawke, N Southwell, A Sellis, Treasurer, Bro JF Hawkins PDPPA, Secretary Bro WE Cottingham PDPPA, Assistant Secretary Bro J Blackstone; Guardians, Bros T Robbie and A Lambert PDPPA.  District President is Bro C Jeanette.

The Canberra Times 16 December 1926



Father Christmas will be busy in various districts of Canberra during the next few days when Christmas trees are being provided by the courtesy of the acting superintendent of parks and gardens to provide the children with treats,  Busy committees are engaged in preparations for the days when the trees will be decked with gifts in the various centres. The first trees will be seen in St Paul’s Hall [opposite the Power House – tin walled church], Eastlake today, and others will be seen at Acton on December 20, Westridge, December 21; Westlake, Riverbourne [opposite Harman on Molonglo River] and again at Eastlake on December 24.

[Parents began collecting money some time before the Christmas parties and each child received a gift.]

The Canberra Times 25 December 1928


The Westlake sub-branch of the Returned Soldiers’ League tendered a most successful Christmas tree to 120 children of the district at the Westlake Hall on Friday night.

Father Christmas (Mr JL Tootell) was permanently surrounded by 120 happy children all anxious to receive a toy from his hands. The Christmas tree tastefully decorated with toys, sweets and novelties, presented a cheerful appearance and next to Santa Claus was the chief attraction.

The success of the function was due largely to the endeavours and support of Mesdames, Samuels, Edward and Green and Messrs Snow, Grant, T Symens, S Barbour and G Bryant and the sub-branch secretary Mr V Samuels.


Canberra Times 27 December 1945


On Friday night nearly 80 children attended the Westlake hall when ‘Father Christmas’ arrived and presented them with toys from a Christmas tree.  During the evening the children played impromptu games and received sweets, ice-cream and fruit, while parents were also entertained to supper later.

The evening was made possible by the financial assistance given by the residents of Westlake and by the work of voluntary helpers, Mesdames, McKissock, McFadzen, Austen (sic Austin) Walters and Messrs Austen (sic Austin) Hawke and Summerfield.   (My father, Leonard Austin was Santa – a fact that I didn’t know until a few years ago.)


The Canberra Times 25 November 1948


Issue on Saturday

New tea and butter ration cards will be issued in the ACT on Saturday. Ration cards at present being used must be handed in before new cards will be issued.

Distribution centres in the ACT are Acton Hall, Ainslie Public School, City Electoral Office, Duntroon Barber Shop, Hall Public School, Jervis Bay Public School, Friendly Societies Hall Kingston, Mrs Birkett’s residence at Molonglo9, Mr EJ Oldfield’s residence at Naas, Mrs Geery’s residence at Oaks Estate, Telopea Park Public School,  Tharwa Public School, Westlake Hall and Westridge Hall.


1926 Children's Playgrounds


Above: Westlake Playground published in Canberra Community News.  When George Sykes extended the backyard of his house yard 29 Westlake back towards Haines' Creek he included the swing in his backyard.  This is perhaps why he allowed children to come into his yard to use it. The site today is opposite the Mexican Embassy in Forster Crescent Stirling Park, Yarralumla. One of the Westlake plaques is in George's backyard. 

The Social Service Association in 1926 built a number of Children's Playgrounds at the settlements that included, Westlake, Westridge, Acton, Ainslie.  The following article mentions two of these playgrounds built under the auspices of the Social Service Association - men supplied the labour and the Federal Capital Commission - (FCC) the materials.  The ladies nearby supplied the afternoon tea.  HL Lasseter was one of the volunteers at Ainslie.

The Canberra Times 24 September 1926



Child Welfare Activity

Two new children’s playgrounds were constructed during last week end under the auspices of the Social Service Association at Westlake and Ainslie.  The materials for the construction of these playgrounds was supplied by the Federal Capital Commission and voluntary labour has been forthcoming readily from residents. The playground at Westlake is the first to be provided in the western section of the city but Ainslie ground is the second which has been provided in that suburb.

The site of the new children’s playground in Ainslie is the most ideal which has been secured. The large group of trees which stand out prominently as a landmark in contrast to all the city plantations afford pleasant shade for children’s games.  The site is said to have historical significance as the former corroboree ground of the aboriginal tribes which first made Canberra a meeting place.

The busy teams of workers had almost completed the Ainslie playground as the result of Saturday afternoon’s work. Swings were erected and see-saws constructed, a sand tray installed and work commenced on a roundabout.   There was an interval during which afternoon tea was served by residents nearby and this Saturday afternoon the work will be completed.

It is proposed in addition to the playground to install a drinking fountain among the trees and this may record the significance of the spot in the pages of Canberra’s history which persons can read and of which few in..(blurred) can tell.


Friendly Societies

Following are a few Canberra Times' articles on the local Friendly Societies.  These societies were a form of insurance against the costs of illness, accident or loss work. The first Friendly Society Hall near Causeway Kingston was one of the old buildings from the Engineers' Mess opposite the Power House.  It was transferred in 1926 and in the 1960s or 70s it was trans

The Canberra Times 9 December 1926




A conference of delegates from the various friendly societies was held on Friday evening last in the Eastlake Hall. The following bodies were represented: UAOD, Bros Bannard, Jenkins and Keen: AHCG, Bros Kilmartin and B Kelly: Canberra Branch GUOOF, Bros Jaggar, Hiland, Crockford, Monger: AGR, Bros Helson, Addison, Sorrenson: MULOOF, Bros Fraser and Campbell and Westlake Branch GUOOF, Bros Porter, Samuel and Williams.

The object of the meeting was for the formation of a Friendly Society Council, to govern and assist the various societies at Canberra.

Bro Hiland was elected to the chair and Bro Jaggar was elected secretary pro tem. A lengthy discussion ensured and as a result the meeting on the motion of Bro Crockford, seconded by Bro Addison, it was resolved that a Friendly Society Council be formed. The delegates will assemble again on Friday 17 to report on whether the lodges generally are in favour of the council.

The Canberra Times 12 March 1938


This Order was inaugurated in the Federal Capital Territory in 19`12 at Duntroon where a Branch was opened under the name of the Royal Federal, the members being camped in tents where the Military College now stands.

The branch lapsed, however, and on September 21 1915 Canberra Branch was opened by the Grand Master, Bro P Meade, Goulburn District Master, Bro stone and Bro C Reynolds organiser.

The requisition for the institution of the new branch contained the names of 14 members and 48 new candidates, total of 62.  After the institution ceremony, the following were the first officers elected, Bro Maytum, PNG; Bro Hayes NG, Bro Barraclough, VG, Bro Pearce, Secretary, Bro Monger, Treasurer, Bro Cooney, Recording Secretary, Bro Butt, Warden, Bro Fields, IG, Bro Hancock, OG, and Bros Haslam, Thorning and Robins, Trustees.

The officers mentioned, Bros Field and Robins are now members of Queanbeyan Branch, whilst Bro Haslam is still a member of Canberra Branch.

The order gradually progressed and in 1928 there were three additional branches in existence, viz, Westlake, Westridge and Rose of Canberra (Kingston) while Canberra Branch still held its meetings at Duntroon. During the years of depression the four branches were reduced to the original Canberra branch, which now holds its meetings at the Masonic Hall. The present membership is 108.

Canberra Branch is in the Goulburn District and during the past four years has won the ‘Bartnerette’ twice for largest percentage increase in membership, being last year’s holders with a 35 per cent increase.

Each year a Christmas tree has been held for children of members.  Last year 96 children were recipients of presents from Santa Claus. This year is expected to eclipse all records. The present secretary, Mr AE Helson has been in office since December 1928.


The Canberra Times 12 March 1938


(United Ancient Order of Druids)

The Federal Star Lodge No 557 UAOD was founded on October 24 1925 in the Westlake Hall. The lodge was opened by a delegation of Grand Lodge Officers from Sydney, led by the Grand President, Bro W Harris and the late Grand Secretary, Bro BA Barry.

There were 25 new candidates initiated on the opening night and the first office bearers to be elected and installed were Arch Druid, Bro HE Giles; Vice-Arch Druid, Bro A Lambert; secretary, Bro P Turnell, treasurer, Bro W Hannard, Bards, Bros A King and J Jenkins; Guardians, Bros Purday and Rooney.

The lodge prospered during the boom years in the territory and transferred its place of meetings to the Friendly Societies’ Hall at Kingston.

Despite the inroads of the depression the lodge has picked up during the last four years and now has a membership of 60.

Members who have helped to keep the lodge in its satisfactory position are P/A Bro Lambert, P/A Bro J Hawkins, P/A Bro HE Young, P/A Bro C Jeannette, P/A Bro R Booth and P/A Bro WL Cottingham.

ferred to Hovea St O'Connor where it still serves as a Scout Hall.


The Canberra Philharmonic Society & Canberra City Band

The Canberra Philharmonic Society was in fine voice by 1925.  Following is one article found in on the activities of the society:

The Canberra Times 10 February 1927



Invitation to May Ceremony

The annual general meeting of the Canberra Philharmonic Society was held in the Acton Hall on Monday evening. Mr W Doig presided and a large amount of important correspondence was finalised amongst which was an invitation from the Chief Commissioner to the society to take a very prominent and interesting part in the musical programme at the opening of Parliament  function on May 9.  It is incumbent on the society to exhibit complete proficiency prior to this event and that such a decision is to be made by the first week in April.  It is a matter of importance to the society and also to the credit of Canberra’s musical resources that the Philharmonic Society should promptly marshal its forces with redoubled energy.

At the society’s next concert in Causeway hall on March 25, the Canberra Vice-Regal orchestra will co-operate.

A vote of condolence was passed in regard to the loss to this society of one of its valued vice-presidents, the late Mr Commissioner CH Gorman. The society sent a wreath on that lamentable occasion.

The election of officers resulted as follows:- Patron, His Excellency the Governor-General, president, Mr  JH Butters CMG, MBE; vice-president, Sir John Harrison KBE; conductor, Mr W Doig; pianist, Miss GA Paul ASCM; committee, Mrs A Helson (Causeway), Mrs Pallas (Molonglo), Mrs  Doig (Westlake), Miss Sutor Ainslie, Mr J Whittle (Red Hill), Mr Iverach (Eastlake), Mr Bowditch (Acton), Mr Katch (White City); hon librarian(?) Mr Kingston; hon treasurer, Mr BG Kelly; hon secretary, Mr CJ Griffith c/o Social Service Office.

The affairs of the society have now been placed on a practicable working basis which augers well for future success. An abundance of new and appropriate music is in order, and in addition to usual Thursday practices, an extra rehearsal night is being arranged. At next Thursday’s rehearsal new members will be admitted.

The Vice Regal Band, later renamed the Canberra City Band, struggled to survive.  Numerous documents and letters are found in the National Australian Archives in relation to striving to continue without support or little support from the authorities.  Following is a letter to the Editor from T White of Westlake in this regard.

The Canberra Times 21 June 1927


The Editor, ‘The Canberra Times,’


Would you please grant me space to make the following comments regarding the Canberra City Band?

This band has been in existence for two years, during which time it has had a hard fight for its very existence. Owing to the lack of public support, and to several rebuffs that it has received of late, notice of motion has been given ‘That the affairs of the Band be wound up. This motion will be dealt with at our half yearly meeting advertised in this issue.

It is most disheartening to a band of men who have given up so much of their time towards endeavouring to establish a band in Canberra, often giving up as much as three nights a week to band matters, to find that they have no public support.

Our last collection taken at Eastlake shops, resulted in the grand amount of sixpence. Our bandmaster receives no salary and every penny of collection and engagement money has gone into the fund, which says much of the enthusiasm of all players. It is to wondered at that several players have resigned and decided to remain with the public, ‘by fireside,’ and that others have lost their enthusiasm?

I admit we are not an A Grade Band, be we undoubtedly have had the material for a really good band, if given support. This can only be achieved by months of solid rehearsals and combined efforts on all sides.

I am pleased to say we have the Federal Capital Commission solidly behind us, having recently decided to buy us several new instruments and to go fifty fifty with us in uniforms.  I most earnestly appeal to the general public to attend out meeting on June 29, when after hearing the report of our doings of the last six months I feel sure of their whole-hearted support and of their assistance, by their presence, to defeat the above mentioned motion.

Bandsmen have done their little bit.  The Federal Capital Commission has done its part and I again appeal to public, if they want a band at all, to come along and do theirs.

Thanking you,

                I am,

                                TW White

                Hon Sec Canberra City Band

                Westlake June 16, 1927


Anzac Day 1927-1930


Above: Men of No 1 Labourers' Camp, 1924. The site was Capitol Hill, Westlake.  They were ex-servicemen.

Just when Anzac Day Celebrations began in Canberra I do not know.  The Canberra Times has recorded the days from 1927.  The first ceremonies were held on Camp Hill and the meeting point for returned servicemen was Hotel Canberra. These sites would have been convenient for the men living at Westlake (Stirling Park, Yarralumla and Capital Hill) and Acton.  Those travelling from Causeway, Eastlake, Oaks Estate, Ainslie etc had further to travel. In 1929 the unveiling of the Commemorative Stone on the site of the then future Australian War Memorial became the site.  There are full articles in the section Canberra 1920s-1930s.  By 1930 the steps of [Provisional] Parliament House became the central meeting place.  General Bridge's Grave on Mt Pleasant also became a focal point for Anzac Services.  The Royal Military College moved from Canberra to Sydney around 1930 and did not return for many years.  In some circles it was thought that we had the war to end all wars and no longer needed a RMC.

By the time I went to school (commenced in 1942) Anzac Ceremonies were held the day before Anzac.  I took part in the ceremonies held at the War Memorial after the Second World War.  We also had some meetings when children were moved to the Capitol Theatre and talks given by military men followed by film or films - war films.

My mother worked as one of the voluntary people at the Service's Hut at Manuka and I remember the many American Soldiers (and airmen - not sure of uniforms) here in Canberra.  I don't remember seeing the Dutch airmen (included Indonesians).

During my work on Stirling Ridge, Stirling Park, Yarralumla and in the Gap where the Westlake Cottages stood I have found army badges.  Also found throughout Stirling Park, including Blocks 2 and 3, Section 128 Stirling Park Yarralumla bullets have been found along with army badges.

Following are some articles from the Canberra Times on Anzac Day.

The Canberra Times 31 March 1927




The Canberra Vice-Regal Band is to be known henceforth as the Canberra City band. The change of name was decided upon at a meeting on Wednesday night. The old name was considered inappropriate because of the growth of the city.

Rehearsal of marches and selections for the Anzac Day Celebrations are proceeding. On that day the massed trumpets of the band will sound ‘The Last Post’.

The Anzac Day celebrations this year promise to eclipse any demonstrations ever held in Canberra in connection with the RS and SILA.


The Canberra Times 13 April 1927



The Returned Soldiers’ League is making arrangements for the celebration of Anzac Day in Canberra in fitting style.

All returned men are to fall in outside the Hotel Canberra on the morning of Anzac Day preparatory to marching to Camp Hill, headed by the Canberra Band, where an impressive undenominational service will be held at 11am. The public is invited to this service.

Important announcement is to be made at the conclusion of the service regarding the participation of the returned soldiers in ceremonies (?) connected with the visit of the Duke of York.

In the evening an Anzac dinner will be held at the Bachelors’ Quarters. The secretaries of the sub-branches of the League will inform members of later arrangements.


The Canberra Times 21 April 1927




Arrangements for the commemoration of Anzac Day in Canberra have reached a stage of finality.

The combined undenominational service to be held on Camp Hill at 11am on Monday will be attended by members of the sub-branches of the Federal Capital Territory branch of the Returned Soldiers’ League, who may wear either uniform of mufti and medals. The public is also cordially invited to the service together with all returned soldiers.

Camp Hill is the first knoll at the rear of Parliament House, and is marked by a raised platform and flagpole on the crest.

Returned men who propose to attend the service will assemble outside the Hotel Canberra and march thence to Camp Hill preceded by the Canberra Band led by AE Jackson (ex-captain AIF), president of the branch.

Revs Canon Ward MC (Anglican), JH Mitchell (Presbyterian) and EL Vercoe (Methodist) will officiate.  Rev EL Vercoe will deliver the address.

At the conclusion of the service ‘The Last Post’ will be sounded. A two minutes silence will also be observed and the flag will be lowered to half-mast.

All members of the Returned Soldiers’ League in the Federal Capital Territory are particularly requested to be present. At the conclusion of the service an announcement will be made by the president (Mr Jackson) of the arrangements for the parade of returned men at the review on May 9.

A large Anzac Dinner will be held at the Bachelors’ Quarters, Acton in the evening. Only returned soldiers are being admitted and tickets are obtainable from the branch and sub-branch secretaries.

Sydney: Thursday. The Premier (Mr Lang) stated that steps will be taken for the issue of a proclamation closing hotels between 10.10am and 1pm on Anzac Day.


The Canberra Times 10 April 1929


Diggers’ Reunion

At a well attended meeting at the Causeway sub-branch at the RSSILA held in the Causeway Hall on Monday night the vice-president of the ‘Federal Branch Executive of the League, Mr R Rowe, made known details of the arrangements for returned soldiers at the forthcoming Anzac Day celebrations.

It was understood, said Mr Rowe, that chief executive officers of State branches of the League were being invited to attend the Commemorative Ceremony at the National War Memorial and it was anticipated that a number of these prominent men would also be present at the Diggers’ Luncheon at the Albert Hall, as well as at the screening of official war films on the evening of Anzac Day.

The Federal President Mr GJG (or C) Dyett, and the general secretary, Mr EJ Dibden, would be present at the whole of the Anzac Day celebrations in Canberra.

A happy feature of the Diggers’ Luncheon would be the attendance of returned nursed resident in Canberra.

Keen interest was being displayed in the reunion functions being arranged by the Federal Branch and it was believed that the reunion luncheon would prove the largest of its kind yet held in Canberra.

Special interest would attach to the speeches of Mr CE Bean, Official War Historian and addresses by other prominent persons, which would probably include the Rt Honourable the Prime Minister (Mr SM Bruce) and the Federal President of the League.

Efforts were being made to arrange for the broadcasting of the speeches.

In connection with the Commemoration Service, special facilities would be provided for disabled soldiers and for nurses.

The secretary, Mr Lord, was made second delegate of the sub-branch which had attained a membership of 65 and Mr F Miller was elected proxy delegate.

Dr RM Alcorn, who was welcomed as a member of the sub-branch expressed his pleasure at being present.

Mr Rowe pointed out the importance of the recent activities of the RSSILA with regard to facilitating the granting of pension claims. Under certain conditions the onus of proving that a returned soldier’s disability was not due to war injury was now the responsibility of the Repatriation Commission.

A hearty vote of thanks was tendered to Mr Rowe for his attendance and full confidence expressed in his as president of the branch.

It was announced that a dance would be held on April 26.


The Canberra times 23 April 1929



To Play on Anzac Day

A progressive step in the community life of Canberra has been made by the appearance of the Canberra City Band in uniform complete with a beautiful set of instruments. To commemorate this occasion and as a gesture of gratitude to their patron, the band marched on Sunday morning to Canberra House, the residence of Sir John Butters. The Chief Commissioner kindly consented to inspect them and a pleasant picture was made by the glint of the autumn sunlight on silver instruments and smart unobtrusive uniforms; the latter being of dark blue material with narrow gold braid with the initials of the band on gold on the shoulder lapels and the hats decorated with a lyre surmounted by a crown. The beautiful gardens of Canberra House made a charming setting to this newly fledged splendour. Sir John Butters after inspecting the band complemented favourably upon their smart military appearance at the same time making some very helpful suggestions which if carried out would greatly improve the general deportment of this band.

At the conclusion of the pleasantly informal ceremony the Canberra City Band played a march well known to all returned soldiers – ‘The Great Little (?) Army’ - a march which was composed in honour of Sir John French’s First Expeditionary Force (The Contemptible little army.’)  At the end of the programme Sir John Butters referred in flattering terms to the musical advance made by the band, evidenced by their rendering of the programme. He then entertained them to morning tea on the pleasant lawns of Canberra House.

The conductor of the Canberra City Band, Mr JA Watson, in his capacity of President of the Band, to tender a vote of thanks to their patron for his hospitality, and also for the generous way in which he had always placed his services at the disposal of the band in an endeavour to render them material at all times, especially in regard to such matters as the supply of uniforms and instruments. Mr Pearl in his speech stressed the good work which Sir John Butters had done on behalf of the band by means of his encouragement and unfailing enthusiasm without which the Canberra City band would have been unable to attain to its present high standard.

The first public appearance of the Canberra City band will be on the occasion of the unveiling of the Memorial Stone, by His Excellency the Governor-General on Anzac Day, April 25.



The Canberra Times 14 April 1930


Canberra Observance

Arrangements have been made for the celebrations of Anzac Day (Friday) April 25.

The observance will be similar to the procedure followed in 1928. There will be an official ceremony at Parliament House at 11am. It is improbable that the Governor-General will be present, as it understood that he will attend the Anzac Day Ceremony in Sydney.  Earlier in the day a service will be held at Duntroon at t he grave side of the late General Bridges.


The Canberra Times 24 April 1930


Mr Rowe, President of the FCT branch of the RS and ISLA has not received and answer from the Prime Minister to the request of the branch to have the hotels closed on Anzac Day (t0-morrow)

The Chief Commissioner (Mr AJ Christie) stated yesterday that the Commission’s hotels and bars would be kept open on Anzac Day unless instructions were received to the contrary from Mr Scullin.


The Canberra Times 24 April 1930




The Governor-General will take the Royal Salute at Parliament House steps at 10.57am to-morrow. The Prime Minister and the Minister for Home Affairs have been invited to be present, and although no official information has yet been received, it is understood that Mr Scullin will leave Melbourne this afternoon in order to be present. Mr Blakeley, however, is more doubtful, although he is expected in Canberra before the end of the week from his electorate (Darling).

Since the original programme was drafted it has been decided to have a march of returned soldiers whose assembly points will be near No 1 Secretariat.  They will march at 10.45am to a point near Parliament House steps. The Guard of Honour will be in position at 10.50am and the first hymn will be sung at 11 am. Afterwards the one minute silence will be observed, the Guard of Honour will present arms and the Last Post will be sounded. After reveille has been sounded, the National Anthem sung by the public the Governor-General will inspect the Guard of Honour, returned soldiers and detachments.

At the conclusion of the function the returned soldiers will march to the Albert Hall where a commemorative service under the RS and SILA will be held, the various denominations taking part. The address will be given by the Rev John Walker.

Earlier in the day – at 9.15am – a commemorative service will be held at Mt Pleasant beside the tomb of the late General Bridges, the first Commandant of the Royal Military College of Duntroon.

In view of the suitability of the season the Governor –General has agreed to open the Boy Scouts’ hall in the afternoon.



Anzac Day 1930s



Above: photograph of a badge found by Gary Skewes in the area of Tradesmen's Camp Westlake, [block 3, Section 128 Stirling Park, Yarralumla.]

The following articles are a few examples from the Canberra Times describing details of some of the Anzac Days in the 1930s.

The Canberra Times 14 April 1932




Canberra will be pleased to know that the Minister for Works (Major CWC Marr) has given his definite assurance to the league that no delay will occur in putting into operation the Government’s decision to reinstate the Bruce-Page order of preference to returned soldiers.

A clear understanding that this is to apply to engagement and dismissals and that any denial of this measure of preference in the past was to be rectified was arrived at recently at a conference between the league, departmental officers and the Minister. Major Marr has advised the league that these instructions are to be given effect to immediately.

Anzac Day

Arrangements are well in hand for the appropriate celebrations of Anzac Day in Canberra.

Returned men will take part in the official ceremony and at the conclusion will march past and proceed to Albert Hall. A special appeal issued to all returned men in Canberra to fall in with their comrades in the Diggers’ march. The co-operation of the combined choirs at the official ceremony is being invited by the Prime Minister’s Department and it is likely(?) that members of the Canberra Troop, 7th Light Horse, will parade dismounted.  The Canberra City Band will provide the music and Mr T White will sound the Last Post and Reveille.

It is anticipated that there will be a large attendance at the service to be held under the auspice of the league at the grave of the late Major-General Bridges at Duntroon and 9.30 am and at the Albert hall at 11.30 am. The impressiveness of the Albert Hall service will be considerably enhanced by the rendering of appropriate choral numbers by the combined Canberra Choirs under the baton(?) of Doig.

Essay Competition

The title chosen essay competition is ‘Monash, Soldier and Ci...(blurred)’ and in this connectio0n the following conditions have been decided ...(?) in consultation with the adjudicator, Dr LH Allen, MA PhD:-

·         The competition will be open to all school children in the FCT

·         There shall be one competition only.

·         The essays shall be written in school hours during the afternoon period on Wednesday April 20 unaided by notes, and under the supervision of a teacher.

·         A limited selection of six essays shall be made by the principle of each school and forwarded to the adjudicator (Dr Allen) not later than 12 noon on Thursday, April 21, 1932. The essay shall be certified as the bona fide work of the pupils by the headmaster or headmistress.

·         A certificate will be awarded the writer of the winning essay and a frame portrait of the late General Sir John Monash will be presented to the school attended by the winner of the competition.

·         The decision of the adjudicator (Dr Allen) will be final.

·         The winner of the competition will be announced in ‘The Canberra Times’ on Anzac Day (April 25).

·         The co-operation of all school authorities in the FCT has been invited by the FCT Branch.

Anzac Reunion

A Diggers’ Anzac reunion smoko will be held at Albert Hall on Saturday April 23 at 8pm.  All Diggers are urged to participate in the reunion gathering.

War Service Homes Inquiry

In connection with the inquiry into the disabilities of War Service Homes occupiers by the committee recently appointed by the Commonwealth Government and local Digger who is the purchaser of a War Service Home and desires to submit any evidence to the committee, is invited to forward same(?) to the secretary War Service Homes Committee of Inquiry, c/o POO Box 2014D, Melbourne or, if the assistance of the league is desired, the Hon secretary of the FCT Branch, PO Box106 City, Canberra, should be communicated with.

Imperial Pensions Time Limit

The decision of the Independent Appeals Tribunal some months ago that the time limit during which pension appeals could be lodged, as provided in the regulations, could not be upheld for the reason that the statutory requirements for the publication of notice limiting the time of appeal had not been complied with, has now been overruled by the King’s Bench Division of the High Court by Mr Justices Avory, Humphreys and Hawke.

Under the final Award Regulations all permanent pensions less than 20 per cent awards, awards of gratuity only and all disablement awards arising from disablement in the Great War and made by the Admiralty, the War Office or the Ministry of Pensions between August 4. 1914 and August 19, 1921 were declared statutory and final awards.

North Canberra Sub-Branch

The committee of the North Canberra Sub-Branch has made excellent arrangements for the entertainment of members at the regular monthly meeting to-night at the Soldiers’ Club.

In addition to a particularly good programme of musical and vocal items a most interesting lecture dealing with the Great Barrier Reef will be delivered by Dr LW Nott.


The Canberra Times 20 February 1933



War Historian To Speak At Service

Arrangements are being made early for the celebration of Anzac Day in Canberra this year.  The FCT Branch of the Returned Soldiers’ League has invited Dr CEW Bean, Official War Historian of the AIF to deliver the address at the United Service in the Hall and Dr Bean has accepted.

Another important feature will be an Essay Competition run under similar conditions to that of last year. It will be open to all scholars attending the Canberra Schools and Colleges. The subject this year will be: ‘How should we observe Anzac Day?’


The Canberra Times 25 April 1933




Anzac Day in Canberra will be observed, as in past years, with appropriate solemnity.

Memorial services will be held at the grave of Major-General Sir WT Bridges at Duntroon, and at Parliament House where 11am one minutes silence will be observed.

The celebration will assume an importance among similar celebrations throughout Australia never previously achieved.

At his own wish the Governor-General (Sir Isaac Isaacs) will be present for the first time. The Prime Minister (Mr Lyons) will represent the Commonwealth Government, while the Commonwealth War Historian (Dr EW Bean) will arrive this morning to attend the ceremony.

Details of the programme already have been announced. It will commence at Parliament House before 11am. The Governor-General and his staff will arrive shortly before the hour. It is expected that at the conclusion of the ceremony the Governor-General will take the salute from the largest parade of returned soldiers ever to gather at a Canberra Anzac Day ceremony.

The celebration at the steps of parliament House over a special Anzac Day Service will be held at Albert Hall.


The Canberra Times 24 April 1934


Duntroon Cadets’ Tribute


A member of the Duntroon Military College Sydney will travel to Canberra on Anzac Day to place a wreath on the grave of the first Commandant of the College, Major-General WT Bridges.

When the college was located at Duntroon, the cadets took an active part in the Anzac Service at the graveside, and since their removal to Paddington Sydney, they have been represented by a Canberra resident.

In future the tribute will be made by a member of the staff cadets, and this year, Lance-Corporal MS Brogan will be the representative of the College.

A wreath will also be placed on the grave by the Returned Sailors and Soldiers’ Imperial League of Australia (FCT Branch)


The Canberra Times 25 April 1935



Canberra’s official Anzac Day celebrations to-day will commence with the special service at the graveside of Major-General Bridges on Mt Pleasant at 9.30am, when an address will be given by Lieut-General JG Legge.

Present at this ceremony will be the Senior Cadets of the Duntroon Royal Military College, Sydney, who will place a wreath on the grave.

For this service a special bus will be run, leaving Kingston at 8.30am and Reid Methodist Church at 9.5 am. At the conclusion of the ceremony the ‘bus will proceed to Parliament House, where the main commemoration service will be held.

Owing to a slight illness, his Excellency the Governor-General will not attend the Parliament House Service, and he will be represented by Captain LS Bracegirdle.  The programme will be as follows:


·         10.45 Returned soldiers and detachments in position.

·         10.50 Representatives of the Commonwealth Government and other special representatives in position

·         10.53 Arrival of Vice-Regal representative with light horse escort.

·         10.56 Hymn, ‘God of our Fathers known of old,’ to be sung by the public.

·         ‘Last Post’ sounded

·         ‘Stand Fast’ sounded.

·         11.0 One minute’s silence commences.

·         11.1 ‘Reveille’ sounded

·         National Anthem (first verse) sung by the public

·         March past of returned soldiers and other detachments.

·         Departure of Vice-Regal representative

Troops will be under the command of Major Paul, assisted by Captain Marshall Wood.

Special buses will be run from all suburbs and will shortly arrive at Parliament house, shortly before 10.30am.

The usual service will be held in the Albert Hall immediately after the Parliament House ceremony.  In the absence of His Excellency, the address on this occasion will be delivered by the Commonwealth Government’s representative, Mr CLA Abbott.


The Canberra Times 8 April 1936



Invitation to Churches

The Commonwealth Government is arranging a memorial ceremony to be held at Parliament House on Anzac Day, at which the Governor-General and Lady Gowrie will be present. Several State Governments and the Returned Soldiers’ League are being invited to co-operate with the Commonwealth in the arrangements of the commemoration services.

Announcing this yesterday, the Prime Minister (M r Lyons) said that he hoped the commemoration throughout Australia would, as in former years, be in accord with the nation’s significance and deep solemnity of the occasion.


He intimated that churches of all denominations would be invited to participate in the fitting observance of the day by arranging memorial services wherever possible.


The Canberra Times 24 April 1939




The Governor-General and Lady Gowrie will attend the Commonwealth Government Anzac Day ceremony at Parliament House tomorrow. 

The commemoration of Anzac Day in the Australian Capital Territory will commence with a ceremonial parade at the Royal Military College Duntroon at 8.45am which will be followed by a service at General Bridges’s grave commencing at 9.30am.

A bus will run to Duntroon leaving Giles street Kingston at 8 am via No 1 route at far as Gorman House, leaving Gorman House at 8.35 am and arriving at Duntroon at 8.50am. It will return to Parliament House at the conclusion of the service at General Bridges’ s grave.

A memorial ceremony arranged by the Commonwealth Government will be held at Parliament House steps commencing at 11.30am.

All the services will be open to the public.  A temporary cenotaph is being provided at Parliament House for the occasion and wreaths may be laid thereon by members of the public.

A special enclosure is being provided on Parliament House steps for disabled ex-soldiers and their families. No tickets of admission will be issued, but an official of the Returned Soldiers’ League will be in attendance at the enclosure.

The following special buses will be run to Parliament House:-

·         Ex Causeway

·         10.10 am, No 2 route: ex Giles Street,

·         10.10 am No 2 route ex Giles St,

·         10.25 am No 1 route,

·         Ex Ainslie –

·         10.5 am

·         10.13 am

·         10.19 am

Buses will leave the Albert Hall for Kingston, Causeway, Ainslie and Duntroon at the conclusion of the Commemoration Service.

Arrangements are being made for the Commonwealth Government to be represented at the principal ceremonies of each State capital.


Anzac Day observance on Tuesday at the Royal Military College will take the form of a ceremonial parade, which members of the public may witness at 9 am. Visitors should be at the positions allotted to them at 8.50 am.

At the conclusion of the parade a short ceremony will be held at the grave of General Bridges, on Mt Russell, overlooking the College.

The address will be given by the President of the Canberra branch of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers’ Imperial League of Australia (Mr AE Jackson).


Anzac Day essay 1931

 The following essay shows the line of thinking re the Great War in 1931.   This essay makes no reference to the Aboriginal people but strongly links Australia with Britain and the Empire.  At this time the difficulties of the Great Depression were further burdened by the debt of money owed to Britain for Australians fighting for Britain's causes.

The Canberra Times 27 April 1931




The results were announced on Saturday of the essay competition held in the schools of the Federal Capital Territory under the auspices of the Returned Soldiers’ leagues, the subject having been ‘The Significance of Anzac Day.’

The completion was divided into two grades – for boys and girls 14 years and over and for boys and girls under 14. 

The prize essays are published below.



‘Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.’

Nearly two thousand years ago, Christ set an imperishable example of unselfish sacrifice. He allowed his own countrymen to inflict on Him the most terrible death by torture which they could devise, namely crucifixion: an yet, although he appeared to have been beaten, although He had been defeated in the flesh, we know that He won a spiritual victory and that His doctrine (?) of liberty and enlightenment has spread to every corner of the work. The Christian’s most treasured possession is the knowledge that although Christ’s earthly form decayed, His soul did not die but lived eternally.

‘Today, we Australians meet to-gether to do reverend homage to our gallant dead and to those who bore the cross of Calvary, but were allowed by fortune to return.  Nothing could be more noble, more glorious than the way in which those heroes followed Christ’s example and fought for liberty not only of Australia but of the world. Over eight thousand of our best manhood made the supreme sacrifice at Gallipoli and they won for Australia a great reward, continued freedom, a world-wide reputation for splendid manhood and the removal for a time at least of ever present and depressing nightmare of war. Yet although too many were killed their spirits did not die, and the fame lives forever.

Just as that other most sacred chapter is commemorated every Easter after almost two thousand years, so will the memory and praise of our men and boys at Gallipoli be freshened and renewed every year on this day. Nothing could be more fully describe the willing sacrifice and patriotism of our soldiers than those beautiful lines from Rupert Brooke’s sonnet on ‘The Dead.’

‘Blow out, you bugles, over the rich Dead:

There’s none of these so lonely and poor of old,

But dying has made no carer gifts than gold,

These laid the world away: poured out the red,

Sweet wine of youth: gave up the years to be

Of work and joy, and that unhoped sores(?)

That then call age: and those who would have been,

Their sons they gave, their immortality.’


Although Anzac Day is actually the day on which the landing was made at Gallipoli just sixteen years ago, we do not communicate the landing alone, but the whole of that heroic campaign of Gallipoli peninsula.  It is not to our disgrace that we do withdrew. Our struggle at Gallipoli is fit to be ranked with the defence of Leonidas at Themophyae against the hordes of Persia. Unlike those valiant Spartans we were not overwhelmed or routed, but made an ordinary retreat; and it is not defeat that matters, but the manner of defeat. It is not dishonourable to be defeated by a larger and stronger foe; but to take defeat like a coward is certainly dishonourable.  The Australians, sons of the land not two hundred years old, were competing against the oldest  nations in the world, which were long skilled in the art of war. Yet their retreat was one of the most orderly and successful in history. As the well-known historian, Jose, says: ‘One scarcely known which is to admire the more, the reckless courage of the landing or the skill displayed in the withdrawal at the end of the campaign.’ The evacuation was carried out not by men in the pink of condition, but by soldiers exhausted by long hardship and privations, intemperate weather, and the nervous strain of the desultory warfare, yet it is one of the great military feats of history. Although it was thought that at least a third of the men would be lost only two were killed.


Little did the forefathers hardly pioneers who came out here and made a home for their offspring suspect  that so soon would their sons be called to answer the call of a Motherland in distress.  Surely they could not have expected such a gallant unquestioning response. Australia realised what a tremendous debt of gratitude she owed to England.  We cannot ourselves be too grateful to the soldiers who established forever the fame of Australia as an important factor in the military power of the Empire.


Today, Australia is in the grip of a serious crisis financial depressing is taking heavy toll of many throughout Australia. Yet, although there is a certain amount of pessimism in the hearts of some Australians, a large majority is struggling bravely against ill fortune. With this same spirit sixteen years ago, did our men and boys make the landing on Gallipoli, through water made treacherous with barbed wire and charge an enemy who from a superior and secure position were pouring down a hail of shrapnel and bullets. To-day this time of depression, Australians can look back and take as an ideal the unqualified heroism of the Anzacs and return to the fight against depression, refreshed and stimulated.


Finally, our soldiers fought with the allied troops not for the sake of  ...(? blurred word) material gains. We have received nothing as a result of the war save our glorious fame as a loyal partner of a great Empire.  Australians fought for justice, for very life and liberty. Our heroes, dead or living, need no futile showy celebrations. Their courage and loyalty speak for themselves and cannot be embellished with futile superlatives. They deserve rather a sincere, reverent gratitude and everlasting remembrance.’


1930s Tourist Map of Canberra

The following Tourist Map of Canberra has as its heading above the information - STAY A DAY AND YOU WILL WANT TO STAY A WEEK.  In addition to the highlights that commences with Parliament House it contains the information that the Tourist Camp - Immediately past the Police Station to the right lies the turn-off to the Tourist Camp which stands 100 yards from the road in a paradise of willows and poplars and other trees which formerly gave shade and shelter to JJ Moore's stock.  It consists of fourteen spacious cubicles, eache equipped with iron beds and  a small stove.  Water is laid on to the camp and wood is available... 

Local Papers Federal Capital

During the years when the politicians had to make a decision about the site for the future federal territory and the capital city of Australia there were a number of sites that they visited.  The final choice was between Dalgety and the Yass Canberra districts.  There are quite a number of reports of these visits found in the local paper - Queanbeyan Age - and in others such as the Adelaide Advertiser.

Following are a number of articles from Lyall Gillespie's cards on the subject of the visiting dignatories and the early years before the final choice of the Yass Canberra area.  Lyall Gillespie's family came to the Canberra area in the 1840s and moved to Ginninderra.  Lyall has written many books on the hisory of Canberra including one for the 1988 celebrations - Canberra 1820-1913.  His cards are a collection of information from many sources collected over a lifetime.  Following, with the permission of his son, Neill are some from the section on the Federal Capital.


Mr Oliver Federal Capital Commissioner left Yass on Wednesday at 9.30 am by road. Mr F Campbell drove out to meet him and picked up the commissioner and his secretary (Mr JT Keating) near Hall.  He was driven by Mr Campbell past Rosehill, Ginninderra, Glebe and the Round Hill Weetangera  to Yarralumla.  Then Mr Oliver continued northerly via Taylor’s Hill to Tuggranong. Mr GPC Civanitt(?) having possession of the ribbons. He spent Wednesday night at Tuggranong with Mr J Cunningham. On Thursday morning Mr Oliver was driven out to Lanyon and saw the Murrumbidgee there.  He arrived in town at 2pm and had lunch with Dr Blackall, Dr Richardson, Mr TJ Cadden, Mr NB Downing and Mr Theo Con on behalf of the Queanbeyan Federal City Committee.


On Thursday afternoon Mr Oliver was shown the Duntroon Plains going out by Yarralumla road and returning to Yass Road,  A pleasant visit was paid to Duntroon House.


Of course Mr Oliver expressed no opinion on the likelihood of any place being chosen.


Mr Oliver, however is strong on one point – climate. He says he is influenced by the opinions of all the leading Federalists when he says that is the Federal Parliament will meet in the summer the amin and first qualification of the stie must be a cool climate.  That’s point one. The next point is the water supply. In both these two primary points Queanbeyan Yass have splendid claims.


As regards the most area to be selected for offer as federal territory in this district, there is as yet no determination.  Several areas have been mapped out, one or two of them taking in the Murrumbidgee River and land in the county of Cowley.  That however, which the Committee seems most to favour includes the Queanbeyan and Tuggranong Railway Stations,(but not the town of Queanbeyan) in its southern boundary; Pialgo, Duntroon and Canberra Plains within its eastern boundary, Acton Back Hill [Black Mountain] and Yarralumla on the north; while the western limit will approach or perhaps include the Murrumbidgee River. Local Papers.

Goulburn Evening Post 7.11.1899


The Queanbeyan Federal Capital Committee prepared its report which has been forwarded to be type written.  The site chosen by the Queanbeyan Committee is of a diamond shape.  It starts near Jerrabomberra, makes a straight line past Tuggranong on to Tharwa Bridge, from there it goes north westerly to the Murrumbidgee River just at the back of Mt Forster; it then strikes north-easterly to the Presbyterian Church Canberra and from that spot goes back to consequent(?) to Jerrabomberra.  Its four corners are therefore – Jerrabomberra, Tharwa Bridge, Mt Forster and Canberra.  The Queanbeyan River runs through the top half of the site and the Murrumbidgee runs along the side for 15 miles. 

Goulburn Evening Post from local papers 14.12.1899


Still they go – week after week we hear of fresh batches of workmen employed on the Federal Capital site works invested with the order of the sack, until now the formidable away of from seven to eight hundred workmen employed by the Fisher Government has dwindled down to considerably less than 200.   Beyond a heartless attempt at laying the pipes in the water main and a few other pottering jobs about the Cotter nothing whatever is being done towards building up the capital, and the numerous camps and busy scenes of bustle and activity displayed some few short month ago are now lost to view.  The reason assigned–is

I understand – for this state of affairs is that there are no funds available to carry out the work. 

Wizard’s Notes Post 21.3.1914


A Deserted Capital – All the works on the Federal Capital site having been abandoned I understand that the Director, Colonel Miller, has now taken his departure for Melbourne.  It is said by one of our residents who interviewed him before leaving that he stated definitely that the whole of the land within the territory would be resumed within three months, and that then each holding would be submitted for lease by tender with no preference whatever to previous owners.  As might be expected this statement has aroused a bitter feeling amongst the landholders concerned, especially so as the Hon King O’Malley had over and over again told them that when the land was to be leased the previous owner would in all cases be allowed the preference.  Wizard’s Notes Post 7.5.1914


The hunt for the capital site still goes on merrily on and on.  Monday next we will have a visit from a batch of Federal Members who are coming to view the Canberra and Molonglo districts…we regard the Canberra site as one eventually suited for the requirements of the Federal City and we should be pleased if it were possible for the Capital to be established there.  We are distinctly under the impression though that our legislators, some considerable time ago, decided definitely on a site elsewhere, but in any case none of the present generation are likely to see the Federal Capital and so a far as we are concerned it wont(?) of much importance and we shall be content to wish the Parliamentary Party a pleasant visit and trust they may be favourably impressed with all they see.

Queanbeyan Age 10.8.1906


Mr TJ Cadden has received an invitation from the Public Works Department that in reference to his letter of 23rd ultimo relative to a suggested site at Wanniassa (Tuggranong) near Queanbeyan for the proposed Federal Capital and asking at the request of Mr W Farrer of Tharwa that a report might be made by an officer of this Department as to a suitable scheme of water supply therefore the minister has directed that an officer shall be detailed to furnish a report in the direction indicated.  The officer will shortly visit the district for that purpose.

Queanbeyan Age 4.9.1901


With a view to enabling Federal members to visit the various sites within this state proposed as suitable for the Federal Capital, the NSW Government have organised a series of week end trips to the places suggested and the first of these was completed yesterday.  Early in the morning special trains of sleeping and dining cars arrived at Queanbeyan conveying about 36 members of the Senate and House of Representatives who as guests of the Government had come to view the Canberra and Molonglo sites. Included among these were the Hon Austin Chapman, PMG, the Hon LE Groom, Minister for Home Affairs, the Jon JH Keating, Senators, H DeLargie, H Dobson, JG Drake, AJ Goued, Gregor McGregor,  H Turley, E Mulcahy and Messrs J Thomas, WF McWilliams, FG Tudor, JC Watson and Mr Webster, members of the House of Representatives.  The party were under the guidance of Mr AL Lloyd of the Public Works Department.  Reporters from the Sydney and Melbourne journals were in attendance and the party were accompanied by the Mayor and Aldermen Knox, Moore, Harrison, Campbell and Oldfield and Messrs John Gale and CV O’Hanlon and representatives of the Age and Leader. After breakfast a start was made for Canberra in vehicles which had been brought from Goulburn and on arrival the party made a partial ascent of Mount Ainslie from which point of vantage and excellent view is obtainable of the proposed site.  ‘The morning was a glorious one and the sight of the rich meadows clothed in green was a particularly beautiful one.  From remarks one heard passed freely it was clear that Canberra as a …(?) for a large city had more than favourably impressed the majority of the visitors.  Many gentlemen who had supported the claim dos other places to the honor of supplying the …(?) for the Commonwealth Capital throwing over their allegiance in favour of the locality just witnessed.’  On descending to the valley refreshments were served … The Hon LE Groom expressed himself as being entirely in favour of the site he had just viewed and regretted that he had not had the opportunity of viewing it before.  Of all the sites he had seen he regarded none as in any way approaching Canberra which he described as ‘an ideal site.’  Mr JC Watson was equally emphatic and explained that had he been given an opportunity off inspecting Canberra from years ago he would never had dreamt of advocating the adoption of any of the other sites which have been mentioned in connection with the capital.  He was sorry time did not permit of a visit to the Cotter and Murrumbidgee Rivers… Mr Lloyd and Colonel Vernon who had come armed with the necessary information stated that the city at Canberra could be supported by granulation (?) from the Cotter and that the distance between traversed by the scheme would be about 16 miles.  In the report of the Commissioner on the Canberra site it was pointed out that during the drought of 1900 the Cotter River did not suffer and the volume of water was practically the same as normal seasons.  Senator McGregor and the Hon Austin Chapman still held Dalgety the most suitable site.  Messrs Glould, Walker, Mulcahy and Drake all spoke enthusiastically of what they had seen and the majority of the party regard Canberra as  being in every way best adapted for the requirements of the Capital.  The party went along the road to enable of view of Ginninderra Country to be obtained.  This being accomplished its party were piloted by Messrs FA Campbell nd EG Hudson of Duntroon through to Uriarra Queanbeyan Road by which route they returned to Queanbeyan.  The preety little church of St John was duly admired and a halt made at the Canberra School at the request of Messrs Chapman and Ryrie. Mr McDonald, the teacher gave the children a half holiday in honor of the occasion  Good news travel apace and on arriving at Narrabundah school the youngsters attending there were drawn up in the roadway and Mr Chapman and Col Ryrie again interceded with authority in the person of Mr Rolfe who acceded to their request and let the children off lessons for the day…


Asked his opinion on to Canberra with regard to its position and distance from the coast, Mr Watson said that the proper port would be Jervis Bay and that this point would be within any reach by rail.  After luncheon Queanbeyan was visited and at 2 o’clock at start was made fro Molonglo which was reached at 5 o’clock. A very brief halt was made here the site not being favourably regarded by any of the party.  The move was then made for Bungendore where its special train was waiting.  Senr Sgt Willis and Const Yeomans provided the police escort as far as Molonglo where Sgt Sawtell and Constable Wilson of Bungendore took over.  Next weekend Dalgety will be visited.

Queanbeyan Age 14.8.1906


A Federal Parliamentary party visited the Dalgety Capital site on Saturday last.  The visitors were much impressed with the Snowy River and the splendid views obtained of the snow capped mountains.  Yesterday morning the party returned to Queanbeyan and a  small contingent  went over(?) to visit the Canberra site.  From what we could gather the result of the latest expenditure has been to strengthen the position of Dalgety. 

Queanbeyan Age 21.8.1906


Editorial on the Federal site expressing pleasure at the favourable impression made by the Canberra site on the visiting group of Federal members on Monday last.

Queanbeyan Age 17.8.1906


Mr JC Watson, leader of the federal Labour Party has received a letter from Mr SW (M?) Mowle formerly Usher of the black rod in the NSW Leg Council bearing on the claim of Canberra to be selected as the federal capital site. Mr Mowle agrees with Mr Lloyd, the surveyor, that the Cotter River would furnish an ample water supply.  He states that in the drought of 1837-8-9 when the upper Murrumbidgee was a chain of ponds the Cotter was still running. 

Queanbeyan Age 24.8.1906


A further report on Canberra as the Capital reports GH Reid, ‘I believe that a strong feeling has set in in favour of Canberra as against Dalgety.  I cannot speak for the Senate; but I am inclined to think that the House of Representatives will be found when the time comes to alter the previous decision…’  Senator Sir Joseph Symons says, ‘I was greatly impressed with my visit to Canberra.  Without any final opinion the site seems to me to be an ideal one… 

Queanbeyan Age 28.8.1906


Federal Capital Site – The eulogies festooned upon the beauties of Canberra by the members of the Federal Parliament who had visited the place and the probability of its selection as the federal capital site have caused great rejoicing amongst the large majority of the residents here, and should Mr Chapman, as he says he will, persist in his determination to fight for Dalgety in preference to the Canberra site he may rest assured that the electors in this part of his electorate will do their best to hurry him to the grave of political oblivion at the forthcoming federal election.

Wizard’s Notes Post 28.8.1906 & Queanbeyan Observer …BR..correspondent 26 or 29.8.1906


Some weeks ago the Premier defeated Mr WL Vernon (Government Architect) Mr LAB Wade (Principal Engineer for rivers, water, sewerage and drainage) and Mr WM Hutchinson (Engineer for Railway Construction) to report on several areas in the Yass, Lake George district regards a suitable site of the Federal Capital.  Mr Carruthers has now received the reports of these gentlemen which deals with three sites – Makharlana(?), Canberra and Lake George.  The reports are supplemented by Mr Surveyor Lloyd respecting a number of the sites which with few exceptions have little to recommend them.  Mr Carruthers has forwarded the reports to the PM.  Goulburn Evening Post 31.5.1906


‘If Federal Ministers had any doubts as to the wisdom of adopting Canberra the name for the Federal Capital they must have been instantly dispelled when they heart the spontaneous and mighty burst of cheers from the vase crowd assembled which followed the announcement of the name by Lady Denman… Wizard’s Notes Post 22.3.1913


The Federal City – Mr King O’Malley, Minister for Home Affairs has returned from a visit to the Federal Capital site, firmly convinced that the selection was an excellent one. ‘It’s alright,’ he said.  ‘It s as good as you could wish for.  The Cotter was running at the rate of 21 million gallons and hour and we went down there  and took the gauge. It is beautiful clear cold water. I was very much impressed.  I went everywhere that was of any importance.  There’s a lot of good fertile land. It’s a beautiful site. Its got the background. Nothing could be said against it as far as the site goes, providing the water is there and if the water is always as it is now then it is all right.

There is room for a weir,’ he continued. ‘If you want to put a weir at the mouth of the Cotter just where it enters the Murrumbidgee and it got full there would be water for many years, even if a drought came in.  So I can’t see that the water question should be any objection.’   No building of any kind will be started according to the Minister until the design of the city is determined.  Then it will be all fixed so that each building will have its allotted space.  He hinted at plans that had been made for the city and the intention of the Government to call for designs but would not state nothing more definite about them.  The survey of the contour site had been completed and the plans are being prepared by the State Department…

Goulburn Evening Post 30.6.1910


Melbourne Wednesday – The Minister for Home Affairs (Mr O’Malley) returning to Melbourne today from a visit to the Federal Capital site at Yass Canberra.  In the course of an interview he said, ‘unless Parliament makes a change I am going right on.  Arrangements will be made for a world wide competition for designs for the model city.  I object to erect temporary buildings so as to shop (?) Parliament there as soon as possible they wanted to know in Sydney for how long it would be before :Parliament met there; but I said that every brick and stone we place there will be part of a permanent building.  There should be no haste to get there.  Some people talk about the sentiment of the thing but I say there is not sentiment in business and what is your hurry to get away from Melbourne for the next 12 or 15 years if we go on building the capital. That is all you want.  The people here in Melbourne are waiting as well.  When we get the buildings of the capital finished and everything is ready, that will be the time to move there.’ 

Goulburn Evening Post 30.6.1910


Federal City – So far as I can learnt the unanimous opinion of all travellers and tourists passing along the route from Yass to Queanbeyan appears to be that Canberra proper is without exception far and away the most beautiful and picturesque site on the whole route for the capital city. Most of those mentioned are also said to hold the opinion that while the city should undoubtedly be located at Canberra the greater part of the remaining territory should extend towards Yass so as to include Gungahleen, Ginninderra and Charnwood Estates and a large number of other smaller holdings of rich agricultural soil in the Ginninderra and Hall districts. Wizard’s Notes Post 15.12.1908


Melbourne Friday – The Yass Canberra district has now been selected by both houses of the Federal Parliament as the site for the Capital of the Commonwealth.  The debate occupied nearly two weeks.

Goulburn Evening Post 7.11.1908


The result of the ballot in the Senate on the Federal Capital site was received with great jubilation by all residents along the route between Queanbeyan and Yass.  Our local mail contractor carried the Union Jack flying for two trips after the result became known in token of victory. 

Wizard’s Notes Post 14.11.1908


As might be expected the selection of the Yass Canberra site for the Federal Capital has caused great satisfaction amongst the residents here.   The general impression appears to be that both Ginninderra and Hall will now probably be included in the required area.

Wizard’s Notes Post 15.10.1908


The Premier’s Conference concluded yesternight the site of the Federal Capital is fixed in New South Wales, but within the Federal Territory and not nearer that within 100 miles of Sydney.  Queanbeyan Observer 3.2.1899


The Institute of Surveyors was last week asked by  Mr RH Cambridge to suggest to the Minister for Home Affairs that ‘Millewa’ would be a suitable name for the Federal City.  This name according to Sir Thomas Mitchell’s diary was the name by which the River Murray was known universally amongst the blacks.  The only bearing that could be found upon the exact meaning of the name was the exultant exclamation of a native guide that the river was ‘always flowing’. The name was euphonious, it was a native name of a considerable portion of the river with the greatest volume of all rivers of Australia and he thought it fulfilled all the necessary conditions… Another member suggested the name Booyangi, which he said was the name given by the natives of the north coast to the place where they held all their solemn ceremonies and orgies.

Queanbeyan Age 26.4.1910


The Federal Capital – Mr Wise says that Mr Oliver will begin the work of inquiry as to the eligibility of a site for the Federal Capital immediately, probably commencing at Albury. He will hold something like a court and will invite persons to attend and give evidence....

Queanbeyan Observer. 20.10.1899


Mr EW O’Sullivan has brought under the notice of Mr Alex Oliver the claims of Queanbeyan as a site for the Federal Capital. He also said(?) that gentleman to make thorough inquiry into the claims of Goulburn, Lake Bathurst and Bungendore. 

Queanbeyan Observer 14.11.1899


Federal Capital – The Premier has received from Mr Fisher a letter asking the state to concede to the Commonwealth sovereign rights over the Molonglo and Queanbeyan River Catchment area... Queanbeyan Age  19.8.1910


The selection of the Federal Capital site has cost over 150,00pounds. Queanbeyan Age 29.7.1910


According to the Minister for Home Affairs operations at the Federal Capital are still being delayed by the non-receipt from the first prize designer (Mr Griffin) of a revised plan with levels. Queanbeyan Age 23.2.1915


There are between 600 and 700 men employed at present at the Federal Capital.

Queanbeyan Age 4.6.1915


Both Canberra and Duntroon are now supplied with electric light from the Power House. The Stromlo Reservoir, an important link in the Federal Capital water supply is almost completed.  It is expected that the reservoir, which is a splendid piece of work will be filled with water from the Cotter River within the next few days. 

Queanbeyan Age 17.8.1915


Information made available by the Minister for Home Affairs showing expenditure on the Federal Capital since the passing of the Federal Capital Act in 1909 and up to 30 June 1915 amounted to 691,201 pounds which does not include the purchase of land.  The heaviest expenditure was in connection with the water supply which has cost 196,000 pounds. Other items are Power Plant 6,600 pounds, Railway Queanbeyan to Canberra 35,000 pounds, Roads and Bridges 94,000 pounds and buildings 13,000 pounds.  Work on the permanent nursery is now in full swing. Sewerage works are reported to be making excellent progress and the Staffordshire Kiln brickworks are approaching completion.  A proclamation will shortly be used taking over about 18000 acres at Jervis Bay.

Queanbeyan Age 14.9.1915


It has been suggested that the Federal Capital be renamed Anzac. 

Queanbeyan Age 7.1.1916


Up to June 30 1915 the expenditure on the Federal Capital was 686,698 pounds and the estimate for this year is 165,000 pounds making a total of 851,698 pounds. In addition 501,103 pounds has been spent out of loans for the purchase of land.

Queanbeyan Age 16.5.1916


Report of the reply by the Post Master General Mr Webster to Mr Archibald (late Minister for Home Affairs) in relation to his attack on the Administrator of his successor Mr O’Malley and the appointment of Mr WB Griffin.  Mr Webster made a bitter attack on the officers of the Home Affairs Department. According to him nothing that had been done at the Federal Capitol was right. The sewerage system was absolutely dangerous, the water supply scheme was all wrong, the roads were no good, the power house had been built in the wrong place and the brickworks were in the residential area.  The fact the place was in a state of chaos.  Members took a keen interest in the speech.  Some of them interjected...After tracing the history of Mr Griffin’s appointment Mr Webster went on to say that Mr Griffin after being brought to Australia to carry out his designs for the Federal Capital had been humiliated by men trying to place him in a position of subordination.  His agreement gave Mr Griffin the fullest power to carry out his designs, but he was not secured in those powers by the support of those in authority. He had never been allowed to exercise his powers and his original designs for the capital had been departed from in a way to suggest that it was done solely for the purpose of spoiling the design...Mr Cook said that the PMG’s speech was a scathing indictment of a great Department and against a Government of which he was a member.  The power house that was in the wrong place was built during the administration of Mr O’Malley. 

Queanbeyan Age 19.5.1916



Capital Federal pt 2

Lyall Gillespie's Cards continued 

In the House of Representatives on Tuesday Mr Page asked the Minister for Home Affairs id he had taken the whole of the papers related to the Federal Capital and locked them in his room.  Mr O’Malley admitted the statement was half true.  He read an order he had issued requesting that the files in regard to the Federal Capital operations now being to together for his inspection he handed over to the exclusive custody of his private secretary, the officer keeping such copies as required by them.  Queanbeyan Age 26.5.1916


Report of the view of Senator Grant on the Federal Capital after a recent visit to the site – he comments at some length on progress. Queanbeyan Age 19.5.1916


Report of debate in the House of Representatives on Friday on the works and buildings estimates Mr Kendall, Victoria was against the vote for the Federal Capital.  If the ‘blessed capital was built there would be no one to live there. He would rather see the maoney used for telephones in the country.’ (Victorian applause).  Queanbeyan Observer 14.10.1913


Canberra – The inquiry into how the money has been invested at Canberra has cost up to date 2557 pounds.  It is hoped the inquiry will be finished by the end of the year!  Then there will another inquiry as to how this inquiry cost so much and why it was necessary to employ a Commissioner for 25 pounds for a start and later on 17 pounds 17 shillings per day to discover mis-management which was know to all those who had had anything to do with the Capitol racket and which an ordinary accountant with little brains could have found out and the reason for.  Its a great county!  Queanbeyan Age 8.12.1916


It is said that the 50,000 pounds voted last year for expenditure in connection with the works being carried out at the Federal Capital site is now nearly exhausted and unless a fresh vote can be obtained it will mean a complete cessation for the time being of all works now being carried out.  Goulburn Evening Penny Post (Wizard’s Notes) 12.8.1911


The under secretary of the Home Affairs Dept (Colonel Miller) who is general superintendent of the work of preparing the Federal Capital site has been on one of his visits to the Territory.  He states that five parties of surveyors are engaged there on surveys comprising the demarcation of the boundaries of the estates and surveys for engineering proposals including railways. Goulburn Evening Penny Post 23.12.1911


The second report of Mr W Blackett KC as Royal Commissioner the Federal Capital affairs has been presented. The evidence it is stated dis... carelessness and incompetence on the part of officials dealing with money and goods. Queanbeyan  Age 3.4.1917


Mr WO Archibald in-minister(?) for Home Affairs denies the truth of Mr O’Malley’s statements of waste of money at Canberra. Queanbeyan Age 7.3.1916


The minister for Home Affairs has issued a notification that all works at the Federal Capital are now under the control of Mr WB Griffin. Queanbeyan Age 21.3.1916


Col Miller came up with Mr Austin Chapman from Sydney and is at Canberra.  The Minister for Works and Railways, the Hon WA Watt is over at Canberra looking into matters generally.  This is we believe Mr Watt’s first visit. Queanbeyan Age 1.6.1917


Yesterday Messrs Watt, Glynn and Chapman accompanied by a number of officers made a tour of inspection of the Federal Capital.  Queanbeyan Age 1.6.1917


‘I do not know that Australia can afford beautiful dreams.’ Mr Watt the Federal Minister for Works and Railways remarked respecting the constitution of the Commonwealth at Canberra. Queanbeyan Age 12.6.1917


Mr Watt, Federal Minister for Works and Railways has decided to appoint Mr RH Stackill, President of the Inc Institute of Accountants and Mr John A Norris accountant in the Victorian Treasury to make an investigation regarding certain acts which were commented on adversely by Mr Blacket KC Commissioner appointed to inquire into matters connected with the Federal Capital.


The minister explained that under his directions he had received from Mr Walters accountant at the Works and Railways Department a memo dealing with the matters elected at the enquiry by Mr Blacket.  This report in many cases was opposed to the views and opinions of the Royal Commissioner.  Mr Watt wants to know which opinion is right and the investigation by the two accountants is for that purpose. Queanbeyan Age 25.5.1917


Control of the Capital was vested in three Commissioners and conducted on commercial lines it could be made practically self supporting and therefore no burdon would be placed on the shoulders of the people in the establishment of the capital on the lines foreshadowed in the constitution. Queanbeyan Age 15.6.1917


The Hon Austin Chapman has been strongly urging afforestation at Canberra and several experts have visited the capital in consequence a large number of trees have already been placed out and the minister address our Federal member that he is now giving personal attention to the matter so something definite is now hoped for.  Mr Chapman’s scheme embraces millions of trees being planted and will be a big work... Queanbeyan Age 15.2.1918


The Capital is about to come into its own, the briar will give way to the myrtle bush.  Canberra has been steadily growing.  The military college has been its chief landmark but recently the establishment of a concentration camp there was a reminder that the place had not quite escaped the attention of the authorities.  Now comes the welcome news of a big and definite move forward... Queanbeyan Age 21.6.1918


During the forthcoming Federal sessions of NSW members intend to make every effort to induce the Government to actively embark on building the Federal Capital.  As a result of the war and the consequent of heavy demand on the finances of the country for war loans and military expenditure operations at Canberra had to be suspended... Queanbeyan Age 15.4.1919


On Thursday last a deputation from the Federal Capital League in Sydney waited on the PM to urge that advantage should be taken of the forthcoming visit of the Prince of Wales to associate our future monarch with the Federal Capital by inviting him to lay the foundation stone of the Parliament House or Australia’s soldiers’ memorial at Canberra.  Hon A Chapman introduced the deputation to Senator Russell who at the PM’s request represented him and the Government. Queanbeyan Age 19.3.1920


On Friday morning the following resolution was adopted: That Cabinet be asked to place 300,000 pounds on the Estimates for this year for the purpose of pushing on with the erection of the buildings necessary to expedite the transfer of the seat of Government at the earliest possible date. Queanbeyan Age 13.7.1920


Negotiations are going on between the Commonwealth and the Imperial Government with an early view to acquisition by the Commonwealth of so much of the buildings and equipment of the internment camps at Canberra as can profitably be used for the construction of the Federal Capital. Queanbeyan Age 27.7.1920


Tuffinent (?) stone to build the Capital at Canberra has been offered by Mr Leaver who own a quarry at Bundanoon. Queanbeyan Age 10.8.1920


The building of the Federal Capital is to proceed without further delay according to a statement made yesterday by Major General Ryrie, the Assistant Minister for Defence. ‘We have placed a sum of 15,000 pound in the estimates,’ said General Ryrie, ‘ and the first works to be put in hand will be the building of workers’ cottages.  Queanbeyan Age 31.8.1920 [Well it didn’t go far – around 70 brick cottages were constructed between 1921-1923 and  the ex-internment camp barracks were converted into 120 unlined cottages – 3 or 6 rooms rented in each barracks to form cottages.]  Queanbeyan Age 31.8.1920


A confidential circular has been issued in Melbourne which gives the composition of an advisory committee to facilitate the early removal of the capital to Canberra.  The suggestion is made that the Committee should consist of a Sydney architect, a Sydney engineer, the Federal Director General or Works and the designer, Mr Griffin.  Queanbeyan Age 5.11.1920


A deputation of Federal members saw the Prime Minister on Wednesday afternoon and urged that the Government should not, in the present period of financial stress commit itself to any further expenditure on the Federal  Capital.  Queanbeyan Age 7.9.1920


The Federal Government has decided to proceed with the development of the plans for the erection of the Capital at Canberra.  This announcement was made by the Federal Treasurer yesterday. ‘A sum of 150,000 pounds,’ the Treasurer stated, ‘will be found on the estimates with which to begin the creation of the necessary buildings.  A commencement can be made at once with the building of the houses for the workmen needed to carry out the proposals. Queanbeyan Age 17.9.1920


Mr Alex Oliver the Commissioner appointed by the Government to enquire into the merits of the proposed federal sites held a public enquiry at the courthouse Queanbeyan on Monday.


Mr W Pike, President of the Federal City Committee, Mr Theo Cox Secretary, Mr F Campbell, Dr Richardson, Dr Blackall, Mr Andrew Cunningham, Mr Samuel Southwell, Mr John Fitzgerald, Mr W Farrer, Mr O’Hanlon, Mr W Davis Wright and Mr J Gale gave evidence. Queanbeyan Age 13.6.1900


Canberra- For the present year a general rate of 2d in the pound on the unimproved capital value has been imposed in the Federal Capital Territory, a lig..ting (?) rate of 3d in the pound has in addition been charged on the unimproved capital value of the land in that portion of the territory which was previously in the municipality of Queanbeyan.  A large amount of work is being carried out in the capital area, and Canberra is beginning to resemble a town instead of an expanse of open paddocks.  The railway line is being extended from the Power House to Ainslie.  It is understood that this section will be completed in June.  It is hoped that the construction of the line from Yass to Jervis Bay will be the next work put in hand.  Prospects at Canberra are bright.  Surveyor Mowatt and a staff of men are at present pegging out the city area. Queanbeyan Age 10.5.1921


Canberra – The building of some 40 brick cottages is well in hand at civic Centre, Brickworks and Power House.  The Civic Centre is on the opposite side of the road to the old Canberra Post Office on the way to Yass.  The old road to Acton is something like a maze.  One has to dodge new fences which enclose and area about to be planted.  These make more beautiful the one time sheep run of that part. Queanbeyan Age 13.5.1921


The formation of new roads and tree planting at present being carried out is fast improving the general aspect and the largely increased number of workmen employed present a busy spectacle.  Tenders are out for erection of new cottages and thus showing a commencement of private enterprise within the area of the Federal Capital.  The calling of these tenders demonstrates that the Government is at last displaying a lively interest in the progress of Canberra. Queanbeyan Age 18.7.1922


Yesterday we received a telegram from the Hon Austin Chapman to the effect that it was decided in the House of Representatives on Wednesday night to carry out the distributor water supply works at Canberra at a cost of 47,000 pounds. It was also resolved to construct the main sewer at a cost of 314,000 pounds and to erect a hostel together with other works. The work planned to enable Parliament House to get to Canberra as early as possible would take three or four years to complete. [the hostel would be hostel No 1 later named the Hotel Canberra – first half opened in December 1924 and second half the following year.]  Queanbeyan Age 28.7.1922


Progress of Operations at Canberra

‘I understand that the Brickworks at Canberra are now in full operation,’ said Mr Austin Chapman MHR.  Mr Chapman has just arrived in the city from the Capitol site and is pleased with the activity now going on there. ‘The bricks already made are bring carried to the places where they are wanted,’ he went on, ‘they are proceeding at once with the erection of ten workmen’s cottages near the power house. Everything is being got ready for the erection of the hotel and of the administrative block in the Government Centre and the bricks are to be brought to the site of these buildings.  Queanbeyan Age 11.3.1921


Report of a speech by Mr LE Groom about the Federal Capital. Included was a reference to Mr Weston carrying on invaluable operations for eight years. He had planted 828,850 trees throughout the Territory including 530,000 on Mt Stromlo alone.  Queanbeyan Age 2.9.1921


Canberra – it is reported that the plans have been completed for the big hall which it is proposed to erect in Canberra, in which the Federal convention and perhaps event the Federal Parliament may sit.  These plans it is expected will go before the recently appointed Committee.  Queanbeyan Age 1.3.1921


Work in the capital was suspended on Saturday and about 140 men were thrown out of employment.  This is particularly rough on the men who recently purchased horses drays and harness paying as high as 50 pounds for them in the promise that they would be employed at least six months.  Queanbeyan Age 8.2.1921


The Commonwealth paid 725,000 pounds for the 200,000 acres of private property which it took over in the Federal Capital Territory.  It has already spent several millions and is going to spend many millions more, for making a capital is an expensive business... Queanbeyan Canberra Advocate 24.2.1927


In the House of Representatives Mr Marks asked has the PM noted the outstanding differences of pronunciation given to the name of the Federal Capital by many authorities and the press. Will he confirm the pronunciation given to the name by Lady Denman when she christened the city placing the emphasis on the first and not the second syllable. Queanbeyan Canberra Advocate 8.7.1926


Mr Scrivener the NSW Government surveyor who was deputed to report on the area reserved for the Federal Territory has forwarded the result of his inspection to the Minister for Home Affairs (Mr Mahon). The report shows that Mr Scrivener does not favour the Yass Canberra site for the Capital of the Commonwealth.  Goulburn Evening Post 1.6.1909


In the Federal Parliament on Wednesday night Mr William Lyne brought forward Government proposals in connection with the Federal Capital.  The list of eligible sites has been narrowed down to Albury, Bombala, Tumut, Lake George and Orange.  Queanbeyan Observer 9.9.1902


In the House of Representatives on Tuesday Mr Crouch (Labor Victoria) gave notice that he would move that Canberra had failed as the Federal Capital on the grounds of expense, the geographical position, and general inconvenience, and that a referendum with preferential voting be taken regarding whether the Capital should be at Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Hobart, Melbourne, Perth or Sydney.  Queanbeyan Age 18.12.1930


The following were posted at the Observer office yesterday: ‘The Senate has agreed to the House of Representatives amendments selecting Dalgety for the Federal Capital.  The measure now only awaits Royal assent. Queanbeyan Observer 12.8.1904


The balloting for the site for the Federal Capital took place in the House of Representatives on Wednesday, Dalgety being finally selected. Queanbeyan Observer 12.8.1904


The matter of the Federal Capital site is set down for discussion in the State Parliament for Thursday.  It will be recollected that the Federal Parliament has selected Dalgety as the proposed site.  We (Braidwood Express) learn on reliable authority that this selection is likely to be disputed and that there is a strong party in the State Parliament in favour of Lake George as the site to be offered. Queanbeyan Observer 8.11.1904


The State Legislative Assembly sat till 6.05 on Wednesday morning dealing with the Federal Capital resolutions submitted by the Premier. Dalgety was knocked out of the list of sites to be offered to the Federal Government the voting being 40 to 21.  Tumut, Lyndhurst and Yass were left in.  The members of the Ministry voted against the exclusion of Dalgety.  Mr Caruthers remarking that it would be an affront to the Federal Parliament.  It was decided to appoint a committee of the House to co-operate with the Government in the negotiations with the Commonwealth Government respecting the site of the capitol.  The member for Queanbeyan moved that Lake George be included in the list of sites.  The Premier said that he had always understood that the Lake George and the Yass site were practically the same.  He asked Mr Millard (or Willard) to withdraw the amendment and the member for Queanbeyan complied.  The Legislative Council took the same view as the Assembly and struck out Dalgety.  Mr Lee in answer to a member said that certain information had been placed before him with regard to the suitableness of Tuggranong near Queanbeyan as a site for the Federal Capital.  He promised to place the papers on the table. Queanbeyan Observer 16.12.1904


Mr Austin Chapman says the Federal Capital is fixed at Dalgety and nothing but an earthquake will shift it. Queanbeyan Observer 14.9.1904


After a meeting of the Federal Cabinet on Friday the Prime Minister (Mr Lyons) announced that a plan for the resumption of Duntroon as a Military College and for the future development of Canberra as the national capital had been adopted as the result of investigations extending over some months.  Construction work would be necessitated at Duntroon and as the houses at present occupied there would be required for the purposes of the College about 70 additional houses would be built in Canberra to accommodate the present Duntroon tenants.  The return to Duntroon of the Military College was felt to be necessary in the public interests. 


Mr Lyons stated that an early commencement would also be made of the Federal Capital Territory works necessary to enable the removal to Canberra of the remaining government departments to which works would be spread over several years over several years and would include the extension of the present water and sewerage mains as well as house construction and office accommodation. Queanbeyan Age 10.9.`1935


It is said that the Bulletin has already spent 5000 pounds on its advocacy of Dalgety as the Federal Capital site. This accounts for the milk in the coconut and the Bulletin’s misleading and sketches of the Capital site. Queanbeyan Age 5.5.1908


Walter B Griffin another lake

The Canberra Times 12 April 1937


The Future Home of Poets and Painters

If Australia were Pagen, water would be worshipped as a Deity


(By AJ Macdonald)

My last visit to the capital site was with the late Walter Burley Griffin in January 1915.  At that time he termed me ‘My Chief of Staff.’  The object of the visit was to study the configuration of the site preparatory to the development  of the street system, ultimately approved and upon which Canberra has arisen.

Another purpose was to explore the valley of the Molonglo to the confluence with Murrumbidgee and ascertain the possibility of forming in the valleys, a lake having a surface to correspond with Griffin’s ornamental lakes on the 1825 feet contour level  To secure data for this enterprise, we went to Sydney and conferred with the authorities of the Lands and Defence departments and obtained contour surveys from which we developed a water conservation project having a surface area greater than Port Jackson. This lake could be fed from a storage constructed at the head waters of the Snowy river and diverting the waters from there to tap the head waters of the Murrumbidgee. The lake would be reinforcement to the Burrinjuck reservoir and by taking water from a district with a 50 inches per annum rainfall would augment the supply for the irrigation areas of the Western plains. Mr Elwood Mead estimated that Burrinjuck storage would provide water for the necessities for 300,000 people; the added water from the Snowy River catchment flowing through the ornamental lakes at Canberra, would be sufficient to provide for 200,00 people in addition.

Dr Frederick Watson in his delightfully interesting history of Canberra published in 1927 refers on page 65 to a report of a Royal Commission presented in 1887 which considered favourably a proposal to divert the Snowy River into the Murrumbidgee River and lake George.

‘This proposal,’ continues Dr Watson, ‘was made by PF Adams the Surveyor-General, and investigated by JB Donkin. It was proposed that the offtake from the Snowy river should be just below the junction of the Gungahlin River and at a level of about one hundred and eighty feet above the Gap, and from this take-off the water should pass by canal and tunnel across the Gap to Slack’s Creek, a tributary of the Murrumbidgee River and about eleven miles from Cooma. It was estimated that the supply, with a contribution from Crackenback and Eucembene rivers would be about 16,000,000 gallons an hour in the driest seasons. Part of this water would flow down the Murrumbidgee and a part diverted into a canal commencing at the Gap which is the lowest point in the divide between the watersheds of the Murrumbidgee and Snowy rivers.  From the Gap, this subsidiary canal was proposed to pass east to the neighbourhood of Nimmitable, and hence general north to Lake George.’

If these proposals had been adopted there would have been a constant flow of water in the Murrumbidgee River within the Territory, and the level of Lake George would have been maintained.

When Griffin submitted the proposal of a mountain lake as an adjunct to Canberra it met with derision and was classed as an empty dream. It awaits the advent of a statesmen of the moral and intellectual strength of Alfred Deakin, the prince of dreamers, whose ‘eloquence would cast a halo around Hades,’ to ensure its realisation.

The water conservation and distribution system of Victoria is this illustrious Australian’s imperishable monument.

Another Deakin may yet arise to plead as he did for the conservation of every drop of water within a continent two-thirds arid, and in which water is more valuable than land, and that Canberra, destined to be the nation’s pride, should possess a perpetual example, in its mountain lake, to show how water can be prevented from being lost in the ocean.

In my last visit to the site I beheld a wonderful, colourful scintillating sunset, rays of intense light illuminated the Church of St John the Baptist and its God’s acre, where the rest the pioneers of Canberra. Griffin thought it was a bright omen for the future of the City that was to come. ‘For here we have no continuing city, but seek one to come.’

In much less than a generation what a transformation.

In 1915 a picturesque church, a power house, official quarters at Acton, abundance of rabbits, a glorious sunset and now a Garden city, where beauty beams everywhere; where skies are blue and sunshine stimulating; where expression is given to the marked skill of the Australian surveyors, whose achievements are beyond praise; where horticulture triumphs and will triumph more and more; where gardens of the citizens beautifully express in their designs and colours individual civic patriotism and pride of home well worthy of the race from which they have sprung.


Opening of Parliament 1927

Top photograph circa 1946 Provisional Parliament House in distance and above - 1926 Provisional Parliament House on right.  The major changes in 1927 is the addition of roads and gardens.


Australian Archives A1818/1 711/061 Federal Capital Commission - Third Annual Report of the Federal Capital Commission for the period ended 30th June, 1927. Appendix J Report of Royal Visit Section.

To the Secretary, As directed I submit a report upon the activities of the Royal Visit Section in respect of the official opening of Parliament House Canberra, by His Royal Highness the Duke of York, on 9th May, 1927.


The Chief Commissioner [John Butters] set up a group of Committees to deal with the several sub-sections of the arrangements involved, the scope and personal (including officers of Parliament and Commonwealth Departments, with the concurrence of authorities concerned) of which were as follows:-

Parliament House Arrangements-

The Clerk of the Senate (Mr GH Monohan CMG) and Architect of the Commission (Mr HM Rolland, FVIA).

Official Cars

The Assistant Chief Engineer of the Commission (Mr WE Potts MC), and the Industrial Officer of the Commission (Mr J McDowell).

Accommodation -

The Secretary of the Commission (Mr CS Daley), and the Superintendent, Commissariat Department of the Commission (Mr W Farrow).


Reception and Official Luncheon -

The Chief Commissioner, the Secretary, Prime Minister's Department (Mr PE Deane CMG), the Secretary of the Commission (Mr CS Daley), and the Clerk of the Senate (Mr GH Monahan CMG).

Schools -

The Architect of the Commission (Mr HM Rolland FVIA), the Headmaster, Telopea Park School (Mr CL Henry), and Vice-President, Telopea Park P&C and CA (Mr AK Murray).

Stands and Decorations -

The Chief Engineer of the Commission (Colonel PT Owen CBE) and Architect of the Commission (Mr HM Rolland, RFVIA).

Military Arrangements -

Brig-Gen CH Brand, CB, CMG, DSO and the Assistant Chief Engineer of the Commission (Mr WE Potts MC).

Cinematography -

Lt-Col LJ Hurley, Director of Immigration and Mr E P Robinson, Publicity Officer, Department of Markets and Migration.

Parking, Camping, Traffic and Police Arrangements The Commissioner of Police for New South Wales (Mr J Mitchell OBE), the Chief Engineer of the Commission (Col PT Owen CBE), Inspector J McKay, Police Department of New South Wales and the Industrial Officer of the Commission (Mr J McDowell).

Public Entertainment -

Mr J McR Dunn, Mr EA Swane, Mr PT McNamara, and the Social Service Officer of the Commission (Mr JH Honeysett MC).

Medical and Sanitary Arrangements -

Major-Gen GW Barber CB, CMG, DGMS, Department of Defence, the Superintendent of Canberra Hospital,(Dr J James, MB, ChM, FRCS Eng), and the Assistant Chief Engineer of the Commission (Mr WE Potts, MC).

The Committee functioned in an advisory capacity, their recommendations being developed subject to co-ordination by the secretariat of the section. The successive directions of the Chief Commissioner, following his consideration of these recommendations and subject to policy direction from the Royal Visit Cabinet Committee which was sought as occasion required were executed by the Departments of the Commission, which utilized the machinery of the Commission's organization for the purpose, and in some instances, as will be detailed later, by other instrumentalities.

The work of preparation for the official opening of Parliament House (apart from the architectural and engineering constructional work, which formed part of the Commission's 1926-27 programme, which was accelerated to ensure the completion of Parliament House and accessory works in time to enable the official opening of the House on the date fixed by the Government, namely the 9th May, 1927), occupied many months, and entailed a pressure upon the committees and the Commission's Departments which became extremely heavy as the date of the opening approached. Much difficulty was experienced in determining the extent of provision which would be required for the public owing to the uncertainty which prevailed as to the extent to which the opportunity to visit Canberra would be utilized…

A list of moneys approved in December 1926 for the visit is detailed. The total 46,881 pounds and 9 shillings and 4 pence. This amount included 6,819 pounds 6 shillings and 10 pence for Stands, Special Fittings, Parliament House and Decorations. Another 487 pounds 18 shillings was spent on special lighting of parliament house for cinematography.  Detailed reports from each committee are also in this document. Not mentioned is the burial of the pies (too many baked and not enough visitors to buy and eat them. The burial site is somewhere near the Provisional Parliament House.) Not mentioned either is the death of the young pilot who crashed into the hill in front of the Provisional Parliament House on 9th May. His name is Francis Charles Ewen. He is buried at St John the Baptist Church Cemetery in Reid ACT. He was born in Kamo New Zealand, son of Francis & Lilian Ewen. (St John's Churchyard… Jean Salisbury). James McRae Dunn who was a committee man has two children buried at St John's. The first to die was James who was one day old when he died 1st October 1920. His parents (James Hector McRae Dunn and Mary Fulton Dunn) lived in one of the cottages near the Power House. I have been told that it was one of four galvanised iron cottages erected behind the Power House. The second child, a daughter, named Mary Helen died 10th March 1929 aged 10 months.

Royal Visit May 1927

The Canberra Times 11 May 1927






CANBERRA, Tuesday:- The good fortune in regard to weather conditions during the visit of the Duke and Duchess of York to Canberra has continued. The conditions on Monday night were threatening and rain was expected this morning. However, though it was cold and foggy in the early hours a beautifully fine and calm day followed.  Towards evening the clouds rolled up, and a change is now expected shortly. Heavy rain during the celebrations would have been serious for those visitors who had to live under canvas.

When the Duke and Duchess left Government House they were greeted by the 200 Boy Scouts who were chosen from the States to come to Canberra for the inauguration ceremony.  Their welcome was unexpected but the Duke ordered the car to stop and he and the Duchess posed for a photograph. It seemed that nearly every scout had a camera.

Eager as visitors were to reach Canberra for the ceremony of the opening of Parliament House they are now apparently more eager to leave. The camps and hostels are alike being abandoned, and a very small proportion of the temporary population is left to-night.  The great majority left early in the morning, some almost at day break.   By 9 o’clock the most notable feature of the road traffic was the number of laden cares on which luggage of every description was trapped. The visitors had seen the most interesting function and the minor events of to-day had not sufficient interest to keep them in the city.  Of the hostels where the official visitors were lodged during their stay, fleets of cars were drawn up immediately after breakfast, and the favoured ones in travelling garb were saying farewells to one another before the entrances. Many intended leaving by road for Sydney and Melbourne but others decided to wait for their first convenient trains at Yass and other places. In the departure of nearly all the capers lacked the comforts and dignity of that of the official guests, it was certainly more interesting and entertaining. The camps were astir early, and in spite of the cold their inhabitants more or less dressed, began dismantling tents.

A large number of the unofficial visitors had come by road and brought their own tents, which they folded and attached to their cars. The cooking utensils were left until last, and long lines of amateur cooks were to be seen preparing breakfast, generally in frying pans over the community fires. The meat was eaten around the frying pan, and newspapers were spread on the ground, on which the parties sat in spite of the inconvenience and discomfort which would not have been tolerated for a moment in their own homes.  Everyone seemed happy and contented.  How easily conventions can be shed in such circumstances was shown by the unstudied and domestic costumes of the women. Probably the fact that they were all more or less in costume resulted in the general disregard for appearances. Immediately after breakfast the packing was complete, and the baggage was fastened to the cars, which moved off for high roads looking like caravans.

Some Attend Reception

Not all of them left at once, however, many of them determined to pay their respects to the Duke and Duchess of York at the public reception and the laden cars were parked as closely to Parliament House as the vigilant police would permit.  After filing before their Royal Highnesses the former campers returned to the cars and drove away.

The last day of the Royal visit was uneventful. After the function yesterday the programme for to-day was of comparative minor importance. Their Royal Highnesses held a public reception at Parliament House this morning at which there was a fair attendance. Many of the campers had packed their tents on their motor cars but waited for the final ceremony before leaving.

This morning the Royal party inspected portion of the city and the Duchess planted trees to commemorate the visit. Their Royal Highnesses left Canberra by train at 9 o’clock to-night.

After the public reception Parliament House was thrown open for inspection by the public and people were permitted to wander freely over the building. A great many historic relics and documents were displayed in cases in King’s Hall, and these were a great centre of attraction. Owing to the great distance to be covered and the fact that there are no transport facilities in Canberra, there was a very small public attendance at the places of interest visited by the Royal party to-day.

This afternoon the camp sites were an unpleasant spectacle. There are still a few tents standing whose occupants will be leaving to-morrow, but between these are the well defined marks of those that have been removed. The amount of litter, for which there was no means of disposal, was enormous.  The ground is thickly covered with newspapers, tins, bottles, especially bottles, and all the rubbish of three or four days of al fresco(?) housekeeping. Among this the workmen employed by the Federal Capital commission are busy. They are collecting the rubbish and destroying all that will burn by fire.  The remainder will be removed and buried.  It is worthy of placing on record that as far as the camps were concerned there was no unpleasant incident to report. Anyone with dishonest intentions might have reaped a rich harvest, but there was not one instance of pilfering or loss in spite of the fact that for the greater part of each day nearly all the tents were deserted and practically unguarded.  There was an officer of the Commission on duty but he could not possibly have known who had right of access to individual tents. Neither was there any disorder among the 400 or 500 occupants of the camp. Many of the campers mingled  freely with those in neighbouring tents and helped each other in the difficulties which arose. At night it was not uncommon to see a dozen of 20 young people dancing on the none too smooth grounds of the hillside to music supplied by portable gramophones. By this time to-morrow there will probably be not one camper left. In the morning the last ‘will fold up their tents like the Arabs and silently steal away.’

Telegraph Office Busy

One of the interesting features of the Royal visit has been the tremendous amount of work imposed on the telegraph office.  The work of transmitting the reports of proceedings to the Australian and overseas newspapers yesterday devolved on the special staff of 13 operators and a supervisor.  The Postmaster-General (Mr Gibson) said on Sunday that it was estimated that 100,000 words would be transmitted.  Actually 177,000 words were lodged and the unexpect4ed number cause a considerable amount of congestion. It was not until 20 minutes to 2 o’clock this morning that the transmission was completed. This is said to be by far the heaviest day’s work of the kind ever carried out in Australia.

Although on the surface arrangements for the visit of the Duke and Duchess to Canberra have run smoothly a considerable amount of irritation has been caused by the frequent and unexpected alterations to programmes, and the difficulty in obtaining authoritative information from any official on any matter. Notifications of drastic alterations were in some cases made at midnight for the following day, and these caused endless confusion.  Then there were the cases in which, after the altered arrangements were provided it was decided to adhere to the original plans at the last moment. The contradictory notices which have been circulated indicate everything but a united control, and conflicting orders at times came from four directions. Even allowing for the difficulties experienced by the authorities, the Royal visit was not well managed.

Attendance at Opening Ceremony

It has been estimated by the Chairman of the Federal Capital Commission, (Sir John Butters) that the total attendance of visitors and residents to the opening ceremony on Monday was 25,000.  This does not include visitors from the surrounding districts who came by motor coaches and cars especially for the ceremony, arriving early in the morning and returning after the review of troops by the Duke.


King’s Reply to Lord Stonehaven

His Excellency the Governor-General has received the following message from the King in reply to his cabled report of the opening of the Federal Parliament House by the Duke of York:-

‘I hasten to thank you for your message detailing the various events of to-day’s ceremony establishing the seat of government at Canberra, when Parliament met  there for the first time. I rejoice to thing that my son represented me at the inauguration of this further landmark in the political history of the Commonwealth. I am proud to know that you find the immortal spirit of the Anzacs animating this fresh and invigorating impulse in the national life, and it is reassuring that the people of Australia, strong in their loyalty and devotion to the Throne, confidently look forward to a new era of development and well-being. (Signed) George RI.’




CANBERRA, Tuesday.- Twelve hundred residents and visitors to Canberra including picturesque old pioneers of the district filed past their Royal Highnesses before the steps of Parliament House this morning. The Duke and Duchess joined with the crown in laughter over several amusing incidents, while the brilliant sunshine encouraged amateur photographers to an extent that added frequently to the merriment of a happy ceremony.

Inside Parliament House was a crowd of visitors, while beyond the barriers were many who preferred an uninterrupted view of their Royal Highnesses to the privilege of passing review before them. These gave a tumultuous welcome to the Duke and Duchess on their arrival. A call for cheers for the duchess and the baby Princess being enthusiastically responded to.

An extraordinary incident occurred on the Royal arrival at Parliament House steps. The Prime Minister and Mrs Bruce descended the carpeted steps to welcome them, and they were joined by a stranger of distinguished appearance who stepped forward just at the right moment to greet the Duchess whom he shook warmly by the hand.  Mr Bruce seemed astonished but the stranger appeared quite self-possessed and followed by their Royal Highnesses into Kings Hall, where he was lost in the crowd.  Inquiries in official circles showed that the identity of the stranger was a complete mystery. Mr Bruce replied to inquiries by stating that he had no the faintest idea who he was.

Further outbursts of cheering greeted their Royal Highnesses on their appearance on the terrace. On the steps they received the people as they passed slowly before them. Pride of place was given to 30  pioneers led by a veteran aged 96 years who all his life in what is now the Federal Territory. For each of the old people the Duke had a salute and the Duchess a smiling recognition of their greetings.

‘A safe return to both of you. God bless you,’ cried one old woman as she stepped before the steps and waved a little flat.’  The pioneers were followed by 40 small girls in the white and scarlet uniforms of the Telopea Junior Red Cross.  Then came the people of Canberra and the visitors to the Capital City. They took their time in passing, stopping frequently to display their children up with remarkable persistence to snapshot their Royal Highnesses.  To protect the Duchess from the heat of the sun, Mrs Bruce stepped forward with a parasol and held it so that Her Royal Highness’s face was in the shadow, to the disappointment of many young people with cameras, who then manoeuvred excitedly along the barriers to dodge the shadows from the parasol.  Young members of the district branch of the Ancient Order of Foresters added a brave show of green and gold to the line. Then came the first hearty outburst of appreciative laughter in which the  Duke and Duchess joined when one of the Canberra officials marched proudly along bearing his baby twins in long clothes,  one on each arm.  He stopped gravely before their Royal Highnesses and as gracefully as he could in the circumstances, b owed. Then amid a road of delighted applause he passed out of the scene.

‘King Billy’ Saluted.

Soon after there was another humorous incident when an ancient aborigine who calls himself Kin g Billy and who claims sovereign rights to the Federal Territory walked slowly forward alone, and saluted the Duke and Duchess. They cheerily acknowledge his greeting. The old aborigine with his long matted beard and nondescript clothing is a popular identity of Canberra and must be one of the most extraordinary figures who has received a Royal salute.  After the crowd had passed the Duke and Duchess went inside to the Senate clubroom where Mr Bruce introduced the Federal Members and their wives at an informal reception.

The Duchess then returned with lady Cavan to Government House, and the Duke went with Major Nugent to Duntroon Military College.




Second Royal Patron Appointed

CANBERRA, Tuesday.- In the luncheon room at Parliament House late this afternoon the last of the Duke’s official engagements took place. His Royal Highness was entertained at afternoon tea by the Federal executive and the Federal capital branch of the Returned Sailors’ and Soldiers’ Imperial League. The function was of an informal nature.

A crowd of several hundred congregated in front of Parliament House to witness the Duke’s arrival, and there was general disappointment when it was seen that the Duchess was not with him. His Royal Highness had insisted on the Duchess returning to Government House, in view of the night journey ahead of them, although she wished to attend the function.

The Duke, who was accompanied by the Earl of Cavan, was received by the acting Federal president of the league (Mr Turnbull?) and the president of the Federal Capital branch (Mr AE Jackson) and other members of the Federal executive. There was a distinguished gathering present  including the Prime Minister (Mr Bruce) and Mrs Bruce, the president of the Senate (Sir John Littleton Groom) and Lady Groom, the Minister for Home and Territories (Mr Marr) and Mrs Marr, the chairman of the Federal Capital Commission (Sir John Butters) and Lady Butters, Lieut-General Sir John Monash, Sir John Gellibrand, Brigadier-General Brand, Sir Brudenell White, Rear-Admiral Napier and Mrs Napier, the leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives (Mr Charlton) and Mrs Charlton, Mr WM Hughes MHR and Dame Mary Hughes, Senator and Mrs Needham, Mrs EJ Turnbull, Mrs AE Jackson, Mr and Mrs EJ Diladin(?), Dr Lofuts Hills and Mrs Hills, Mr and Mrs S Newton, Mr and Mrs R Rowe, Mr and Mrs WL Cottingham, Mr F Davison, Mr LC Elliott, Mr WFJ McCann, and Mrs FHB Creswell(?) (south Africa). The Governor-General (Lord Stonehaven) arrived some time after the function had begun.

Mr Turnbull, who presided extended on behalf of the league a cordial and heartfelt welcome to His Royal Highness. It was peculiarly appropriate that the league should extend a welcome to His Royal Highness because it felt that it was engaged wot work similar to the great mission that he was performing in binding together of the links of Empire.

‘A Common Heritage’

‘We, as an organisation,’ said Mr Turnbull, ‘feel that we have a common heritage, a common bone and a common task which is to endeavour to perpetuate in the civil life of the country the spirit for which we fought in the Great War, and for which 80,000 paid the supreme sacrifice.’

Mr Turnbull expressed on behalf of the returned soldiers of Australia their appreciation of the wonderful hospitality that had been extended to them in Britain. (Applause). His Royal Highness, he said, had already seen a practical expression of the ideal of the organisation in the Anzac Day service witnessed in Melbourne. They would like him to convey to His Majesty the King and assurance that whatever might be said of the Australian returned soldier, he would never be found among the impractical, the indolent, or the disloyal. (Applause) One heard much about the complete autonomy of the Dominions.  Their greatest desire was to remain above everything else, British, and they would like His Royal Highness to assure the King of those sentiments.

Spirit of the League

In an eloquent speech, Sir John Monash, said that he was not speaking that day in any representative capacity, except as representative of very many returned men who had served under him in France. Being more or less independent he thought he might say a few words about the league itself. His Royal Highness had had opportunities in various capitals of seeing reunions of returned men, and particularly that wonderful demonstration in Melbourne a week or two ago. He would like to say that the spirit behind these demonstrations was fostered entirely by the members of the league. No credit was too high to give that organisation for the work it had done in keeping alive the spirit of the Australian Imperial Forces. He could say that without any hesitation because the league had been carried on by the junior(?) members of the Australian army regimental officers, non commissioned officers and privates. Although the senior officers were always willing to co-operate and had given all the help they could, it remained true that the prosperity of the league was in the hands of the rank and file. That circumstances confirmed what he had always said, ‘Put the wish to the Australian soldier to do something, and he gets there.’

He concluded by wishing their Royal Highnesses a happy and safe return.

Presentation to Duke.

Mr Turnbull on behalf of the league then presented His Royal Highness with a gold badge of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers’ Imperial league and a copy of Dr Loftus Hill’s ‘History of the league.’  He also handed to the Duke a jewel casket constructed of figured maple with a blackwood edge and inlaid with ebony, for presentation to the Duchess. He said that he wished to express their appreciation to the honour His Royal Highness had conferred upon them in consenting to become the second patron of the league, of which his brother, the Prince of Wales, was the first patron.  The casket he said was made of Australian woods in an Australian factory, by Australian workmen.

His Royal Highness Replies

‘On behalf of the Duchess and myself,’ said the Duke in reply, ‘I thank you for the very warm welcome which you have given us here this afternoon. I am very glad to have this opportunity of meeting the Federal executive of the Returned Sailors and Soldiers; Imperial League of Australia. I thank you also, Mr Present, for having given me this badge as second patron of the league. I am very proud to hold that position. Since I have been in Australia, in all the various cities I have visited, i have seen a great number of ex-servicemen and women. I know what your organisation has done and is doing, and I am sure, if the Empire should get into difficulties that your organisation as a body would come to its aid. I should like to say that when we were in Victoria visiting Bendigo, Ballarat and Geelong we were greatly impressed with the way in which those who made the supreme sacrifice were honoured in such a wonderful manner. On my way up here, when we stopped at Albury, I was greatly struck by the wonderful  monument on stop of the hill, which at night was lit up against the sky. I think that it is a very fine memorial. It certainly shows the way the Returned Soldiers’ League is pointing onward.  In conclusion, I would like to thank you again for the welcome you have given me here this afternoon, and to wish the Federal executive in Melbourne and also the branches of the league in the different States the best of luck and success in the future. (Prolonged applause)

The crown which had waited outside the building heartily cheered the Duke as he drove off to Government House.

RS&SILA - Duntroon Colours & Chess Match May 1927



Returned Soldiers’ Conference

CANBERRA, Tuesday. -  Canberra’s night climate is not comparable to Tasmania’s said Sir John Gellibrand, MHR, speaking at a luncheon to-day. He added that it would be necessary to go to the top of Mount Wellington, Hobart, to approach Canberra’s climate.

Brig-General Brand, who had been elected vice-patron of the branch, was also a guest of honour, and he said that he did not expect that Defence headquarters would be moved to Canberra for two years. He understood that the Postal Department would be transferred last and the Defence department second last.

The president of the Federal Territory branch (Mr AJ Jackson) presided.

At the conference to-day the acting Federal president (Mr E Turnbull) presided and there were present Mesrs JT Ford(Q), LC Elliott (NSW), NS Osborne (V), WFJ McCann (SA), LE Tilney (WAO, Sir John Gellibrand (T) and R Rowe (Federal Territory).

The following was the most important resolution passed:-

The League is concerned with the apathy of the Federal Ministry in the matte of defence and, believing that the surest way to preserve peace in the Commonwealth is to make adequate provision for its protection, deplores the want of any continuity of policy and lack of support afforded the inspector-general of military forces as evidenced by the continued cutting down of the Defence estimates.

The following resolutions were also passed:-

That all concessions now granted to Australian returned soldiers should be made to supply to all former Imperial soldier settlers.

That the Federal executive approach to Federal Ministry and ask it to make a grant to the States to be allocated solely for the purpose of liquidating the arrears of individual soldier settlers.

That the executive consider the erection of a memorial at Canberra in recognition of the sacrifices of women in the Great War.

It was agreed also that an effort should be made to have Anzac Day included in all arbitration awards as a statutory holiday.


Criticism of Federal Officials

SYDNEY, Tuesday. – Members of the State Parliament who attended the Canberra ceremonies expressed indignation to-day at the treatment that had been meted out to them by the Federal authorities during their visit to the Federal Capital.  Generally they asserted that it was with the greatest difficulty that they could even obtain admittance to the Federal Parliament House after the close of ceremonies.

Members pointed out that they were to have returned to Sydney by train to leave Canberra on Monday night at 7 o’clock but the train did not get away will well towards midnight. The reason for the delay was that a number of Federal members had attended a reception which had been held at night. No official invitations it seems had been issued to State members to attend this gathering but a verbal invitation was given during the afternoon by a member of the Federal Cabinet. However, this action on the part of the Federal authorities was regarded as an insult by the majority of State members who decided to stand on their dignity and not attend the night function, the invitation to which, they asserted had only been given to them secondhand.




CANBERRA, Tuesday.- With impressive military ceremonial the Duke of York presented King’s and regimental colours to the corps of staff cadets at the Royal Military College Duntroon, this afternoon. After the reception at Federal Parliament House the Duke of York motored to Duntroon where he was received by a guard of honour consisting of a corps of staff cadets.  His Royal Highness then had lunch with the Commandant (Co FB Heritage). When he arrived at the parade ground in the afternoon, a large crowd had assembled to view the ceremony.  The corps of staff cadets was formed up on parade as a battalion in line, and the Duke of York was received with a Royal salute. Following an inspection of the battalion by the Duke, the new colours were brought up and placed on poled drums opposite the saluting base and were uncased(?)> Standing before the drums the acting Primate and Chaplain General of the military forces (Archbishop Riley) conducted the consecration service assisted by Chaplain FG Ward. Following the consecration service the Duke presented the colours.

The King’s colour was handed by Captain AW Wardell to the Duke. He in turn handed it to Battalion Sergeant Major IHK Chauvel. The regimental colours were handed by Captain PE MacGillicuddy to the Duke from whom they were received by Company Sergeant-Major JW Fletcher. The colours were received by these men on bended knees.

Duke’s Tribute to Duntroon

The Duke then addressed the parade. He said:- ‘The Commandant, officers and staff cadets of the Royal Military College of Australia, it gives me much pleasure to see you on parade, and to present colours to the corps of staff cadets. The presentation of colours in an impressive and historic event in our military life, both to the old and young soldier. The ceremony awakens memories of the past and arouses aspirations for the future.  For in a regiment the colours are its record of glories won, and the incentive to emulate for all time those glories.  The act of consecration invests them with special significance for they are then no longer mere tanners, but sacred emblems reminding those to whom they are entrusted of their duty to their King, their country and to themselves. Your colours are not inscribed with the name of victorious campaigns but they bear a motto reminding you that learning is a source of strength. Moreover they are heirlooms of this great institution with in whose walls many distinguished Australian soldiers have received their first training.  In entrusting these colours to your care, I enjoin you to look up to them, honour them, and by your conduct had them on unsullied to those who come after you.’

In reply, the Commandant (Colonel Heritage) said:- ‘On behalf of the officers and staff cadets of the college, I desire to thank you for the signal honour you have conferred on this college by performing this ceremony this afternoon.  That your Royal Highness should have presented these colours on our parade grounds is an honour which we shall always remember, and for which we especially thank you. By presenting these colours, you will encourage present and future generations of cadets to regard this even more highly.’

The colours were given a general salute, and then the battalion marched past the Duke of York.  It then advanced in review order and gave a Royal salute. The fine physique of the cadets, their soldierly bearing and their faultless military movements greatly impressed the onlookers.

Forming up again in front of the saluting base, the cadets then removed their hats and gave three cheers for the Duke. They then filed past him, and he shook hands with each cadet in turn. While he was doing so the Duchess of York arrived at the parade ground unexpectedly, and was given an enthusiastic welcome.

Before leaving the college the Duke made a brief inspection of the quarters of the cadets.


Parliamentarian’ Match

Disappointing Result


Such a galaxy of talent has never contested the opening of a chess match with such small results as that which took part in the match played by beam wireless arranged by Senator Thomas of Australia between a team at Canberra and a team from the British House of Commons. There were six boards, and the Duke of York replied to the first move at the second board. The House of Commons team included Sir John Simon, formerly Attorney-General and later Home Secretary, who sacrificed two days of court work to play.

The English players spent four hours chiefly in waiting moves from Australia. The beam was working excellently, but the Melbourne-Canberra land line was erratic.  The committee-room was crowded when the Prime Minister (Mr Baldwin) who had a black and white bulldog as a mascot, played the first move at the second board. A little later the Duke of York’s move was received with loud cheers. Play then began in earnest, but if Australia wishes to justify the experiment she must speed up the Melbourne-Canberra land line before play is continued tomorrow.

(By Beam Wireless)

Progress in the beam wireless chess was disappointingly slow, and instead of the series being half through only six moves were made in four hours.  The House of Commons team at 7 o’clock sent a message asking Canberra to continue and a reply was not received until an hour later. Progress was so slow that another day’s play would mean that Australians would not begin at midnight. The House of Commons team, therefore suggested the abandonment of the match as a draw.

St Christopher's School Concert 1947

Above Top  photograph - Good Samaritan Nuns after Mass Acton Hall before St Christopher's School opened in 1927 (see above) where Mass was held until St Christopher's Cathedreeal was built. 


The Canberra Times 23 April  1947


Simplicity and charm and the freshness of youth combined to make the concert, presented by the pupils of the Good Samaritan Convent Forrest, at the Albert Hall last night, one of the best entertainments staged in Canberra since pre-war years.

It had all the ingredients of a professional first nighter, an air of hushed expectancy before the first curtain, a distinguished gathering of diplomats, brilliant costuming and a capacity house of 900.

The concert was a surprise. The young artists put a spontaneous warmth into the bleak Albert Hall, which has rarely been captured by the great and near great in the 20 years of its existence.

The costuming was an object lesson to Canberra producers.  Brilliant colours were merged with subdued ones and added a touch of beauty to almost every item.

Dressed in white a choir of young girls opened the proceedings.  With a trace of nervousness they sang, ‘Bonjour Suson’ but quickly adapted themselves to the lilting ‘Shepherd’s Dance’ by German. Their diction was good and they sang with gaiety.

‘Alice Blue Gown,’ a sympathy in blue was performed by youngsters, who immediately won the audience with their sweet voices and demure mannerisms. Dressed in blue and carrying bouquets they sang the haunting refrain while they danced.

Vocal items were given by a new soprano Miss Joan Ham, who took the highest notes with an easy grace. Her best was ‘ The Fairy Tales of Ireland..

More than 100 girls aged from eight to 14 took part in the ‘Pageant of the Seasons.’ Again the costuming was colourful. The girls depicting ‘Winter’ glided to the stage to the strains of ‘The Skaters’ Waltz,’ while the ‘Spring’ and ‘summer’ sets were also delightful.  Miss H O’Malley and Miss J Hammond were soloists in these items.

Miss Mary Watson gave a pleasant rendition of ‘Trees’ in ‘Autumn’ but the selection of such an old chestnut could have been superseded by something a little more off the beaten track. ‘Trees’ has been the annual fixture on every school concert since schools were opened in Canberra. It must be making a fortune in royalties for the descendents of the composer.

The second half of the programme was taken up with the playette. ‘The Princess and the Woodcutter’ and the Chinese operetta, ‘Princess Ju Ju.’

The children in some classes revealed glimpses of unsuspected acting ability. Hours of practice must have been spent to obtain such credible results.

Parts were taken in ‘The Princess and the Woodcutter’ by Rita Reilly, Judith Dando, Margaret Patterson, Patricia Nicholson, Margaret Kelly, Pam Hartigan, Toni Byrne, Shirley Scott, H Sykes, J Wright, M Briggs and Marcia Burns.

Children who performed in ‘Princess Ju Ju’ were Barbara Kinnane, Margaret Gourley, Ruth Watson, Margaret Reilly, Mary Pini, Monica McDermott, Joy Burrows, Kathryn Butler, Maureen Brophy, Sybil Kilmartin, Evelyn McGrath, Julie Forner, Dorothy Brophy, Shirley Goggan.

On the whole, few faults could be found with the production for an opening night. A repeat performance would be fitting, but in such a case a streamlining of the intermissions between the sets would provide even better entertainment.



Westlake Hall 1925-1950s

The Westlake Hall (above 1938)

All the major camps and settlements were provided with a Hall.  The halls erected by the government were moved from site to site by steam driver traction engines. 

At Westlake (now Stirling Park, Yarralumla and Capitol Hill) each of the camps and settlements as was the norm,  had their own halls. 

The only private settlement at Westlake was erected by Contractor John Howie in 1922.  He built separate halls – one for his married men and another for his single men who lived in the nearby Hostel Camp. The sites of both can still clearly be seen on  Block 3, Section 128 Stirling Park Yarralumla opposite modern Lotus Bay. The last of the Hostel cubicles were removed around 1929 and the last of the cottages around 1930/31.

The exact site of the Mess used by the Tradesmen (1924-1917) in their camp in the area of Block 3, Section 128 Stirling Park, Yarralumla is not as clearly marked. The sites of the ablution blocks on the other hand are in the of Block 3, Section 128 Stirling Park Yarralumla below the area of the Singapore High Commission in Forster Crescent Yarralumla.   

The area where No 1 Labourers’ Camp Capitol Hill 91923-1927), Westlake stood is now covered by the developed areas of the hill.  One of their rubbish dumps, however, has survived below a walking path that begins near Scrivener’s Plan Room.

The site of No 3 Sewer Camp Mess, which Following the departure of the camp in May 1925 was converted into a settlement hall for the people who lived in the Westlake cottages, first known as GAP COTTAGES (erected 1924) is marked in the area of the Gap (Block 22, Stirling Park, Yarralumla). 

I was aware that this hall was renovated and enlarged around 1930, but not the full details. The National Library of Australia on-line newspaper articles have revealed further information about the transformation of the old mess into a larger hall.

Up until the Mess became available in 1924 the people of Westlake used the cottage 29 Westlake as a temporary meeting place. (First tenant of 29 Westlake was Gates and second and last – George Sykes – the site of this cottage is the area where one of our two Westlake plaques has been erected.)

Following are some of the newspaper articles referring to the Westlake Hall which was the centre of community activities that included eg Play centre; church; children’s Christmas parties; Engagement parties, farewell’s, euchre parties; dances, gymnasium etc.

The Canberra Times 24 June 1930




Cr Rowe was further informed that a building from the Red Hill camp could be made available for use as a public hall at Westlake, and if the removal and construction were undertaken by voluntary labour, the suggested replacement of the existing hall might be considered...

[In the same article was a reference to the ] ODOURS FROM THE SEWER

Cr Rowe asked the chairman whether immediate action could be taken ‘to remove the cause of the offensive odours emanating from the main sewer vent at Westlake.  The chairman: There has been no complaint during the four years that the sewer has been in use. Reports fail to indicate the presence of any unusual and offensive odour...[the article continues with the opposite view being states and even today when one walks on Stirling Ridge Yarralumla (site of the heritage vent) it is possible to find it by following the stench.]

The Canberra Times 4 September 1930


New Westlake Hall

Among useful works being carried out this week by the Unemployment Relief Committee is that of the demolition of Westlake Hall, which is in a very dilapidated condition. It will be replaced by a mess room from Eastlake. This mess room served its purpose during the development stage of Canberra and it no longer required at Eastlake. The Committee is also engaging men in regrading  the hockey ground at Reid.


The Canberra Times 22 October 1930


Westlake Hall

The new Westlake Hall was officially opened on Saturday evening last. Messrs TM Shakespeare and R Rowe spoke briefly on the need for developing a community spirit and dancing followed.

The entertainment was in aid of the Canberra Relief Fund. During the evening novelty dances were held and interest was very keen.

The unemployment relief fund will benefit approximately by 12 pounds and it is the intention to hold another dance in aid of the cause.



The Canberra Times 12 March 1936


(United Ancient Order of Druids)

The Federal Start Lodge No557 UAOD was founded on October 24 1925 at the Westlake Hall. The lodge was opened by a delegation of Grand Lodge officers from Sydney, led by the Grand President Bro W Harris and the late Grand Secretary Bro RA Harry.

There were 25 new candidates initiated on the opening night, and the first office bearers to be elected and installed were: Arch Druid, Bro HE Giles; Vice-Arch Druid, Bro A Lambert; Secretary, Bro P Turnell; Treasurer, Bro W Hannard; Bards, Bros, A King and J Jenkins; Guardians, Bros Purday and Rooney.

The lodge prospered during the boom years of the territory and transferred its place of meetings to the Friendly Societies Hall, Kingston. [This hall was formerly one of the Engineers Mess buildings opposite the Power House.  Today it is the Scout Hall in Hovea Street O’Connor.]

Despite the inroads of the depression the lodge has picked up during the last four years and now has a membership of 60.

Members have helped to keep the lodge in its satisfactory position are P/A Bro Lambert, P/A Bro J Hawins, P/A Bro CL Sutton, P/A Bro HE Young, P/A Bro C Jeanette, P/A Bro R Booth and P/A Bro WL Cottingham.

The present officers are: Arch Druid, CL Sutton, PDPPA, Vice Arch Druid, Bro C Sullivan, Bards Bros E Chipperfield, H Hawke, N Southwell, A Sellis, Treasurer, Bro JF Hawkins PDPPA, Secretary Bro WE Cottingham PDPPA, Assistant Secretary Bro J Blackstone; Guardians, Bros T Robbie and A Lambert PDPPA.  District President is Bro C Jeanette.

The Canberra Times 16 December 1926



Father Christmas will be busy in various districts of Canberra during the next few days when Christmas trees are being provided by the courtesy of the acting superintendent of parks and gardens to provide the children with treats,  Busy committees are engaged in preparations for the days when the trees will be decked with gifts in the various centres. The first trees will be seen in St Paul’s Hall [opposite the Power House – tin walled church], Eastlake today, and others will be seen at Acton on December 20, Westridge, December 21; Westlake, Riverbourne [opposite Harman on Molonglo River] and again at Eastlake on December 24.

[Parents began collecting money some time before the Christmas parties and each child received a gift.]

The Canberra Times 25 December 1928


The Westlake sub-branch of the Returned Soldiers’ League tendered a most successful Christmas tree to 120 children of the district at the Westlake Hall on Friday night.

Father Christmas (Mr JL Tootell) was permanently surrounded by 120 happy children all anxious to receive a toy from his hands. The Christmas tree tastefully decorated with toys, sweets and novelties, presented a cheerful appearance and next to Santa Claus was the chief attraction.

The success of the function was due largely to the endeavours and support of Mesdames, Samuels, Edward and Green and Messrs Snow, Grant, T Symens, S Barbour and G Bryant and the sub-branch secretary Mr V Samuels.


Canberra Times 27 December 1945


On Friday night nearly 80 children attended the Westlake hall when ‘Father Christmas’ arrived and presented them with toys from a Christmas tree.  During the evening the children played impromptu games and received sweets, ice-cream and fruit, while parents were also entertained to supper later.

The evening was made possible by the financial assistance given by the residents of Westlake and by the work of voluntary helpers, Mesdames, McKissock, McFadzen, Austen (sic Austin) Walters and Messrs Austen (sic Austin) Hawke and Summerfield.   (My father, Leonard Austin was Santa – a fact that I didn’t know until a few years ago.)

 The Canberra Times 25 November 1948


Issue on Saturday

New tea and butter ration cards will be issued in the ACT on Saturday. Ration cards at present being used must be handed in before new cards will be issued.

Distribution centres in the ACT are Acton Hall, Ainslie Public School, City Electoral Office, Duntroon Barber Shop, Hall Public School, Jervis Bay Public School, Friendly Societies Hall Kingston, Mrs Birkett’s residence at Molonglo9, Mr EJ Oldfield’s residence at Naas, Mrs Geery’s residence at Oaks Estate, Telopea Park Public School,  Tharwa Public School, Westlake Hall and Westridge Hall.

CANBERRA WAS 'DRY' 1911-1928

The sale of alcohol in the FCT was banned by King O'Malley in 1911 and voted back in by the locals in 1928. Following are a few articles that tell part of the tale.

Queanbeyan Canberra Advocate 15 July 1926


There was keen debate last week in the House of Representatives on the motion of Sir Elliot Johnson to disagree with that portion of the report of the Joint House Committee which advocates the retention of the refreshment bar for Federal Parliament House at Canberra.

Sir Eilliot Johnson said: It will be seen from the motion that I am raising no other question except that relating to the bar at Federal Parliament House, because I do not want to confuse the issue in any way. We have already established a dry area at Canberra by ordinance under the authority of the Seat of Government Administration Act. That ordinance has the force of law, and has operated satisfactorily for the past 15½ years, and I am satisfied to leave it at that. Everybody recognizes that in respect of sobriety the Commonwealth Parliament compares favourably with the other parliaments of the world. For nearly a quarter of a century I have enjoyed the privilege of being a member of this House and during that time few cases of over-indulgence in intoxicants have come under my notice. 

I was principally responsible for the selection of the Yass-Canberra area for the Federal Capital Territory, notwithstanding the misleading statements that have been made regarding the fathering of Canberra by pressmen and others; and one of the reasons that guided me in selecting that area, apart from its salubrious climate and altitude, its health-giving and invigorating atmosphere, and its abundant supply of water, was the unique advantage of no public house being within the territory. 

We have a fine opportunity to keep the Federal Capital free from the drink traffic, that has done so much to bring ruin, desolation, poverty, disease and death to countless homes. It has been asserted that, notwithstanding the existence of this ordinance, Canberra to-day is not a dry area.  It has also been asserted that motor cars are employed to bring liquor from Queanbeyan to the Federal Territory for local consumption, that a special service of buses is running to take workmen from Canberra to Queanbeyan, and that in consequence that town is converted into a veritable saturnalia every week-end. Those statements may or may not, be true; I have not visited Queanbeyan at week-ends, so am not in a position to verify them. But those statements do not constitute  an argument why we should do the same thing with Canberra.

I have been told that there are four hotels in Queanbeyan and in them something like £1,200 is expended on liquor every Saturday. If that is so, I would sooner see that sum spent in Queanbeyan than in any part of the Federal Capital Territory, if it is so spent. That a vice may exist in Queanbeyan is no reason for providing facilities for the same vice at Canberra.  If liquor is illegally sold at Canberra as alleged it implies there is a laxity of supervision by the administration. If the assertions are true that an abundance of liquor is imported and sold in the Federal Capital area, and over-indulgence is just as rife there as anywhere else, then those responsible  for the administration of the ordinance would seem to be lacking in their duty to the community. One significant fact to which we cannot shut our eyes is that alcohol wakens our power of self control. That is well expressed in the adage, ‘When the wine is in, the wit is out.’

It also destroys our self-respect, mars our sense of responsibility, and blunts our moral and ethical outlook. One of the greatest captains of industry, Henry Ford, has realized that, for he does not encourage his employees to take alcoholic stimulants. When he was preparing to erect works near Geelong, one of the fist things he did was to purchase a large area of land on which stood the only hotel in the vicinity. Having acquired that hotel, and all the land suitable for the erection of other hotels near his works, he promptly closed it. That action indicates what he thinks to the effect of alcohol on the productivity, responsibility and efficiency of his workmen.  There can be no doubt that alcohol whatever else it may or may not do, does not add to the efficiency of individuals who have recourse to it.

At Canberra where the drink traffic has not yet raised its ugly, destructive, mischievous, death dealing, and disease-disseminating head, we have an opportunity to keep it out, no matter how many other areas there may where it rears its ugly heady unashamed and works havoc among the community.  Let us not be responsible for introducing the use of alcoholic beverages into that area, but let us make Canberra a healthy, clean, bright and wholesome place for the rearing of the children of the present and the future generations.

Let us see that children are not reared under the conditions prevailing in other countries which have suffered from the terrible scourge, drink.  We have the opportunity now to keep the Capital Territory dry, and future generations will curse us if we do not take full advantage of it.

The question, however, happily does no arise on my motion, which is based on the all important fact that we already have prohibition in the area: and I hope it will continue there for all time. The only thing I am con concerned with is that in spite of the existence of the license prohibition ordinance the Joint Parliamentary House Committee has decided that arrangements should be made for a bar at Parliament House Canberra, That, in my view, a merely indefensible decision.

Mr McGrath (Labor) said: I have no fault to find with those who desire the Federal Capital Territory to be kept ‘dry’. I should be in a very awkward position  if this motion came to a vote, because I do not intend to vote for the intention of a bar at Parliament House if no liquor license is to be granted in any other part of the Territory. I have visited Canberra and have seen a little of what goes on there. I assert, knowing my statement to be true, that at least £3,000 a week is spent on liquor in Queanbeyan, which is taken late the Federal Capital Territory to be consumed, and our adoption of the motion would not stop that. There might be some justification for the introduction of the motion if NSW were a dry State, but it is not. Queanbeyan which is practically the front gate to the Federal Capital Territory, has four hotels, and it is only 8 miles from the Capital; and Yass, which is only 40 miles away, has about seven hotels; in these circumstances it is rank hypocrisy for us to talk of preventing the sale of liquor there. The ordinance does not prohibit the taking of liquor into the Federal Capital Territory.

When we were in at Canberra a few weeks ago a party of polo players were sitting at a reserved table at the Hotel Canberra, on which I will guarantee there 20 bottles of champagne.

The honorable member for Land does not propose to deal with that situation. People who have plenty of money and can afford to purchase liquor by the bottle may bring in as much as they please, and keep their locker supplied without any restriction whatever.  A moment’s consideration would convince any unbiased person, that, under present conditions it is possible for more liquor to be consumed at Canberra than would be likely to be consumed if half a dozen licensed hotels were open there. Many people who take a bottle or two of whiskey home with them are not satisfied until they have drunk it all.  I venture to say that, if a hotel were properly conducted at Canberra, less liquor would be  consumed there.  I wonder whether honorable members know that in addition to hotelkeepers at Queanbeyan making huge fortunes through the enforcement of this ordinance, at least five persons have acquired motor cars, and are making big money every week by carting liquor into Canberra and selling it in a semi-wholesale way.

However good prohibition may be as a general principle, it is impossible to make Canberra a dry area under present circumstances; and this partial application of the principle is useless.

The Labor party is trying to remove from the retailing of alcohol the incentive of profit.  We believe that that is the principal of evil of the traffic.

Men behind the bar may look only to the profits, regardless of the injury suffered by their customers thought over indulgence of alcohol. The solution of the liquor problems lies in national control. A time when come when nobody will think of going into a hotel for alcohol, but that state of mind cannot be created by artificiality.

We must inculcate in the rising generation new ideas regarding the virtue of sobriety, and we must place hotels under national or municipal control, so that the men behind the bars will be paid for the hours they work, and not according to the number of drinks they sell each day.

The time allowed for the debate expired, and the motion was adjourned.


Queanbeyan Canberra Advocate 5 August 1926


During the discussion in the House of Representatives last week, regarding the opening of a bar for the sale of liquor in Parliament House, Canberra, Mr Mahony, member for Dalley, said: ‘The idea of imaging we can make Canberra ‘dry’ merely by means of an ordinance!  We should no humbug ourselves.  As much liquor is consumed in Canberra at the present time as would be consumed if licences were granted there. It will be impossible to prevent any honorable member from taking as much drink as he chooses to the Federal Capital when Parliament assembles there. Do my friends who are satisfied with a cup of tea hope to prevent other honorable gentlemen who desire something stronger from having it in Canberra?  Do they wish to deceive people into thinking that they are endeavouring to make the Federal Capital ‘dry’?  If they are sincere, they will move that Canberra be made a ‘dry’ area, and that a severe penalty be inflected on anybody found in the possession of liquor in the territory.  Let them go further, and say that the seat of any member who takes liquor there be declared vacant.  Members of the temperance party are arm in arm with the publicans at Queanbeyan and are trying to ‘save’ Canberra from the liquor traffic.  They are fighting as hard as they can to prohibit the sale of liquor there. Mary examples have been afforded of the absurdity and serious effect of attempting by law to make an area ‘dry’. 

‘Bootlegging’ is practiced to a serious extend to-day in the United States of America, and the health of the people of the country is undermined as a result of the sale of ‘bootlegged’ liquor. If a person has money with which to pay for a drink he can obtain it in almost any part of Australia and Canberra will be no exception to that rule. Nothing will prevent liquor from being consumed there.   I have in my possession some photographs that were taken in the main street of Queanbeyan about a month ago on a Saturday afternoon. They show hundreds of motor cars lined up in front of hotels to take people back to Canberra with loads of liquor.  A person well-known, probably to the member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Perkins) is making a fortune with consignments of alcoholic drink.  The ordinance merely prohibits the sale of liquor at Canberra; we cannot prohibit its consumption there. We are merely playing with the matter since we know that a few miles out of Canberra – at Queanbeyan- liquor can be sold as freely as the law of NSW will permit, and that residents can proceed to that town, purchase as much liquor as they want, and take it back to Canberra.  I do not  stand for a ‘dry’ Federal Capital. We should no curb the liberties of the people. The people of Canberra ought to have the unfetted right to decide whether liquor shall be sold there, including whether liquor shall be sold at Parliament House.

The Canberra Times 27 January 1927


(To the Editor ‘Canberra Times’)

Sir.- As a visitor to Canberra and as a one-time journalist, may I congratulate you on the general excellence of the ‘Canberra Times’.  Your header on the liquor problem expresses what is no doubt a public dissatisfaction with the present treatment of an evil which cannot be handled with kid gloves.  The Commissioners are not to blame for the state of affairs that exists at Queanbeyan, for that town is outside their jurisdiction, and they have to administer the Ordinance as they find it.

The New Zealand practice of allowing only a limited amount of liquor to enter no-licence areas must be followed here if the dry ordinance is to be given a fair trial.  Although the eleven no-licence districts of New Zealand are contiguous to wet areas – from four to seven miles separating wet and dry towns – no serious difficulty is experienced in enforcing the law.  Towns like Invercargill, Oamaru, and Masteron had reduced drunkenness in their centres to a minimum and the prosperity is unquestioned.

In Scotland, also, in places like Kirkenbelloch, Wick and in Shetland, no licence is operating with the most beneficial results, especially to the business people.  I was in the United States 12 months prior to the adoption of the 1st Amendment and saw prohibition in operation in the dry States like Washington. Baggage was liable to examination upon anyone entering the dry zone, whether by train or automobile. Very little complaint was heard and very little liquor got past the authorities. Evidently a person may bring as much liquor as he likes into Canberra without  challenge.

I saw Queanbeyan on Saturday, and it was what one could expect in a  town invaded by thousands of men from construction camp. It is only fair to the men to say that while it is deplorable to see crowds wandering from ‘pub’ to ‘pub’ the conditions were no worse than I have seen them in towns adjacent to other construction works of a similar magnitude. The conditions on Norseman, WA in the early days of the gold fever, were, when I saw them, worse than those of Queanbeyan, and I am not sure that Port Pirie in the roaring days of Renmark, South Australia, in its times of affluence, would have put up as bad a record for painting the town red as Queanbeyan.  I have of course, no desire to minimize the deplorable results of liquor under the licensing system in you neighbouring town. It is a passing phase, and surely it would be suicidal for Canberra residents to take this serpent to their bosoms for all times simply because it is stinging number of unfortunate nomads in territory which has not the safeguard of a Dry Ordinance.  It appears to me to be some advantage to the home seeker that the children of Canberra can be let loose without being in danger of seeing crowds hanging around your quiet hostels, as they hang around the bars of Queanbeyan.  Your fine experiment should not be without its publicity value throughout the world, and certainly should not be without value to Australia in testing out the practicability and the social and economic profits and loss of no-licence carried out under Australian conditions.

I am, etc



The Argus 24 August 1928


Probably one of the quaintest campaigns ever conducted to win votes is ending in the Federal Capital Territory. For the first time in its history residents will have the right on September 1 to decide at the ballot box a public question affecting their own interests – whether or not the sale of intoxicating liquor should be permitted within the boundaries of the Territory.

One of the curious features of the campaign has been that none of the several organizations created to advance the claims of rival sections has adopted prohibition as its chief plant.

With one exception the organizations have ‘put prohibition last (?).  Another strange feature is that an organization formed within the last two weeks only to advocate sale under public control had made considerable progress.

The Canberra poll is to be taken on the same day as the liquor referendum in New South Wales, but the issues are much more complicated.  Voting on the preferential system, the residents will be required to give their opinions of the following four subjects:-

·         Prohibition of possession of liquor

·         Continuance of the present prohibition and sale of liquor

·         Sale of liquor under public control

·         Sale of liquor in licensed premises

Prohibition Enforceable

Probably the most important reason  …(?) organisations refrain from advocating prohibition is the difficulty of enforcing it. The vote for it is certain to be negligible. Advocates of continuance of the existing no licence ordinance have been active, but so far as can be estimated the real contest will be between public and private  …(?) of control. For Canberra certainly will go ‘not’ (?) The two bodies advocating these forms both supporters of the introduction of liquor, have begun to concentrate on each other and to disregard the other elements in the contest. Since public control voters will receive support from the second preference votes of no-licence advocates, if as is expected prohibition drops out, first public control appears likely to win. Contradicting claims from the headquarters of both organizations, however, make the result still open.

What the Leagues Say

The No-Licence League states that while believing wholeheartedly in prohibition for extensive areas such as the Commonwealth or the States, it considers that a confined area such as the Federal Capital Territory offers scop0e for control of the drink traffic effectively under a no-licence system.  The league claims that the present system has been instrumental in reducing the evils of the liquor trade. The No Licence League will ask, should it receive a majority vote, that the present ordinance should be amended to bring it into with the New Zealand no-licence law. The practical absence of drunkenness and serious crime at Canberra is urged as a reason for the continuous of the present system.

‘Public control’ – the third question of the ballot-paper – is probably the less understood of all. No statement of the form of control to be adopted has been forthcoming from the Ministry, and an extension of the functions of the Federal Capital Commission to control traffic in liquor would not be popular. Presumably the form of control under a public authority will be left for Parliament to decide if necessary.

The Public Control League is advocating the election by its citizens of a trust of five men to supervise hotels which the league claims should be more than ‘mere drinking shops.’ The league urges the establishment of hotels on the lines of those at Carlisle, England, and contends that they should be furnished with lounges, recreation rooms, libraries and reading rooms, and all the amenities of a club. It instances the successful operation of community hotels at Renmark (SA) as an example to be followed.

The Liquor League is advocated straight out sale under private licences which it assumes would be issued on lines similar to those followed in most States. It claims that the presence of licensed hotels would reduce the consumption of drink, discourage intemperance and retain for Canberra large sums now expended at Queanbeyan. It urges ‘public control’ supporters not be …(?) ‘a pig in a poke.’

4,700 Voters Decide Issue

The 4,700 persons enrolled will be advised by the Liquor league to give their first choice to sale under licence; their second to sale under public control; their third to continuance, putting prohibition last. 

The Public Control League urges its supporters to give their second preference to sale under private licence and their third to continuance.

The No-Licence League puts prohibition second, public control third and private licence last. There is …(?) league advocating prohibition.

It is interesting to recall that at the time of the introduction of the no-licence ordinance for the Territory in 1911 there was one hotel on the Yass road, some miles from the site of the city. It was afterwards closed and since that time any sale of liquor on Commonwealth soil has been illegal. The spirit of no-licence ordinance has been closely observed at all Commonwealth dinners, and although Parliament House has an elaborate bar, nothing more potent than ginger ale is sold there.  One result of a ‘wet’ vote would almost certainly be an attempt by the Federal Capital Commission to lease to private interests several of the boarding establishments, including the hotels Canberra, Acton, Ainslie and Wellington.

(CRF Banfield Canberra)