Canberra Camps, Settlements & Early Housing


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Posted by ann gugler on July 8, 2011 at 1:14 AM Comments comments (1756)

I have now added a copy of the most recent book - A Story of Capital Hill which outlines not only the general history of the area which consisted of parts  two of the Gura Bung Dhaura (stony ground - Ngunawal) - known to Europeans as Camp and Kurrajong Hills, but also has sections on Early Canberra.  The graphics were carried out by Robina Gugler and editing by Trish Frei.  The second 'book' is revised chapters for Builders of Canberra 1909-1929.  This book was first published in the early 1990s and the revised edition will add more information, maps, photographs etc. The draft will be reduced in size when the final work is published around 2013 but gives an overview of the times.  In the section on Reports as well as information on Stirling Park (Gura Bung Dhaura hills - former Westlake) I have added a thorough report on the Melrose Valley by Dr Karen Williams.  This report which was carried out gratis by all involved including experts on various areas such as geology, local history of the area, Ngunawal elders, Ruth & Don and others (all acknowledged in the report) is thorough and includes maps, photographs, drawings of Aboriginal finds etc.

A Story of Capital Hill

Posted by ann gugler on May 30, 2011 at 1:24 AM Comments comments (0)

In 2009 I published a book entitled 'A Story of Capital Hill'.  This book is no longer available in bookstores. I have included a copy of the book in this web.  The front cover shows Mr Don Bell (deceased), Ngunawal elder who walked the area of Stirling Park and the undeveloped part of Capital Hill with me. His family camped annually on Capital Hill when he was a young lad.  I have included his family story as told by him, in the book. It was first published in 'True Tales from Canberra's Vanished Suburbs of Westlake, Westridge and Acton' [Gugler] in which people who lived in those suburbs wrote their own stories.  Don also wrote a story published in the book and I have included it in the Aboriginal section in this web.  It is the story of GUNGINYAL KOOKABURRA.

Early Permanent Housing Lease system

Posted by ann gugler on May 30, 2011 at 1:20 AM Comments comments (0)

I have included in the section under Early Permanent Housing - Leasing to 1970s - a booklet that gives a general history of the lease system for city and rural sections of the Australian Capital Territory 1924-1970.  This booklet as well as giving an overview of the leasehold system used in the ACT also has other data that includes the population growth etc.

Stirling Park Yarralumla - Dumps & sites

Posted by ann gugler on April 22, 2011 at 7:07 PM Comments comments (0)

I have posted a number of photographs that show the area of Stirling Park Yarralumla - former Westlake and the Ngunawal area known as Gura Bung Dhaura hills - Stony ground.  The land of the park, which is not a public park but land that can be developed was orginally known as Section 22.  A decade or so ago the eastern side of the park that included Haines Creek which runs through the 'middle' of the park became Section 128 - and was divided into four blocks.  This has been further subdivided with Block 1 being cut up into a number of blocks of which Bl 5 is the largest and is now being developed for (I have been told) accommodation for members of the Chinese Embassy staff.  This area had a number of stone arrangements which have now been destroyed in the process of construction work. A couple have been saved.  Block 2 is ACT land and has a significant amount of fill probably moved to the site during the construction of State Circle which is the road that circles Capital Hill.  This was the original site for Darwin Avenue, but because of the difficulties in building in the early years was not constructed on this site. 

The area known as Block 3, Section 128 which is opposite Lotus Bay, has recently been further sub divided which suggests possible development. This is the area where Contractor John Howie's settlement of 25 timber two and three bedroom cottages and 18 timber huts was built. The cottages were for his married men and the huts for his single men.  The cottages were constructed either side of the old road used in colonial times. The road and sites of cottages and at least one of the timber halls and ablution block concrete slab remain.  Nearby on the other side of the quagmire is the site of the Tradesmen's Camp, where evidence of the ablution blocks, mess building sites etc remain. 

Throughout the park there is the remains of the rubbish left behind from the 700 who lived in the area in the three single men's tent camps, Howie's settlement and the 61 portable timber cottages erected in The Gap - Section 22 Stirling Park.

On Stirling Ridge the remains of the sewer construction along with one of the three surviving brick sewer vents remain.  Near Haines Creek is the only known remaining temporary septic tank used before the cottages were connected to the main intercepting sewer.  Septic tanks were used in the settlements and early permanent suburbs before the sewer was in operation in 1927.

Throughout the park are numerous scarred trees - scarred before the arrival of Europeans - stone arrangements and tools used by the Ngunawal on their journey from Black Mountain on their way via the Gura Bung Dhaura Hills to Tuggeranong and Tidbinbilla.

The photographs show some of the objects left behind by the construction workers and their families. Gary Skewes kindly allowed the photographs of some of the objects he has found in the park to be photographed and shown here.

Currently John Bruggeman and I are working on marking the major sites with GPS. To date the area of Howie's Settlement [where the Burns Club was founded in 1924], the Tradesmen's and part of the Gap - Haines Creek area - have been 'done'.  These files are to be found in the section on Howie's Cottages in Westlake section.

Permanent Canberra

Posted by ann gugler on April 16, 2011 at 12:13 AM Comments comments (0)

I have now begun to add the information about early Canberra permanent houses, hotels, and hostels.  In 1921-22 the Federal Capital Advisory Committee (FCAC) built around 70 permanent brick cottages for construction workers in Westridge (Yarralumla), Power House (Barton) and Civic Centre (Ainslie - later Braddon). In 1923 another 16 were built at Blandfordia (Forrest).  When the Federal Capital Commission, headed by the First Commissioner John Butters, took over in January 1925 no futher attempt to provide good permanent cottages for married men was made. Single construction workers were houses in temporaray dwellings with tents being replaced with cubicles from 1926.

The arrival of the public servants in 1927 meant that the permanent cottages in the newly formed suburbs had to be built in time for the arrival of the new workforce. The nucelus of the the permanent suburbs of Barton and Ainslie were already in situ.  Single white collar workers had been accommodated at the Bachelors Quarters at Acton from December 1912 and the brick hostel, Hotel Ainslie (renamed Gorman House in 1927) was ready for young ladies of the typiste class from 1925.  The Hotel Canberra was erected by Contractor John Howie's men in 1923-24 (first section) and completed 1925. This along with the Hotel Kurrajong built in 1926 prepared accommodation for the upper classes including visiting politicians. To these hotels was added in 1927 the Hotels Ainslie, Acton, Kingston and Wellington and in the 1930s Civic.  The hostels known as Houses were Gorman, Brassey and Beauchamp. The Printers Quarters and Lady Hopetoun Club provided further accommdation that was a little below the quality of the others mentioned.  A class system was in place and even if a construction worker had the money he would not be allowed to stay in one of the above mentioned permanent dwellings.  People did not have the freedom to move from one place to another. They were moved.

The new information sets out what was in an area and where known using electoral rolls - 1928, 1929 and 1935 gives further information of who lived where.

November 2010 no new entries for a month or so.

Posted by ann gugler on November 20, 2010 at 1:24 AM Comments comments (0)

I will begin to add extra information after the Christmas Break and will include in the Newspaper section the 2010 Westlake Newsletter.  The hold up is cost - I will have to update this web to a paid web which will give me more space. In between time there is EARLY CANBERRA and HIDDEN CANBERRA both of which contain a great deal of information about early Canberra.

2CA - Canberra's First Radio Station

Posted by ann gugler on November 10, 2010 at 5:27 PM Comments comments (2)

In the GENERAL  section is an article on Canberra's First Radio Station which began service in November 1931.  It was the work of AJ Ryan and in the article is reference to George Barlin's role in beginnings of the Canberra's first radio station.  It was initially run from Ryan's shop at Kingston and then moved to Molonglo before its final move to Gungahlin.  In this article is mention of the Men's Choir which is an almost forgotten choir.  Another that is forgotten is Canberra's First Philharmonic Society that began in the mid 1920s and who performed in the Causeway Hall for the first broadcast from the city - not Ryan's by and ABC programme.  A history of the Philharmonic Society that was re-established after World War 2 makes not mention of the earlier and first local Philharmonic Society. 

Canberra's Cordial Companies

Posted by ann gugler on October 28, 2010 at 12:33 AM Comments comments (0)

In the GENERAL section I have added informations about Canberra's Cordial Companies.  The first to build a factory which was for cordials and ice making, was TJ Sheekey of Yass whose logo on the bottles was Britannica with key.  Sheekey bought a block of land at the December 1924 land sales held on Camp Hill and began building towards the end of 1926.  The site was in Mort Street Braddon (then known as Ainslie).  Sheekey had supplied the soft drinks for the ceremony held on 12 March 1913 - when the foundation stones were laid and Canberra named by Lady Denman.  He delivered once a fortnight to the camps and settlements in the Federal Capital Territory and had the government contract to supply the Hotel Canberra and later the Provisional Parliament House.  Sheekey also provided the soft drinks for the ceremonies held on 9 May 1927 when the Federal Parliament in Canberra was opened.


In the early 1930s he sold to John Dean who owned the Cotter Cordial Co.  This short lived company sold out to the Queanbeyan firm, Commonwealth Cordial Company who in turn towards the end of 1945 sold to Capital Cordial Company. - These were Canberra's local cordial companies.


Queanbeyan cordial manufacturers also brought their wares into the FCT - Pike and George Morton were two of the main manufacturers of the early years.  Not mentioned in the article is Sacagio' Cordial factory of Queanbeyan. In the local papers I found two years when this firm advertised - 1909 and 1914.

Canberra Camps, Settlements & Early Housing

Posted by ann gugler on October 23, 2010 at 10:11 PM Comments comments (5)

This new web site that concentrates on Canberra Camps, Settlements and Early permanent housing reminds the readers that the Federal city was built by men who came from all parts of the country and overseas to build the federal city of Canberra.  The majority in the years between 1910 and 1920  lived under canvas (single men)  and  (married) dwellings constructed with hessian walls and tin roofs.  The FCT was officially dry so that any person wanting to buy alcohol had to travel to the nearest town of Queanbeyan to visit a hotel to have a drink and buy it to bring home.


In the years following the end of World War One, the authorities (Federal Capital Advisory Committee 1920-1924 [FCAC] and Federal Capital Commission 1925-1930 [FCC] attempted to provide some better accommodation for married men than available before.  This is the period of the settlements - Molonglo, Westlake, Causeway - followed by two humpie settlements - Riverbourne and Russell Hill. 


Too many histories of Canberra only tell the Federal story and ignore that of the locals whose nearest shopping centres were at Queanbeyan or Hall.  Around 1916 a co-operative store was established near the Railway Station, but it went bust when shops began to become available in Canberra.  Enterprising business men brought goods to Canberra for sale - the butcher, baker, seller of medicines, clothing and household goods such as sheets, pillow cases etc - visited the local settlements and camps on a regular basis.


Many local Canberra histories begin in 1927 with the arrival of the public servants who moved into the newly constructed suburbs of Ainslie [Braddon], North Ainslie [Ainslie], South Ainslie [Reid], Eastlake [Kingston], Blandfordia [Forrest], Power House Cottages [Barton] - Telopea Park [Barton], Brickyards - Westridge [Yarralumal]. 


Unknown to most are the settlements at Acton, Brickyards, Westridge,  Cotter, Power House, Molonglo [Fyshwick], Westlake, Causeway, Riverbourne, Russell Hill, Oaks Estate and the many camps - the semi-permanent ones being White City near Civic,  Capitol Hill on Capital Hill and Causeway.


This new web which is connected to Hidden Canberra & Early Canberra webs concentrates on Canberra's Camp, Settlements & early permanent housing.  Some of the sites not developed, eg parts of Stirling Park Yarralumla - former Westlake- Gura Bung Dhaura hills are currently being gps marked.  The area of Section 128 Block 3, Stirling Park Yarralumla - site of Contractor John Howie's Settlement and the Tradesmen's Camp is under construction as the first of these documented areas to mark what is still in situ.