Canberra Camps, Settlements & Early Housing

Permanent Canberra

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Canberra Camps, Settlements & Early Housing-Permanent Canberra by Ann Gugler is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
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Copyright Ann Gugler © 2012


This section attempts to give an overview of the first permanent dwellings built in the Federal Capital Territory.  In 1921-22 a few small brick cottages were erected for construction workers at Westridge (Section 64), Power House (Barton) and Civic Centre (Braddon).  They numbered around 70 in all.  In 1923 a 16 more were constructed at Blandfordia (Forrest).  In essence this was the end of the attempt to provide good quality housing for construction workers and the Federal Capital Commission that took over in January 1925 put up temporary portable cottages at Westlake, Acton and Causeway Settlements and moved a number of tenements from the old Molonglo Internment Camp (Fyshwick) to various sites around the territory. They also converted 120 Molonglo tenements into cottages at Molonglo and set aside barracks for 150 single tradesmen.

The first permanent suburbs were on the north side of the river - Ainslie [Braddon], North Ainslie [Ainslie] and South Ainslie [Reid].  On the south side, Eastlake [Kingston], Braddon, Blandfordia & South Blandfordia [Forrest & Griffith], Barton were the first suburbs. Manuka, the shopping centre was not a suburb.  The Brickyards which were out of the city area, later became Westridge and now is the suburb of Yarralumla.

Accommodation for single and a few married public servants was provided at the Hotels Canberra, Kurrajong, Ainslie, Acton, Wellington - and later Kingston and Civic.  Houses [hostels] were Brasssey [south side], Beauchamp, Gorman [former Hotel Ainslie renamed in 1927] and the Bachelors Quarters on the north side. For the lower class the Printers Quarters and Lady Hopetoun Club were opened. 

The following articles are drafts for a revised edition of The Builders of Canberra 1909-1929 published in 1992.  Each chapter includes copies of a number of electoral rolls in particular, 1928, 1929 and 1935 in which I have place people alphabetically in their streets - also arranged alphabetically.  Additional information has been added to a number of names.

Following are a number of draft chapters for 'The Builders of Canberra 1909-1929' Gugler, Ann.


Articles on:

Early Canberra Housing

Naming of suburbs streets etc & population in the suburbs 1927


Deakin Blandfordia

Civic Centre Ainslie

Houses Hotels

Eastlake - Kingston

Articles on Early Canberra Housing

1930s Houses for Construction Workers

1927, City of 23 Divisions - suburbs & numbers in the suburbs.

Canberra Times 16 December 1927:


By virtue of the Districts Ordinance 1927 the Commission divided the Canberra City District into 23 divisions. It developed upon the National Memorials Committee to find names for these divisions which will eventually become the suburbs of the capital. It was felt by the Committee that patriotic and national sentiment would be met best if the names of those men who have contributed most to Australia’s existence as a unified nation be used in the most important places, that is, for the names of the divisions or suburbs of Canberra. 


‘The patriotism of nation,’ the report states, ‘is often expressed by memorials to its benefactors, so it is deserving and right that the names of those great statesmen who laboured in the cause of federation of the Commonwealth should be perpetuated as place names to be used in the mother tongue by all Australians for all time.’



The names of those statesmen who were directly associated with, and who are mainly responsible for the establishment of the federation of the Commonwealth, are as follows:-

Barton, Braddon, Deakin, Dickson, Forrest, Fysh, Griffith, Kingston, Lyne, O’Connor, Parkes, Reid, Symon, Turner.


A suffix has been added similar to some of the Anglo-Saxon names of towns in Great Britain, where the name is thought not to be very euphonious. [ie Fysh became Fyshwick; Lyne became Lyneham; Symon became Symonston.]



In connection with the naming of the divisions of Canberra, it was decided also to retain as official, those names connected with Canberra’s early days, and which have become associated with the place since the days of the pioneers. These names are:- Acton, Ainslie, Duntroon, Mugga, Narrabundah, Yarralumla.



The second task which was set down for the Committee to deal with, was a nomenclature of the public places and thoroughfares of the city.  Hitherto only the main avenues and roads have had names and some of these were obviously unsuitable for Australia’s Capital where national sentiment must necessarily prevail in the case of every name to be chosen.


In the centre of the city is an eminence dominating the surrounding landscape which is known as ‘Capitol Hill’.  This is the site which has been reserved for the erection some day of a monumental building probably for housing national archives or perhaps as a temple of honor to great Australians or to commemorate Australian achievements and it may mean to the Australian nation what the Pantheon is to the French nation.


Radiating from Capitol Hill are eight main avenues. Six of these avenues have been named after the capital cities of Australia and the other two forming two sides of the triangle of the governmental area –a t the apex of which Parliament House stand – have been named ‘Kings’ and ‘Commonwealth’.  ‘Constitution’ Avenue forms the base of the triangle on the north side of the river. It will be seen that this idea is embodied in the Commission’s motto, ‘Pro rega lege et grege.’ [this motto is hard to read and may be wrongly spelt]



At the terminus of each avenue named after a capital city there will be a park called by the name of the first Governor of that State, and the street surrounding the park will be named after the corresponding State. This nomenclature is as follows:-

·         …. Avenue – Terminating at Bowen Place and Queensland Square

·         Sydney Avenue – Terminating at Phillip Park, and NSW Crescent

·         Canberra Avenue – Leading as a main road exit of the city.

·         Hobart Avenue – Terminating at Collins Park and Tasmania Circus

·         Melbourne Avenue – Terminating at Latrobe Park and Victoria Crescent

·         Adelaide Avenue – Terminating at Hindmarsh Park and Westralia Crescent.


In the governmental area eleven of the names of the most prominent statesmen connected with the establishment of federation have been used for the streets in the vicinity of Parliament House. The central  place in front of Parliament House has been given to the father of federation, Sir Henry Parkes.  The only other name in the Governmental area is Parliament Square, which is the link associating Parliament, Westminster, which also faces a Parliament Square.


The Committee has adopted the idea of grouping together various classes of names in separate areas. Sections of the city plan have therefore been set apart for governors, explorers, navigators, scientists and others; foresters and others; pioneers and others; founders of the constitution and euphonious aboriginal words. The aboriginal words have been selected from the dialects of Australian aboriginal tribes.



The area partly surrounding Capitol Hill to the south of it has been set apart for the names of governors of the various Australian States. All the Governors who were in office prior to the 1st January 1870, have been included and as far as possible the Governors of the various States have been arranged in separate groups. This nomenclature is as follows:-  Blackall, Bowen, Brisbane, Ralph Darling, Richard Bourke, Governor King, Bligh, Macquarie, Lisgar, Gipps, Belmore, Phillip, Mitzroy, Hunter, Denison, Franklin, Sorrell, Ducane, Gore-Brown, Collins, Arthur, Wilmot, Darling, Davey, Barkly, Latrobe, Young, Hotham, Daly, Canterbury, Robe, Hutt, Clarke, Kennedy, Hindmarsh, Stirling, Grey, Fitzgerald, Irwin, Weld, MacDonnell, Hampton, Ferguson and Gawler.



All past Governors-General have been mentioned in the area to the south-west of Capitol Hill. The ex-governors-general mentioned are as follows:- Hopetoun, Tennyson, Northcote, Dudley, Denman, Novar and Forster.



Within the area set apart for the names of Governors the main circular roads, extending outwards for Capitol Place have been named as follows:- State Circle, National Circuit, Dominion Circuit and Empire Circuit. In this area also, immediately south of Parliament House, a park, - ‘York Park’- has been so named ‘Brighton’ after the first Bishop of Australia, as this street faces the site set apart for the Anglican Cathedral. [This cathedral which was to be built on Rottenbury Hill, like the other proposed cathedrals was not built.]



The name at present in use of the sports ground, Manuka Circle’ has been adopted as the name is euphonious and has been associated with the place for several years. The great park extending from Manuka Circle to Bowen place has been named Telopea, the plant genus of which a Waratah is the native name.



The area south of Manuka Park and Collins Park has been set apart for the names of famous navigators of Australian waters. The navigators commemorated in this section are as follows:- Captain Cook, Flinders, Furneaux, Quiros, Murray, Bougainville, Grant, Stokes, Durville, Bass, Hayes, King, Vancouver, Wickham, Torres,  Moresby, Rous, Dampier, Boudin, Nares, La Perouse.


The road on the western boundary of this section has been named  Mugga Way. The avenue which joins Canberra Avenue on the north-eastern extremity of Kings Avenue has been named, ‘The Causeway’. This name has become associated with  this avenue and has been adopted as it will eventually be one of the main roads joing the northn and southern portions of the city across the river. [The causeway across the river was originally a rail line used to join the train line from the south side to a rail station at Civic. The big flood of 1922 damaged this line which was never rebuilt – nor was the road ever built.]



The area between the Causeway and Telopea park and Captain Cook Crescent has been set apart for the commemoration of famous explorers of the Australian Continent. The explorers includes are as follows:- Angus McMillan, Burke, Cunningham, Dawes, Eyre, Forrest, Giles, Gosse, Howill, Jardine, Edmund Kennedy, Lieghhardt, Lawson, Ovens, Oxley, Gregory, Hume, Lefroy, Mitchell, Hann, Stuart, Roe, Hovell, Warburton, Wells, Light, Wills, Sturt, Evans, Blaxland, Barraliier, Lockyer, Strezlecki, McIntyre, McKinlay, Goyder, Wentworth and Throsby.



In the Yarralumla division east of the Forestry School site, are the names of foresters and botanists who have contributed very largely to the existing scientific knowledge of Australian flora. These botanists and foresters are:- Joseph Banks, Hutchins, Mueller, Malden, Brown, Bailey, Schlich, Booker, and Bentham.


To complete the necessary nomenclature of the streets on the southern side of the city one road has been named Narrabunda, which is an original name associated with the pioneering days of ‘Canberra’.  it is located approximately in its original position on the old Narrabundah road.


The main avenue leading from Captain Cook Crescent to the Jerrabomberra Valley Road and Tharwa has been named Jerrabomberra Avenue.



On the northern side of the City Commonwealth Avenue terminates at City Square and London circuit is  the name which has been has been applied to the hexagonal shaped roadway which surrounds City Hill.


Eventually there will be blocks of buildings surrounding London Circuit and the northern blocks will be named after the capital cities of the Dominions. The names approved for the two existing shopping blocks and Sydney and Melbourne Buildings.



To the east of the City Circuit is the university area. When the University site is laid out the streets are to be named after the greatest Australian authors, poets, scientists, doctors, engineers and educationalists. The streets in the vicinity of the area to be set apart for the National Art Gallery are to be named after artists. The main avenues leading to this area from City Circuit are University Avenue which runs north-west and Museum Avenue which runs south-west to the National Museum of Australian Zoology.


The streets in the University area already upon the plan have been named after the best known Australian poets, scientists and educationalists who have left their own mark upon Australian history. These are:- Lawson, Kendall, Gordon, Marcus Clarke, Essex Evans, Farrell, Kingsley, Bolderwood, Childers, Nichiolson, Ellery, Liversidge, McCoy.



An area has also been set apart to commemorate them most famous Australian pioneers, colonists and politicians. The Committee made a careful selection of all the names which have been submitted and those chosen are deemed to be representative of the whole of Australia and no particular State has been given preference. The nomenclature of pioneers, colonists and politicians is as follows:- Batman, Chapman, Donaldson, Elder, Farrer, Grimes, Henty, McMillan, Fawkner, Torrens, Alt, Hargreaves, Toms, Lister, Paterson, Angus, Mombey, Cowper, Dibbs, Duffey, Campbell, Foveaux, Ebden, Sherbrooke, Stephen, Marsden, Dumaresque, Archer, Currie, Wilshire, Piper, Hassall, Officer, Oakes, Scrivener, McArthur, John, Bowen, Oliver.


The exiting name of the main avenue leading from City Circuit that is Northbourne Avenue has been adopted. The avenue which was formerly the old Yass Road, has been named Pialligo-Avenue and the avenue running north-east from the northern extremity of Pialligo-Avenue is Majura Avenue.


Ainslie-Avenue runs from City Circuit in a north-easterly direction at right angles to Pialligo-Avenue.



The roads and streets in the vicinity of the war memorial site commemorate Australia’s part in the great war of 1914-18. The Committee considers that these names are representative of the three arms of the service and of the part which the Australians played in the overthrow of the enemies of the Empire during the Great War. To perpetuate the memories of battles in which Australians participated the following names have been used for streets in this area:- Beersheba, Megiddo, Peronne, Gallipoli, Flanders, Romani, Rabaul, Lone Pine, Ypres, Amiens, Poziers, Sydney-Emden, Anzac.


To commemorate the great men of the Army and Air Force who laid down their lives either during the Great War or after the under mentioned names have been applied to streets in this area:- Bridges, Holmes, Ross-Smith.


The circular avenue to the north of Duntroon has been named Sandhurst Parade associating the Military College with the British Institution  Sandhurst Parade merges into Monaro Avenue leading in the direction of Queanbeyan.



On the extreme north-west area on the city plan places have been provided for the streets to be named after Australian wild flowers. The names of the following plants and shrubs are mentioned on the plan: Boronia, Banksias, Bottle Brush, Clyanthus, Tea-Tree, Flax-Lily, Pepper-Vine, Waratah, Wattle.



The use of aboriginal names has not been overlooked. Although the original place names of Canberra are few in number and obscure in meaning all the names associated with the early history of Canberra, as far as can be ascertained are mentioned on the plan. These include:- Jerrabomberra, Narrabundah, Yarralumla, Mugga, Pialligo, Canberra.  All well-known aboriginal names but of doubtful meaning.




There is a tradition attached to that clump of red gum trees in the Ainslie division the north-east of Pialligo Avenue. It is to the effect that the aboriginal inhabitants of Canberra used it as a corroboree ground. To commemorate this tradition the area road to the south-west of the gum trees has been named ‘Corroboree Crescent.



Other aboriginal words have been used for streets which intersect Northbourne and Ainslie Avenues. Names representative of all the principal Australian dialects have been chosen and they were also selected in alphabetical order, radiating outwards from City Circuit. The names and meanings hereunder:- Alinga (Son), Bunda (Kangaroo), Dooring (Bark of tree), Elonera (Pleasant Place), Girrahween (Place of Flowers), Helemon (a shi9eld), Ijong (water), Karuah (Native plum tree), Lowanna (beauty), Allura (day) Balumbar (butterfly), Currong (silver wattle), Doonkuna (rising ground), Ellmatta (my home), Goreen (wind), Allambee (reline), Boolee (star), Corannderrk (Christmas bush), Dirrawan (Emu), Euree (sleep), Akuna (flowing water), Borrondara (shady place).


The Canberra Times 4 May 1928:  WHERE THEY LIVE – Canberra’s 7,400

Figures of the population of each suburb of Canberra were supplied by the Minister for Home and Territories in the House of Representatives yesterday. He said that the total population was 7,400.


The individual totals were:

·         Parkes         40

·         Barton         435

·         Forrest         390

·         Deakin         60

·         Yarralumla   225

·         Acton          989 [includes Westlake on south side of river – area of Stirling Park, Harralula]

·         Ainslie         770

·         Braddon       885

·         Reid                        492

·         Duntroon      730

·         Fyshwick      1050 [includes Molonglo Settlement]

·         F Griffith     500

·         Kingston      700 [includes Causeway]

·         City             50

·         Mugga          79  - and

·         Capitol Hill  35