Many people tend to forget that 'Canberra', as a name, existed before 1913, when it was declared a 'city'. the district had been here forever, populated firstly by the Ngunawal people, (see: Ngunawal: Past, Present & Future) who roamed and camped in the area, and secondly, by the European invasion that arose with 19th century explorers, squatters and finally settlers, who grazed stock, grew crops and formed settlements in the area then known as the Limestone Plains.
From around 1860, the name 'Canberra' was in use, formed from various names and spellings such as Canberry, Canbery, Cranberry, etc. The settlers and their families were either integrated or moved on after their land was resumed by the Federal Government.
Sorry, I am not in a position to carry out research for other people. I feel it takes away the joy of them doing it themselves and it can prove to be a costly and very time-consuming business - and I literally do not have the time! Life is too short and there are not enough hours in a day.
Corrections are accepted, but I do not compile lists of descendants, that is for you to know, not me…Trish.
|Work began as an administration team steadily arrived. Bumpy bush tracks adorned the district, and many early administrators had to obtain a lift into the area from the towns of Yass or Goulburn. The only town in the area, Queanbeyan, was serviced by a railway (opened in 1887) and administrators were also able to travel in a little more comfort by rail from Melbourne, via Goulburn, then by buggy to Canberra.||Many civil servants arrived from Melbourne where the temporary Federal Government was set up and this 'arrival/departure' mode became the fashion for later Canberran's, especially those who worked as civil servants. Few stayed, preferring to inhabit the bright lights of the cities of Sydney, Melbourne, etc.|
The Surveyor's camp, 1910. The camp is marked by Charles Scrivener's Surveyor's Hut in State Circle, between Commonwealth Avenue and Flynn Drive, below the new Parliament House.
|Once the land was resumed, the construction workers moved in, as the 'declared' city had to be built from scratch. Sheep still grazed in paddocks, close to the provisional Parliament House. There were no hotel or guest houses. Timber accommodation was erected as quickly as possible but this was mostly for the administration staff, planners and surveyors. Construction workers had to be satisfied with tents and hum pies. Later on, cabins were constructed by the workmen themselves, and paid for by their employer or the government.|
In the meantime, all had to knuckle down to Canberra's cold, sometimes freezing, winters - and in those days, 'cold' meant cold, with any tap water that was available, freezing until mid-morning, longer if the day was foggy!
The Cotter Dam was the first infrastructure to be built, after the surveyors had done their work defining the Federal Capital's boundaries, and surveying sites for future infrastructure. People needed water to survive and the Molonglo River was not going to maintain a projected 100,000 persons.
Breaking the ground for a new city. Workmen working on Canberra's new administrative area, the provisional Parliament House and West Block. The Hotel Canberra, or Hostel No. 1, is in the background. (Mildenhall, circa 1925-26)
Construction work around the Commonwealth Bridge, as seen from Vernon Hill, looking towards the provisional Parliament House (left), and the Hotel Canberra (centre right). The worker's settlement at Westlake, Yarralumla (now Stirling Park) can be seen in the distance, just over the trees on the right hand side, at the foot of the hill. To the left of that, is Howie's settlement. The Surveyor's Camp was just to the left, and behind, this camp. (Mildenhall, NAA A3560/1772)
This website contains items that I feel have some historical interest, or have been forgotten.
It also contains a few OBITUARIES, relating to people who lived in the Canberra District only.
Other recommended websites on Canberra's history:
Dave Reid's website:
Ann Gugler's websites:
The area in front of Old Parliament House towards Mt Ainslie. The National Library is now on the left. The road on the left leads up to Cork Hill, now demolished and used as fill for the Kings Avenue Bridge (Image: P Frei)
Thoroughly recommended by the Canberra History Web, whether you are an Historian or a Family Historian - especially good for Directories and Wills and Non-Conformist records. CLICK HERE for this fantastic award winning subscription-based website.