Heritage Sites, Canberra
While generally not associated with Aboriginal artifacts and art a small amount does exist in the Canberra area.
Europeans first arrived in the Canberra region in 1821 with the first European settlement occurring shortly after this. Aboriginal (the Ngunawal peoples) occupation of the "Limestone Plains", "Isabella's Plains" and "Ginninderra Plains" and other areas within the region predates this date by around 20,000 years.
One piece of evidence of Aboriginal occupation is the “grinding grooves” located on Tuggeranong Hill in Theodore. While there has never been a comprehensive survey of Aboriginal sites in the ACT there are around 3000 known sites.
The grinding grooves are indents in rock caused by many years of grinding seeds into flour (an early example of mortar and pestle) and stones into tools and weapons. Water to assist in the axe grinding process was readily available in the nearby Tuggeranong Creek.
It is thought that the differing sizes and shapes of the grooves suggests that different sized grooves were used to create different shaped tools with the larger rounder bowl like grooves being used for grinding seeds.
To see these grooves go to Christmas Street, Theodore. Look for the Tuggeranong Hill Nature Park sign and follow the fence until you find a break in the fence with two steel poles and walk towards the two older eucalypt trees that can be seen further up the slope. The grinding grooves are located on an area of exposed flat rock, up-slope from the two eucalypt trees. They are not signposted or marked in anyway.
See the grinding grooves if you are in the area (e.g. enroute to Namadji – see next paragraph or Lanyon Homestead). Not worth a special visit unless you have a particular interest in Aboriginal artifacts.
Entry Fee: Free
Another Aboriginal site (much more) worth visiting is Yankee Hat paintings in Namadgi National Park - about 90 minutes drive from Canberra and a 6km easy return walk.
Given that this is Canberra’s oldest building you would have thought it might be of significant importance and a tourist draw-card. This is not so and I have included it in the “off the beaten track” section here on VT as:
1. There is not much to see
2. What is there is locked up
3. It's hard to find
4. There are a few other similar era buildings which are more worthy of a visit (see below)
5. It’s not adjacent to any other site so you are unlikely to “stumble across it”.
That said, if (like me) you have a greater than average interest in the history of Canberra you will probably want to include a visit on your itinerary.
In 1825 Robert Campbell, a wealthy Sydney entrepreneur (banker) was granted a substantial holding at Pialligo - Limestone Plains - as compensation for losses at sea nearly twenty years before. The original property was some 4,000 acres (1619 hectares). Campbell settled at Duntroon, named after the family's ancestral castle in Scotland, and to-day the Duntroon Royal Military College (RMC), an officers training school and Australian Defence Force Academy.
Shortly after his arrival at Duntroon, in 1832 a stone dairy was built here just above the fertile and treeless pastures of the Mongolo River and about a kilometer from Duntroon House. To-day as you look down towards the lake imagine a small river in its stead.
A cottage was built in the 1860’s by dairyman (and builder) Ambrose Wilson in the 1860s. In 1864 the Dairy briefly housed St John’s school when the schoolhouse was damaged by fire.
Wilson family members lived here to the 1940’s. Over the years various other buildings, outhouses and even a tennis court where added and remained in use into the 1960s. In the years after the property became neglected to such an extent that all structures apart from the Dairy (the roof of which had fallen in) were declared unsafe in the 1970s and were pulled down. To-day (outside the Dairy) only foundations and floors remain and even those were rather overgrown and exuded an air of neglect when I visited. The Dairy building and surrounding “garden” area are maintained.
In 1977 an archaeological excavation was carried out and a significant number of artifacts were removed from the site. Many of these artifacts (including the original door lock from the Dairy) are on display in the Canberra Museum and Gallery.
The Dairy building houses an in-ground cistern (see diagram in attached picture) used to maintain internal temperature and source cool water to keep dairy produce cool. The estate was, as it had to be, totally self sufficient in dairy produce including both butter and cheese.
The Campbell estate, prior to the establishment of Canberra as the nation’s capital and the compulsory acquisition of land by the government, had gown to around 9000 acres. The Campbells owned or had an interest in quite an estate. In addition to the Duntroon Dairy and Duntroon House (Campbell’s residence and now part of Duntroon RMC and not accessible to the public) the following buildings remain in excellent repair and are worthy of a visit. I have completed or will complete a tip/review on each.
Blundell’s Cottage (in Commonwealth Park)
St John’s Church and its churchyard (Reid just of ANZAC Parade). The Campbell family has a large burial plot here.
St John’s Schoolhouse (adjacent to St John’s Church)
Mugga Mugga - head shepard’s house
Admission to site- Free
Location - Off Kelliher Drive, Russell
Kelliher Drive is within the Russell defence offices area where parking during office hours can be difficult. Look for a 1 or 2 hrs parking spot. An hour will be more than sufficient for the short walk from/to Kelliher drive and viewing of the site.
On roads trips to Canberra we often stumble upon a little surprise. Our latest find was the CHARLES ANDERSON VC Rest Area, just before reaching Canberra's city centre.
This one is along the Remembrance Driveway to Canberra to remember Charles Anderson, one of 21 deceased recipients of the Victoria Cross during WWI,I for his bravery in battle! The area is planted with native plants and signages to educate the publc about our Australian heroes.
The amenities are ample for the weary traveller needing a bit of rest and relief.
The views were breathtaking and of course, FREE!
Just look at the photos!
Located in Manuka, this cathedral is the seat of the Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn. It was opened in 1939 and extended in 1973. It is not always open so your best bet for getting inside is during mass on a Sunday (8.00, 9.30, 11.00, 17.30), on a weekday (6.45, 12.15) or on a Saturday or public holiday (7.30, 12.15).
Just across the road is Manuka shops where you can find some of the best restaurants in Canberra and plenty of good coffee.
When the ACT was chosen as a site for the national capital, it was necessary to do a detailed survey. This was carried out by a team of surveyors led by Charles Scrivener, the Commonwealth Surveyor in 1909. They worked from a small camp they established on the slopes of Capital Hill, not far from the New Parliament House. The camp is long gone, but to ensure the safety of their plans they built a small concrete building: that building remains and is the oldest building built by the Commonwealth Government in the ACT. The building is now heritage listed and it and the former camp area are now in a pleasant little park, where a series of display boards give the story. You will find it on the New Parliament House side of State Circle, just behind the Papua New Guinea High Commission.
while u are walking around Canberra, be sure to look around u attentively, u might be surprise with the building or sculpture that have around Canberra. I found this Church on my way to Kingston (canberra avenue).
I wasn't sure if I should put Lanyon under the must-sees or off the beaten paths. I decided to put it here, as it isn't in the centre of Canberra, and could easily be overlooked.
Lanyon is one of Australia's most historic grazing properties. The homestead dates from the 1850s and is set within lovely gardens. Many Canberrans have been married in these gorgeous grounds.
The land was occupied by Aborigines for millennia and by European pastoralists for over 160 years. Sheep, cattle and horses still graze on the timbered hills and fertile banks of the Murrumbidgee river.
The homestead itself has been carefully restored and is filled with furniture of the period.
In the stone barn, there is a permanent exhibition exploring a world of 160 years ago when property owner James Wright and his assigned convicts lived and worked the land. This exhibition provides insights to the life of convicts ý their crimes, daily work and the punishments they received for misdemeanours whilst at Lanyon.
There are discovery tours designed especially for children where they can explore and play games.
There is a cafe, which is also open on Thursday to Sunday evenings.
Also on the homestead is the Nolan Gallery which displays the works of artist Sydney Nolan. Now, Nolan's work doesn't excite me at all, but if you do enjoy this distinctive Australian artist's work, then take the time to visit.
Admission to Homestead:
Nolan Gallery and Lanyon combined admission:
Lanyon is definitely worth a visit if you would like to take a peek at a piece of Australia's farming past, without having to go far into the outback.