I first came across this about six months ago (mid 2012) and despite examining it closely I had no idea what it was. All I could tell from it was that three people including King (that was his first name not his title) O’Malley and two others had laid a stone on 12 March 1913 and the whole thing had been moved to its current location on 12 March 1988 (to make way for the construction of Parliament House). I took the attached photo (the first one!) and carried on about my business.
Now all has been revealed in this, the centenary year of Canberra (2013). This is the Canberra Foundation Stone which marked the official naming of Canberra on 12 March 1913. The naming ceremony was carried out with great pomp and circumstance (photo 2) and city foundation stones were laid by Governor General, Lord Denman, Minister of Home Affairs, King O'Malley and Prime Minister, Andrew Fisher.
Unknown, at the time, to Lady Denman who formally named the city "Canberra" great attention was being paid to her pronunciation as she unwittingly settled a dispute. There had been widespread disagreement as to how “Canberra” should be pronounced so it was agreed that however Lady Denman pronounced it on the day what would be the pronunciation henceforth. And so it was.
There are six sections to the Stone, representing the six colonies of Australia before Federation. The Stone was designed by the chief government architect, John Smith Murdoch.
The 1913 ceremony was re-enacted by the current Governor General, Premier of the ACT and Prime Minister on 12 March 2013.
A rather amusing anecdote from the original ceremony was that alcohol was banned by by King O’Malley a strict teetotaller (he had it banned for a period throughout Canberra). It is somewhat ironic that the most famous Irish pub in Canberra is called King O’Malley’s. As it happens, O’Malley was also not Irish. For the record, champagne flowed at the 2013 re-enactment but we are assured that it was heatstroke that caused six soldiers to wilt and collapse and not the champagne.
Calthorpes' House was built in 1927.
The house, its outhouses and its furnishings, household appliances, photos and the gardens remain virtually unchanged from the 1920s and thus provide the visitor with a genuine insight into the housing style and taste of middle to upper class Australians in the late 1920s. This is not a museum of bits and pieces gathered together – this house is as the family left it. The idea behind the conservation of the house is to preserve things as they are, not restore them to original condition.
As home & garden editor and journalist at the Canberra CityNews magazine Kathryn Vukovljak wrote on 6 March 2013:
Homeowners are usually there to welcome visitors, but when you pop into Calthorpes’ House, on Mugga Way, you’ll find the family’s long gone, eerily leaving all their possessions behind.
The house, though its total history, was occupied by the Calthorpes family. Harry Calthorpe (real estate agent), his wife Della, their daughters and maid moved here from nearby Queenbeyan in July 1927. Della wanted to live in the best location in town and this was it (though only three other houses were constructed in exclusive Mugga Way at this time). Harry died in 1950 and Della remained in the house until shortly before her death in 1979. The family (daughters) sold the house to the Government in 1984 and to this day still visit it with one of them being quite actively involved in its management.
Della certainly didn’t compromise when it came to furnishings – furniture and internal dressings cost well in excess of the cost of the land and as Della threw nothing out there is lots to see.
While you are free to wander around the gardens, inside you must attire yourself in little booties (to protect the floor coverings) and be escorted by a guide. Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and very keen to share her knowledge with us while giving us ample time to look at things and flick though photo albums etc.
Don’t miss the Second World War bomb shelter in the backyard.
Photography inside is not permitted. The ACT government does however publish an excellent detailed guide to the property which includes many internal photos. You can download the guide from http://www.museumsandgalleries.act.gov.au/calthorpes/index.html
Saturday & Sunday 1.00pm - 4.00pm - Allow an hour or so for your visit.
Visitors are asked to park on the property itself and not on the roadside in this otherwise residential area.
Three site Admission: Visit the three Historic House Museums managed by the ACT government (click on name to see my tips on the other two), Lanyon Homestead, Calthorpes’ House and Mugga-Mugga Cottage. Ticket valid one year.
Muggga-Mugga is a 1830's rural workers' cottage and as such one of Canberra oldest historic sites - in fact, predating Canberra significantly. A lovely cottage set in beautiful countryside. Well worth a visit.
Today it is set on seventeen hectares of grazing land with it main building being a simple cottage built for the head shepherd of Duntroon (Robert Campbell’s Estate) in the 1830s when it was over 2000 hectares. The small stone cottage (which replaced an earlier timber shepherds hut) has been conserved and furnished with household items that belonged to the Curley family who moved to Mugga-Mugga from Duntroon in 1913 just as Canberra became the newly chosen name for the capital city – yet to be built. It was also at this time that the Campbell estate was compulsorily acquired by the government for the new city and Duntroon – Campbell’s residence - was acquired for use as a military academy. Not an altogether happy year for the Campbells.
The original four roomed stone cottage (at he front of the property is typical of many built in Australia in the early years of European settlement though its hardwood shingles roof was covered by corrugated iron in the early 20th century. The stone slab building to the rear which houses the kitchen and dining room is a 1860s addition. This separation of colonial kitchens from the main house was not uncommon at the time and was a precaution against fire. Take a look at the painted hessian ceilings in the main building. Looking around, it is fairly easy to imagine what life as a shepherd on a rural property on the Limestone Plain's (pre-Canberra name) great pastoral estates at the turn of the 20th century and earlier was like.
Be aware that you can only visit the property on a guided tour (included in the ticket price). The guide I had was very knowledgeable and able to answer all my questions. He was a little taken aback at my knowledge of the Campbell estate and some of the other properties in the estate. I didn’t tell him that it had all been gleaned in the past couple of weeks through my research and writing other tips for Virtual Tourist!
Small numbers of people visit the cottage in its restricted opening hours so you’ll most likely have the guide to yourself and be able to take as long as you like. About 40mins is sufficient – less if you have less questions than I did!
Enjoy the view across Canberra from here – I enjoyed it so much I forgot to take a photograph of it for you. Photography inside the cottage is prohibited.
A guide book with a detailed history of the property is available for download at the website below. It also includes many excellent pictures of the interior.
Tickets are purchased the adjacent dark green education centre where you will find toilets and will meet your guide.
When in the area visit Calthorpes’ House in the very exclusive Mugga Lane for an altogether different experience of a 1920’s gentleman’s residence. Stop off half –way between the two properties for a few minutes to see something completely different – the Macedonian Orthodox Cathedral at Narrabundah.
Mugga-Mugga Cottage is open every Saturday and Sunday, 1.30 - 4.30pm
Three site Admission: Visit the three Historic House Museums, Lanyon Homestead, Calthorpes’ House and Mugga-Mugga Cottage. Ticket valid one year.
This cottage, now located in Commonwealth Park, was constructed as a home for Duntroon Estate workers in the 1860s and as such predates Canberra’s selection as the National Capital. It has been home to three families – the Ginns, Blundells and the Oldfields. The Blundell family, after which it is named, occupied it for 60 years (1874-1933).
Blundells Cottage is one of the few stone buildings of its type to have survived intact in the Australian Capital Territory. It is a rare reminder of life on a nineteenth century agricultural estate in this area. Duntroon Estate was a 32,000 acre estate owned by the Campbell Family (after whom the adjoining suburb is named).
The cottage itself, as you would expect of an estate workers lot in the late 19th century, is small though probably better than most with two bedrooms, a parlour, a work area (pantry) and an office/kitchen area. Internally the cottage is nicely furnished with period pieces and worth a look – if you can fit in with the short opening hours (see below).
While the small back yard is locked both it and the gardens can be viewed without going into the cottage and outside opening hours. Well worth the very short detour from the lakeside path.
Perhaps because of the limited opening hours the current owners, the National Capital Authority, has made available a virtual tour of the property (inside and out). This can be viewed by following a link at http://www.nationalcapital.gov.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=234&Itemid=197
It seems a bit odd to be directing readers to a virtual tour but realistically most people won’t have an opportunity to look inside and virtual tours are perhaps entirely appropriate for Virtual Tourist!
You will most likely view the cottage as part of a walk around the central basin of Lake Burley Griffen. See my separate tip on such a walk.
Opening hours : Thur and Sat 10 – 11.30am and 12 noon to 4pm. Closed Christmas Day and public holidays.
Admission Fee : Free
Certainly worth the trip – to the outskirts of Canberra. Not serviced by public transport and approx. 30 kms from Canberra CBD. Recommend you take bus to Tuggeranong and then a taxi.
Self tour, audio guide and guided tour available. A self guided look around the homestead ,outhouses and gardens takes around an hour. After this have a late breakfast/ lunch / snack or just a coffee in to attached and quite reasonable café. Alternatively, bring a picnic and enjoy it in the beautiful gardens.
The Lanyon Homestead lies at the foot of the Brindabella Ranges. The 1850s house and later additions have been tastefully restored and furnished. A great collection of Australiana which will, no doubt, bring back memories of yesteryear to many. The staff are very knowledgeable and interested in explaining things to visitors.
Lanyon remains a sheep and cattle property though that part is not accessible to the public.
A very detailed guide to the property can be downloaded from the website http://www.museumsandgalleries.act.gov.au/lanyon/index.html
Regular Opening Times:
Tuesday - Sunday 10am-4pm
Most public holidays, call to confirm.
Three site Admission: Visit the three Historic House Museums, Lanyon Homestead, Calthorpes’ House and Mugga-Mugga Cottage. Reviews for other too coming soon - ticket valid one year.
Blundell’s Cottage is the last stone houses and is one of the few historical sights of Canberra. Since 1964 it belongs to Canberra and District Historical Society.
It was built on the Duntroon Estate by George Campbell as a home for his workers in 1858. The head ploughman William Ginn was the first occupier and followed by George Blundell and his wife Flora. When they left Blundell’s Cottage was going to be destroyed but William Holford the British architect and a town planner save the day and Blundell Cottage became museum. The Cottage has operated as an historical museum since the 1960s.
Open: Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 4pm.
Cost: $2.00, Concession $1.00, Family $5.00
Even with all the national buildings in Canberra, in 2005 this building gained the status of being the first building in the National Capital to be placed on the National Heritage List. In addition, it was one of seven Australian buildings to be nominated by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects for inclusion on the World Register of Significant Twentieth Century Architecture.
The Academy of Science building was built in 1959 and features a free-standing copper-clad concrete dome, surrounded by an ornamental moat. Beneath the dome are office areas for the Academy and a conference room. At the time of its construction, Canberra was somewhat smaller and this instantly became one of the main ‘sights to see’ in the city. In those days it was unofficially known around Canberra as The Eskimo Embassy or The Martian Embassy because of its shape: now it is largely overlooked by the tourist industry, which seems a pity. Despite the unusual ‘flying saucer’ style, it is surprising how well it blends into the landscape! If you have any interest in architecture, this innovative building should be on your list of visits while in Canberra.
Because of the radical design for the time, quite a few technical barriers had to be overcome - these are outlined in the website linked below. The problems with the acoustics of the conference room were unusual, but having been at a conference there I can vouch that the problems have been overcome.
Blundell's Cottage, open Tuesday-Sunday between 10.00am-4.00pm, giving information about Canberra's early farming.
This is a facinating little cottage amost directly oppisite Parliament House over the lake, it has been in the same place since the early days of farming in the area. The have it set up just like it would have been back in the old days when it was occupied by a family who also took in lodgers, it must have been a real squeeze. Heaps of old tools in the shed to keep you men facinated and lots of homemakers equipment to show us how easy we have it these days. Imagine having to render animal bones to make oil for your oil lamps, so you could sit up and sew, darn and knit after dark.
I was walking round the lake and it started to rain so i went in for some shelter, I ended up staying over 2 hours it was so interesting, the vibes in the place were amazing. Well worth a visit.