Tuesday, May 25, 2010


In 1839 a land grant was made to William Klensendorlffe (1789-1861) of a parcel of land on the 'Limestone Plains' (modern day Canberra). Klensendorlffe was a German free settler arriving in the colony in 1818 after serving in the British Navy. Since the early 1900's Klensendorlffe land has been the political heart of Australia.

From early times the area was known as 'Klensendorlffe's Land' and was marked as such on maps of the era. Klensendorffe constructed a large two story stone cottage on the Molonglo River flats and called it 'Elizabeth Farm' presumably after his wife Elizabeth. It is known that his land's included the present day Parliamentary Triangle, Stirling Park and the embassy district of the Canberra suburb of Yarralumla.

'Klensendorlffe's Paddock' was described as 'Principally of gently undulating land timbered with gum (box), ironstone and slate outcrops. It supports three sheep to the acre. The green timber is not suitable for building but satisfactory for fencing.'
AW Moriarty 1912

Not much else is known about Klensendorlffe other than he was once described as a 'litigious man' and was known to be unkind to the convicts working for him. The drought in the early 1840's forced Klensendorlffe into bankruptcy in 1847.

The Maitland Mercury & Hunter River General Advertiser 31 Oct 1846

'Elizabeth Farm' was then tenanted from 1854 until 1924 by the Kaye family and all that remains is an old pine tree where the gate once was and the memories of the Kaye families descendants.
The Federal Capital Territory was declared in 1911 and by 1913 tenant farmers were told that they could remain until the land was required by the Commonwealth. For a time the farm cottage was tenanted by construction workers and the leased land was reduced to four acres (1.6 hectares) around the farm cottage.

According to Canberra Historian - Mrs Patricia Frei: http:www.canberrahistoryweb.com -  Klensendorlffe's stone Cottage now rests under the waters of Lake Burley Griffin. The Briar Cottage site which was part of the property is now the home for the Southern Cross Yacht Club. Old and new Parliament House, many embassies, the Canberra suburb of Yarralumla, Lake Burley Griffin and Canberra's lost suburb of 'Westlake' now sit on what was once... 'Klensendorlffe's Land'.

NOTE:  Originally the land was owned by the Ngunnawal ? (govt accepted traditional owners) / Ngambri ? (post here) / Ngarigu ? (post here) people for many thousands of years.

A history of Sterling Park is can be found via Canberra Historian - Mrs Patricia Frei: http:www.canberrahistoryweb.com -

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  1. Ann Tündern-SmithApril 30, 2021 at 8:55 AM

    Hi Dave! Sadly, Trish Frei, or Mrs Patricia Frei, took down her Canberrahistoryweb blog some years ago. This decision was a real loss to the district! Keep up the excellent work, Ann.

    1. Thanks Anne.

  • Ann Tündern-SmithApril 30, 2021 at 9:07 AM

    Fortunately, the Wayback Machine has captured Trish's Website a number of times, but the version I just looked at had many missing images. I'll leave it to someone else to use the Wayback Machine to find Trish's post on Klensendorlffe. I'm just here to check that I got the misspelling "right". German orthography indicates that the correct name was something like Klensendorffle (or little village of Klensen) but some bungling 19th century official must have misspelt and Klensendorffle himself was either stuck with it or just put up with it.

    1. Interesting Anne. I hadn't thought of the Wayback machine as a resource. I do know the National Library was copying this blog for a while. Perhaps they did for Trish? Thanks again.


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