Sunday, January 15, 2012


Just a ramble about Canberra’s bi-centenary. Although it is widely publicised that next year marks the 100th anniversary of Lady Denmen formally declaring Canberra as the Nation's Capital, it was however, first ‘discovered’ 92 years before that. By this reckoning Canberra turns 200 in 2021.

Now some will argue that Canberra did not exist before 1913 but I can reference dozens of articles referring to Canberra as Canberra decades before Lady Denman’s declaration.  Today’s Canberra has thousands of descendants from Canberra’s pre federation rural past and it is these families who lose out in some respects in depicting a true and accurate history of Canberra.

For the nation perhaps the unveiling of a stone in 1913 marked nationhood, the capitals centenary but as for Canberra itself it was just another milestone to an area with its origins in our colonial past. If you really want to be pedantic European colonisation was just a milestone in an ancient Ngambri past.

I’ve argued this point in the past about what the origin of the name Canberra is? From research I can tell you it is everything from ‘a woman’s breasts’, 'meeting place', to even a suggestion of an old man’s  ‘Canned berries’ and several others (just search naming on the right or my labels) but I think I know the true meaning and I think it can be derived by phonetics.

This is how I think it happened…
The traditional owners of the ACT are the Ngambri people. When the first settlers asked the name of the place they were told Ngambri. The first settlers called their first sheep station Canberry (the European phonetics). Canberry, Canburry, Kamberra, morphed through the St Johns church records into Canberra.
= phonetics:  Ngambri, Canberry, Canberra

That’s how simple I think it was for the name of Canberra to originate. Anyway…  I’ve drifted off on a tangent.  I’m not all that excited about the upcoming celebrations as I am sure most non Canberrans are either.

Canberra’s history is not all about Prime Minister Fisher, King O’Malley and Lady Denman and the foundation stones for a city. By that reckoning we shouldn’t really be celebrating till 2027 the centenary of Parliament’s opening in Canberra. That’s the nationhood stuff.

It has been a ramble but I think as a Canberra community we short change our selves by limiting our history to the ‘red bricks’ churned out by the Yarralumla brickworks. There is so much more…



  1. Sounds good to me.
    What are the ruins you show here Dave?

  2. Hi Keith. They are the 1840's Crinigan's cottage ruins. They sit today in a little park in suburban Canberra.

    Cheers Dave


History lost through lack of funding

  The following ABC article laments the possible loss of many historical audio visual records that are waiting for digitising into modern fo...