Glimpses of Canberra

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Glimpses of Early Canberra

Posted on October 31, 2011 at 6:40 PM

Following the publication of the books:  Builders of Canberra 1909-1929; Westlake One of the Vanished Suburbs of Canberra; True Tales from Canberra's Vanished Suburbs of Westlake, Westridge & Acton; and A Story of Capital Hill -  I was given stories that expand the knowledge of the early period of Canberra's history.  The history of the builders has been a neglected part of the history of Canberra - perhaps ignored may be a better word.  The reason perhaps is that the construction of a city from scratch is a very expensive operation and there were many who were against the building of Canberra.  Thus most of the information in newspapers etc  puts a positive spin on the city in the making and leaves out the reality of living in what was a city of construction camps away from many of the basic facilities that are taken forgranted in towns and cities of Australia.

I found only one map that showed the sites of the major camps - however, it is from the stories that I learnt the sites of camps and the stories of life in them and early Canberra.  This web is aimed at giving the reader glimpses of that life and drawing the attention of the reader that without the people who came to build the city it would not exist.

Another aspect of Canberra's history is the class system that was in place.  There was a gap between construction workers and white collar workers.  The gap between the classes I have been told became evident with the arrival of the public servants in 1927 the majority of  whom were housed in brick cottages in the permanent suburbs. Many of the construction workers remained in the temporary settlements of the converted internment camp at Molonglo or the settlements of Westlake, Causeway, Russell Hill, Riverbourne and Acton.

Ann Gugler

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