1307.8 - Australian Capital Territory in Focus, 2007  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 29/11/2007  Ceased
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Contents >> History >> History


c21,000 BC

For 21,000 years the Ngunnawal people have been the inhabitants of the Canberra region. Archaeological evidence of their long occupation of the area can be found at Birrigai Rock Shelter at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, in Namadgi National Park and in other locations throughout the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). The Gundungurra people lived to the north of Ngunnawal country, with the Ngarigo to the south, Yuin to the east and Wiradjuri to the west. The people generally travelled in small groups but would regularly come together for corroborees and feasts and to utilise seasonal foods, such as the Bogong Moth.



Governor Macquarie instructed Charles Throsby, a former naval surgeon interested in exploration, to search for the Murrumbidgee River which had been reported by Aborigines. Throsby sent Joseph Wild, an experienced bushman and explorer, with a party which included his nephew, Charles Throsby Smith and James Vaughan, to search for the Murrumbidgee. On this journey, the party camped on the plain on which Canberra now stands, and reported favourably on the district on their return. In subsequent years the country was opened up as grazing and farming land.


Lieutenant Joshua John Moore became the first landowner on the Limestone Plains. He took out a formal 'ticket of occupation' in October of 1824 for 800 ha but reduced his claim to 400 ha when he applied to purchase the land in December 1826. This land took up most of what is now Canberra city, including Acton, Civic Centre and the Australian National University. He named this property 'Canberry' after hearing the local Indigenous tribes referring to it as Kamberra, which is widely agreed to mean 'meeting place'.


The second station to be established in the Canberra region belonged to Robert Campbell, a wealthy merchant. He was granted 1618 ha of land adjacent to Moore's property as compensation for the loss of one of his ships, Sydney, while in government service. Campbell sent his overseer, James Ainslie, along with a flock of 700 sheep to find fertile grazing land. With assistance from local Aborigines, Ainslie settled on the south-eastern slopes of Mount Pleasant in an area that is presently Reid, Campbell and Mount Ainslie. Campbell would later establish the property of 'Duntroon' on this land, which remained an important grazing area until 1910, when it was acquired by the Commonwealth Government as the site of the Royal Military College. Campbell later expanded his property to include the area that is now Jerrabomberra, Majura and Narrabundah.


While it is not known exactly how many Aboriginal people lived in the Canberra area at this time, the estimated Indigenous population was 500 at the time of European settlement in 1824. The 1828 Census showed 91 Europeans living in the area. Of these, 60 were located on the Canberry, Duntroon, Ginninderra, Jerrabomberra, Tuggeranong and Queanbeyan stations and the remaining 31 were located at Michelago and Jeir. Only five females were counted in the area, three were married and the other two were children.


On 27 January, the first European child was born in the area, Helen Jane McPherson. Her father had been awarded 640 acres below Black Mountain for assisting in the capture of a bushranger.


The 1833 Census return for the Country of Murray (which included Ginninderra and Canberra) indicated 500 non-Indigenous persons living in the area. Of these, 351 were convicts.


By this date the best land on the Limestone Plains was being rapidly occupied by European settlers. Lanyon Homestead was constructed around this time.

1838 to 1842

The ever present threat of drought became reality as a severe drought commenced. The Murrumbidgee River ceased to flow in 1840, all creeks dried up and very few watering holes remained in the Molonglo. Following this came a severe financial recession which put pressure on land holders, who found it difficult to sell livestock and land, while the price of wool plummeted and crops failed.


According to the 1841 Census, there were 557 persons in the area including Gungahlin, Lanyon and Queanbeyan, 120 of whom were female. Yarralumla had the largest population with 108 persons, followed by Duntroon (85), Queanbeyan (72), Palmerville (68) and Lanyon (59).

The system of assignment of convicts ceased in 1841 and the number of convicts working for private individuals declined, being replaced by free labour.


In 1841, Robert Campbell donated 100 acres of his land, along with 1,000, for the construction of the Church of St. John the Baptist, which was completed and consecrated in 1845. A school house was also built adjacent to the church and was the Canberra region's first school and remained so until 1880. The Parish Clerk was the schoolmaster and enrolments varied from 23 students in 1859 to 49 in 1865.


Due to the often harsh treatment handed down to convict labourers, rebellion was not uncommon and many men became bushrangers. One such bushranger was John Tennant, who was caught by James Ainslie in 1828. These two have been immortalised by having local mountains named after them, Mount Tennant and Mount Ainslie.


The discovery of gold in the 1850's led to economic recovery in Australia. The Canberra district generally benefited from the gold rush with improved living conditions as a result of the increased demand for the district's produce. The wealth from the gold fields attracted sporadic raids from local bushrangers.


The 1851 Census showed 2,562 non-Indigenous persons living in the Queanbeyan Police District, of which 1,511 were men and 1,051 were women. Children were not counted. Only 10 of the men had more than a basic education, with five being clergymen, two being doctors, one a lawyer and the other two described as 'other educated persons'.

A trip to Goulburn took five days and a trip to Sydney took at least three weeks.


Stories of early Canberra include accounts of women who were abandoned and left to fend for themselves and their children. Mary Ann Brownlow was said to be an overworked heartbroken woman and was pregnant when she stabbed her husband after a quarrel. Despite much protest and local sympathy, she was tried and hanged in October.


Blundell's cottage was constructed around this time on the Duntroon estate as one of 27 homes built for the Campbell family's employees. The first occupants were the Ginn family, who lived there until 1874. Subsequently, newlyweds George and Flora Blundell moved in and remained there for nearly 60 years. The third family to live there were the Oldfields, from 1933-1958.


The village of Tharwa was gazetted.


The Canberra post office was established in this year with other offices opening earlier in Ginninderra (1860) and Lanyon (1861). The post was received three times a week and took 38 hours to arrive from Sydney. Daily mail runs were established in 1881.


The southern railway slowly progressed from Campbelltown and reached Goulburn in 1869. A coach service linked Queanbeyan to Goulburn. Roads were very rough and at first goods had to be transported by bullock wagon.


The railway was extended to Yass in 1876, and to Queanbeyan in 1886.


The village of Hall was gazetted.


A general economic depression brought disaster to small landholders, with many farmers and shopkeepers going bankrupt. Few Australians remained unscathed by the bank crashes and chronic unemployment during these years.


Rabbits appeared in Ginninderra and quickly increased to plague proportions destroying fields and crops. Regular shooting drives were organised to keep numbers down.


On 27 March, the Tharwa bridge was opened by Mrs Elizabeth McKeahnie of Booroomba (the oldest female resident of the district). It was the first bridge in the district across the Murrumbidgee River and the second Allan truss bridge built in Australia.


With the arrival of European settlers, the land use pattern of the local Aboriginal people and their movements across the country were disrupted. Diseases such as influenza, tuberculosis and smallpox had a large impact on Indigenous numbers, as did introduced animals that damaged food and water sources. Nellie Hamilton, the last full blooded Aborigine of the Ngunnawal people died on 1 January, 1897.


Having settled at Lambrigg, William Farrer conducted several experiments to develop a rust resistant strain of wheat. This significant contribution to the Australian wheat industry made Farrer known worldwide. He died in 1906 and is buried on a hill above the Lambrigg homestead. His grave is marked by a monument.


Federation was achieved for Australia. Queen Victoria gave the royal assent in July 1900 declaring that, on and after 1 January 1901 the Australian states should be united in the Commonwealth of Australia. A selection for the site of the National Capital was needed. The new Constitution directed that the seat of Government should occupy its own Territory in New South Wales (NSW) but not closer than 100 miles from Sydney. The site also had to contain an area of not less than one hundred square miles, therefore a 'bush capital' it was to be. In the meantime, until a site was found, the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia was to sit in Melbourne.


Senators and Members of the Federal Parliament commenced inspections of possible sites for the National Capital.


The Federal Government set up a Commission to find a site. Forty districts were proposed and twenty-three of these were inspected. However Federal Parliament couldn't agree on any of the proposed sites.


Federal Parliament passed a Bill nominating Dalgety as the site. However the NSW State Government disagreed with the proposed site as it was felt that 'remote Dalgety' was too far away from Sydney. The impasse between the Federal Government and the NSW State Government continued until 1906.


The NSW State Government indicated it was willing to cede a site in the Yass/Canberra district for the Federal Capital Territory


John Christian Watson, Australia's third Prime Minister, said he would have voted for no other site except Canberra if he and the other Parliamentarians had seen it in May 1902 during their tour of possible sites. After rigorous travelling they had slept-in, missing their visit to the Canberra valley during the tour.



The Federal Parliament repealed the Seat of Government Act 1904 which named Dalgety and declared that the Capital would be in the Yass/Canberra district. The NSW Government Surveyor Charles Scrivener was engaged to determine the actual site for the city.


Charles Scrivener's recommendation of the broad flood plain of the Molongo River for the site of the city was accepted and was ratified by the Seat of Government Acceptance Act, which made provision for an area of about 900 square miles for the Federal Capital Territory.


Charles Scrivener became the first Commonwealth Director of Lands and Surveys. King O'Malley was appointed Federal Minister of Home Affairs.


On 1 January 1911, the Seat of Government (Administration) Bill passed through Parliament and the Federal Capital Territory came into existence.

There were 1,714 persons living on farms in the district which held stock numbering 1,762 horses, 8,412 cattle and 224,764 sheep.

The Federal Capital Design Competition was announced on 30 April 1911 with entries to be submitted by 31 January 1912. A prize of 1,750 for the winning design was announced, 750 for the runner-up, and 500 for third prize. Competition material was distributed in May 1911 in Australia and around the world.

The Royal Military College at Duntroon opened its doors to cadets.


King O'Malley extended the deadline for submissions of entries to the design competition to mid-February 1912. Judging of the 137 entries began on 4 March 1912. On 23 May 1912 the designs by three finalists were announced with Walter Burley Griffin of Chicago being declared the winner of the Federal Capital Design Competition. Eliel Saarinen of Helsinki was placed second and Alfred Agache of Paris placed third. Griffin's plan consisted of a central artificial lake and a 'parliamentary triangle', and was designed for a population of 25,000 which would be expected to grow to 75,000.


There was dispute over the design, with some finding it too extravagant and impracticable and a Departmental Board of specialists put forward another plan. Despite the Board's recommendation, O'Malley and the Fisher Government eventually approved Griffin's plan.

On 12 March, there was a ceremony on Capital Hill to lay the foundation stones for the city and to announce its new name. At noon that day, Lady Denman, the wife of the Governor-General of Australia, announced "I name the capital city of Australia, Canberra."

Walter Burley Griffin came to Canberra and was appointed as Federal Capital Director of Design and Construction for three years.


1914 to 1918

World War I began and changes in Government and a lack of money slowed the city's progress.

It is difficult to count the number of Canberra men enlisted to war, but historian Jim Gibbney suggests around 60 men were enlisted and 6 were killed. The Royal Military College sent 158 officers on active service and of these, 42 were killed and 58 were wounded.

Despite the slow progress of the city, the first Canberra hospital was opened in Balmain Crescent, Acton, in May 1914. The hospital had eight beds and tents were used to supplement the isolation ward. Despite an increasing number of women living in Canberra, there was no obstetrics facility, and patients had to travel to Queanbeyan Hospital.

The railway was extended from Queanbeyan to the south-east corner of Canberra, a power station was built in Kingston, a brick-works was opened in Yarralumla, and in 1915, the Cotter Dam was completed.


Walter Burley Griffin's plan for Canberra was gazetted.


The Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VIII, visited Canberra. His visit was commemorated with a stone laid on Capital Hill.

Walter Burley Griffin left Canberra with the framework of the plan established on the ground, but disappointed at the lack of progress and the repeated efforts to change his design.

1921 to 1927

The movement of Parliament to Canberra caused an increased urgency to develop the city. It had to be able to accommodate the public servants and politicians who would be moving there. The Federal Capital Commission, which took over from the Advisory Committee on 1 January 1925, employed 4,000 tradesmen and labourers. More than 700 houses were built, along with some hotels and guest houses.

More than 350 plans were approved for private investment. The Melbourne and Sydney buildings were built on Northbourne Avenue, and construction of the prime minister's lodge began.

Griffin had planned the city to be an attractive one. The Advisory Committee's annual report in 1924 stated that workmen had planted approximately 1,162,900 trees.

Residential accommodation provided by the government now included the Kurrajong Hotel (completed 1926) and the Hotel Ainslie ( completed 1927).


The original railway station building was opened on 21 April at Kingston.

The prestigious Hotel Canberra opened (originally a Government owned hostel). Gorman house was built as a hostel for commonwealth public servants.

The Mount Stromlo Observatory was established. This was 14 years after the first telescope was erected there. Dr Walter G. Duffield was appointed first director of the observatory.


On 19 July, the Federal Capital Commission commenced operating Canberra's government funded bus service under the name City Bus Service. This became ACTION (Australian Capital Territory Internal Omnibus Network) buses on 14 February 1977.

Canberra's first newspaper, The Canberra Times, was issued on 3 September, with subscribers paying three pence for the 16 page edition. It was initially a weekly paper.


The Federal Capital Territory's population was estimated at approximately 5,870 persons.

A provisional Parliament House designed by the Department of Works was opened by the Duke of York, to house the Australian Parliament until a permanent one was designed and built. An international competition for the design of a permanent Parliament House had been launched in 1914, but was withdrawn due to the war.

The Lodge and Government House were completed as residences for the Prime Minister and the Governor-General.

Ten Government departments employing 37,300 persons were transferred to Canberra. By November, 650 officers and their families had moved to Canberra and by 1928 another 142 public servants had arrived.

The Federal Capital Territory Police Force was established in October, headed by Major H.E Jones.

Records show registration of 373 cars, 60 trucks, and 55 motorcycles, and 520 persons were licensed to drive.


Albert Hall on Commonwealth Avenue was opened by Prime Minister Stanley Bruce on 10 March.

Brick houses were being built for 90 per square. Public servants could purchase a home with 100 deposit and a 25 to 30 year loan. Cottages could be rented at 1/4s to 3/10s a week.

Prohibition, which had been enforced since 1912, was abolished allowing the sale of alcohol on licensed premises. Hotels were permitted to serve alcohol until 6pm. Rough and ready cafes were set up to sell only alcohol and no food. It wasn't until the 1960s that women were allowed to drink in hotels, although they were allowed to drink at the cafes.


1929 to 1933

The Wall Street stock market crashed in October 1929 and Canberra started feeling the effects of the Depression.

The construction of many projects had to stop including the Australian War Memorial, the rail link to the Civic Centre and the artificial lakes in Walter Burley Griffin's plans. Many private building projects also came to a halt. This led to workers being laid off. The body responsible for developing the city, the Federal Capital Commission, was abolished.

The Government cancelled plans to transfer more public servants from Melbourne, which had an adverse effect on many businesses in Canberra.

There were a variety of Government relief schemes in Canberra during the Depression. In July 1932, the Canberra employment office reported 655 single men and 17 couples on rations.

By 1933, the worst of the Depression in Canberra was over.


In November, Canberra's Coat of Arms were granted, with the motto being 'For the King, the Law, and the People'.


The Australian Institute of Anatomy was completed, housing a collection of preserved specimens of Australian fauna. Included in the collection was the heart of Phar Lap.

In December 1930, the Federal Government transferred the Royal Military College from Duntroon to Sydney in an attempt to save money. Some 70 jobs were lost.

The population of Canberra in 1930 was around 8,000.


Manuka Pool opened in January.

The Federal Highway linking Canberra to Collector and Goulburn was completed.

Albert Ryan, an Australian Infantry Forces veteran, opened a shop for the sale and repair of electrical appliances. He built his own radio transmitter and after securing a license began the radio station 2CA, which operated from a back room of Ryan's shop and officially opened on 14 November.


Work on the Australian War Memorial resumed.

Regular air services to and from Canberra commenced.


The Federal Capital Territory officially became the Australian Capital Territory.



The population of ACT was around 10,000 persons.

On the evening of 3 September, the Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, announced that Australia was again at war. The bulk of the war administration agencies were still located in Melbourne as there was insufficient office or housing accommodation in Canberra. As a result, Australia conducted the war from Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney. The War Cabinet met in Canberra which meant a lot of travelling by ministers.


On 13 August, an air force flight carrying three Federal Ministers and the Chief of General Staff crashed behind Mount Ainslie. The plane burst into flames on impact, killing all ten on board. The Canberra Aerodrome was later named Fairbairn in memory of the Minister for Air, James Fairbairn, who was one of the victims.

1941 to 1943

The building of the new Canberra Hospital began. In 1942, the United States Army Medical Corps took over construction and commissioned it as an American military hospital. This only lasted five months, and in February 1943, the hospital was handed over to the Canberra Hospital Board. The hospital was known as the Canberra Community Hospital until 1979 when it became The Royal Canberra Hospital.

Fears of invasion grew after Japan's entry into the war in 1941. A blackout was imposed on the city in 1942. Windows had to be blacked out, cars could only use one heavily hooded headlight, and even torches were not allowed. Evacuation trenches and air raid shelters were built, which fortunately proved to be unnecessary. Other than for practice, air raid sirens only sounded twice, in February 1942 and March 1943.


Despite the war, the Australian War Memorial was completed and opened on 11 November. Before the completion of the building it had been decided to expand the original building to be able to include World War II information.


The building of the American Embassy commenced and was completed in 1943 (the first embassy built in Canberra).


The Second World War ended.

There is no comprehensive list of how many Canberrans died in the war. The Honour Roll for the Royal Military College at Duntroon lists 59 former cadets killed in the war. The Canberra High School Honour Roll lists 43 ex-students who died, and the Canberra Grammar School Honour Roll includes three people who died.


The Australian National University (ANU) was founded by an Act of the Federal Parliament on 1 August.


The Government endorsed the transfer of thousands of public servants to Canberra. However, four years after the endorsement, there were almost 3,000 outstanding applications for housing and some married public servants were spending years in a hostel before they could bring their families to Canberra.


The ACT gained a seat in the House of Representatives.


The population of Canberra had grown to around 31,000 persons. Twenty per cent of the population was made up of migrants from sixty different countries.

Queen Elizabeth II visited Canberra, on a Royal tour, and opened the third session of the Twentieth Parliament.

An Australian-American Memorial was erected and opened by the Queen on 16 February. The tall column with a large American eagle on top was the work of sculptor Paul Beadle.


The Federal Government, under Robert Menzies, established the National Capital Development Commission (NCDC). It was responsible for the planning, development, and construction of Canberra as the national capital of the Commonwealth. John Overall, a twice decorated ex-army officer, was chosen as its first commissioner.


The population of ACT reached 50,000 persons.

The NCDC's budget submission asked for 1,000,000 to build the man-made lake that Walter Burley Griffin had in his plans.


The ANU conducted its first intake of undergraduates.

The Russell Offices opened.


The first television station (CTC7) opened. It began broadcasting the big city programs to ACT viewers.


Kings Avenue bridge becomes the first permanent crossing over the future lake.


By 1963, the first houses were built in Hughes, and within 12 months 3,000 residents were living in the area.

On 20 September, the valves of Scrivener Dam were closed to begin filling the man-made lake.

Commonwealth Avenue Bridge was opened.


The man-made lake was filled and named after Walter Burley Griffin. On 17 October, it was officially opened with Prime Minister Menzies conducting the inauguration. It was 9 km long, with six islands and 41 km of landscaped foreshore.

When the NCDC began operation there were around 8,000 houses in Canberra, and by the end of its first seven-year term in June 1964, there were nearly 17,000. Each neighbourhood was provided with a small shopping centre, a school and a park.

The growth in Canberra's population was averaging approximately 12% a year by the mid-1960s.

The first of a series of new towns was opened at Woden on 9 May. Weston Creek was later added.


The Royal Australian Mint was opened by the Duke of Edinburgh on 22 February. He started a machine that produced one-cent coins.

Anzac Parade officially opened on 25 April, to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landing at Gallipoli.

The Canberra Theatre opened in June.


A new railway passenger terminal building was constructed at Kingston.

The second of the new towns designed to accommodate around 100,000 persons was inaugurated at Belconnen on 23 June.


The population of the ACT reached 100,000 persons.


The National Library was opened on 15 August by Prime Minister John Gorton. It contained a two-level podium which could house up to 2.5 million books and be expanded in three directions to take up to 11 million books.


The first courses were offered by the Canberra College of Advanced Education with students commencing in 1970.


Queen Elizabeth II officially opened the Captain Cook water jet. The water jet ejects water 147 m into the air and is located in Lake Burley Griffin, in front of the National Capital Exhibition at Regatta Point.

The National Botanical Gardens, devoted entirely to Australian flora, and the Carillon were also opened.


A disastrous flood in Woden in January claimed seven lives. The flood was caused by a 'one in a 100 year' pattern of rainfall over the Woden Valley. A 200 m wide torrent of water, 1.5 m deep swept away cars on the causeway at the intersection of Yarra Glen and Melrose and Yamba Drives. The causeway was replaced one year later by a 'flood-free interchange'.

The first nature reserve in the ACT was declared (Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve).


Canberra's population had passed 155,000 persons.

On Australia Day, the Aboriginal Tent Embassy was established on the front lawns of Old Parliament House.

The Woden Plaza opened.


The third of the new towns was inaugurated at Tuggeranong on 21 February and was planned to house approximately 100,000 persons.

The first patients were admitted to The Woden Valley Hospital.


The ACT and the Northern Territory were each allocated two Senate seats on 5 August.

Federal Parliament decided that Capital Hill would be the new site for the permanent Parliament House.

The ACT Advisory Council, established in 1930, became an elected Legislative Assemby, advising the Department of the Capital Territory.

Lake Ginninderra, Canberra's second man-made lake, was built in Belconnen.

The first residents moved to Tuggeranong, the southernmost town centre of Canberra located in a valley of the Brindabella Ranges. Cave paintings and Aboriginal artifacts discovered in the area indicate that the Tuggeranong region has been occupied for over 21,000 years.


The ACT population reached 200,000 persons.

Gungahlin, the fourth new town was begun. It initially only included the Mitchell Industrial Estate, but was designed to have a population of around 85,000 persons.


The National Athletics Stadium, known today as Canberra Stadium, was completed.


The Belconnen Mall opened.

A referendum on 25 November resulted in ACT residents rejecting a proposal for self-government, with 63% of Canberrans voting for no change to the then arrangements.


The 1974 Legislative Assembly became a House of Assembly.

The Australian Federal Police force was formed by combining the Commonwealth Police, the ACT Police, and the Federal Narcotics Bureau.

The Canberra Cannons basketball team played their first game in the National Basketball League.


A large telecommunications tower (now known as Telstra Tower) was built on Black Mountain, complete with viewing platforms and a revolving restaurant. The construction of the tower had caused many arguments and protests, particularly when the Postmaster-General's Department proposed to crown Black Mountain with a 195 m concrete structure.

The High Court of Australia opened on 26 May.


The Australian Defence Force Academy had been approved, and building began on a site adjacent to the Duntroon Military College.

On January 26, the Australian Institute of Sport was officially opened by the Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser. The original eight sports housed were basketball, gymnastics, netball, soccer, swimming, tennis, track and field, and weight-lifting.


The Canberra Raiders played their first game in the National Rugby League competition. Their first win was against the Newtown Jets, 1981 grand finalists, on 18 April. The Raiders won their first grand final in 1989.


Namadgi National Park was formally declared. The Park covers more than 106,000 ha and about half of the ACT.


ACT's population reached 250,000 persons.


The ACT House of Assembly was dissolved.


The Tuggeranong Hyperdome was built.


The new Parliament House was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in May. It was designed by the American firm Mitchell Giurgola in partnership with Australian born architect Richard Thorp. The design was selected from 329 entrants in a worldwide competition.

The Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988 established a Legislative Assembly with full powers to make laws for the ACT.



The ACT Legislative Assembly met for the first time in May 1989.

The NCDC was abolished and its responsibilities transferred to the National Capital Planning Authority and the ACT Government.


The Canberra College of Advanced Education became the University of Canberra.

Work began on the residential suburbs of Gungahlin. The name Gungahlin is taken from the Aboriginal word 'Goongarline' meaning "little rocky hill".

The Canberra Centre retail complex opened.


The Royal Canberra Hospital was closed in November and amalgamated with the Woden Valley Hospital. The amalgamated service became known as the Canberra Hospital from July 1996.


A referendum was passed to change the electoral system to the Hare-Clark system (proportional representation).

Casino Canberra opened.


ACT's population reached 300,000 persons. The population in Central Canberra was 59,500, Woden Valley was 33,400, Weston Creek was 25,800, Belconnen was 87,600, Tuggeranong was 87,000 and the remainder of ACT 7,700.


The Australian International Hotel School was opened.


The ACT Brumbies became part of the first Super 12 rugby tournament. They won their first championship in 2001.


The Royal Canberra Hospital was demolished.


The Snowy Hydro SouthCare Helicopter Service was established in October, offering Canberra and the region aero-medical and rescue helicopter services.

The Canberra Museum and Gallery opened.


The ACT celebrated 10 years of self-government.

The Canberra Tourism and Events Corporation signed an agreement with the Australian Vee Eight Supercar Company, the governing body of the Shell Championship Series for V8 Supercars, to stage an annual street race in Canberra for five years. The first three races of the series were held on the June long weekends in 2000, 2001 and 2002. Following a General Auditor's report in July 2002, the race was withdrawn from the Canberra circuit.

Grevillea Park, on the Lake Burley Griffin foreshore, was the selected site for the new Canberra Hospice. It was later completed in 2001.

The International Flag Display was opened in Canberra. At the time, the flag display was one of the largest continuous and permanent displays of national flags in the world and consisted of flags from 78 countries and two international organisations. It is located between the High Court and the National Library of Australia, on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin.


Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip began their national tour in Canberra.

The Australian National Korean War Memorial was unveiled on Anzac Parade in April.


The National Museum of Australia was opened on 8 March on the site previously occupied by The Royal Canberra Hospital.

On the eve of ANZAC day, the New Zealand Memorial on Anzac Parade was officially dedicated.

Two major bush fires on Christmas Eve and three on Christmas Day ravaged areas in and around Canberra.

An inquiry began into the 35 km clearing through Namadgi National Park by an electricity infrastructure supplier. It was labelled by the National Parks Association as "the worst environmental vandalism ever seen in the ACT".


Work began on the Kingston Foreshore redevelopment.

The ACT Chief Minister, Jon Stanhope, announced Stage 1 mandatory temporary water restrictions as of midnight 16 December. Water levels had dropped to 56% of capacity, for the first time in 30 years.


On 18 January, a state of emergency was declared as bush fires from Namadgi National Park moved into Canberra's south-west and northern suburbs. Four lives were lost, more than 500 buildings and houses were destroyed, and thousands of hectares of forest and parkland were burnt out.

The Mount Stromlo Observatory buildings were also destroyed by the bush fires.

In March, Canberra celebrated its 90th birthday since the implementation of Walter Burley Griffin's city design.

ACT became the first jurisdiction in Australia to introduce a plan to phase out smoking in clubs, pubs and licensed venues.

The United States President, George Bush, visited Canberra.

The Chinese President, Hu Jintao, visited Canberra to hold international trade talks with the Prime Minister, John Howard.


On 9 January, the ACT Government gave the go ahead for the establishment of a correctional facility in the ACT with estimated capital costs of $103m.

The ACT Legislative Assembly became the first jurisdiction in Australia to introduce a bill of rights (Human Rights Act 2000) to help to protect freedom of expression, religion and movement.

The Mount Stromlo Observatory, which was devastated by the 2003 Canberra bush fires, officially reopened to the public on 30 October.


In April, work began to implement the Cotter Googong Bulk Transfer program, a way of utilising existing infrastructure to increase ACT's water supply.

In November, the ACT Chief Minister, Jon Stanhope, opened a five-star energy rated building at the Brindabella Business Park. The building was the first in Australia to be awarded a five-star rating under the Green Star scheme developed by the Green Building Council of Australia.

On 8 December, the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) celebrated its Centenary. The Federal Treasurer, Peter Costello, announced that the content of the ABS web site would be accessible free of charge from Monday 12 December.


On 18 January, the Bushfire Memorial was dedicated as a tribute to the individuals who lost their homes and to the community spirit displayed by Canberrans during the devastating fires that engulfed the region on this date in 2003.

On 25 February, Canberra welcomed the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games Queen's Baton.

On 28 February, restoration work on Canberra's oldest European graves was completed. The graves, located in Kowen Forest, are those of Elizabeth and Margaret Colverwell, who drowned in the Glen Burn Creek in December 1837, aged six and five. The graves have been nominated for the ACT Heritage Register.

On 14 March, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited Canberra. During the visit the Queen and Prince Philip met with representatives from the ACT Fire Brigade, ACT Ambulance Service, ACT Rural Fire Service, ACT State Emergency Service and the Australian Federal Police. This event was arranged so that the Queen and Prince Philip could personally thank those involved with fighting the 2003 bushfires.

On 31 March, Permanent Water Conservation Measures became mandatory for the ACT and Queanbeyan at all other times when Temporary Water Restrictions are not in force.

On 1 August, a $12.1m ACT Government funded ANU Medical School building was opened. The building brings the ACT Health Library, the Canberra Clinical School and the Academic Units of Internal Medicine, Surgery, General Practice and Psychological Medicine under the one roof.

The first memorial to officially recognise the service of Canberra men and women in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping missions was formally dedicated in a ceremony in Civic on 10 August.

On 19 September, the heritage listed Tharwa Bridge was closed due to safety concerns. The bridge is the oldest remaining Allan truss bridge in Australia.

On 30 October, ACT Territory and Municipal Services Minister, John Hargreaves declared the ACT to be officially in drought. Drought was last declared in the ACT between 20 November 2002 and 20 October 2005.

On 27 November, a commemorative site, incorporating the original 1940s foundation stone, was unveiled by the Chief Minister Jon Stanhope to keep alive memories of the Royal Canberra Hospital on Acton Peninsula.

On 1 December, Canberra pubs and clubs became smoke-free environments as the Smoking (Prohibition in Enclosed Public Places) Act 2003 came into effect.


On 24 January, a purpose-built event pavilion capable of hosting national and international events was opened at the new Stromlo Forest Park. It incorporates a criterium cycling circuit, grass cross-country running track and mountain bike tracks.

On 29 January, Stage 1 of the $30m National Convention Centre Upgrade Project was completed.

On 23 February, ACT Planning Minister, Simon Corbell unveiled the new Childers Street arts precinct in City West to foster community participation and cultural life in the city centre of Canberra.

On 27 February, Canberra was hit by a severe hail storm caused by a supercell which struck with little warning. The hail storm damaged houses, businesses and roads in an arc from Civic, with emergency services fielding more than 175 calls for help. The Civic Office of the ABS was one of many offices closed due to storm damage.

On 16 March, the Anchor Memorial was formally dedicated by the Chief Minister Jon Stanhope at a ceremony in Eddison Park, Woden. The ACT Memorial honours men and women who have an association with the ACT and served in conflicts, peacekeeping missions and related service throughout the world.

On 25 May, Chief Minister and Minister for Arts Jon Stanhope opened the Canberra Glassworks, located in the historic Kingston Powerhouse. The Powerhouse was designed by John Smith Murdoch (Chief (Commonwealth) Architect and designer of Parliament House) and constructed during 1913-1915.

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