Sunday, 13 July 2014

Search for a national capital - Canberra

In the last years of the Nineteenth Century, some Australiasian States (including New Zealand, but not Western Australia) decided to federate. With much angst, politicians of the day set about the task of locating a new capital.  Intercolonial jealousies precluded Melbourne and Sydney from taking on the role of national capital, although neither city has ever relinquished its claims on the title.

Canberra - view overlooking War Memorial along Anzac Avenue to Lake Burley Griffin

Hidden away in NSW State Archives are the records of the Commission charged with searching for the new capital.  In the papers are the winning entry - submitted on behalf of the town of Queanbeyan in relation to some sheep paddocks to its West with the locality name of Canberra. The nearby locality of Lake George had also been proposed, but was eliminated when it was revealed that Lake George was dry a lot of the time.

The typed Summary of Evidence taken by the Commission records the evidence of some remarkable people - evidence that was to lead to the creation of the new city and an associated state. The Australian Capital Territory today has an economy greater than a number of far larger Australian States or Territories.

Summary of Evidence of:

William Finn - Chairman of the Queanbeyan Federal City Committee
Sydney Richardson - Government Medical Officer
Patrick Blackall - Medical Practitioner
Theophilus Cox - Journalist
Samson Southwell - Farmer
John Gale - Journalist
Fredrick Campbell, Grazier
William Farrer - Experimentalist
Andrew Cunningham - Grazier
John Fitzgerald - Farmer
William Wright - Agent
Charles O'Hanlan - Road Superintendent, Queanbeyan

The case made by these men was far superior to any put the Commission elsewhere.  Within it, are seeds that eventually became the pillars of the city.

Copied at the State Archives Office, July 2014 (click each page to view).


SUMMARY OF EVIDENCE relating to QUEANBEYAN SITE taken at a Public Inquiry held at Queanbeyan on 11th June 1900

WILLIAM PIKE Chairman of Queanbeyan Federal City Committee
Initiation of Committee. Formerly Mayor of Queanbeyan. At a Public meeting a Committee was appointed to collect information in furtherance of Queanbeyan’s claim to be Federal Capital. He was appointed Chairman and the report furnished was carried out by resolution of the Committee.

SYDNEY LONGIEN RICHARDSON Government Medical Officer at Queanbeyan
Climate Conditions. 12 years in District. Regarded it as very healthy. Temperature changeable but unless a thunderstorm occurred the fall was not material. Never had it 100 degrees shade followed by frost. Cases of heat apoplexy occurred chiefly on the plains. Typhoid more prevalent this year than for 7 or 8 years, owing to the five year drought. Measles and influenza had occurred but they are independent of Climate. Diphtheria has occurred owing to insanitary causes. The climate was conducive to longevity. Residents of the District upwards of 80 and 90 years of age could be met. Most death certificates given by him were either for very young or very old people.
Water Supply. At present from underground tanks. Sometimes in the summer the river water is used.
Drainage. The surface drainage of the town is not good. Cesspits are used for nightsoil and the surface drainage goes into the river.

PATRICK BLACKALL Medical Practitioner

Climatic Conditions. Practicing at Queanbeyan 10 years. Produce return showing number of births and deaths in the Registry District of Queanbeyan. District a pleasant healthy climate free from endemic disease. Most deaths caused by...








Peter Quinton
July 2014

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