Kiama, NSW. Trove Detective: Capt.C.M.Stevenson (1860-1909)

If only there was a picture!

‘The Kiama Independent and Shoalhaven Advertiser’ from 17 February and 2 June 1909 have recently become available on Trove. After editing much of the articles regarding the death of Charles Moore Stevenson in 1909 there are quite a few leads to check and follow if you are interested in the Stevenson family of Kiama. As yet, our research has not yet found if they are related to the Stevenson family of Bombala. It would be wonderful if there was a photo of C. M. Stevenson to include.

Clue 1. Charles Moore Stevenson was born 30th January, 1860 and died 11th February, 1909, aged 49 years. NSW Birth Death & Marriage (BDM) Indexes verify his death in Sydney was registered in 1909 (Ref. 190/1909) and his parents were James & Kate. There does not appear to be any NSW birth for Charles or marriage for these names.

Clue 2. In 1909, Charles M. Stevenson had a brother R. H. Stevenson. There is no mention of any other family beyond the floral tributes being sent to Harry Stevenson although the NSW BDM’s registers a death for Robert Henry Stevenson at Kiama in 1939 (Ref.16482/1939). In 1884,there was a Frank H. who died in Kiama and an Annie L. who died in Sydney in 1891 who may or may not also be children of James & Kate.

Clue 3. Charles was buried with a brother and sister who had died before him. The Obituary tells us the mourners withdrew from the quiet graveyard by the sea, leaving in his last resting place beside the brother and sister gone before one who will be sadly missed in the district as a leader of public affairs, a gentleman in the truest sense of the term, and one who will long be held in kindly, remembrance by every section of the community.

Clue 4. The coffin was met at (North Kiama) station by the non commissioned officers of Captain Stevenson’s command and escorted as a guard to the Masonic Hall before the procession to the cemetery and Church of England burial service. The Australian Cemetries Index includes Kiama General Cemetery and Charles’ family graves and photos in the Anglican Section. The obelisk on the grave records various family members and reads:

In memory of C. M. Stevenson V.D.;  “E” Kiama Co. 2nd A. I. Regt.; Born Cavan, County Cavan, Ireland 29 January, 1860; Died February 11, 1909.

The birth date does not match with the military record in the newspaper and needs further investigation but at least it’s close. Beneath Charles the monument includes: Also Annie Lillian, Sister of the above,  Died August 3rd, 1891. Aged 27 years (born 1864?). And elsewhere Frank Stevenson who died November 16th, 1884. Aged 19 (born 1865?). These appear to be the brother and sister mentioned in Clue 3. Other names on the sides of the monument include John Reilly, cousin of the above (Frank) aged 45. (No date). Robert Henry Stevenson; beloved husband of Ada Stevenson, Born Toronto, Canada 1855, Died Kiama 23rd July, 1939. Canada, how intriguing!                                                    In memory of Sir George Stevenson, K.C.B.; C.V.O., Died Bournemouth, England. May 12th, 1931 Aged 74 years. Even more intriguing! What’s the connection? Perhaps there is someone on the other side of the monument with a different surname?

Clue 5. All three articles focus on Charles Stevenson’s military career and his involvement with the South Coast Rifle Association. They list the names of many locals and members of the “E” (Kiama) Co. of the 2nd A. I. Regt. as well as dignitaries who travelled to Kiama to attend the funeral or unveiling ceremony including Brigadier-Colonel Ranclaud, V.D. who commanded the 1st Australian Infantry Brigade. There was a seperate article detailing C. M. Stevenson’s military career.

Clue 6. In 1867, Charles M. Stevenson, a Free Mason, joined the Minnamurra Masonic Lodge which was amalgamated to form the Kiama Lodge in 1888 where Charles was first elected to the Worthy Master’s chair in 1891. A detailed account of his involvement with the Lodge and the Kiama community is also included in the articles. The Museum of Freemasonry, in Sydney has archives and a library which can help with family history research in NSW &  ACT.

Clue 7.  There is no mention of any other family members besides R.H. Stevenson or C.M. Stevenson’s store in Kiama which was still advertising goods for sale in December, 1909. Why?

Details of the location of the monument in Manning St are available at Monument Australia but there is no picture. Curious to know if the family was originally from England. How did they they happen to be in Toronto in 1855 and Ireland in 1860? When did the family come to Australia? Did Charles & Henry’s parents come to Australia too? If so where are they buried? Trove is currently processing an illustrated article from the ‘Evening News’ in 1908 which hopefully includes a picture of Captain Stevenson. I’ll keep you posted. Can you help with any photos or clues?

1841 Map of Australia & New South Wales by William Baker.

Crossing Boundaries.

1841 Baker, William. Map of a portion of Australia showing the area of the twenty located counties of New South Wales with the adjoining eight grazing districts. NLA MAP NK 5348.

 While looking for information on the 1841 NSW Census for Yass, in the Lachlan Land District, I came across a rather tantalizing map at the National Library of Australia. Closer examination of the fine print revealed that the map was dated 1841 but was not from the census but for a report to the Legislative Council of New South Wales in 1840 regarding proposed boundaries within NSW. Although the map has statistics for each of the eight grazing districts in New South Wales some of the numbers unfortunately, are rather hard to read. Frustratingly, the State Records of New South Wales has an index for the 1841 Census but details for individuals are not listed for the Lachlan and Macquarie Districts. Henry O’Brien, of Douro and Hamilton Hume, of Cooma in nearby County Murray are both listed with references to the microfilm reel which would hopefully provide more information from the 1841 Census.

1841 Map of Australia. William Baker. SLNSW Map Call Z/M2 806/1841/1

While in Sydney recently I visited the Mitchell Library section of the State Library of New South Wales to check their aperture card version of the map to see if  their numbers would be clearer, part of which is shown below.


So far we have the following statistics including those for the Lachlan, Maneroo & Murrumbidgee Districts. However, the 1840 Report would need to be checked to ascertain their accuracy. Fortunately, Trove has the 1840 Report at 5 libraries but not at Sydney so we will have to wait and see for the time being.

District            Stations    Acres Cultivated  Population  Horses      Cattle       Sheep

Bligh                      44            218                        402              241?         24,064     118,341

Lachlan                 84        1,945                          792            1,027          37,920     114,134

Liverpool Plains 121           292                       1,042           1,045        102,758    230,102

Maneroo              132        1,031                       1,651            2,133          78,473    230,150

Murrumbidgee   147        1,795                       1,139             1,517          62,348?  183,654?

New England        56           361                          702               262         13,850     201,926

Port Macquarie    22          590                         287                169           5,833?     14,642?

Wellington            56          433                         656                 436       26,370      119,441

Now why are there Twenty Counties and not Nineteen? Simply another part of the report’s proposal, or not? Mmmmm…

Kiama, NSW. Well Done and Thanks to the National Library.

NLA : Ask a Librarian Service

Following on from a previous blog about Captain Charles Moore Stevenson, V.D., of Kiama who died in 1909, I have the following information provided by the dedicated staff of the National Library of Australia (NLA). I contacted the Ask a Librarian Service last week for information from Robert Dalton’s book. The response took only a few days and included other relevant information and details of two newspaper articles which are being made available soon.  ‘The Librarian’ continues our story:

I have checked The Volunteer Officer’s Decoration, the Volunteer Long Service Medal, the Colonial Auxiliary Forces Officer’s Decoration, the Colonial Auxiliary Forces Long Service Medal to Australia, 1894-1938 / researched and compiled by Robert Dalton. The reference to Capt. C. M. Stevenson in this book cites C.G (Commonwealth Gazette) No. 20 29th Apr 1905, p. 366. It simply says “NSW Capt. Charles Moore Stevenson. 2nd. AIR.”

I have also checked the Commonwealth Gazette for you, using the citation above. Capt. Stevenson is mentioned under the heading “Award of Colonial Auxiliary Forces Officers Decoration Under Part XI of the Military Regulations” and says:
“2nd Australian Infantry Regiment
Captain Charles Moore Stevenson”

There is also a listing for the 4th Australian Infantry Regiment – Captain Archibald Langwill who also received this decoration.

I’m not sure if you have seen on Trove that an obituary of Capt. C. M. Stevenson is due to be be scanned and made available soon. Once this is online it may provided you with some good information. You can view the results of my Trove search here, which includes the obituary among the results. Alternatively, if you are able to visit the State Library of NSW then you may be able to view the obituary which appears in The Kiama independent, and Shoalhaven advertiser, Wednesday 17 February 1909 p 2. You can see their catalogue record for this item here.

As a general rule post-Federation military records are held by National Archives Australia (NAA). You may also want to check if you can find any records held by NAA. You can contact them using these details.

There’s also a mention of Stevenson in the book Death in print : deaths, obituaries & inquests as reported in the Kiama examiner & Kiama independent : 1859-1919 / researched by Kiama Municipal Council Family History Centre. This appears in Part II, p. 93-94 and partially quotes two articles that appeared in the Kiama Independent, including an article from Saturday 13th Feb 1909 and Wednesday 17th Feb 1909. This book is also available at the State Library of NSW according to Trove. You can view the Trove catalogue record here.

I hope this information is of assistance. Good luck with your research.

What a marvellous result! Hopefully, this helps us all to learn more about the Volunteer Officer’s Decoration, Military Service prior to the World Wars, the Stevenson family and the community of Kiama. Let me know if this helps you. I have requested notifications for the newspapers so we’ll see what happens next, perhaps there may even be a photo!

Yass, NSW. A Touch of Serendipity.

A Troop of Brennans in the NSW Police Force.

Patrick James Brennan (1887-1935)

A few years ago I was researching the family of Patrick James Brennan who was born at Tinonee, near Taree in 1887, where his father was a police constable. Patrick’s parents, John and Elizabeth Brennan were married at Cooma in 1881. Patrick joined the Mounted police in 1913 and was appointed to the South Western District of New South Wales and is pictured above (place unknown). John was born in Queanbeyan in 1857 and became a mounted policeman in 1878 patrolling the Northern Districts of New South Wales. Although, the majority of this information is obtainable through the free indexes at NSW Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages it was only verified after obtaining a copy of Patrick’s birth certificate and his police records. Patrick Brennan died in 1965 and is buried at Botany Cemetery. John Brennan was a retired sergeant of police when he died in 1935 and was buried in Waverley Catholic Cemetery according to the newspaper notices at the time, giving his age as 80 years. The BDM Index for 1935 shows his parents as John & Mary Brennan but there is no birth registered near Queanbeyan in 1857, although there is a possible entry for 1855 with parents John and Mary.  It would require purchasing the certificate or a transcription to check and hopefully provide some details about John and Mary.

Bowning Police

1901 Bowning Police Station & Post Office, NAA Ref. B5919, 4/11

Coincidentally, in Yass at this time Trooper Patrick Brennan was busy catching bushrangers. In 1835, Trooper Brennan of the Mounted police is reported as accompanying a search for armed cattle stealers. In 1861, Sergeant Brennan apprehended Bushranger Marshall at Bowning, near Yass. In 1863 and 1864 it was Sub-Inspector Brennan who was involved with ‘Gilbert’s Gang’ at Bowning and the capture of Bushrangers Seery and Synam followed by the ‘Conroy Murders’ in 1868.

The Late Inspector Brennan. 

Inspector Patrick Brennan died at the police barracks, Yass, on Sunday night, after a long illness, aged 71. He had been 48 years in the police force, and took an active part in early bushranging days, also in the Lambing Flat riots. Before he joined the police he was a sergeant of the southern gold escort. He leaves a family of five sons and one daughter. The Mayor has arranged for a public funeral. (Goulburn Evening Penny Post 31 October 1899).

A search of Trove results in Police Inspector Patrick Brennan’s death in 1899 being mentioned in a variety of newspapers, including the Sydney Morning Herald, Goulburn Evening Penny Post, Singleton Argus and Burrowa News.  The Northern Star remarks on his son who is a constable at Lismore. Most newspapers acknowledge Patrick’s brother Martin Brennan, the Superintendant of Police, who had previously been an Inspector of Police at Newcastle. The Australian Dictionary of Biography records Martin Brennan as born in 1839 at Kilkenny, County Kilkenny, Ireland, the son of Martin Brennan, farmer, and his wife Sarah, née Tobin.

According to Yass CemeteryPatrick Brennan died 29 October, 1899, aged 68 years. 49 years in Public Service of the Colony and 40 years Inspector of the Yass District. Native of Kilkenny Ireland, erected by daughter Gertrude A Brennan. Sadly both his first wife Catherine and his infant daughter Mary Sarah died on 28 November, 1869.

Now, the question is are the two Brennan families related? Could John Brennan be related to Patrick and Martin Brennan? A nephew, perhaps? Just coincidence? Further investigation is required. Can you help?

Kiama, NSW. More Clues and Curiosities.

Right before your Eyes!

While visiting Kiama’s Family History Centre I parked right near a memorial obelisk in memory of Capt. Charles Moore Stevenson who died in 1909. Here’s a transcription from the Sydney Morning Herald dated 31 May 1909 which you can find on Trove.



KIAMA, Saturday.

At 3 o’clock this afternoon there was a large gathering of residents of the town and district in the vicinity of the drill hall to witness the unveiling of the memorial obelisk erected by the officers, N. C. officers, and men of E Company, First Battalion, 2nd A.I.R, to the memory of the late Captain Charles Moore Stevenson, VD, who served with the 2nd Regiment from October 25, 1886, to February 11, 1909. The band of the 2nd Australian Infantry Regiment was present and rendered Handel’s ‘Largo’ as a voluntary, after which Captain the Rev. T. V. Alkin, M.A., offered prayer, which was followed by an address from Brigadier-Colonel C. M. Ranclaud, V.D. in which he spoke in the highest terms of the late Captain Stevenson. At the request of Major Ramaclotti the Brigadier unveiled the monument, the foundation of which is of Victorian bluestone, surmounted by a column of Swedish emerald green granite bearing the following inscription “Erected to the memory of Captain C. M. Stevenson, V. D., by his late comrades of the E (Kiama) Company, 2nd A. I. Regiment, 1909”. The monument occupies, a position at the east end of the military ground, and faces Manning-street.

Kiama’s Local History Weblog has more information and pictures of the unveiling and details of his funeral and burial at North Kiama from the Sydney Morning Herald dated 15 February, 1909. The article also mentions he owned a store at Kiama. While looking for articles on the drowning of William McClelland in 1897, I happened to find and advertisement for “C.M. Stevenson’s” in the Kiama Independent Newspaper.

Volunteer Officers Decoration

A quick look at the Australian War Memorial didn’t produce any results for Charles M. Stevenson but Wikipaedia says the V.D. stands for Volunteer Officers Decoration and the names of the officers receiving the decoration were published in the relevant countries Government Gazette and included the picture above. The Australian War Memorial’s blog has an article on colonial defence personnel pre 1900 which provides some starting points including Robert Dalton’s 1985, “The Volunteer Officer’s Decoration, the Volunteer Long Service Medal, the Colonial Auxiliary Forces Officer’s Decoration, the Colonial Auxiliary Forces Long Service Medal to Australia, 1894-1938, R. Dalton, [Brighton, Vic.] which is available at the Australian War Memorial or the National Library of Australia, in Canberra. I wonder if they might look it up for us? I’ll keep you posted. As yet I haven’t found a connection with my research for the Stevenson family at Bombala, but you never know!

Kiama, NSW. On the Lookout for Clues & Curiosities.

A Memorial by the Lighthouse


Kiama is a wonderful place to visit on the South Coast of New South Wales. A couple of years ago, while researching at the Kiama Family History Centre I discovered a seat on the headland by the Kiama Blowhole and Lighthouse. While many visitors enjoy the crashing waves and rocky outcrops, few would notice the modest plaque in the concrete below this seat. It reads:

Kiama_910 Kiama_912

William Oscar McClelland, Aged 28 years.

Drowned in a Boating Accident off Blowhole Point, October 9, 1897.

Donated by his descendants.

Curious to know William’s story, I did a little investigating. If you are related to the McClelland family then I hope this helps to fill in any gaps and to remember William.  A quick google search brought up the McClelland family on Rootsweb but surprisingly few results on Trove.  Buried deep in The Sydney Morning Herald of October 16, 1897 is a brief mention:  Mr Edmund Fosbery, Inspector-General of Police yesterday despatched two Water Police men to Kiama to assist in the search for the bodies of the two victims of the recent drowning fatality.

Puzzled, I checked the NSW Registry of Birth, Deaths and Marriage indexes which showed William O. McClelland died at Kiama in 1897, and his parents were William and Mary J. McClelland.  Another Trove search using name variations on McClelland including McLelland and ‘The Kiama Independent’ newspaper, provided two more articles. It’s a pity the name was misspelt but the Kiama Independent and Shoalhaven Advertiser of 28th October, 1897 ran a classified notice as follows:

Thanks Notice.  

On behalf of ourselves and family, we desire to tender our HEARTFELT GRATITUDE to Alex. Campbell, Esq., M.L.A., the Magistrate, the Police, the Pilot and Crews and the public generally, for their untiring efforts towards the recovery of the body of our son. Wm. & M. J. McLELLAND. Brown’s Mtn, Cambewarra, 28th? October, 1897. 

Earlier, The Advertiser from South Australia reported the details on 12th October, 1897: NEW SOUTH WALES. KIAMA BOATING FATALITY. ACTS OF BRAVERY. 

Sydney, October 11. In connection with the Kiama drowning fatality on Saturday afternoon some acts of great bravery are reported. When the boat was sinking William McLelland, who was afterwards drowned, seized the two oars, but gave them to his elderly mate, Alfred Perry, who was also drowned. Perry in turn gave one oar to Prott, thus saving the latter’s life. Perry got into difficulties, and McLelland went to his aid, being a strong swimmer. They were last seen together, McLelland doing his best to keep Perry afloat. Their bodies have not yet been found. Portions of the boat have been picked up four miles away from the scene of the accident.

Often the text on Trove is misspelt as it is scanned digitally and corrected by users, including myself. By searching for Perry I found a very brief mention in the Brisbane Courier  of 11 October, 1897 which gives a little more information. Now if you search you should find it much more easily. It’s rather like solving a jigsaw piece by piece.

A boat containing five men upset near Kiama, and two of the men, named McLelland and Perry, were drowned.  

According to Rootsweb William McClelland married Mary Wilson in 1892 and had a child, Myrtle. The NSW BDM’s has a possible four children for William O. and Mary McClelland of Berry/Kiama. Now, that’s another story but they weren’t the McLennan family I was looking for. If anyone has a photo of William McClelland or his family it would be great if it could be included later. Here’s a link to a photo of the seat taken at sunset. It’s a rather lovely but lonely spot at times.


The Story of ‘Our Grandad’s Treasured Photos’

Our Nearest & Dearest


Our family does not have many early photos. Just a few very precious ones. Grandad’s two sons always took pride of place on the china cabinet.

Gdad1920  Gdad 1923

Grandad’s early days are marked by these two photos, that’s all. The wrinkles are from the earlier photo being kept in his father’s wallet for many years. Most ‘ordinary’ folk could not afford more than a few photos and these tended to mark special occasions, like this christening.

War has devastating effects upon us all. The ramifications are all pervasive for both the victorious and the defeated. Grandad’s father had been a stretcher bearer in World War I and suffered from ill health for many years. Grandad worked in an essential service and remained in Australia during World War II. While teaching welding at the School of Military Engineering he applied to relieve the British Occupation Forces in Japan. However, destiny intervened. Soon afterwards, he met his future wife and eventually had to decide whether to accept an offer for Japan or to marry. Life had offered him a marvellous opportunity to start a family so he stayed, and we’re here today because of it. He could never quite believe it himself.

Grandad1956-7Whether you have loads of photos or just a cherished few, they are some of our most precious possessions. Often they give us clues to people, places and times past or confound us with unanswerable questions. After gleaning as much information as possible from the subject matter and details of the photo, turn it over. Look at the back for notes or stamps with the photographers details. Often the numbers can help to determine which photos belong together and which don’t. Perhaps, a thoughtful relative has made an album with everything already written for you. A veritable treasure trove! Why not have your photos scanned (and labelled!) before sharing the digital copies with other members of your family. Think of it like a back up or insurance. Everyone can make as many prints or copies as they like without damaging, losing or having the originals ‘disappear’. Now, what about a slideshow?

If your intend to keep photos, cards or even tickets for a long time then you need to protect and preserve them for the future. Where possible the original photographs should be stored in archival quality pocket pages and arranged in an archival album. These are not pretty or cheap but very functional and able to retain their meaning if organised carefully.  Recently, I sorted a pile of photos into these pages and the family was stunned at how the sequence of photos showed their story as they’d never seen it before. Of course, the baby photos won the day!

The Story of ‘Our Great Grandmother’s Sewing Box’.

What about the Box?

184E copy

Nowadays, our great grandmother’s old sewing box is much the worse for wear, but still loved and treasured regardless. There’s no picture of Nanna so that’s all there is. The box’s story has become interwoven with the lives of her many children and grandchildren.

As a child, I was in awe of  this rosewood box with it’s intricately inlaid pattern, an engraved name plaque, satin lining and even a mirror! I had never seen anything so wonderful and perhaps it began my love affair with fine woodwork or maybe even trees! At this time, it was cherished by Nanna’s grand daughter who guarded it closely, but was unable to forestall the ravages of children and time. If you google ‘rosewood sewing box’ you’ll find plenty of delightful images.


In 1876, our great grandmother was born in Manchester, England and was the second eldest daughter of a ‘Provision Dealer’ according to the 1881 Census of England (Family Search). Years later, she told her only grand daughter that the rosewood sewing box was given to her on her twelfth birthday, in 1888.  All eight of the girls in her family were encouraged to sew and consequently received a sewing box for their twelfth birthday. Needlework seems to have been neglected as Nanna’s box appears to have been mainly used for family photos and treasured objects. The rosewood box travelled to her new home when she married in 1905 (General Register Office, England) and made the journey to Australia aboard the ‘Demosthenes’ which arrived in Melbourne in August, 1912 (Public Record Office of Victoria).


The White Star Line included both the ‘Demosthenes’ and the ‘Titanic’ which had sunk only two months before. With three baby daughters and a household’s worth of furniture, this intrepid family departed London on the 26th June, 1912. No wonder an article printed in The Argus was entitled ‘Happy Immigrants’ and shows the ‘Demosthenes’ passengers arriving in Melbourne on August 7, 1912. After correcting the scanned text in Trove, it begins:

HAPPY IMMIGRANTS.      DEMOSTHENES’ PASSENGERS.      WORK FOR ALL. Looking happy and expectant, about 600 assisted passengers stepped ashore at Victoria Dock from the steamer Demosthenes yesterday. Almost every class of British workman was represented,  from the burly boilermaker to the less robust shop-assistant, who had decided to change his occupation from farming. The girls were rosy cheeked and pictures of boisterous health, and all seemed endowed with a spirit of cosy confidence that should stand them in good stead. It was a well dressed ship’s company, with nothing to suggest the frowsy (!!!) destitution at one time popularly associated with the immigrant. The passengers who arrived by the Demosthenes might have walked off the gangway of an Orient liner etc……

190What will become of the box? Sometimes we have to make difficult decisions. What should we keep as time marches on and our cupboards invariably overflow? Some say, what does it matter anyway? Not me.

I wonder if any of the other girl’s boxes have survived? Do you have such an endearing sewing box in your family? Maybe there’s even an old family bible with your family tree hidden inside!

The Story of ‘Our Grandad and his Box’.

What’s in the Box?


Somewhere, everywhere there are boxes. Hidden in our cupboards, drawers and dark corners. Once loved and cherished for the secrets or treasures that were held most dear, but time moves on and so do we. Our boxes are lost and forgotten, even discarded or abandoned to their fate, but not always. Some are rescued against all odds, like a message in a bottle. Are you the keeper of such treasures? Where are they now?

Gdad_1249  GDad_1250

Grandad’s box is not large and has little monetary value but was dear to him and kept ‘squirrelled away’ through the best and worst of times. Occasionally, it saw the light of day, reassured him and was gone again. He knew it would eventually come to me and it would be safe. Trust is an amazing phenomenon.  Now, it is our only ‘real’ connection with him. I cannot divulge his ‘treasures’ except to tell you that all is not what it seems. Of course there is a box within a box and the original battered metal one has been replaced by the wooden cigar box.

Such a ‘hoard’ may include a ring, a piece of jewellery, a button, a postcard, a photo or album, a stamp, a letter, a book, a telegram, some tickets, ribbons, money, newspaper clippings, trophies, maps, brochures, service records and certificates or other legal documents which often divulge more than what first meets our eye. A little time may reveal initials, names, dates, places, likes, dislikes, or even a glimmer of their personality or relationship to one another. So tantalizingly near, but often so far away.

Have another look inside one of your boxes, is there something that’s always been there that you’ve missed? If you take a photo it may help to make the details clearer or jog your memory. Talk about it. Perhaps, in a day or two, you might even remember a snippet of conversation, a family tale, a face or a connection. Now consider… have you found any more clues to add to the story of your ‘Grandad and his box’ ? I hope so.

Canberra, ACT. Celebrating the Centenary of Canberra.

The Federal Capital Site 1913


Busy time in Canberra this week as they celebrate the Centenary of Canberra. Over the past year or so Explorers Tree has researched many aspects of the quest for Australia’s Federal Capital Site, particulary in relation to Bombala and Yass which were both among the original 45 or so contenders in 1901. Canberra was not even considered until 1906 when no agreement could be reached. The National Library of Australia (NLA) is a marvellous resource and has a huge variety of items in its collections, including a watercolour of the Canberra Federal Capital Site by Penleigh Boyd. Links to all the items are included as permission is required from the NLA to publish the actual pictures or articles online.

A Timeline on Canberra 100 shows that on 20 February, 1913, the Minister for Home Affairs, King O’Malley, hammered the first peg of the survey for the city of Canberra. A quick look at Trove helps us to locate both newspaper articles and pictures from 1913. Here’s the photograph taken on the day, although the event seems to have been overlooked by the media at the time, except for the Broken Hill ‘Barrier Miner’ which ran an article on ‘The Unnamed Federal Capital’ and the Goulburn Penny Post which welcomed the subsequent naming in ‘Foundation Ceremony’.

According to the Timeline ‘On 12 March 1913, three golden trowels were used to lay the first three foundation stones of the nation’s new capital: the first by the Governor-General, Lord Denman; the second by the Prime Minister, Andrew Fisher; and the third by the Minister for Home Affairs, King O’Malley’. The National Library of Australia actually has the  trowel used by King O’Malley which he donated to them in 1934 and was featured in many Australian newspapers at the time, including the Sydney Morning Herald, the Courier Mail and the Townsville Daily Bulletin.

In 1938, after 25 years, the short history of Canberra was reported in an illustrated article from the Canberra Times entitled the ‘World’s Youngest and Fairest City’. Tonight a new program on ABC TV entitled ‘Canberra Confidential’ begins and will hopefully showcase many of the resources available at the National Library of Australia and elsewhere.