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The Publications Page

As well as a regular newsletter, the Society publishes a Journal twice a year, and has produced a rich variety of books on aspects of the history of Canberra and district.


Keep up to date with events and research with the Canberra History News (previously known as the Newsletter), published every two months.

Some of the articles which have appeared in the Canberra History News in recent years (with the edition number in brackets) include:

  • Bushfires of 1952 (378) - marks the 50th anniversary of the bushfires which burnt through Stromlo, Woden and Tuggeranong.

  • Ghosts of the Old Bus Depot (379) - story of the men and women who worked in the industrial area of Kingston and on Canberra’s buses.

  • The Power House Cottages. Gone but not Forgotten (380) - Val Emerton reflects on early Kingston and Eastlake.

  • The Saga of Silly Corner (381) - how the washout of a bridge in Tuggeranong affected the lives of residents for more than three decades.

  • The Browne-Fitzpatrick Affair (382, 384) - the story of how Parliament imprisoned two journalists in 1955 for a breach of parliamentary privilege.

  • Origin of the name 'Wanniassa' (382) - most people assume that Wanniassa has Aboriginal origins. In fact, its source lies north in Asia.

  • Riverslake - Canberra's first novel? (387) - a review of the novel by Tom Hungerford based in a Canberra workers hostel post World War 2; possibly the first novel written with Canberra as the setting.

  • A Stroll to Rob Roy (387) - a story about Royalla and the mountain from which it gets its name; Mt Rob Roy.

  • The Self Government Referendum of 1978 (389) - How Canberrans decided that they didn’t want to govern themselves

  • Heat, Hail and Light Horsemen (391) - about the experiences of the men of the Light Horse in the lead up to the naming of Canberra on 12 March 1913.

  • The Man on the Two Dollar Note (392) - the scientific work of William Farrer in developing improved varieties of wheat at Lambrigg.

  • Miles Franklin - Her Brilliant Career (394) - 50 years after her death, Jon Prance reviews the career of district author Miles Franklin.

  • The Canberra novel - Miles Franklin's Old Blastus (395) - Peter Johnston reflects on Miles Franklin’s book Old Blastus of Bandicoot set in the Canberra/ Queanbeyan district and the similarity to historical events and local identities in the book.

  • Recollections of Mulwala Hostel (397) - Shirley McGlynn remembers her time living in one of Canberra’s hostels, Mulwala.

  • The Brotherhood of Man (397) - in February 1942 the Prime Minister, John Curtin, turned up at the re-dedication of the Canberra Presbyterian Church as St. Ninian’s. Why would a self-confessed agnostic be at a small rural church and why was his speech described “as the hardest .. he ever had to make in his life”?

  • The Blue Moon Café – the Prowse connection (399) – the story of one of Canberra’s early institutions; the Blue Moon Café in the Sydney Building in Civic

  • O’Malley’s Stagger Juicery (399) – How the Minister for Home Affairs, King O’Malley, turned Canberra ‘dry’ by banning alcohol sales.

  • The Clean ‘Air’ of Monaro (400) – the origins of Monaro, its various spellings, pronunciations and its meaning.

  • The Centenary of the Site Selection (420). In November 1908 Parliament selected the Yass-Canberra area as the site for the Federal capital. Read about the instructions given to Charles Scrivener to fix the location of the capital site.

  • Scrivener and his 1909 Survey (422) - the story of Charles Scrivener's survey camp on Kurrajong Hill which also hosted visiting parliamentarians.

  • Captain Edmund Cliffe and the Craven Estate (423) - For people interested in the history of Weston Creek and Molonglo then you will want to find out about Cliffe; the forgotten early land owner of much of the lower Molonglo valley.

  • Canberra's Foundations (426) - the recollections of Arthur Percival, one of Canberra's early surveyors who arrived in 1910.
  • Canberra Naming Ceremony (427) - how some of the witnesses to Canberra's foundation on 12 March 1913 saw the day.

  • Why Dairy Farmers Hill? (434) - the story behind the name of the hill in the middle of the National Arboretum and of the dairy farms of Canberra.

  • Journal

    The Canberra Historical Journal, issued in March and September of each year, aims to publish well-researched articles about the history of Canberra and district, and on broader history where it impinges on Canberra. The Journal also attempts to publish reviews or notices of significant new writing on the history of Canberra.

    The Journal is mailed free of charge to Society members. Current and former issues are available for sale from the Society's office at the Curtin Shopping Centre (ph. 02 62812929). There is an online index to issues 1 to 60 known as Bilby and the contents of later issues are listed in the catalogue of the collection. The Journal, from 1995, is reproduced in full text in the Informit Social Sciences database, accessible in libraries through Trove, and to other outside subscribers.

    Issue 82 of the Journal, published in March 2019, includes: an article about the fate of Walter Burley Griffin's intentions for the Canberra ornamental lake system; the story by Patience Wardle (Tillyard) of her mother and her house in Canberra from the 1920s; a transcript of a narrative written by photographer Jack Mildenhall dealing with his years in the capital from 1920; and an account of the life and work in Canberra of broadcaster Peter Carrodus. A regular feature, The Pictures Tell the Story, deals with images relating to a pioneer shopkeeping family, the Thornhills.

    You can access Bilby, the online index to the Journal, by clicking on Resources on the CDHS home page and scrolling down.

    Extract from 'The End of the Australian Cutural Cringe' by Sandy Hollway (Canberra Historical Journal September 2005)
    "I suggest that comparisons with other cities will always be more misleading than than they are helpful. We now need to be happily reconciled to Canberra's unique features. Canberra is smaller in scale than many other capital cities in the world .. it will always be thus. So what Canberra must go for is not size, but quality. I'm talking about quality across the board - in urban planning, architecture, environmental management, social infrastructure and services, governmental administration, sporting, recreational and cultural facilities and so on."

    "Second, Canberra should be happily reconciled to the fact that it is... a rural community. The original idea of the bush capital has probably faded over the years in the minds of Canberrans. But the original idea of the bush capital was .. to cherish the linkages between rural communities and the rural environment and the burgeoning urban areas. You can see the rural setting from almost anywhere in Canberra. This is a wonderful and distinctive thing for a national capital. It does not mean that Canberra cannot be cosmopolitan in the diversity of its cultures and the vibrancy and sophistication of its lifestyle."


    A selection of books are available for sale at the Society's office. Members receive a discount on many of the books for sale. The following books, some published by the Society, are available:

    Bruce Moore, Cotter Country, Greg Moore, (1999)
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    Foskett, Alan & Sutton, Shirley, the History of District and Community Health Nursing in the ACT 1911-2011, ACT community Nursing History Group, (2013)
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    Graeme Barrow, The Prime Minister's Lodge : Canberra's unfinished business , Dagraja Press, Canberra, (2008)
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    HJ Gibbney, Historical Records of the Australian Capital Territory: a guide, Canberra & District Historical Society, (1990)
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    Irlam, Ron, Bush Capital Babies, Ron Irlam, (2012)
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    Jennifer Horsfield, Mary Cunningham: An Australian Life, Ginninderra Press, (2004)
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    Mawer, G.A., Canberry Tales - an Informal History, Arcadia, (2012)
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    Max Hill, A fabric of friendship : an "imperfect memory" of the events surrounding the formation of the Federal Capital Territory Hockey Association and it's first decade , ACT Hockey Association, (1998)
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    Meyers, David, Lairds, Lags and Larrikins - an Early History of the Limestone Plains, Sefton Publications, (2010)
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    Patricia Clarke (ed.), Steps to Federation: lectures marking the centenary of federation presented by the Canberra & District Historical Society, Australian Scholarly Publishing, Melbourne, (2001)
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    Patricia M. Frei, Mervyn Jones and the Capitol & Civic Picture Theatres, Canberra : an essay of memories , Patricia M. Frei, Duffy, (2008)
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    Shirley Purchase (ed.), Canberra’s early hotels: a pint-sized history, Canberra & District Historical Society, Canberra, (1999)
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