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Research Guides

Government Records about the Australian Capital Territory

Appendix A: Chronology of the administration of Canberra and the ACT

20,000 BCArrival of Ngunnawal people in the region
1820sEuropean exploration of the region led by Charles Throsby and Joseph Wild; first properties acquired – Joshua Moore at Acton, Robert Campbell at Duntroon, and George Palmer at Ginninderra
1838Township of Queanbeyan established
1845First church established, St John the Baptist at Reid
1882Township of Hall established
1887Railway reaches Queanbeyan
1891First Federation Convention
1897–98Second Federation Convention
1899NSW royal commission to select site for the capital, reports in 1900 recommending Bombala/Eden
1900Queen Victoria signs the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act
1901Federation ceremony at Centennial Park, Sydney
First Commonwealth Parliament meets in Melbourne
1902Commonwealth Royal Commission to select site for the capital, reports in 1903 recommending Albury
Parliamentary tours of suggested sites for the national capital
1903Seat of Government Act recommends Tumut or Bombala as the capital
1904Seat of Government Act recommends Dalgety as the capital
1906More tours of possible sites arranged by NSW Premier Joseph Carruthers
1908Seat of Government Act recommends Yass–Canberra region as the capital
Charles Scrivener begins survey of the region to determine exact site for the capital, recommends Canberra Valley in February 1909
1909Charles Scrivener undertakes second survey to identify the location of the seat of government, reports in May
1910Seat of Government Surrender Act (NSW)
Seat of Government Acceptance Act (Commonwealth)
1911Commonwealth takes possession of the Federal Capital Territory
International competition to design the capital announced, won by entry 29, Walter Burley Griffin
Royal Military College, Duntroon established
Acton House acquired for the Chief Surveyor’s residence, demolished in 1940
1911–12First Commonwealth administration established, with David Miller as the Territory’s Administrator
Work begins on Cotter Dam and Power House, both completed in 1915
Yarralumla Brickworks and Bachelors Quarters (now Lennox House) established
1912Agreement with New South Wales to provide education services for the Territory
1913Royal Naval College established at Geelong, moves to Jervis Bay in February 1914
Lady Gertrude Denman announces Canberra as the name of the capital
Walter Burley Griffin arrives in Australia and visits Canberra site
Griffin submits his revised Canberra plan, known as the Report Explanatory
Griffin offered position of Federal Capital Director of Design and Construction
Canberra House built as the residence for the Administrator
Charles Weston appointed as Afforestation Officer
Canberra Fire Brigade and Ambulance Service established
1914International design competition for a new Parliament House, suspended in September, resumed in August 1916 and abandoned shortly after
First Canberra Hospital opens
Yarralumla Nursery established
Rail line between Queanbeyan and Kingston opens for freight only
1915Proposal to establish Canberra Arsenal and railway line, never built
Work begins on Canberra’s first sewer lines, Main Outfall Sewer and Main Intercepting Sewer, suspended during war, completed 1927
1916–17Royal Commission on Federal Capital Administration established; reports 1916 and 1917
1918–21Molonglo Internment Camp
1920Capital Hill foundation stone laid by Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII)
1921Federal Capital Advisory Committee established
Walter Burley Griffin resigns and leaves Canberra
Rail line extended from Kingston to Civic
1922Work begins on Hotel Canberra (now Hyatt Hotel Canberra), completed 1925
Floods wash away rail bridge over Molonglo River
1923Land Board established, reconstituted October 1925
Work begins on Provisional Parliament House, East Block and Hotel Kurrajong
Passenger services begin on rail line between Queanbeyan and Kingston
First Commonwealth-built school, Telopea Park, opens
1924First Cabinet meeting held in Canberra at Yarralumla House
Work begins on West Block
Mount Stromlo observatory established
Seat of Government Act amended to safeguard the Griffin Plan, Plan gazetted 11 November 1925
Canberra’s first airfield established at Dickson
First land auctions held
1925Federal Capital Commission replaces the Federal Capital Advisory Committee
Social Service Association established, lapsed in 1929
International design competition for the Australian War Memorial, later abandoned
Causeway Hall built
1926Construction of Sydney and Melbourne Buildings begins, Sydney Building opened by Prime Minister Bruce on 3 December 1927
First committee appointed to consider university education in the Territory
Canberra Mothercraft Society established
Airport at Majura Valley opens
Canberra’s bus service begins
Registration of motor vehicles with FCT number plates begins
1927Provisional Parliament House opened by Duke of York
Australian Forestry School established
East Block, West Block, Government Printer, The Lodge, Government House, Hotel Ainslie (now Gorman House), Hotel Wellington all completed
Second committee appointed to consider university education in the Territory
Canberra’s first baby health centre opens in Kingston
Federal Capital Territory Police Force established
Competition announced to design Canberra’s Coat of Arms, won by CR Wylie, Coat of Arms granted on 8 October 1928
Ainslie, first primary school built by the Commonwealth, opens
Report by Canberra Memorials Committee on suggested suburbs and street names
1928Albert Hall opened by Prime Minister Bruce
Successful referendum to repeal prohibition
Board of Inquiry into Canberra Hospital
Education Ordinance requiring Territory children between seven and 14 to attend school
Trades School opens at Telopea Park School
1929Canberra University College established
Agreement with NSW to supply electricity to the Territory
1930Federal Capital Commission abolished, replaced by ACT Advisory Council and Civic Administrator
Military and Naval Colleges both closed
Land Board renamed Land Advisory Board
Glebe House acquired
Court of Petty Sessions established
1931Manuka Pool opens
Institute of Anatomy building opens at Acton
1932Old Parliament House Rose Gardens established
1933National Rose Gardens established
Hospital Tax introduced to cover hospital’s costs
1934Supreme Court of the Federal Capital Territory established
1935Canberra Community Hospital Board established
Canberra Fire Brigade and Ambulance Service amalgamate
1936Land Commissioner and Land Court established to deal with rural land issues
Britain first country to establish diplomatic mission in Canberra
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve established
1937Board of Inquiry into Canberra Hospital
1938Federal Capital Territory renamed Australian Capital Territory
National Capital Planning and Development Committee established
Canberra High School opens at Acton
Consultative Committee on Parks and Gardens formed
1939Canberra Technical College established replacing former Trades School
Belconnen Naval Radio Transmitting Station established
RAAF Base Canberra established (named Fairbairn in 1941)
1940Army Drill Hall established
Barton House completed
ACT Patriotic Funds Board established, abolished in 1950
ACT Bushfire Council established
Canberra air disaster
1941Australian War Memorial opens
US signs lease to build embassy at Yarralumla, completed in 1943
1943New Canberra Hospital opens
HMAS Harman established
1944Lindsay Pryor appointed as Superintendent ACT Parks and Gardens
New government-operated abattoir at Woden completed, sold in 1969
1946Melbourne Building, Civic completed
Australian National University established
1947Mulwala House opens
 Cabinet approves construction of 3500 homes in Canberra over seven years; program ultimately fails due to lack of funding
Interdepartmental committee established to review proposals for Canberra’s growth and development
1948Cabinet approves relocation of 7027 public servants from Melbourne over 10 years, program ultimately fails due to lack of funding
Legislation implemented to create Canberra electorate, member can only vote on matters affecting ACT
1949Lawley House, Turner Hostel and Narellan House open
Work undertaken to raise height of Cotter Dam, completed in 1951
Interdepartmental committee into local government, report by HJR Cole
First plantings at Botanic Gardens by Prime Minister Ben Chifley
Lewis Nott elected as Territory’s first Member of Parliament
1950Reid House opens
Land reserved for rail line at Civic (and possible connection to Yass) disposed of for other purposes
1951Jim Fraser elected as Territory’s second Member of Parliament
Havelock House, Turner opens
1952ACT Advisory Council undertakes inquiry into local government
1953King George V memorial opens
Committee established to review role and functions of National Library, reports in 1956
1954Australian–American memorial opens
Senate Select Committee on Development of Canberra established, reports in 1955
1955Canberra’s Fire Brigade and Ambulance Service established as separate agencies
1956Admin Building completed, designed in 1923, construction first began in 1927
Administration of Mount Stromlo passes to the Australian National University
Parliamentary Joint Committee on Australian Capital Territory established
1957William Holford visits Canberra to advise on development, reports in December
National Capital Development Commission and National Capital Planning Committee established
1958Construction of Bendora Dam begins, completed 1961
1959Academy of Science building opens at Acton
Contract for first Russell Building awarded
1960Work begins on Lake Burley Griffin, Scrivener Dam, Kings Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue Bridges
Canberra University College amalgamates with Australian National University
1961Construction of Corin Dam begins, completed 1963
Civic Offices and Civic Square completed
Ethos statue unveiled
1962Kings Avenue Bridge opens
Development of Canberra’s first ‘new town’ named Woden begins
Regatta Point Exhibition Centre completed
Quamby Children’s Remand Centre opens
1963Monaro Mall, Canberra’s first shopping centre, opens
Canberra celebrates golden jubilee
Commonwealth Avenue Bridge opens
ACT Electricity Authority established
Queen Elizabeth II General Home for Post-natal Care opens
1964Lake Burley Griffin opens
Fluoridation of Canberra’s water supply begins
Canberra Showground established
Cuppacumbalong house acquired
1965Royal Australian Mint opens at Deakin
Anzac Parade opens
Canberra Theatre Centre opens
Gowrie Hostel opens
NCDC issues The Future Canberra plan
Space stations open at Tidbinbilla, Honeysuckle Creek and Orroral Valley
School of Music established
Australian Forestry School closes
 Joint Committee on the ACT investigation into the supply of residential land blocks
Commonwealth begins, completed 1966
1966Development of Belconnen begins
Construction of Corin Dam begins, completed 1968
Canberra Member of Parliament can vote on all matters in House of Representatives
1967Canberra College of Advanced Education established
ACT Hospitals Advisory Committee established
1968Anzac Parade Desert Mounted Corps from World War I memorial dedicated
National Library building opens
New Canberra Hospital and nurses’ quarters completed
1968–76Planning for possible expansion of Territory borders into New South Wales
1969Construction of Woden Valley Hospital commences, completed 1973
Macquarie Hostel opens
Government approves nuclear power station at Jervis Bay
NCDC releases its Y-plan for Canberra’s future
1970Treasury Building opens
Carillon, Captain Cook water jet and Globe completed
NCDC issues its Tomorrow’s Canberra plan
Canberra Botanic Gardens opens
Government approves acquisition of remaining freehold land in the ACT
Cameron Offices completed in stages, 1970–77
1971Flash flood at Woden kills seven people
Law Reform Commission of the ACT established, abolished 1976
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve gazetted
1973Anzac Parade 50th anniversary of the Royal Australian Air Force memorial dedicated
Commission of Inquiry into Land Tenures appointed, reports in 1973 and 1976
Woden Valley Hospital opens
Development of Tuggeranong begins
Canberra Commercial Development Authority established to manage construction of Belconnen Mall
Campbell Park Offices completed in four stages, 1973–76
1974ACT Legislative Assembly established
Legislation implemented to provide ACT with two Members of Parliament and two Senators
Lake Ginninderra completed
Parliament approves Capital Hill as site for new Parliament House
Work begins on Lower Molonglo Water Quality Control Centre, completed 1978
Interim Schools Authority established
Proposal to construct Belconnen Hospital, never built
Lanyon house acquired
1975First Territory Senators elected: John Knight and Susan Ryan
ACT Hospital Authority established
Proposal for monument to Walter Burley Griffin, lapses in 1976
Construction of Googong Dam begins
1976Canberra School of Art established
Belconnen Remand Centre opens, closes 2009
1977ACT Schools Authority established
Referendum passed to allow residents of ACT to vote in referendums
Canberra Technical College renamed Canberra Technical and Further Education College
Canberra Stadium completed
Construction of National Archives Mitchell repository begins, completed 1981
1978Canberra Botanic Gardens renamed Australian National Botanic Gardens
1979ACT House of Assembly established
Googong Dam completed
Calvary Hospital opens
Canberra Development Board established
Parliament House Construction Authority established
Canberra Hospital renamed Royal Canberra Hospital
Gudgenby Nature Reserve established
1980Parliament House design competition winner announced
High Court building opens
Black Mountain Tower completed
Benjamin Offices completed
1981National Indoor Sports Centre opens
Work commences on Australian Defence Force Academy, completed 1985
1982Australian National Gallery opens
Committee of Review of NCDC established, reports in 1983
Canberra Showground renamed National Exhibition Centre
1983Government approves establishment of Canberra casino and convention centre
Task Force appointed (Gordon Craig) to consider ACT self-government
Bluebell adopted as official flower of ACT
1984National Film and Sound Archive established at former Institute of Anatomy
NCDC releases its Metropolitan Canberra Plan for Canberra’s future, replacing the former Y-plan
National Botanic Gardens renamed Australian National Botanic Gardens
Gudgenby Nature Reserve renamed Namadgi National Park
Calthorpe’s House acquired
1985Army Drill Hall renamed Drill Hall Gallery
ACT Administration established centralising agencies responsible for the ACT
1986ACT House of Assembly abolished
Court of Petty Sessions renamed ACT Magistrates Court
Committee of Inquiry into the ACT Fire Brigade established
1987Lake Tuggeranong completed
1988National Science and Technology Centre (Questacon) opens
TAFE renamed Canberra Institute of Technology
ACT Electricity and Water Authority established
School of Music and School of Art combine to become the Canberra Institute for the Arts
 New Parliament House opens
 Floriade held for the first time
Legislation introduced to Parliament to create self-government for the ACT
House of Representatives Standing Committee inquiry into ACT leasehold
1989First elections held for the ACT Legislative Assembly, results in hung Parliament
National Capital Planning Authority replaces National Capital Development Commission
Canberra convention centre opens
ACT Department of Education replaces ACT Schools Authority
Murder of Colin Winchester
1990Canberra College of Advanced Education renamed University of Canberra
National Capital Authority releases National Capital Plan
1991Royal Canberra Hospital closes
National Capital Authority issues the National Capital Plan
1992Anzac Parade Vietnam War Veterans memorial dedicated
Responsibility for the Supreme Court of the ACT transferred to the ACT Government
1993Canberra flag adopted
National Exhibition Centre renamed Exhibition Park in Canberra
Construction of York Park begins, completed 1995
1994ACT Public Service established
Canberra casino opens
Construction of Gungahlin begins
1995Agreement reached between Commonwealth and ACT governments over land exchange at Acton and Kingston
1996National Capital Planning Authority renamed National Capital Authority
1997Royal Canberra Hospital demolished
1998National Archives of Australia occupies new headquarters at East Block
Australian National Gallery renamed National Gallery of Australia
Canberra’s first combined emergency services centre opens in Gungahlin
Lease on Canberra’s airport sold to Canberra International Airport Pty Ltd
Canberra Museum and Art Gallery opens
Tuggeranong Arts Centre opens
Gold Creek Homestead acquired
1999Admin Building renamed John Gorton Building
International Flag Display opens
Anzac Parade Australian Services Nurses National Memorial dedicated
2000Anzac Parade Australian National Korean War Memorial dedicated
ACTEW Corporation joins with Australian Gas Light to form ActewAGL
2001National Museum of Australia opens
Lindsay Pryor National Arboretum established
Magna Carta Place opens
2002Reconciliation Place opens
Commonwealth Place opens
2003Bushfires devastate Canberra
2004Inquiry into the role of National Capital Authority
Authority issues Griffin Legacy
2005ACT Honour Roll opens
Belconnen Naval Radio Transmitting Station closed, demolished in 2006
2006Australians of the Year Walk opens
Commonwealth disallows ACT civil unions legislation
Coronial inquest into January 2003 bushfires
2007Former Power House reopens as Canberra Glassworks
2008National Portrait Gallery opens
Commonwealth leases Googong Dam to ACT Government for 150 years
ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal established
Bimberi Youth Detention Centre opens
2009Construction of new Cotter Dam begins
Belconnen Arts Centre opens
2011Federal Parliament passes amendment to ACT Self-Government Act replacing veto power to amend Territory laws with majority in both houses of Parliament
2013National Arboretum Canberra opens
New Cotter Dam completed
New Canberra airport terminal completed