28 Jan / 2014

Development of Deakin – (1) The Back Paddock

Before the Capital

The land on which Deakin is built first came under white occupation in 1829, being parts of two land grants which fronted on the Molongo River. Each was of 2560 acres, and extended south past Red Hill.


The more easterly block was known as “Klensendorlffe’s”, though Robert Klensendorlffe only occupied it for a few years before going bankrupt. After this it passed through various hands and tenancies until finally coming under the ownership of the Campbell family of Duntroon. The eastern boundary of this block was a little west of the line of Commonwealth Avenue, skirting the western side of what became Capital Hill. The western boundary of Klensendorlffe’s was more or less on the line of Hopetoun Circuit. The block extended well south of Red Hill towards modern Hughes.

The westerly block was granted to Robert Campbell and remained part of the Yarralumla estate through various changes of ownership until resumption by the Commonwealth in 1912. It included modern Weston Park, West Deakin and Yarra Glen down to current Woden.

These two blocks were crossed east-west by the old road from Uriarra to Queanbeyan, which came from the current line of Cotter Road, south of Yarralumla homestead, and crossed modern Yarralumla suburb more or less along the line of Schlich Street and Perth Avenue, then around the north of Capital Hill not far from the location of Old Parliament House.

Later maps show the Uriarra Road taking a more southern route from Yarralumla, to cross the corner of Deakin right behind the Lodge and around the south of Capital Hill before heading off towards Queanbeyan along the line of Franklin Street, Griffith. So bullock drays once creaked along where young hoons now rev their cars in Manuka on a Friday night.

This early history has been written up in detail by Anne Gugler and Patricia Frei in their excellent and detailed histories of Yarralumla suburb. For a chronology see their Timeline of Stirling Park.

All the early settlement and intensive farming seems to have taken place in the northern parts of these blocks, on more fertile land nearer the Molonglo and other watercourses. This history belongs to modern Yarralumla. The higher, drier land on which Deakin was built was, for all that early period, the back paddocks used for grazing, some timber-getting, and a bit of quarrying.