The history behind the new Ginninderry suburb names

Strathnairn and Macnamara have been announced as the first two suburb names for the Ginninderry development, a joint venture between Riverview Developments and the ACT Government.


The new suburb of Strathnairn is named after the property of Strathnairn, located in the Belconnen district.

The ‘Strathnairn’ property was originally part of a land grant awarded to 19th century explorer Captain Charles Sturt.

The property was established as a mixed grazing farm in the 1920s. In January 1934 the rural lease over Block 18 District of Belconnen was transferred to Mr Ian Hamilton Baird who named the property ‘Strathnairn’. The Baird family farmed the property until 1974 when the lease was resumed by the Commonwealth.

‘Strathnairn’ was first leased for community arts activities in 1977. Strathnairn Arts Centre continues to provide working spaces and facilities for a range of artists, crafts people and community groups.

Catriona Baird, Ian Hamilton Baird’s granddaughter considers it a privilege that the suburb is being named after her family’s former property.

“I lived at Strathnairn as a young child and I have many happy memories of my time there,” Ms Baird said. “Naming the suburb Strathnairn is a great honour for my family and a wonderful recognition of the history that surrounds the property.


The second suburb to be developed in Ginninderry is Macnamara, named after Dame Jean Macnamara.

Dame Macnamara contributed significantly to medical science in Australia and was committed to improving the lives of children suffering from the viral disease, poliomyelitis.

As Honorary Medical Officer in the Physiotherapy Department at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne during 1927-59 Jean organised and supervised the care of children suffering from poliomyelitis, training doctors and physiotherapists in the management of the disease.

Her discovery, in collaboration with Macfarlane Burnet, of the existence of multiple strains of the poliomyelitis virus, reported in 1931 in the British Journal of Experimental Pathology, proved pivotal in the development of the effective Salk vaccine. In 1935 Jean was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to the welfare of children.

Dame Jean was passionate about Australia’s rural heritage and the environment. In the face of commercial opposition, she maintained that if the country was to be left with any topsoil, the rabbit must be eradicated. Her tireless advocacy contributed to Jean playing a prominent role in the campaign for the testing and introduction of the myxoma virus to control the wild rabbit plague of the 1950s.

The announcement of the first two suburb names marks the next important step for the Ginninderry development.

Mrs Merran Samuel, Dame Macnamara’s daughter, is sure her mother would have appreciated the recognition.

“My mother would be very pleased to have her tireless work in medicine and science recognised,” Mrs Samuel said. “A suburb named after her is a most welcome recognition.”

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