Thursday 1 March 2018
By Hoa Luu

Recently, the Ginninderry team began works to preserve the Belconnen Farm Heritage Precinct as part of the project’s ongoing conservation commitment. Belconnen Farm is a significant farm group with a succession of buildings, and remnants of various archaeological resources which all contribute to an understanding of the use and development of the place since the 1830s. The team at Ginninderry is taking great effort and care to make sure these sites are preserved and protected so that they remain unaffected, and are even enhanced, by the upcoming development.

There is a special association with Captain Charles Sturt, for his explorations in the land through the Murrumbidgee and Murray River Corridors and into the desert centre of the continent. Sturt was granted the initial allocation of land as a reward for his explorations.

Charles Campbell, son of the notable figure Robert Campbell, later purchased the land from Sturt, which he named Belconnen, and built the first stone cottage in 1850. The careful selection of the site beside two creeks and underground spring, illustrates Campbell’s sound understanding of farming. The location and orientation of the stone cottage to the Brindabellas and the outstanding views provides the cottage and its setting with a strong aesthetic presence.

The land remained in the Campbell family, passing from Charles Campbell to his son Frederick Campbell, until it was split in half when the federal government claimed a large part of it to become part of the new Australian Capital Territory. The division left Campbell  with 626 acres of Sturt’s original 5000.

Around this time the Corkhill family, which first came to the region working on Robert Campbell’s Duntroon estate, took up leases on some of the new ACT lands and acquired some of the NSW land over the border. Learn more about the Corkhill history here.

The Farm’s stone cottage is currently being repaired so that it can be properly restored and reused in the future as a community space, possibly a museum or gallery.

Other buildings being repaired are the Homestead by noted Canberra architect Ken Oliphant, the woolshed, and the shearer’s quarters. Construction training participants from Ginninderry’s SPARK program will be involved in the restoration and assisting in the repairs as part of their training program.

“As a heritage precinct and one of the earliest farms in the area, we need to ensure that Belconnen Farm is kept in a sound condition. The extent of the maintenance work covers all buildings, including the 1850s cottage and will stabilise and protect the structures for years to come. As a future community space, we are all committed to ensuring its long-term viability so generations to come can learn about the area’s rich history.” Says Eric Martin, heritage architect for Belconnen Farm.

And when it comes to preserving our local history, we’re encouraging the community to get involved too. We’re collaborating with ANU historian Mary Hutchinson to conduct a Local History Study, which is well underway – all are welcome to participate! Find out more here.