Weston Creek

The District of Weston Creek is one of the original eighteen districts of the Australian Capital Territory used in land administration. The district is subdivided into divisions (suburbs), sections and blocks. The district of Weston Creek lies entirely within the bounds of the city of Canberra, the capital city of Australia. The district comprises eight residential suburbs, situated to the west of the Woden Valley district and approximately 13 kilometres (8.1 mi) southwest of the Canberra City centre. Situated adjacent to the district was the large Stromlo Forest pineplantation until the forest was destroyed by bushfires in 2001 and 2003.

This article is about the district of the Australian Capital Territory. For the Canberra suburb, see Weston, Australian Capital Territory. For the town centre, see Weston Creek Centre.

Australian Capital Territory
Weston Creek
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory

35.2974°S 149.034°E / -35.2974; 149.034

Population 22,988 (2016 census)[1]
 • Density 1,455/km2 (3,768/sq mi)
Gazetted 12 May 1966[2]
Area 15.8 km2 (6.1 sq mi)
Location 13 km (8 mi) SSW of Canberra City
Territory electorate(s) Murrumbidgee
Federal division(s)
Localities around Weston Creek:
Stromlo Molonglo Valley Canberra Central
Stromlo Weston Creek Woden Valley
Stromlo Tuggeranong Tuggeranong

Weston Creek was named in honour of Captain George Edward Weston, a former officer of the East India Company who arrived in Australia in 1829, and was Superintendent of the Hyde Park Convict Barracks in Sydney. In 1841, Weston was granted land in the district now known as Weston Creek.[3]

At the 2016 census, the population of the district was 22,988.[1]

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The traditional custodians of the district are the indigenous people of the Ngunawal tribe.[4]

Following the transfer of land from the Government of New South Wales to the Commonwealth Government in 1911, the district was established in 1966 by the Commonwealth via the gazettal of the Districts Ordinance 1966 (Cth) which, after the enactment of the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988,[5] became the Districts Act 1966.[6] This Act was subsequently repealed by the ACT Government and the district is now administered subject to the Districts Act 2002.[7]

The ‘four-square-mile’ (2560 acre) grant to George Weston at the ‘Yarrow-Lumla plains’ was completed on 31 October 1831. The land was originally settled by James Martin, a former soldier in the NSW Corps, who in August 1827 applied to the government for permission to rent 2,000 acres (810 ha) of land on which he had already built a dwelling and barn, was grazing cattle and sheep, and had sown 12 acres (4.9 ha) with wheat. Martin’s claim, however, was not successful.

Along with the adjacent Woden Valley, the area later became part of the 40,000 acres (16,000 ha)Yarralumla Station. It was owned successively by Sir Terence Aubrey Murray, Augustus Gibbes and Frederick Campbell, until it was resumed in 1913 as part of a land acquisition scheme after the Federal Capital Territory, was declared in 1911.[8]

The earliest homesteads in the valley were Weston (in the present suburb of Holder), Cooleman (on the southern edge of Chapman), The Rivers (corner of Uriarra Rd and Coppins Crossing Rd), Blundell’s Homestead (off of Coppins Crossing Rd, near the large bend in the Molonglo River), Illoura (present suburb of North Weston) and Avondale (present-day Holder). In the early 1920s, approximately 9,000 acres (3,600 ha) were subdivided for soldier settlement leases.

Weston. John and Ellen Fox were amongst the first settlers in the Weston valley, living at the Weston homestead from the 1860s. The homestead was located near what is now a small reserve on the corner of Calder Crescent and Woolrych Street, Holder.[9] The large pine trees in the reserve were part of the windbreak for the homestead’s garden. The driveway to the homestead ran off of Cotter Road, and is still visible as a dirt track between Cotter Road and Dixon Drive opposite the YMCA Early Learning Centre. Several of John and Ellen’s nine children were born at Weston,[10] and their son David Fox and his wife Margaret later took over the property.[11] In 1920, the Commonwealth Government acquired the land for use in the Soldier Settlement scheme. Hubert (Fred) Dulhunty was then granted a five-year soldier settlement lease of 804 acres (325 ha) (Block 30), which was then expanded to 1,319 acres (534 ha) in 1926 to incorporate most of the Weston property (Block 24A).[12] Dulhunty did not reside at the property, and the Foxs continued to live and work there. Following David Fox’s death at age 49 in 1926, Margaret continued to reside at the property,[13] but then moved to nearby Avondale homestead in about 1933. The Weston and Taylor’s Hill leases were purchased by John Dent in October 1932, and used for mixed farming and grazing.[14] The Weston lease was then purchased in 1937 by Rudolph and Eileen De Salis. Rudolph was born at Cuppacumalong homestead near Tharwa, and had lived at ‘Bondo’ near Cooma and ‘Yarrawa’ near Adaminaby before moving to Weston.[15] Rudolph remained at Weston until he died in February 1957, aged 70.[16] Members of the De Salis family continued to live at Weston up until the late-1960s.[17]

Avondale. Avondale homestead was located off of Kambah Lane just to the northeast of the Weston homestead, in the vicinity of what is now a small reserve in De Graaff Street, Holder. The 1,349 acres (546 ha) property (Block 17) extended from Kambah Lane to the west of Narrabundah Hill. Margaret Fox took over the Avondale lease in July 1933. In July 1955 she sold the property to Mr J. Maguire, owner of nearby Melrose, for £29,000.[18] His son and daughter-in-law, Patrick and Mary Maguire, lived at the property following their marriage in May 1958.[19] The property was resumed in 1968 to allow suburban development in Weston Creek.

The Rivers. In 1926, Aubrey Blewitt was allocated a ten-year soldier settlement lease for Block 13 which he called The Rivers.[20] The 1,120 acres (450 ha) block went from the corner of Uriarra Road and Coppins Crossing Road north to the Molonglo River, an area now incorporated into the new suburb of Denman Prospect. Blewitt had previously been granted 645 acres (261 ha) in present-day North Weston and northern Holder in 1920 (Block 41), but it was resumed in 1925 and incorporated into Block 24 (Weston). In 1946, 412 acres (167 ha) was excised from his block for a pine plantation (designated Block 45). Aubrey continued to farm The Rivers until his death in May 1961.[21] His wife, Mary, continued to work the property until her death in September 1975.

Illoura. Thomas Cargill was offered a ten-year soldier settlement lease for the 1,015 acres (411 ha) Block 26A, which extended from present-day Curtin and Lyons across to present-day North Weston and McCubbin to the west.[22] In 1928 he sold his lease to Guy Tanner, and the Tanner family continued to farm the area until the property was resumed in the early 1970s.[23] The homestead was located just to the southeast of the Tuggeranong Parkway / Cotter Road intersection. A clump of large eucalyptus trees still visible to the left of where the southbound onramp meets the Parkway marks the former location of the homestead.

Allawah. In 1926, Kenneth Anderson was granted a 1,503 acres (608 ha) soldier settlement lease in present-day Fisher and Waramanga, extending across to Mount Taylor (Block 22), and called his property Allawah.[24] In November 1932, with his rent in arrears, he transferred the lease to John and Stella Dent.

Cooleman. Philip and Katherine Champion, previously from the property Weetangerra, purchased part of the Allawah lease in 1936 and renamed their property Cooleman.[25] The property covered much of present day Chapman and Rivett. The homestead was located on the slopes of Mt Arawang on the southern side of the Weston valley, located in what is now a reserve in Bertel Crescent, Chapman.[26] Cooleman continued as a sheep run until residential construction in Weston Creek commenced around 1970. The Champions moved to a suburban home in Waramanga.

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