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Linda Simpson :: Territory Coordinator

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is the capital territory of the Commonwealth of Australia and its smallest self-governing internal territory. It is an inland enclave in New South Wales, situated in bushland.

The ACT was conceived during the federation conventions of the late 1800s as neutral location for a new National Capital. The Australian Constitution provided that following Federation in 1901, land would be ceded to the new Federal Government. The Territory was transferred to the Commonwealth by the state of New South Wales in 1911, and construction of the capital, Canberra, began in 1913.

History of the ACT

Before European settlement the area now known as the ACT was inhabited by three Aboriginal tribes: the Ngunnawal, Walgalu, and Ngarigo.

White exploration and settlement did not occur until the 1820s. From 1824 onwards, settlements and homesteads, and ultimately some small townships such as Hall and Tharwa, were established in the area.

One homestead of special historical interest was Lambrigg, near Tharwa. This was the place in which William Farrer developed the rust-resistant Federation wheat strain that had a major beneficial effect on Australia's wheat industry. Farrer died at Lambrigg in 1906.

When the constitution for the Commonwealth of Australia was being negotiated between the colonies, a point of contention between the colonies was the location of the national capital, with both Melbourne and Sydney claiming the right to be the capital. A compromise was reached whereby a separate capital city would be created in New South Wales, provided it was no closer than 100 miles to Sydney. Until such time as the new city was established, Melbourne was to be the temporary capital of Australia.

The present site was chosen in 1908, with additional territory at Jervis Bay (now a naval base on the NSW coast) allocated so the national capital could have a seaport. In 1909 New South Wales transferred the land for the territory to federal control and in 1910 an act of parliament created the legal framework for the territory. The Minister for Home Affairs, King O'Malley, who had charge of the legislation creating the ACT, also proposed a bill making the ACT an alcohol-free area. With his strong support, the bill became law later that year. O'Malley also pushed for a form of land tenure that restricted land holders to leasehold, rather than freehold, on the basis that this would stop land speculation and give the national government, as the lessor, more control over development. This too was adopted by the national Parliament. As of 2006 all land in the ACT is held on 99 year crown leases.

In 1911 an international design competition was held, which was won by Walter Burley Griffin. The official naming of Canberra and its official construction began on March 12, 1913.

The seat of the Federal Government officially moved to the ACT from Melbourne on the formal opening of the Provisional Parliament House on 9 May 1927. Among the first acts passed by the parliament in its new location was the repealing of the prohibition laws. At first the public service continued to be based in Melbourne, but the various departments were gradually moved to Canberra over many years.

The territory was initially known as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). In 1938, the territory was formally named the Australian Capital Territory.

In a 1978 referendum, Canberrans rejected self-government by 63% of the vote. Despite this, in December 1988, the ACT was granted full self-government through an Act of the Commonwealth Parliament that made the ACT a body politic under the crown. Following the first elections in February 1989, a 17-member Legislative Assembly sat at its offices in London Circuit, Civic, on May 11, 1989. The Australian Labor Party formed the ACT's first government, led by the Chief Minister Rosemary Follett, who made history as Australia's first female head of government.

(Source: Australian Capital Territory. (2008, January 17). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 03:15, February 6, 2008)

Canberra Coat of Arms

The Australian Capital Territory has no Coat of Arms. However, the Coat of Arms for Canberra, the national capital of Australia, was granted by King George V in 1928. The Canberra Coat of Arms shows a shield supported by two swans. One swan is black and the other white, symbolising the Aboriginal and European people of Australia. The Coat of Arms bears the motto "For the Queen, the Law and the People". (Source)

ACT Flag
Guidelines for ACT Flag Usage

The ACT has had its own flag since 1993. It is based on the first flag for the city of Canberra. It uses Canberra's colours of blue and gold and shows the Coat of Arms and Southern Cross. (Source)

ACT Fauna Emblem

The Gang Gang Cockatoo was adopted as the Faunal Emblem for the Territory on 27 February 1997. (Source)

Link to the ACTGenWeb

To link to the ACTGenWeb simply add http://www.rootsweb.com/~ausact  as a hyperlink; or select a logo from below and add the URL as a hyperlink to the picture's properties when posting to the web.  

To select a logo place your mouse over the image and right mouse click.  Select Save Picture As (or the alternative command in non-IE browsers); save to your computer.  The image will then need to be transferred to your website's server.  When adding the logo to your homepage remember to include a hyperlink back to this website.

Parts of this website are copyright as per the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licence
This HTML site is best viewed in an IE 6.0x Java Script Enabled Browser.
Site content may be copied by any ACTGenWeb municipal project, now, or in the future.
This applies to official GenWeb websites ONLY.

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2008 AustralianCapitalTerritoryGenWeb Project (ACTGenWeb)  ^ top

2008-09 Linda Simpson
Australian Capital Territory
Coordinator