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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
Ginninderra Police Station

In recognition of a growing, if dispersed population, a police station was established at Ginninderra in 1882, just off the Glebe (or Weetangera) Road, and just across the Yass-Queanbeyan road from Ginninderra Public School. Following reorganisation of the NSW Police Force in 1862 the Canberra district had been placed under the supervision of Queanbeyan. The Ginninderra station operated for the next forty-five years, closing in 1927.

The Robertson Land Acts of 1861 resulted in increased land settlement, population and rural production. Constable Madden reported an unofficial estimate of the district population in 1897 as 636 people. The changes in land tenure also presaged a new source of communal aggravation as the original settlers fought to prevent the new selectors from using access roads which crossed their holdings.

The land and residence of Patrick Ryan (Portion 67 of 47 acres, Parish of Ginninderra) was acquired for the new police station by the NSW government and formally transferred to 'Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria' in 1883. This very ample block was bounded to the north east by the Yass Road, and to the south by the Glebe Road running up to 'Fiveways', which separated it from George T. Palmer's Ginninderra Estate. The eastern boundary was shared with Edmund Ward's Nine Elms.

The first officer in charge of the new station was Mounted Constable Lawrence Joseph Clifford from Yass, who took charge in April 1882. He was replace in February 1884 by Constable John Loughlin, and a black tracker was also attached to the station. Gillespie records that:

"The employment of the tracker was not well-received by the residents of the district who considered it an unjustifiable reflection on their law-anding character"

Loughlin retired in January 1886 and was replaced temporarily by Senior Constable Eager, before First Class Constable William J. Madden from Boorowa took charge in March 1886. A new lock up was erected at the station in 1899. It was during Madden's six year tenure that the tragic shooting of Joseph Heaps occurred. Heaps was fatally wounded by a member of the party of which Madden was in charge. In 1903 Madden was promoted to Nelligen, and was succeeded by Mounted Constable Albert Hallett. It is reported that the lockup was frequently used as overnight accomodation for prisoners en route from outlying districts to the Queanbeyan Police barracks.

Early in Hallet's tenure the police station, already deteriorating, was badly damaged in the 1905 bush fire that destroyed a number of Ginninderra buildings. The newly formed Ginninderra Farmer's Union was particularly active in lobbying for the station to be rebuilt. In 1906 the Minister for Public Works approved an amount of ₤900 for the erection of a new police station. Mr W M Brown of Woolhara was the successful tenderer and the new building was completed in 1907.

This was not, apparently, to universal acclaim:

"Our new police station is just now being treated to tbe finishing touches of the paint-brush, and will be ready for the usual inspection in a few days. Erected as it is, on a nook running into what might fairly be described as the centre of a large capitalistic estate, the new and costly edifice stands boldly forth as another addition to the long list of white elephants for which the taxpayer of this State has been called upon to stand sponsor" [Ginninderra Notes, Queanbeyan Leader, 29 March 1907].

A heritage assessment of 1985 describes the building as '...a significant example of a small, self-contained rural Police Station still complete with lockup, residence, stable building, outside toilet, house paddock, horse paddocks, access laneways, picket fences and gates and mature landscape and tree plantings. It is all the more significant because all the original elements still exist, creating an historically and socially important context of high cultural heritage significance'.

Ginninderra police station finally closed in 1927. In September of that year, following official transfer of the federal government to Canberra, and opening of the new parliament house, a Police Ordinance was enacted enabling one sergeant and ten constables to be sworn in as members of the newly established Federal Capital Police. Before this, policing was carried out by New South Wales constables - located at Gundaroo and Ginninderra in the north, Michelago, Adaminaby and Cooma in the south, and Wee Jasper in the north west. These stations were under the supervision of the Inspector of Police at Cooma. From 1927 the new Federal Capital Police assumed control of the whole of the Territory and the services of the State police were withdrawn.

Shortly after, the Police Station was made available for lease. The first tenants were probably Edward Maloney and his wife Annie May [Cavanagh], who was the daughter of Clarence Kavanagh and Esther Ann [Smith] of 'Strayleaf'. They married in 1928 and leased the station with its surrounding 46 acres from 1928 - 1943, when the lease seems to have been taken over by Annie's mother.

The Ginninderra Police Station has been entered into the ACT Heritage Register

Police stationed at Ginninderra Police Station

Snr Constable Lawrence Joseph Clifford (April 1882 - Feb 1884)
Snr Constable Johnn Loughllin (Feb 1884 - Jan 1896)
Snr Constable Eager (Jan 1896 - Feb 1896)
Snr Constable William J Madden (Feb 1896 - Jan 1903)
Constable Albert Hallett (Jan 1903 - Nov 1908)
Constable Albert Wilde Thornton (Nov 1908 - Feb 1915)
First Class Constable D Coyle (Feb 1915 - May 1921)
First Class Constable Francis Page Fyfe (May 1921 - December 1927)

The Ginninderra Police Station was burnt down on 4 April 2024.

[Note: The remains of the building are visible from the Barton Highway but is not open to the public]

Related Photos

Joseph Heaps ⧉

Ginninderra Police Station (centre) ⧉

Ginnindera Police Station Remains ⧉

Click on the caption (⧉) to view photo details and attribution.


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