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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
One Tree Hill

The rich early history of Australian's national capital is in part a story about surveyors and surveying. 

One Tree Hill, three kilometres north of the village of Hall, played a vital role in the first surveys of the Canberra area, by Robert Dixon in 1829 and Robert Hoddle in 1832, and by Charles Scrivener in an even more important survey many decades later. 

Scrivener was chosen by the Commonwealth Government in late 1908 to make 'a thorough topographical investigation of the Yass-Canberra district' in order to establish the best site for the nation's capital city. Minister for Home Affairs, Hugh Mahon, instructed Scrivener to 'bear in mind that the Federal Capital should be a beautiful city ... embracing distinctive features which will lend themselves to the design worthy of the object, not only for the present, but for all time ...'

"........Charley [Scrivener] took the One-Tree Hill Trigonometrical station three kilometres north-east of the village of Hall as his 'commencement point' - an old marker first used by by surveyors Robert Dixon, Robert Hoddle and George White for cadastral surveys and for the 1829 proclamation of the County of Murray......One-Tree Hill provides a spectacular vista of the Canberra site (the view now overlooks the Gungahlin new town as extends as far south as the Tinderry Range east of Michelago village to embrace Mount Tennant, Mount Tidbinbilla, Mount McDonald and Mount Spring.The 'Main Dividing Range' formed a magnificent western boundary beyond (now identified as the Brindabella and Bomber Ranges), and Charley surveyed a direct line of sight from One-Tree Hill to 'Mt Coree or Cabral' to constitute the north-western boundary crossing the Murrumbidgee-Molonglo River just downstream from the junction".
[Birtles, p.111]

Percy Scheaffe, one of the surveyors appointed by Scrivener to survey the border, started from Mt Coree in May 1910 and took several months to mark the straight line between there and One Tree Hill.

In the centenary year of the beginning of the Australian Capital Territory border survey, the surveying profession of Australia paid tribute to its illustrious predecessors and their compelling story of courage, commitment, dedication and high adventure when ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope MLA unveiled a commemorative plaque in the suburb of Dunlop on 8 April 2010. 

The interpretive sign accompanying the plaque includes photos of surveyors Robert Hoddle, Robert Dixon, Charles Scrivener and Percy Sheaffe.

The commemorative plaques recognise the hardworking, dedicated, sometimes visionary, surveying professionals, who surveyed the border of the Federal Capital Territory, later (1938) to be known as the Australian Capital Territory. The plaque was unveiled in the centenary year - 2010 - of the commencement of the Australian Capital Territory Border Survey.


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