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Rediscovering Ginninderra:
Crinigan's Hut (Stone Hut)

Crinigan's Hut, also known as 'Stone Hut', was built by John and Maria Crinigan, who were married at Palmerville in 1842. It is generally believed that the hut was built in the early 1850s, although some would place its construction earlier - in the late 1840s.

Whatever the case, the family had an early presence at Ginninderra Creek, probably in a temporary slab hut, or similar, sometime after John won his ticket of leave in 1844. He was granted a Conditional Pardon in 1849. The earliest written reference to the stone hut is from January 1858; while the earliest reference to them living on the creek comes in the list of electors for County Murray of 1855/56. The Crinigans purchased their own farming blocks in 1859, which might lend support to a later date, but equally it could be argued that as they married in 1842, the young couple must have been keen to build a permanent home as soon as possible, even if they did not at that stage own the land themselves. There were a number of tenants like the Crinigans (mainly emancipists) scattered along the creek.

Excavations revealed a three-room structure of double-stone walls with mud mortar and two internal fireplaces. Given the danger of fire, most fireplaces at this time were constructed externally and some kitchens were built separate to the sleeping areas. More details can be found in a report of the excavation of the site carried out for the National Trust by the Canberra Archaeological Society

A notorious murder occurred at the site in 1858 when Thomas Wells bludgeoned to death a man he suspected of sleeping with his wife, during a drinking bout with five others at the hut.

Crinigan's only surviving adult child, Eliza Jane, who married Duncan McInnes, lived in the hut from 1867 into the mid 1870s. After this, it was deserted and quickly fell into ruin. The land was inherited by Mary Cavanagh (nee Logue), who was John Crinigan's stepdaughter, and it became part of the Cavanagh family's 'Strayleaf' station in 1904, until it was resumed by the Commonwealth.

It is believed that the nine children borne by Maria Crinigan during the 1850s until 1863 at Stone Hut, who did not survive, are buried in close proximity.

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Further information about Crinigans Hut can be found at Canberra Tracks

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