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2 corrections, most recently by Rhonda.M - Show corrections

LETTERS

THE NAME CANBERRA.

TO THE EDITOR OF THE HERALD.

Sir,- Mr. R. H. K. Wood's version of the origin of the name Canberra does not accord with documentary facts. The most authentic history of the origin of Canberra is that of H. Selkirk, published in the proceedings of the Royal Australian Historical Society, Vol. IX., Part II. Other interesting information can be obtained from "Journeying from Syd- ney to the Alps," a rare and valuable book by Dr. John Lhotsky, naturalist, who visited there in 1834, and communicated a vocabulary of the Menaroo (Monaro) tribe to the Royal Geographical Society of London, printed in

their transactions of 1839.

Before settlement the name of the Federal Capital territory was Limestone Plains, and the name of the house built by Ainslie, in front of the site now occupied by Duntroon was Limestone Cottage, of which it was boasted that it was the most southern house in the world with glazed windows. Ainslie (1823) was guided by a black gin to the plains, and he asked her the name of the place. She replied "Pialligo," which was an intimation that the gin did not kow, for the word means "I'll tell you by and by." But there is no record that she ever returned with the desired information, and Pialligo it has remained until this day. Though right up to the establish- ment of the Federal Capital it was known as Limestone Plains, the aboriginal descriptor is better expressed in "Gininderra," "spark- ling," like the limestone crystals.

The name Canberra (or, as it was then written, Canberry) did not come in until 1826, to be precise, December 16 of that year when Lieutenant Joshua John Moore wrote to the Colonial Secretary: "The land I wish to purchase is situated in Canberry, on the E. bank of the river which waters Lime- stone Plains, above its Junction with the Mur- rumbeeja (the correct spelling of the abori- ginal word for that famous river) adjoining the grant of Mr. Robert Campbell, snr." On April 30, 1827, Moore was told by letter that he could retain possession of 1000 acres at Canberry. In 1831, Moore refers to land [situate in the County of Murray "called and   known by the name of Canburry, bounded on  

the west by Canburry Creek." On October 12, 1838, a deed was issued in the name of Joshua John Moore in consideration of £250 on the land described as being at "Cam- berry." (Moore was born at Horningsea,

Cambridge.)

What the maps show.- 1830: Canberry on Limestone Plains. Later map, undated, Cam- berry 1834 (Mitchell's map), Canberry. Map undated, published about 1860-62, Canberra, Canberra Creek, Parish of Canberra. 1857: Sydney Diocesan Register, first entry of Can- berra. Not a sign of Kamberra. Lhotsky wrote it Kembery, oblivious of the fact that it is an old English word meaning the town of flaxmakers. In his Monaro dialect he has one word "Kembi," meaning "fire." No amount   of juggling with the spelling of Canberra can give it an aboriginal origin, and Ainslie cer- tainly never heard of Kamberra Plains. Why not call it Jerrabomberra? That is one of two aboriginal names that Surveyor Dixon, acting on the instructions of Mitchell, placed on the map. It would be a most appropriate title, for it means "The boy doesn't know."

No aboriginal ever did.

I am, etc.,

FREDERIC SLATER,

3 Castlereagh-street. Jan. 30.

Digitisation generously supported by
Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation
Digitisation generously supported by

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