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Old Canberran’s Old Photos – Part 7 – The drowned banks of the Molonglo

By johnboy - 4 March 2009 23

[First filed: March 03, 2009 @ 09:57]

This is the seventh part of a series of photographs taken by RiotACT reader Old Canberran on his Kodak Box Brownie in 1948.

This one came in with the following note:

    Attached are a couple taken from Lennox Crossing which was a low level river crossing between the old Royal Canberra Hospital and Commonwealth Avenue (near Bellona). One was when the Molonlo was in flood and the other is in more normal surroundings. We used to go skinny dipping under the old Commonwealth Bridge and act like Tarzan swinging from the willow trees. The other low level crossing, Scotts Crossing was between Blundell’s cottage and the Administration Building. It used to go underwater as well. The timber bridge on Commonwealth Avenue was only closed once as far as I can remember and that was when the water was about a foot below the roadway. It gave us a good idea of what the lake would look like.

As luck would have it I’ve got a decent picture of the site from above while ballooning over it on Boxing Day.

What’s Your opinion?

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23 Responses to
Old Canberran’s Old Photos – Part 7 – The drowned banks of the Molonglo
Fisho 8:54 pm 03 Mar 09

If anyone has access to the rumoured photos of the artificial structure added to the lake bed of LBG prior to it being filled, that would be grand.

I’ve seen the aerial photos of construction progress freely available from teh nat archives, they aren’t the ones.

Those photos posted are magic, if anyone wants to see how the river would have looked head out the back of Deeks forest (foot or MTB). There’s a few spots where you can see the flow debris 20 feet above your head. Sadly we’ve buggered up our waterways and killed the flow with Scrivener, Googong etc, but in return we have lots of carp environments, and lots of carp.

old canberran 8:06 pm 03 Mar 09

I see it more as looking across Lyneham and Yowani Golf couse aka old Southwell’s property. The Yass road in those days was a fairly narrow dirt road where that row of small pine trees are in the distance near the towers. Caf, I’m talking about a spot North of Ipima Street more like Dickson than Braddon. It’s pretty flat in that area.

caf 5:27 pm 03 Mar 09

It seems more likely to be looking West along the Barton Hwy to me (which may still have been Yass Rd in those days?).

caf 5:26 pm 03 Mar 09

Wouldn’t O’Connor Ridge be in the way of a sight line from Braddon to Belconnen Naval Station?

old canberran 5:24 pm 03 Mar 09

That’s an interesting photo. I suggest the fatality, if there was one, would have probably been an wandering animal. Canberra didn’t have a road fatality until somewhere in the 50’s from memory.
I have been trying to identify the vertical thingys in the photo and the best I can come up with is the aerial masts at Belconnen Naval Station which, if correct, would mean the pic was taken near Ipima Street or further out. The pine trees in the distance and the black blob would be Crace Homestead, Gungahlin.

Skidbladnir 4:53 pm 03 Mar 09

Anyone want to do an overlay with some transparency of Old Canberran’s 1933 map over Today’s Google satellite map?

Danman 4:51 pm 03 Mar 09

or something similar to that.

Danman 4:50 pm 03 Mar 09

I believe that photo is titled fatal accident on Northbourne Avenue, – its in the NAA collection as well.

BenMac 4:04 pm 03 Mar 09

When i worked at the NAA, I saw a photo of Northbourne Ave in its early days, a dusty dirty road with a barbed wire fence on its fringe

Here’s an image of Northbourne Avenue from National Library of Australia (Picture Australia)

old canberran 2:13 pm 03 Mar 09

On this 1933 vintage map you can see Scotts and Lennox Crossings, the latter being right about where your bunker is supposed to be. I should mention that while the Admin Bldg is shown on the map it didn’t become a reality until the 50’s.

A larger version of the map is here

old canberran 1:49 pm 03 Mar 09

At the risk of going off topic,P1, I am not aware of any such bunker under the lake. If it was constructed while that area was being excavated I would have seen it as I drove to work across Scotts Crossing which was right about where the bunker is on your map. If it was built after the lake filled in 1965 we all would have seen dirt being carted away and concrete trucks in the area.
You may be confusing it with the 2nd basement of the Admin Building which was supposed to be nuclear proof and if there is a tunnel anywhere it would have been from the old Parliament House to the Admin Building as Foreign Affairs and ASIO were in the Eastern end of that building back then.
Also, when the lake was under construction the site for the new parliament house was still undecided so they wouldn’t have known where to put access tunnels etc. Incidentally, the new Parliament House is totally self contained so that in the event of a war and destruction of Canberra, that building will still function even though the above ground part of it is destroyed. This would negate any reason for a bunker under the lake. I would be interested to know how that rumour started actually.
Scott’s Crossing road ran from Constitution Avenue near Anzac Parade down past Blundell’s cottage over a low level bridge across the river and up to the West end of the Admin Building. It was a quicker link from Braddon and Reid to Barton and Kingston than Commonwealth Bridge.

caf 11:11 am 03 Mar 09

Scotts Crossing has been “re-imagined” as a road in the city, joining Corranderk St and Bunda St.

p1 10:39 am 03 Mar 09

I am firmly convinced, after searching NAA and NLA etc that such a under lake facility doesn’t exist, but I can’t help but try to convince everybody else that it does.

I do love the photos of early Civic. Makes you realise why Canberra had the “sheep paddock” tag. Because it was.

Danman 10:24 am 03 Mar 09

One would think that if it was built before the lake was, it would not be too secret.

I saw on your google maps p1, that you theorise that this bunker is some how related to the carillion, perhaps they built the bunker whilst installing the carillion so as to dissuade any interest, I dunno.

Being a photo geek myself, when I worked at the National Archives, I discovered photosearch – a freely accessable digital image library, query Canberra and you will get tons of results such as old canberran has shown us – its amasing seeing canberra in its infancy.

When i worked at the NAA, I saw a photo of Northbourne Ave in its early days, a dusty dirty road with a barbed wire fence on its fringe…

p1 10:19 am 03 Mar 09

I have to say, it kinda makes me sad that they built the lake. Although I do like the lake being their.

Old Canberran, can you shed any light on the secret bunker under the lake? I assume they built it before the lake was flooded.


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