The Causeway – the suburb of which we do not speak?

Alexandra Craig 19 April 2016 15

causway-kingston

The Causeway. Have you heard of it? If not, you’re certainly not alone. Shortly after I first relocated to the ACT, I moved to Kingston. I was living about 400 metres from The Causeway, but I had no idea of its existence for about a year. I would occasionally see ‘CAUSEWAY’ pop up online when selecting a suburb but always assumed it was one of those areas that probably has nothing there except maybe one or two old buildings.

This area was initially a village for workers that were building Canberra in the 1920s, with some of the original cottages now in Queanbeyan, Oaks Estate and even a couple on the South Coast. There’s a whole little community there now with about 50 or so houses.

However, according to the Territory and Municipal Services website, The Causeway isn’t even a suburb. The area that people refer to as ‘The Causeway’ is actually part of Kingston and The Causeway is the name of a street. I suspect it’s one of those things that people just kept referring to by one name and eventually it caught on without officially being changed.

I’ve only ever visited this area once and that was when I went hot-air ballooning and we attempted to launch from a field there. Hardly counts as visiting. The reason I’ve never visited properly is because I’ve never had any reason to go there (I’m not one for going somewhere just to wander around and sticky beak), and because, well, it creeps me out a little. When I told someone I lived in Kingston they told me to never walk around The Causeway by myself. Because I trust that person I think that message has always stuck with me and I’ve never ventured over there, no matter how curious I got.

Writing this article got me thinking, who lives in this place? I don’t know anyone who does, nor have I heard of anyone who does. It’s this little unusual area that the rest of Canberra no-one talks about and everyone seems to pretend it doesn’t exist. (However, our former PM Julia Gillard used to go for walks here… probably one of the only places she could get some peace and quiet!) Just a few hundred metres up the road from here there’s brand new apartments selling for millions of dollars.

To the best of my knowledge, about 90% of homes in The Causeway are government housing. Back in 2009, residents of the area were told that the land they lived on was going to be released and it appeared they would all have to be out by 2011. Three years on from then and it still stands as it did. Recent information suggests that it will still be a couple more years until the land is released. The tenants in the government housing won’t really have a choice, they’ll be forced to leave. But what about the residents in the 5% of homes that aren’t owned by the government? Let’s just say that most of the land here is released with the exception of 5 blocks with houses and big, fancy apartments get built where the government housing once was. Could these 5 remaining houses be potentially leased for big amounts because technically they’re in Kingston? Or would people reject that notion entirely and could these houses end up being leased out dirt cheap?

Have you ever lived in The Causeway? Would you live there if the opportunity arose?

Photo – Google Maps – The Causeway Kingston


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15 Responses to The Causeway – the suburb of which we do not speak?
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Ann Gugler Ann Gugler 1:00 pm 31 Jan 20

The Causeway was the second temporary workmen’s settlement – from memory 121 houses – ready for occupation in 1926. The temporary portable cottage was designed by HM Rolland and the first 51 were erected in Westlake (now Stirling Park Yarralumla) in 1924. My family moved into No. 27 in 1942 or 43 from memory and we left in 1958. The last cottage was removed in the early 1960s and the like the 10 erected at Acton the same year as Westlake were sold and moved to new sites. The Causeway ones were not moved to new sites – the information in the article refers to the Westlake cottages. The information can be found in a book, Builders of Canberra 1909 – 1929 followed by Westlake One of the Vanished Suburbs of Canberra & True Tales from Canberra’s Vanished Suburbs of Westlake, Westridge & Acton. The first book can be found on line including on an ACT national library web – been collected by Pandora. Causeway got its name because a bridge was built across the Molonglo nearby to allow the train that should have had its main station at Civic to get across to the main station – the flood of 1922 or 25 knocked that out and it was never rebuilt. Causeway kept its name. The hall, built by volunteer labour in 1925 from memory is heritage listed, but not well I think. The local government decided to replace some of the cottages with more modern ones around the 1960s from memory, but I’m not sure if any survive. A search via the internet will lead to the on-line webs that I have – one is hidden canberra and the other canberra camps – sorry I can never remember the url thing – too old. Ann Gugler

dixyland dixyland 7:50 am 01 Dec 14

I’d say the reason nobody talks about the ‘suburb’ of Causeway is because it’s not a suburb but a locality – like Kippax, Manka, Erindale etcetera. It used to be a suburb back in the day but is no longer.

John Moulis John Moulis 4:02 pm 30 Nov 14

chewy14 said :

justsomeaussie said :

The Causeway was scheduled to be demolished as a part of the East Lake renewable proposal pretty much from 2014.

It was to demolish the existing housing put in a school, oval, low medium and high density housing.

You can see the start of this concept at the edge of First Edition on Cunningham Street where they build these amazing town houses only to leave a giant vacant lot next to them when it was rediscovered that the area was previously used as a tip and contained lots of nasties.

And there it flounders, tons of land, beside the lake in an absolute fantastic position but no one willing to develop it any the ACT government forgets about the millions it blew on “studies” for the proposal.

Read about the wastes millions here:

http://www.planning.act.gov.au/topics/current_projects/studies/eastlake_urban_renewal

I think it’s more to do with the fact that the ACT currently has a zillion medium density unit options at the moment so there is no point opening another more expensive development.

It will still be developed, hell the Kingston foreshore was on more of a tip site than Eastlake, yet it’s still happening.

Not to mention Printers Way where the old Australian Government Publishing Service (AGPS) was. I can remember when I worked in the Print Room at Dept of Finance in the 1980s going there waiting to pick up the Gazettes, being told they were delayed due to RSI and the pager beeping furiously from personnel officers at various departments suffering withdrawal symptoms because their weekly fix hadn’t arrived on time.

Masquara Masquara 12:18 pm 30 Nov 14

Causeway was no more a slum than Tarana St & environs in Narrabundah – it was just low-priced housing.

Weatherman Weatherman 8:33 am 30 Nov 14

I have spoken to a few residents there in the past. They say that Causeway is an old name for the area now part of Kingston. In the same way, they do not use the name for the suburb Westlake, which is now part of Yarralumla. Even though Causeway is an old estate, it’s very close to the railway station and Kingston Foreshore. The Causeway name is still retained in the naming of the street The Causeway in Kingston.

gazket gazket 12:12 pm 29 Nov 14

I always found the Causway a strange place . The place looks like a natural disaster hit it many years ago and was cleaned up and the people never returned or spoke about this place again.

Maya123 Maya123 4:55 pm 28 Nov 14

jay24 said :

kids in a 2 bedroom weatherboard but in those days (before the 5 bedroom McMansion housing less than 4 people)
It isn’t the same now, but I do like that I can walk/drive down the streets they grew up in and visit the hall (which the community build, off their own bat). If it is demolished and redeveloped it would be a shame.

Four people…often more like two people in a McMansion. My last house was about 9.8 squares (91 sq metres) and I bought it from a family of five.

I think the hall will remain, because it is heritage listed. Barring fire that is. It will be VERY suspicious if that happens. But the houses will go. I don’t know what will happens to the two or so houses that are privately owned. Perhaps make the owners an offer that is hard to refuse? Of course, if there is only a couple of houses, they could be built around, but I doubt that will be wanted by the developers.

jay24 jay24 12:38 pm 28 Nov 14

My Grandparents grew up next door to one another in No. 26 and No. 27 The Causeway in the 1920s. There was a strong sense of community and, despite it being considered as a “low-rent” working class place they were always proud of their roots there. For them to have a settled place to live near amenities (Kingston Shops and my Great-Grandfathers workplace at the Powerhouse) was a boon for people in their circumstances.
My grandmother often told the story of her family’s arrival from Araluen in a horse and cart and racing her brothers to see which one could use the flush-toilet first (a luxury for them). She was also thrilled to have electric lights and not have to use a candle to go to bed in the evenings.
It must have been tough for my grandfather’s parents with 7 kids in a 2 bedroom weatherboard but in those days (before the 5 bedroom McMansion housing less than 4 people) just having a roof over your head, a steady income and food on the table was enough.
It isn’t the same now, but I do like that I can walk/drive down the streets they grew up in and visit the hall (which the community build, off their own bat). If it is demolished and redeveloped it would be a shame.

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 6:42 pm 25 Nov 14

Much too small to be considered a suburb, but there’s a website, and a book or two:

http://canberracamps.webs.com/causeway.htm

The Causeway Hall is/was used for auctions, so even if they pretend otherwise, quite a few Canberrans must have been there for that reason, at least.

chewy14 chewy14 5:04 pm 25 Nov 14

justsomeaussie said :

The Causeway was scheduled to be demolished as a part of the East Lake renewable proposal pretty much from 2014.

It was to demolish the existing housing put in a school, oval, low medium and high density housing.

You can see the start of this concept at the edge of First Edition on Cunningham Street where they build these amazing town houses only to leave a giant vacant lot next to them when it was rediscovered that the area was previously used as a tip and contained lots of nasties.

And there it flounders, tons of land, beside the lake in an absolute fantastic position but no one willing to develop it any the ACT government forgets about the millions it blew on “studies” for the proposal.

Read about the wastes millions here:

http://www.planning.act.gov.au/topics/current_projects/studies/eastlake_urban_renewal

I think it’s more to do with the fact that the ACT currently has a zillion medium density unit options at the moment so there is no point opening another more expensive development.

It will still be developed, hell the Kingston foreshore was on more of a tip site than Eastlake, yet it’s still happening.

justsomeaussie justsomeaussie 2:02 pm 25 Nov 14

The Causeway was scheduled to be demolished as a part of the East Lake renewable proposal pretty much from 2014.

It was to demolish the existing housing put in a school, oval, low medium and high density housing.

You can see the start of this concept at the edge of First Edition on Cunningham Street where they build these amazing town houses only to leave a giant vacant lot next to them when it was rediscovered that the area was previously used as a tip and contained lots of nasties.

And there it flounders, tons of land, beside the lake in an absolute fantastic position but no one willing to develop it any the ACT government forgets about the millions it blew on “studies” for the proposal.

Read about the wastes millions here:

http://www.planning.act.gov.au/topics/current_projects/studies/eastlake_urban_renewal

Holden Caulfield Holden Caulfield 1:15 pm 25 Nov 14

More Causeway discussion: http://the-riotact.com/10405/10405

I ride past/through there on my bike every now and then. It seems okay to me.

During the daytime.

Maya123 Maya123 12:56 pm 25 Nov 14

I’ve been through Causeway many times. For starters, it’s on the cycle route around the lake. I remember the old wooden houses that were removed and replaced with the present brick houses in the 1970s. I still think of them as new, although really they aren’t any more. I photographed (for an assignment) the stages of one of the brick houses as it was being built, and then inside when it was finished, so I visited regularly for that. Not all the old knocked down wooden houses were replaced. The present brick houses are a smaller village than it once was, and a large area was left unbuilt on. The old hall, built by the original residents still stands, and I imagine this heritage building will remain, no matter what happens with the houses. Until many trees were chopped down, I used to regularly visit in fruit season and pick fruit from the old fruit trees on the vacant blocks.
Much of Causeway is liable to flood, and has several times.

Paul0075 Paul0075 12:24 pm 25 Nov 14

The Causeway is one of the oldest bits of suburban ACT.

The actual road The Causeway was meant to form the eastern crossing of the lake as per Walter’s design, the railway crossed the river in this area too, before the lake existed and was meant to eventually become permanent, but after washaways of the crossing it seems to have been chucked into the too hard basket.

If you look on a map, you will see the hospice on the north side of the lake and road through Russell, that was also once called The Causeway as well according to old maps.

watto23 watto23 11:43 am 25 Nov 14

There were several of these little towns that were around or developed in Canberras early years. Uriarra was well known because it burnt down, Oaks Estate and Westlake, which now no longer exists. I’m very surprised the Causeway hasn’t bee redeveloped yet,but if one thing is certain it will be. I’m thinking its all part of the railway station move. I personally think you leave the station there, develop around and over it.

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