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1927 Sanitation Report for Canberra
Submitted by Ann Gugler

The Sanitation Report FCT dated 27th July, 1927

The following is a typed copy of the report which mentions the majority of camps and the settlements in the FCT at that time. A number of camps such as Northbourne had already been removed.


The Secretary:

In company with Mr Gibson I have inspected the undermentioned Settlements and submit the following brief particulars for your perusal and consideration:-

MOLONGLO CAMP. About 120 tenements containing 4-6 rooms each. Walls, floors and partitions:- wood tongued and grooved. Roofs - galvanised iron or ruberoid. Buildings 15 - 30"[inches] above ground. In some cases, uncovered and unpainted. Natural lighting by windows; no external ventilation provided. [This camp was built as an internment camp and was erected in mid 1918 in a twelve week period. When work resumed on Canberra in 1920 Molonglo was looked upon as a ready-made ideal workmen's settlement.]

Where tenements were fenced in the spaces under buildings were practically clear, in other cases lumber was notices. The general condition varied with the type of occupant. Garbage tins amply provided.

Ground surface throughout free from water accumulations. Sanitary blocks adequate - containing 4 pedestal wash-down pans and 1 trough urninal; 2 baths and 4 showers - cold freshwater; 4 wash troughs and 2 copper boilers.


  1. Internal walls of tenements - papering to be discontinued, to prevent vermin harborage. (Dead vermin found in one instance).
  2. Cover open joints in walls with strips of wood and paint or limewash surfaces.
  3. Provide louvered ventilators to all rooms when reconditioning structures.
  4. Clear lumber from under buildings and wire in such spaces wherever practicable.
  5. Keep all garbage bins effectively covered.
  6. Sanitary Blocks - Replace partitions of W.C's and bathrooms where dismantled to secure privacy.


Construction - walls and roofs - galvanised iron, floors wood. Six (6) huts, divided into cubicles 8"[foot] wooden partitions, ceilings of wire netting; each cubicle measures 10"x 12'to accommodate 2 men. Ventilation by 2'9"cowl capped air shafts. Natural lighting good; artificial lighting - electric. Mess room accommodation satisfactory.


    1. Kitchen - tables to be kept clean; all meat and foods to be protected in fly-proof receptacles or rooms. Garbage to be kept in metal rat proof receptacles.
    2. Rake under all huts and keep spaces under huts clean. Wire in spaces where possible.


150 wooden huts accommodating 2 men in each. Roofs - galvanised iron; floors wood; area 10'x12'each. Natural lighting by 2 4'x2'sashes. Ventilation by drilled holes in gable ends. Internal lining - hessian and beaver board to prevent condensation. Tent structures being replaced by huts. Large garbage bins provided for garbage.

      1. Kitchen drainpipe to be trapped at upper end to prevent contamination in preparation for food stuffs
      2. W.C's on earth bases to be raised or placed on concrete floors.
      3. Bathrooms to channel and earth drains - see general remarks.



[Built in 1925/1926 by different contractors the first being John Howie & Sons whose men lived at Westlake)

About 120 cottages - wooden structures with galvanised iron roofs. Ventilation by airlouvres in each room. Wire fenced areas:- general outlook untidy in yards but on inspection not insanitary.


    1. That periodical limewashing of yard structures be made



[Built 1925 by John Howie & Sons.]


    1. Rake under all huts etc., and keep spaces clear.
    2. Butcher's Shop, - to be kept clean and re-joint bench.
    3. Earth closet seats to be made portable, wooden floors to be replaced by concrete.


      [Russell Hill is in the area of Blamey Crescent & Constitution Avenue up towards the Campbell shopping centre. 120 sites were allowed for men to build their own cottages. The Acton Masonic Hall built by Howie was moved to the site in 1926 and was converted into a school. In 1929 it closed and the following year it was moved to Ainslie where it still serves the community as the Ainslie Hall in Corroboree Crescent. This settlement replaced Riverbourne - 3 miles from the Queanbeyan Post Office on the south bank of the Molonglo River - near the site of present day Harman.]


      No sewerage contemplated. Allotments 50'x 100' - 54 fenced in, others unfenced.


      Various self constructed dwellings of fibro, wood and hessian formation; one place had concrete floor to bathroom with wastes from tubs and bath discharging from floor to earth channel alongside; another had similar drainage to elongated quagmire. Most dwellings had serviceable W.C's, but garbage was generally found in uncovered kerosene tins - in one case a cardboard container. In wooden structures the windows were generally small compared with floor areas and no external ventilation was provided.


      1. More natural lighting to rooms to be encouraged, also louvred ventilators.
      2. Regulations receptacles for garbage to be provided.
      3. Earth closets to be preferably on concrete bases.
      4. Drainage from wash houses and bathrooms to be collected in receptacles and then scattered broadcast instead of concentrated areas causing nuisance.
      5. Would strongly recommend extension of sewer to this area or suitable septic tank installed.
      6. Rake under buildings to remove lumber.


        Unsewered Area: septic tanks applied for.

        13 wooden huts, 21 iron huts, each hut containing 2 persons. Size of rooms 10'x 12', - former similar to Causeway huts but with added ventilation in front and rear gables. Iron huts have no such ventilation; lumber found under structures. [The timber huts were cubicles constructed from second grade baltic pine. From 1926 they gradually replaced tents in main camps.]



        1. Periodically rake out lumber from under huts and Mess Room.
        2. Provide louvres of similar ventilation when reconditioning huts.
        3. Kitchen and lavatory drainage; make channel drainage straight and extend to stormwater channel below.
        4. Kitchen; - rejoint benches, keep bins covered, provide sheltered store for vegetables; (now on rack outside).
        5. Meat Room or Butcher's Shop - rejoined benches and remove all bad foodstuffs.
        6. Earth closets - raise clear of ground, provide portable boxes with lids for pans.


To be removed in 2 and half month's time to Mount Ainslie. Unsewered. Six rows of canvas and hessian structures 10'x 8'each for 2 persons situated on flat ground. Proposed new site has good slope. Three transverse earth channels - limewashed but extending through camp.



150 wooden huts, each for two persons; 5 wooden huts, each divided into 3 cubicles. To be made permanent and to be sewered in 2 and half months time. 50 wooden huts 101 x 12' being erected to accommodate Horse Camp occupants. Camp ground clean, garbage bins provided and mainly covered. [This camp was originally tent accommodation - hence it's name White City. These were replaced from 1926 with cubicles, which were then painted green. The site is near the Art School near Civic Centre.]



To be removed to above site shortly. About 40 huts of various design and appearance, constructed of hessian, wood and iron and about 12'x 10'each in size. Small horse paddock standings are to be taken down and existing paddock extended.




To be demolished in a month - occupants then to wooden cubicles at Red Hill site. About 100 12'x 10'tents of hessian and canvas. No surface collections of water with exception of water tap drainage to earth channels extending to creek, (nearly dry). Sanitation blocks sewered; garbage bins covered. [This camp was on the sewer line and would not have gone on until 1927.]


  1. Butcher's Shop - clean walls and block and rejoint bench.


    Being demolished and accommodation provided at Capitol Hill. 44 tents raised on wooden sides, upper canvas portions not in good repair, floors of wood in sections, litter under some floors, bins provided but lids not used. Mess Room and kitchen provided and run on co-operative lines instead of usual contracting caterer. [This camp was erected in 1923 on either side of an 1890 road from Briar Farm pulled down in 1950 and replaced with the Canberra Yacht Club. Today the site is on the hillside opposite Lotus Bay.]


    1. Rake under huts where necessary and keep garbage receptacles covered.
    2. Kitchen - improve natural lighting if demolition is delayed also rejoint kitchen benches.
    3. Sanitary Blocks - drainage to long quagmire to be shortened and directed to shallow trenched patches, used alternatively.
    4. Earth closets - institute portable boxes with lids for pan covers in lieu of fixed uncovered seats if conveniences remain.



    To be sewered in 2 months. 80 tents of canvas and bag formation in regular lines. Earth channels for water taps only - clean but unsightly. Garbage bins generally covered. Kitchen and Mess Room provided; (kitchen utensils inside - clean.)


  3. Kitchen - rejoint benches; keep all garbage bins covered. Drainage to be shortened and irrigated to prevent stagnation.
  4. Dry Store Room - rejoint benches and provide covers for dried fruits etc.
  5. Mess Room - rake under floor to remove lumber.
  6. Butcher's Shop - rejoint benches.
  7. Sanitary Blocks - drainage to be treated as above to prevent stagnation.


    Unsewered. To be removed shortly to cubicles at Mugga Valley site. Rough tent formation camp in irregular layout and untidy; garbage bins uncovered generally; earth channels from water taps only; horses pens and paddocks at rear of camp, manure in same accumulated. A considerable manure heap at rear of pens.


    1. Manure in horse pens and paddocks to be regularly removed and utilised for park and gardening purposes.
    2. Manure heap at rear of pens to be similarly treated - at present fly breeding - discontinue heap accumulations.
    3. Earth closets - raise above ground if removal delayed.

      RED HILL CONTRACTOR'S CAMP (Monolyte Building Company)

      Shortly to be demolished - two galvanised iron huts each with 10 cubicles, having accommodation for 2 men in each cubicle; rooms generally clean but lumber under floors. Mess Room and kitchen provided; sanitary blocks filthy.


      1. Huts - rake under same to remove lumber.
      2. Kitchen - rejoint benches, rake under floor, trap pipe drain at upper end and if further used, provide covers for dried fruits etc., in store room.
      3. Butcher's Shop - rejoint bench and clean block, benches and safe.
      4. Earth closets - thoroughly cleanse and keep compartments clean.
      5. Lavatory Block - drainage - earth - to be straightened to creek.


        Occupants to be removed to weatherboard cottages under construction. Five weatherboard tenements [ex-Molonglo], 5 to 6 rooms each - natural lighting satisfactory. No external ventilation. Structures shortly to be removed.


        1. Rake under huts to remove lumber.
        2. Provide ventilation louvres if reconditioned also portable box covers for earth closets if further used.



Sewered. 61 cottages, all but 10 fenced in, [These would be cottages 53 to 62 built in 1926 following the departure of No 3 Sewer Camp. Cottage 21 was built but was moved or burnt down shortly after completion.], spaces under cottages clean; ventilation and natural lighting satisfactory; gardens generally clean, site has good incline; garbage bins mainly covered.

Recommendations Nil.



Sewered; 15 cottages fenced in; ventilation and natural lighting satisfactory; garbage bins covered; gardens and yards satisfactory with one exception.


    1. Grounds attached to No 4 to be cleaned up, refuse etc., to be placed in garbage bins.



Will remain about 5 years longer - unsewered. 13 cottages of wood, bungalow design; unfenced [originally 25]. Rooms 3-6 in each. Natural lighting good; no external louvre ventilations. Ground site - fall, good. Conditions - clean generally but waste water to earth channels [still visible] - bad. No baths or water troughs provided. Three small horse pens too near cottages. [The Westlake, Acton & Causeway cottages designed by HM Rolland were based on Howie's cottages.]


1. Until such time as sewer or septic tank is provided there is no need for earth channels for waste waters - would suggest that waste liquids be broadcast to prevent stagnation and portable receptacles for this purpose be encouraged.

  1. Horse Pens; - to be removed from near dwellings and manure be disposed of.
  2. 3. Earth Closets - Raise clear of ground or provide concrete floors.



    Will be demolished in a month; 6 blocks or huts each divided into 4 cubicles 10'x 10'. No natural lighting or ventilation except where occupants have made hinged wooden fanlights above doors. Walls of wood; roofs iron. Conditions of rooms - fairly clean. No bins provided for garbage; surrounding ground littered with tins, bottles etc. Lumber under huts. Kitchen drainage - foul. Earth closets - dirty.


    1. Clean up ground and under huts and provide receptacles for garbage
    2. Kitchen - rejoint benches and tables; keep foods covered; provide covered receptacles for garbage in lieu of tea chests.
    3. Messroom and Kitchen drainage; - remove wooden V channel, cut earth channel straight, shorten and shallow trench liquids. Suggest removal of meat room outside Messroom.
    4. Earth closets; thoroughly cleanse compartments and provide boxes with lids for pans (pans 12"for fixed seat - no lids).


      Sewered. 15 wooden huts fenced. [ex-Molonglo buildings erected brought to site in 1921.] Garbage bins provided and covered. General ground in fair condition. Molonglo River bank opposite cottages used as a garbage tip.


      1. Lane between tenement No 3 and 4 requires cleaning up.
      2. Small heaps of manure at rear of No 4 remove.
      3. Rake under floors where necessary.
      4. Molonglo River Bank - rake up rubbish and burn off - prevent further use as a tip.
      5. Men's lavatory. Cleanse floors.
      6. Men's W.C's Block - extend urinal waste to floor trap.


        For all Northern Areas. Location. - Prospect Parkway; - refuse tipped in depression and burnt - no destructor, tins scattered round area; land surround leased for sheep grazing; garbage area unfenced. Contractor Clark removes garbage from areas in uncovered motor vehicle; duplicate bins used for residential areas.


          1. Fence areas to prevent access of sheep to garbage if use continued; collect scattered tins and cover over with clean earth as soon as possible
          2. Refuse vehicle to have suitable covering during transit.


          GARBAGE TIP

          For all Southern Areas. - Location - above Red Hill Horse Camp - Long dry gully opposite new Girls'School site - deposits consist of manure, building waste, sawdust, tins and garbage - burning in progress but incomplete.


        1. Cover over with clean earth when burning completed, discontinue use on account of location.

          With reference to the above, possibly more suitable sites could be found, and until such time as a suitable destruction plant is erected, systematic shallow trenching and covering could be employed providing garbage is kept separate from other innocuous refuse, the latter being used for filling in depressions and suitably covering.



          Location - Westridge. Being an enclosed circle of ground of about 10 acres, bordered with trees and about a mile from the nearest settlement. Trenches are 20'x 2'6"x 2'0 ironstone clay 12"below surface and therefore unsuitable for nightsoil disposal. Times of removal unrestricted - day or night. Russell Hill and Howie's cottages removal once weekly - others tri-weekly.

          Plant- Motor lorry uncovered, used for removal of pans, a new 2 tier closed in lorry just purchased and being used to-morrow, 28th inst. Pans with tight fitting spring and rubberoid lids - duplicate pan system - pans coated with biturine 3 times yearly, washed after each emptying by means of a three-quarter garden hose at trench side, water standpipe practically in centre of circle. Galvanised iron shed - new - used for stacking pans. No steaming or cleaning plant installed - pans and lids in good order - no leaky pans noticed on inspection.

          Trenches used 12 months ago stated unfit to use again and from appearance of earth excavated this seems very probable.


          1.A more suitable soil site is strongly recommended, also the construction of a suitably constructed pan washing and steaming plant, washing and steaming after each emptying, the swab application of heavy crude oil to interior of pans is recommended in preference to biturine, a small quantity of oil being left in the pans would form a fly preventing film on liquids, which in the absence of dry deodorants, is necessary. The use of narrower and more shallow trenches is also advised.



          Sewered. Dining room for 140 persons - ventilation, lighting, cleanliness of crockery etc., - satisfactory. Kitchen - structure satisfactory; - cleaning up floor at time of visit; garbage bins uncovered, chopping block requires repair; few roaches in vegetable room and dry store. Kitchen utensils were not clean at time of visit, viz., 10 am. - kitchen otherwise clean. No hot water fittings installed.


          1. Provide adequate means for exterminating roaches.
          2. Repair or fill in chopping block where open.
          3. Keep garbage bins effectively covered, also provide coverings for dried fruits etc., in store; rejoint lunch cutting block.


            Location Telopea. - Sewered. Modern buildings - accommodation 16 double and 24 single rooms. - Kitchen - structures satisfactory, bins covered; vegetable locker and store room - cleanliness and construction satisfactory - few traces of mice in store - cat kept.


            1.Maintain effective means of exterminating mice.

            HOTEL CANBERRA

            Modern building containing 56 double and 62 single rooms and 16 suites. General conditions satisfactory - garbage bins covered.


            1.Rejoint cutting and fish scaling bench.

            HOTEL ACTON

            Sewered. Modern building containing 60 double and 25 single rooms. General conditions satisfactory with exception of information received of 3 pet dogs being kept in kennels in bedroom occupied by Mrs Barton, a permanent resident who was out at time of visit, but information confirmed by Manageress - apparently no verandah space available for kennels except at sitting rooms at end of wing corridors; animals habits stated to be clean and no noise complained to.


            The practice of keeping any animals in living rooms is discouraged and regulations prohibiting same might be considered.

            GORMAN HOUSE

            Sewered - Building construction satisfactory - accommodation for 80 persons, in 20 double and 40 single rooms. - Lockers, cupboards etc clean. Kitchen garbage bins - one perforated wooden lid - no metal lids. Walls not clean. - Bulk store door - glass panel broken and wire gauze in outer door defective; no external ventilation.


            1. Provide lids for garbage bins and keep bins covered.
            2. Paint or cleanse walls of kitchen and vegetable store where necessary.
            3. Bulk store door panel - remove broken glass and replace with gauze panel; renew gauze to outer door.
            4. Refrigerating Chamber. - provide ice to preserve meat etc., or remove contents to screened locker to provide ventilation. (Door to chamber kept open to preserve contents, but provides access for flies).



    Sewered. - Modern weatherboard buildings with 140 single rooms. General sanitary conditions clean; small quantity of chipped crockery; kitchen walls require cleaning or painting. Internal surfaces of accommodation - paint off in parts. Slight collection of rubbish in yard and adjoining ground.


  3. Discard chipped crockery and replenish if necessary.
  4. Paint and kalsomine interior walls of accommodation where necessary.
  5. Kitchen - rejoint table, cleanse or paint walls.
  6. Dry store - provide covers for dried fruits etc., and provide effectual means for exterminating mice.
  7. Heap of Contractor's refuse near hedge to be removed, also collect and remove small accumulation of rubbish outside boundary near accommodation.


    Unsewered. - Walls brick - cemented internally, concrete floors; internal space restricted. Slaughter House - rails for hanging beef suspended by wooden structures - too near meat for periodic limewashing and of absorbent nature. Mutton recess off Slaughter House- wooden rack for examining viscera - joint open. Hanging room for mutton and pork - wooden support for iron hooks. Beef and mutton temporary hanging room - fly proof gauze above and below walls of wood. Iron rails for hanging but supported by wood - floor concrete. Pig vats of concrete construction, two boilers for tripe being installed. City water connected; hot water provided by portable steam boiler. Offal boiling shed and hide drying shed combined - open sides, concrete floors - 12 coppers for boiling offal and barrels for tallow reception.

    In the Slaughter House a concrete channel for blood is conveyed by pipe drains to two concrete filter beds used alternately for screening clots, but does not screen of prevent blood from entering the open brick channel which also receives the drainage from coppers and hide shed and continues to a very considerable area of shallow trenched land, extending nearly to the bank of a creek and thence to the Molonglo River.

    The continuation of the trenched land is offensive even at this time of the year; puddles of putrescible liquids being dotted here and there, showing that the nature of the ground totally unsuitable for the purpose, there being little earth covering to inabsorbent substrata; older dried depressions are apparent near the creek bank.

    Piggeries. Troughs of irregular rock and cement for food and water - no outlet provided. Bones scattered everywhere, no shelters provided. Pigs fed on cooked offal. Offal not useful for pigs feed - hoofs, paunches etc., is burnt in the open with wood fires.

    Offal Carts. - Of wood construction and filthy; cold water only available.

    Incinerator. - For condemned carcases and offal other than that containing fat, too small; carcases burnt as above.

    Bone Drying Rack. - Uncovered - rack 12"- 24 "clear of ground. Bones bagged after a week's exposure.

    Cooling Rooms. - Not provided.

    No By-products plant is installed

    No digesters are installed for boiling down diseased carcases.

    Manure from yarding paddocks spread out for drying purposes.

    In the absence of sewerage it is evident that the present site is unsuitable, for the nature of the ground and the surrounding trees are not conductive to desirable conditions, and with the summer approaching the nuisance will increase, thus affecting the quality and cleanliness of the meat and also producing the extended fly-breeding are.

    If at all possible it is recommended that a new site be chosen at an early date and extension to the sewerage system could be obtained, then the question of by-products could be considered, which would probably mean increased revenue.

    In my opinion difficulty in satisfactory dealing with washing down waters only, would be experienced on the existing site. [The Abattoir was in Mugga Lane - it later moved to a site near Oaks Estate.]




    Unsewered . - Six months to expiry of lease. No water connected, tanks and tank carts employed. General sanitary conditions considering difficulties experienced, good; bails, milkroom etc., clean. Dwellings - temporary - no ventilation - clean.


    1. To provide portable pans in lieu of cesspits to earth closets.


      Sewered nearly completed; modern weatherboard dwelling; bails, milkroom and utensils satisfactory as regards cleanliness.


      Sewered. - Modern weatherboard dwelling; - bails, milkroom yards etc., clean excepting old long earth channel - now being replaced by sewer. All clean and about 12 milk customers daily receive milk and cream in sealed bottles; - process of cleaning empty bottles - washed in warm water and soda and then into boiling water in bucket or kerosene tin.


      1. Recommend that bottling system be discontinued, unless suitable sterilizing plant be installed owing to risk of possible infection from returned bottles affecting a source of milk supply, also running hot water or steam is not available for such washing at present time.


CLATTON'S DAIRY [should be Clutton]

Unsewered. - Sanitary condition - clean. Dwellings and buildings as at Murray's Dairy but long earth channel to quagmire - premises to be connected to sewer on completion of adjoining premises.



Unsewered. - Sanitary condtion - clean. Condition similar to Clatton's [sic Clutton] Dairy as regards drainage.

Delivery vehicles generally, in satisfactory conditions at time of visit.




Building construction satisfactory, also through ventilation. Utensils etc., - clean. Square bent bin for scraps in shop and box in yard - both uncovered.

Observance of ordinances and provision of covered metal receptacles for all garbage recommended.



Trade refuse at rear of premises in heaps and consisting of tyres, boxes, papers, sox etc. - No garbage or suitable receptacles for same provided - private contractor engaged for fortnightly removal.


Cistern at rear overflowing causing stagnant water in yard. - Garbage, papers and ashes in heaps in yard - no receptacles, except cardboard box provided.


Clean towels and perculator used; washbasin with cold freshwater; instruments stated to be taken home daily and steeped in lysol. No steriliser provided. - Wooden box in yard for rubbish and garbage uncovered. No metal covered bins provided.



Steriliser cupboard with lysol and formalin provided. Clean towels used, utensils clean, hair stated to be burn in yard - temporarily kept in tea box with paper waste and uncovered. No metal receptacles provided.

Very few metal covered receptacles appear to be used at the above mentioned and other shops in this area, the rear of premises being generally untidy and as regards garbage - insanitary. It is recommended that covered metal bins be insisted upon, and in the case of hairdressers, sterilisation be carried out on the premises generally in lieu of treatment at home dwellings.

It will be recognised that the above report is necessary brief owing to the number of places visited in the time allotted and does not fully describe all seen; an opinion of the general conditions may be gained by the perusal of the recommendations and where same are not made it may be taken that the conditions are mainly satisfactory and I appreciate the assistance and facilities given during my visit, without which the ground covered would have been considerably less.

[handwritten signature - looks like SBCottle} Inspector

This report is found in the Australian Archives in Canberra and is reproduced in Westlake, One of the Vanished Suburbs of Canberra Ann Gugler and The Builders of Canberra, Where They Lived 1913-1959, Ann Gugler. For further information email Ann on robina@dynamite.com.au

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Last modified: March 20, 2006