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Canberra's Historic Houses

Canberra's Historic Houses

Go back in time and get a glimpse of Canberra life in the 19th and 20th centuries as you explore the capital’s well-preserved historic houses. Whether you're a history buff or simply looking for a fun day out with friends and family, be sure to add these fascinating sites to your summer bucket list.

Mugga-Mugga Cottage

Located in Symonston, the historic Mugga-Mugga Cottage is the former home of the Curley family who lived there from 1913 to 1995. Built in the 1850s, the four-room stone cottage has since been adapted and extended over the decades, but the original interior has been conserved and the furnishings still intact. The cottage was originally built for the head shepherd of the Duntroon estate and pays tribute to the workers of the pastoral properties across the surrounding Limestone Plains. Today, visitors can explore the cottage’s interior collection and its natural surroundings, which offers a unique insight into domestic life after Australia’s federation. The cottage is open every Saturday from 10am to 1pm.

Lanyon Homestead

Located in Tharwa, the iconic Lanyon Homestead precinct was built in the 1850s and tells the story of the convict families that lived and worked there, most notably James Wright and John Lanyon. The original homestead has been restored and visitors can enjoy a guided tour of the interiors and collections, the convict-era outbuildings and wander through the beautiful, well-kept gardens. The precinct is also home to The Barracks, the perfect spot for a drink or bite to eat, whether it be breakfast, brunch or lunch, with rustic interior dining or seating on the outdoor terrace with views of the Murrumbidgee River and Brindabella Ranges. The site is open Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 4pm and museum entry is by pre-booked guided tour only.

Calthorpes’ House

Calthorpes’ House on Mugga Way in Red Hill will take you back in time to 20th century domestic life in Canberra. Built in 1927 for the Calthorpe family – real estate agent Harry, his wife Della and their two daughters Dawn and Dell – the house remains unchanged to this day with the family’s original furnishings and possessions on show, including household appliances, clothes, toys, photos and Harry’s war memorabilia. Visitors can also enjoy a stroll around the beautiful gardens and see an air raid shelter built during World War II. The house is open every Saturday from 1pm to 4pm and museum entry is by pre-booked guided tour only. 

Blundell’s Cottage

This stunning cottage located on the northern shore of Lake Burley Griffin was built in the 1860s using stone taken from Mount Ainslie and Black Mountain and stands as one of Canberra’s most cherished historical relics. It was built for Duntroon’s head ploughman, William Ginn, and his family who lived there for 14 years, then occupied for 60 years by George Blundell, a Duntroon bullock driver and his family, and finally by shepherd Harry Oldfield and his wife Alice, who then opened the cottage up to boarders due to a lack of available accommodation in the capital. Today, visitors can explore this hands-on museum filled with nineteenth-century furniture and artefacts that paint a moving picture of early colonial tenant farming history. The cottage is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 10am to 2pm.

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