Temporary closure until further notice. For more information, please go here.
The cottage can open on Thursdays or Fridays (by arrangement) for School and Group Programs only.
*Caution – Watch Your Step* - Blundells Cottage, the Slab Shed and surrounds’ is a heritage property and there are uneven surfaces, trip hazards and low structures so please proceed with caution and take care when visiting this heritage site.
About the cottage
The stone dwelling, now known as Blundells Cottage, was built in 1860 to house Duntroon's head ploughman, William Ginn, and his family (1860-1874). It was then occupied by George Blundell, a Duntroon bullock driver and his family (1874-1933) and finally by shepherd Harry Oldfield and his wife Alice (1933-1958). When Harry died in 1942, Alice took in boarders. This included the Sainsbury family, who lived at the cottage between 1958 and 1960.
After the last tenant vacated the cottage, the Canberra and District Historical Society (CDHS) approached the National Capital Development Commission (NCDC), for custodianship. In 1961, Sir William Holford, a British consultant town planner, wrote:
'Oldfield's cottage is a valuable relic of Canberra's early days. Encircled by trees it could well remain as an object of interest to visitors, without appearing incongruous in its new surroundings. Restored to something like its original state it would make a symbolic foil for the majesty of the Parliament House opposite'.
Cited in Freeman Collett and Partners, 1995, Blundells Cottage Precinct Conservation Management Plan, ACT. Vol. 1: 29
In 1964, following its restoration, the Cottage was handed over to the CDHS, which managed it and established a museum collection. Since 1999 it has been managed by the National Capital Authority (NCA) as a house museum. It is the only pre-Federal Capital building in the National Triangle.
- The Cottage was built around 1860, from stone taken from Mount Ainslie and Black Mountain
- This area of Canberra was once a rural landscape. This changed when the site was chosen for the National Capital of Australia
- When built, the Cottage was surrounded by paddocks and overlooked the Molonglo River, which was located a quarter mile (400 metres) away. It was a working smallholding, with a collection of outbuildings, haystacks, animals and farm equipment
- The Ginn family were the first to live in the Cottage, staying for about 14 years
- The Blundells lived there for about 60 years. During this time, they had 8 children and added two rooms to the Cottage to create more space for their large family
- The Sainsburys were the last family to live in the Cottage, moving in as tenants of Mrs. Oldfield and staying until 1961
- Water, gas and sewerage have never been connected to the Cottage and electricity was only connected when it became a museum
- During the 100 years that the Cottage was occupied, there were just three tenants - the Ginns, the Blundells and the Oldfields, but many different people lived there
- Due to a lack of accommodation in the young National Capital, boarders rented rooms in the Cottage. At times there were two families renting rooms from Mrs. Oldfield, with other individuals living on the front verandah (which was enclosed) and in the turkey shed.
Please note: Blundells Cottage is over 150 years old and we may need to close it from time to time in extreme weather, for your safety and that of our volunteers. We’ll keep you updated on any closures on both our Facebook page and twitter feed.
The story of Canberra doesn’t stop at Blundells; explore the significant events and extraordinary people that shaped Australia’s capital at the National Capital Exhibition. Not only is it air conditioned, but it has a great view over the calm waters of Lake Burley Griffin. A fun, relaxing and cool environment, the Exhibition is open Monday to Friday, 9 am – 5 pm and Saturday and Sunday 10 am – 4 pm (closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day).
For more information contact:
P 02 6272 2902
Blundells Cottage landscape and surrounds
The story of this humble workers home and its landscape is a story of resilience and hard work. Once part of the Duntroon Estate, then a farmlet and rental accommodation for the early Federal Capital, residents had to be self-sufficient. They grew their own food, managed livestock and often made whatever they needed. Residents saw the Molonglo River transformed into Lake Burley Griffin, the centrepiece of the national capital. The house was occupied from 1860 until 1961.
The landscape is an interpretation of Blundells Cottage as a farmhouse set in an agricultural setting. The following elements are visible in the landscape and interpret past activities and structures.
Timber fence posts installed along the northern boundary show the location of part of the original fenceline that defined the lease area for the Cottage. This lease adjoined the bullock and horse paddocks of Duntroon Estate and to stop the horses eating his crops, William Ginn, erected a fence topped with wooden spikes.
The Cottage stands some distance from the original public road, known first as Church Lane and then, after a low level bridge crossing was opened on the Molonglo River in 1929, renamed Scott’s Crossing Road. The planting bed, south of the Cottage winding towards the creek, interprets the historic alignment of “The Track”, which began at the front gate on Scott’s Crossing Road and continued across the creek to the Cottage.
In 1933 Harry and Alice Oldfield moved into Blundells Cottage and Alice supplied farm produce to public servants, residents and boarders for many years. A vegetable garden located to the north of the Slab Shed interprets Alice Oldfield’s former kitchen garden.
Planting beds along the western side of the cottage represent the former potato paddock that existed there in 1958 to 1961.
Former Kitchen and Fireplace
In 1888, after the birth of their eighth child, the Blundell family undertook some extensions to the cottage including an addition to the main building, an external kitchen and bread oven. Stone paving outlines the footprint of the former kitchen structure and fireplace, since demolished.