Dr Peter Dowling

Canberra resident and National Heritage Officer of the National Trust of Australia
Interview: December 2013

“My name is Peter Dowling and I am the National Heritage Officer of the National Trust of Australia here in Canberra. I studied archaeology, history and biological anthropology at ANU, Canberra, and have investigated and assessed the heritage significance of many places of the Australian Capital Territory.

I like the pre-Federation history: what the explorers went through, what the first settlers went through, and how they coped. It's such an interesting story, it really, really is. The more I do research into this through the various jobs that I do, I find more stories about how this area developed. It's probably no different in a way to other areas of Australia in those periods, but very often so many people in Australia only think of Canberra as the ‘nation's capital’, and a ‘created city’, a very dull and drab city. Well, it certainly is not that.

It's a very beautiful city, and it does have that same Australian history behind it that goes right back to the first people who came there. We know that there were Aboriginal people here 25,000 years ago just through archaeological research, but they were certainly here much, much before that. So they were probably here for 40,000 years in this area. So we have that great, long human history, the same as the rest of Australia has. Canberra is really no different from that, but that's not always appreciated.”


The Making of the Lake

Dr Peter Dowling and several residents speak about the vision for and construction of Lake Burley Griffin, from the selection of a suitable site by surveyor Charles Scrivener, to the influence of Prime Minister Menzies on its construction, and the excitement of watching it finally 'magically’ appear...

Acton History

Dr Peter Dowling and several residents talk about the early European settlers and the first Acton Homestead.