Gubur Dhaura (Aboriginal Ochre Quarry and Historic Mining Area)
The heritage significance of Gubur Dhaura draws on its importance to both the Aboriginal people of the ACT and surrounding region and early European settlers. It appears that both groups were drawn to this place due to its geological features, including outcrops of ochre and kaolin (pipeclay), which provided opportunity for resource procurement.
There is evidence that ochre extraction was associated with the Aboriginal usage of the place. This enables the ACT Aboriginal community to maintain strong affiliations with this important element of traditional culture. These cultural links are enhanced by the size and quantity of the ochre source, as others of this scale are rare in the ACT.
Gubur Dhaura is a notable example of an Aboriginal ochre quarry in the context of the ACT. It contains a visible expanse of iron rich soils and ironstone outcrops that identify it as a large scale potential ochre source. The discovery of lithic artefacts at the place is also suggestive of Aboriginal ochre processing. The significant sized artefact assemblage and prominent large-scale ochre deposit are a combination of key features unseen elsewhere in the ACT.
The place is highly valued by the Aboriginal community as it is associated with numerous patterns of past lifeways. Its cultural significance to the community is enhanced by evidence for the lifeways that are present at the place, including ochre processing, lithic technologies, and ‘camp site’ occupation. The physical features that attest to these activities are demonstrative of past Aboriginal occupation patterns in the ACT and Gungahlin region.
The Red Hill ridgeline [also] has special associations with the resource requirements of colonial settlement in Gungahlin and what later became the ACT. These associations are indicated by evidence of past excavation in search of iron ore, gold, and subsequently local extraction of pipe clay for chimney whitewash, and as a source material for the Canberra Brickworks.
A remnant portion of Well Station Road traversing the place is instructive in understanding local settlement and land division patterns, and also provides an important link between two historical locations: Gungaderra Homestead and Well Station Precinct.
Numerous features exist within the landscape of the ridgeline that attest to various phases of European land use and resource extraction. These have included the construction of the Wells Station Road; and evidence of land form changes due to mineral extraction and prospecting.
Henry Gozzard (senior) took up portion 120, Parish of Goorooyarroo, County of Murray, in 1871, over which the Red Hill ridgeline partially lay. In around 1896 the ironstone on Gozzard’s property was mined for iron ore and although this venture was abandoned, this enabled the discovery of substantial pipeclay deposits apparently used by local residents for whitewashing houses.
The place covers approximately 6 hectares, and is elevated about 610 m above sea level. It is located upon a small low ridgeline of Red Hill running in a north-south direction, extending for about 1.4km, rising 30m above the surrounding plains where there are naturally occurring surface rock outcrops on the upper crest and upper slopes and exposed soils. The soils are red and yellow in colour and patches of white clay are visible. The place is also characterised by excavations and associated land disturbances that have been backfilled by previous mining activities. The place consists primarily of open grassland, with some remnant trees. A portion of the historically utilised Well Station Track traverses the place. The site is located upon the Red Hill ridgeline, and is bordered by Diane Barwick St, Elizabeth Jolly Cres, Alice Crist St, and Barbara Jeffries St.
(Edited extracts from the Heritage Registration decision of 2011 to enter Gubur Dhaura on the ACT Heritage Register)
Click on the caption (⧉) to view photo details and attribution.
- ACT Heritage Council. 2002. Australian Capital Territory, Proposed entry into an interim heritage places register for: Gungaderra Homestead Precinct. Lyneham. ACT.
- Officer, K. 1995. Red Hill Aboriginal Camp Site and Historic Mine: Conservation and Management Plan. Draft. Report to the ACT Heritage Unit, DELP.
- ACT Government, Canberra Tracks