Albert Wright

Albert Edward Wright

Block 65 Belconnen District

Albert Edward Wright was born on the 12th April 1888 at Delegate where his family had extensive land holdings. The Wright family has a long history in the Canberra region. Albert's father, Arthur Henry Wright, was born at Lanyon, then owned by his grandfather, James Wright. James also once owned Cuppacumbalong. Albert Wright enlisted on the 28th June 1917 in Bombala and served with the 45th Battalion in France from August 1918.

Just before serving in France, Wright married Ellen Murphy in Plumstead, England on the 21st June 1918. After the war he studied journalism in London before returning home in April 1920 with Ellen and their two children. Wright was officially discharged on the 14th June 1920.

In June 1923, Wright was offered the monthly permissive occupancy of the 904 acre (366 hectare) Belconnen Block 65. At the time, he was living at Molonglo (modern-day Fyshwick). The lease was to run for five years from the 1st March 1924 to the 23rd March 1929 at a rental of £214/14 per annum. Because of the impermanent nature of his tenure, Wright and his family lived in Kingston having purchased a residential block on Wentworth Avenue in the first land auction in 1924.

Belconnen Block 65 was located south of the National Arboretum and extended south of the Molonglo River to Cotter Road. The River Paddock of the former Yarralumla Estate formed the main section of the block. It also included two other paddocks from Yarralumla, the Clump of Trees Paddock and the Washpen Paddock, both on the southern side of the Molonglo. The block could hold an estimated 1200 sheep.


Plan of Belconnen Block 65. The area in the lower left corner indicated by the blue line was excised in 1925.

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Wright was also in the business of leasing out merino rams to local graziers and his advice on sheep husbandry was often sought by other leaseholders. This led to him leasing three additional blocks in 1924 for agisting sheep. These were Belconnen Block 47 Belconnen (the site of the National Arboretum), Canberra City Block 24 at Mill Flat (an area of 24 acres -10 hectares on Dairy Road in Fyshwick) and Canberra City Block 8 on the southern slopes of Black Mountain.

In 1925, about 45 acres (18 hectares) was excised from Belconnen Block 65 for the construction of the Weston Creek sewerage farm. This reduced the area of the block to 859 acres (348 hectares).

Google Maps image of area c2014 with Belconnen Block 65 boundary in red

Google Maps image of area c2014 with Belconnen Block 65 boundary in red.

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Wright was formally advised that his lease would be terminated on the 28th May 1929 so that the land could be used for a pine plantation. In lieu of his lease, Wright was offered the lease on a Commonwealth block at Mount Fairy, located on the road between Bungendore and Tarago, NSW. The Commonwealth had acquired this land during WW1, its limestone deposits being needed for cement to be used in the construction of Canberra. By 1929 when it was offered to Wright, the land had been the subject of expensive and lengthy litigation that went all the way to the Privy Council without any cement being produced.

However, Belconnen Block 65 was not immediately resumed and Wright found that his lease was extended for a further five years from the 18th August 1931 at £312/4 per annum. Perhaps accepting that there was no long term future with the land, Wright sold the lease to Evan Cameron from Weetangera for £550 on the 7th December 1931.

In the fifth Department of the Interior land auction held on the 8th December 1951, Wright purchased a suburban block in Griffith, ACT. However, he appears not to have taken up residence on the block.

Over the years, Wright played an active role in the Canberra community. He was the first secretary of the Federal Territory Rural Lessees Association, a member of both the RSL and the Australian Natives' Association as well as an early member of the Canberra and District Historical Society.

Albert Wright met a tragic end on the 7th March 1970 when he was struck by a tourist bus while walking along Northbourne Avenue.


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