New website reveals the birth of our nation's capital

Media release: Wednesday, 19 October 2011

A new website that documents the development of Australia's capital city from 1920s to the 1930s portrayed through the eyes of government photographer William James Mildenhall was launched today.

Discovering Mildenhall's Canberra website is a joint project between the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House and the National Archives of Australia.

'We are delighted to be partnering with the National Archives of Australia again to enhance access to key Australian collections,' said Jenny Anderson, Director of the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House.

With more than 7700 images, the Mildenhall Collection documents most aspects of Canberra's early history as Australia's new capital.

'These images provide a fascinating view of how the buildings of Canberra were constructed in the early years as well as revealing aspects of early domestic and community life,' said Zoe D'Arcy, Director of Digital and Online Access at the National Archives of Australia.

'We are delighted to be able to share them with the Australian people who we hope will add their own stories and photographs to the website.'

As heritage items and works of art, the Mildenhall photographs are of great cultural and historical value to Australians.

The website aims to highlight the significance of the Old Parliament House building and to encourage Australians to explore Canberra's early development as the national capital.

It includes a social media component that allows users to retrieve images by location; to add commentary and stories about the images; and to rephotograph Mildenhall's sites to provide a 'then and now' visual comparison.

The website will contribute to the centenary of Canberra celebrations in 2013, by which time it will include both an important historical collection and a significant set of contemporary stories and images.

'We encourage Australians to engage with this website and help create a rich collection of lasting value,' said Ms Anderson.

For more information on Discovering Mildenhall's Canberra visit

Note: High resolution images cleared for media use can be downloaded from our media centre.

Contact information

  • Nicolle Keyes (Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House)
    t (02) 6270 8175 m 0411 520 938 e
  • Melanie Harwood (Assistant Director, Communications)
    t (02) 6212 3755 m 0422 535 213 e
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