Environa — Canberra’s Lost Estate Development

Posted 11 Aug 2018

Story by CBR Canberra

Dry, flat and expansive — at first glance the property on the outskirts of Canberra is unremarkably familiar.

However, on closer inspection you’ll discover a scattering of mysterious stone formations. The structures are an eerie reminder of the now forgotten vision of the 20th century developer Henry Ferdinand Halloran.

Two wooden bandstands, a 12 metre high obelisk and an avenue of stone pillars leading to an impressive stone archway is all that remains of the ‘grand estate’ that Halloran set out to develop in the early 1920’s. The property, a subdivision of Hill Station is called ‘Environa’ and is a fascinating and seemingly lesser-known part of Canberra’s history.

Set on a huge expanse of land, next to the ACT border, Halloran designed a grand European-style city that featured 1700 blocks of free-hold land as well as businesses, banks, theatres, recreational areas, parks and other important buildings. In a nod to its opulent design, Halloran had planned for picturesque deciduous trees to line the distinct circular roads (showing the influence of his colleague and friend, Walter Burley Griffin). Some of these trees remain and are well established around the property including oaks, cedars, plane trees and poplars.

Unfortunately Halloran’s Environa never came to fruition due to the onset of the Great Depression and a slower than expected development of Canberra.

Today, Environa, remains in Halloran’s family as a private grazing property. David Larcombe, Henry Halloran’s grandson, manages the property and has a strong interest in preserving the stories and historic relics connected with his grandfather’s dream.

Please note, this property remains the private land of the Larcombe family and they ask that you respect this.

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