Last updated 6Jun22
London Bridge is situated near the southern end of Googong Dam.
Location: GR 55H FA 05171-67433 (MGA94), Captains Flat 8726-1N 1:25000
London Bridge, September 2019
• Riotact website June 2022
It was an Aboriginal guide who first pointed it out. In June 1823, Captain Mark John Currie was passing through on a mission to find ideal land for settlement when his team came across “a natural bridge of one perfect Saxon arch, under which the water passed”.
Today, it’s known as the ‘London Bridge’, and it’s a little-known attraction along a 3.4 kilometre, two-hour walking circuit near the NSW township of Googong. The track starts from London Bridge Road off Burra Road at the site of the stone remains of an old woolshed and shearers’ quarters.
About 20 years after Currie, an Irishman, John McNamara, bought the natural stone arch and 30 acres of surrounding land for 30 pounds, making it one of the first properties in the region. He, his wife, and their 13 children owned London Bridge until 1920. After a few changes of hands, the Commonwealth resumed control in 1973 to protect the Googong Dam catchment.
But there’s a darker history too.
In January 1874, Queanbeyan Police sergeant Martin Brennan stumbled across a “veritable catacomb” containing “many hundreds of human bones and skulls, centuries old” crammed into caves near the arch. These were carried away by the bagful and pronounced by three surgeons, including the coroner, to be “the skeletons of the Aborigines of former times”. The arch may have been a sacred burial site for the local tribes.
The following year, more human bones were found in a nearby cave, this time European. But by the time the coroner came out to investigate, most of them had mysteriously vanished. Rumour has it they may have been the victims of bushrangers. But given they were buried in the Queanbeyan Pioneer Cemetery and promptly washed away by floodwaters, the bones remain a mystery.
Subsequent archaeological digs have yet to turn up human remains, although plenty of extinct native rats, mice and small marsupials were found.
This Sunday, 5 June, marks World Environment Day, so there’s your excuse for a half-day trip to see all of this in person. The arch and surrounding caves are spiritually significant to the Ngunnawal people and fragile, so rangers advise visitors to treat the place with care.
Continue along the track for another 20 minutes, and you’ll also come across McNamara’s family home, the London Bridge Homestead, now protected by a security fence.
London Bridge is far from the only walking track in the Canberra region that ends in an iconic formation.