Doris Todd


1923, ceramic, glazed

In August 1923, in near gale-force winter winds, the first sod was turned at the site of the provisional Parliament House of the Australian Federal Government in Canberra. Percy G Stewart, Minister for Works and Railways, performed the ceremony in front of approximately 1900 people assembled on Camp Hill:

The sacred soil was carried away, not only in bags by many good people who had much better dirt at home, but also on their clothes and their ears.

Some of this soil was fashioned into a pinecone by fourteen-year-old Doris Todd, who came to Canberra that year with her parents. Her father Robert Todd was a plumber’s assistant at the provisional (now Old) Parliament House. The pinecone souvenir is a homemade souvenir of a unique occasion, created by new residents in a new city. They give a personal perspective to a nationally significant event.


7 x 4.5 x 2 cm

Object number



Social History


Gift of Wendy Allen 2003