What’s On

Click on an event below to find out more about it. Events of the RHSV can also be found in our What’s On bulletin and History News.

ON NOW until 30 March 2018 : Exhibition : Standing on the Corner
23 November 2017 : Lunchtime Lecture : Secret Codes and the “Cable Girls” of West Block

Thanks to all our members and visitors who attended our events during 2017. We look forward to offering another great program of speakers next year, so watch this space!

Lunchtime Lecture : Secret Codes and the “Cable Girls” of West Block

Thursday 23 November, refreshments 12.30 pm, lecture 1.00 pm
Venue: 239 A’Beckett Street, Melbourne
Cost: Members free, non-members $10
Speaker: Peter Dowling

A small, innocuous and often ignored building in Canberra’s Parliamentary Triangle has quite a remarkable story to tell. The building is located in the rear of the West Block curtilage and today is used as an electricity substation and a place for the staff of the main offices to park their bicycles.

But, during the Second World War this small building, tucked away behind the main building which housed the Prime Minister’s Department, was occupied by a group of young women working on the top-secret encryption and decryption of government cables. They called themselves the “Cable Girls” and the building, “The Bunker”. Dr Peter Dowling will tell the story of this building and its young staff who played a vital but highly secretive part in Australia’s war effort.

Dr Dowling is a historical archaeologist and a Council member of the Canberra and District Historical Society. In a former life, Peter was involved in defence intelligence and communications which later drew his interest towards the history of this place and the young people who worked in isolation there.