The Suburb of O’Malley 2606

The Suburb of O’Malley 2606


A quiet and attractive suburb in the Canberra district of Woden Valley, O’Malley has a population of just 873 people (Census 2011). O’Malley is a pleasant place with a high standard of living and enjoys great access to the local shopping centres in Garren and Isaacs and to all the amenities in Canberra. O’Malley’s geology is pretty impressive as Deakin Volcanics are underneath the suburb, consisting of green grey and purple rhyodacite.

It is an interesting area as there are no less than 25 Embassies and High Commissions in O’Malley and nearly half the population is foreign-born. One of the most notable things about this suburb is the fact that the streets are named with aboriginal words and each street name describes the area in which it is situated, so for example Kanangra Place means ‘beautiful view.’ There is also a fascinating tale behind the name O’Malley.

How O’Malley Got Its Name

This suburb is named after King O’Malley, a colourful character in early Australian politics who came to Australia when he was aged about 30 (although the real date of his birth isn’t exactly known). In order to enter into Australian politics, O’Malley had to claim to have been born in Québec, Canada which would have made him a British subject. In fact, it’s quite possible that he was really born in the United States. O’Malley claimed to have been born in 1854: he was given a state funeral when he died in 1953, as the last survivor of the Commonwealth of Australia’s first national Parliament of May 1901.

O’Malley was known for his bravado and his democratic extravagances and he was also renowned for his entertaining speeches. As Minister for Home Affairs, O’Malley was given the chance to promote some of the causes closest to his heart which included old age pensions, a bank that was government owned and run, as well as promoting the causes of women.

He is perhaps best known for being the politician who arranged the international competition for designing Canberra. It’s because of O’Malley that your home in Canberra is leasehold rather than freehold as he wished for the land to always remain the property of all the people of Australia.

Less popularly, teetotaller O’Malley was responsible for prohibition in the new capital of Canberra between 1911 and 1928 but he was unable to keep the capital completely dry. Luckily the prohibition laws still allowed residents to cross the border to get a beer. Nowadays you can visit the extremely popular Canberra pub, King O’Malley’s, an ironic tribute to Canberra’s most vocal prohibitionist.

While much of his early life is shrouded in mystery, there’s little doubt that O’Malley became a flamboyant and almost eccentric character in Canberra’s history.