Bonner is a planned suburb in the district of Gungahlin in Canberra. The suburb is named in memory after Senator Neville Bonner, Australia’s first Indigenous parliamentarian who served the people of Queensland from 1971 to1984.
Bonner is situated on the former paddocks of a sheep property called ‘Horse Park’ that was established by Irish immigrants John and Ann Gillespie in 1853. From these humble beginnings, this pioneering family and their son, James Gillespie acquired the neighbouring property ‘Elm Grove’, located in present-day Forde. The Gillespie family was typical of a number of very astute small and medium scale graziers who built up their pastoral holdings through the judicious acquisitions of neighbouring properties. These practices forced the hands of legislators in colonial New South Wales to enact the Robertson Land Acts to kerb the practice.
Their son James Gillespie was instrumental in establishing the Mulligans Flat Public School. The remnants of the school are located in the nearby Mulligans Flat Reserve. Gillespie was also a regularly contributor to the Goulburn Evening Penny Post under the pseudonym ‘The Wizard’. ‘Horse Park’ homestead, which has been nominated for the ACT Heritage Register, is situated a kilometre west in the suburb of Jacka.
A local shopping centre will be positioned at the geographical centre of the suburb in close proximity to the areas designated for medium density housing. The local Primary School is at the centre of its catchment, which comprises Bonner, Forde and the southern portion of Jacka. It adjoins the Local Centre and playing fields. Taken together, these facilities create a social nucleus for the new suburb. A local primary school site will be located at the centre of Bonner to also serve Forde, to the east, and Jacka to the west. The school will be in close proximity to the Local Centre, Community Facilities and the playing fields. The Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve is situated on the north-eastern edge of the suburb.
Bonner occupies 283 hectares and at its highest point is situated is 715 metres above sea level (ASL) while its lowest point on the southernmost reach is 624 metres. The suburb slopes southward towards Ginninderra Creek. ‘Oak Hill’ dominates the northern horizon which is 800 metres ASL and situated on the north-west boundary of the Australian Capital Territory.
The suburb is bounded by Horse Park and Gundaroo Drives and is approximately 4km from the Gungahlin Town Centre and 16km from the centre of Canberra. It is adjacent to the suburbs of Jacka, Amaroo and Forde.