Kingston is the oldest and most densely populated suburb of Canberra. The suburb is named after Charles Cameron Kingston, the former Premier of South Australia and minister in the first Australian Commonwealth Government. Kingston’s streets are named after Australia’s early European explorers. It is adjacent to the suburbs of Barton, Fyshwick, Griffith and Manuka, and is situated about 4 km from Canberra City.
In the early years of Canberra’s development, Eastlake occupied the area now known as Kingston. Eastlake Football club is one of the few reminders of Kingston long past. Eastlake was designated as a workers living quarters while the suburb of Forrest was reserved for middle and higher ranking public servants. About 120 portable wooden cottages for construction workers were built at the Causeway in 1925 and 1926. Canberra’s first hall for community gatherings and entertainment was at the Causeway where the recreation hall was completed in 1926 with voluntary labour using materials provided by the Federal Capital Commission. After the Second World War, housing at the Causeway and Westlake was considered sub-standard. Although all of the original Westlake cottages have been demolished, the Causeway survives with the original temporary wooden cottages now replaced with brick veneer cottages. As it was separated from the rest of the suburb by Wentworth Avenue and was situated to the north of the railway station, the Causeway was a distinct district within the suburb of Kingston, however, it is now abutted by the new Kingston foreshore development.
The Causeway was given its name because it was near the Causeway across the Molonglo River, was used for the train line built in 1917 and washed away in the 1922 flood. The cottages at Causeway were designed by HM Rolland and were first erected at Westlake in 1924, then Acton and finally at the Causeway in 1925-1926. The Westlake cottages were sold off from the mid 1950s and the last cottage removed in 1965. A number are now in Queanbeyan and down the South Coast. One also sits with a new coat of paint, in River Street, Oaks Estate.
In recent years Kingston has been largely redeveloped with medium density housing, including townhouses and units. The most recent development is the Kingston Foreshores development in which large numbers of high-value apartments are being built along the foreshores of Lake Burley Griffin. The area, located between the Canberra railway station and the Kingston Powerhouse, had previously been used for industrial purposes. These new developments and the rise of a café society have reformed Kingston as one of the most exclusive suburbs in Canberra. The suburb is now also noted for its lively nightlife and bar scene.
Kingston contains the Kingston Shopping Centre, one of the earliest shopping areas built in Canberra. Other places of note in Kingston include the Kingston Powerhouse, opened in 1915, and the Canberra railway station. The Old Bus Depot Markets, showcasing handcrafted goods and foodstuffs, are held on the lakeside every Sunday and have become a regular destination for locals and tourists.