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2005/275/1 Railway map, entitled 'Map of New South Wales shewing Proposed Federal Capital Sites', silk / timber, owned by James Thomas Noon, New South Wales, Australia, lithographed and printed by New South Wales Department of Lands, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1902. Click to enlarge.

Railway map of NSW showing proposed Federal Capital sites

On the first of January 1901, the colonies of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania joined together in a new Commonwealth of Australia. Both before and after Federation there was much public bickering about where the federal territory and seat of government should be. However, the Constitution had provided that the capital had to be in New South Wales, not less than 100 miles (161 km) from Sydney, and that the territory had to be at least 100 …


Object No.


Object Statement

Railway map, entitled 'Map of New South Wales shewing Proposed Federal Capital Sites', silk / timber, owned by James Thomas Noon, New South Wales, Australia, lithographed and printed by New South Wales Department of Lands, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1902

Physical Description

The railway map is entitled 'Map of New South Wales shewing Proposed Federal Capital Sites'. It features a map of New South Wales showing the railway lines radiating out from Sydney and Newcastle together with projected railways. All stations are shown with the distance from Sydney in numbers next to the station. Four inset maps titled 'Australasia'; 'Diagram of the South Coast Line from Sydney to Kiama and part of Southern Line Sydney to Moss Vale and the Sydenham to Belmore Line'; 'Diagram showing part of the Western Line Blacktown to Tarana also routes to Jenolan Caves' and 'Diagram showing Northern Coast Line Sydney to Newcastle and Branch Lines Milsons Pt to Hornsby and Blacktown to Richmond'.

The list of fifteen proposed sites for the new Federal Capital is noted in red in a box with a table noting their distances from Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Brisbane. The towns and places listed 1 to 15 are: Albury, Bathurst, Bombala via Cooma (rail and coach), Braidwood via Tarago (rail and coach), Carcoar Garland via Carcoar (rail and coach), Cootamundra, Forest Reefs and Calvert via Millthorpe, Orange and Canobolas, Tumut via Gundagai (rail and coach), Wagga Wagga, Yass and Lake George. The number of each town or place is noted on the map in red. Further proposed sites are indicated on the map by a red square and are underlined. Some of these include: Tenterfield, Armidale, Inverell, Port Stephens, Molong, Moss Vale, Rylstone and Mt Clarence, Tumbarumba and Dalgety.

The scale of the map is 29 miles to an inch or 1:1 837 440. The map is printed on silk which has been pasted onto a foamcore backing board and framed in a narrow black laminated timber frame without glass.


Lower right corner, printed 'Lithographed and Printed at the Department of Lands, N.S.W. 1902'

Lower left side, handwritten, ink 'James T. Noon'



660 mm


785 mm



Made by New South Wales Department of Lands, 1902.



Copies of this map were said to have been presented to all the members of the railway crew on the train which carried politicians around various locations in New South Wales in 1902 to choose the Federal capital site. Members of the Senate made their inspection in March while the House of Representatives went in May. The locomotive used for the Senate's tour was a 32 class and it is possible that it was 3206, then numbered 12. This locomotive had been built by Beyer Peacock and was put into service on 11 March 1892.

The sites inspected included Tumut, Yass, Goulburn, Orange, Armidale, Lake George, Dalgety and Bombala. Some of the members of the House of Representatives also inspected and admired the site of Canberra when they were at Queanbeyan for the inspection of the site at Lake George.

The map was given to James Thomas Noon, who was said by family members to have been a guard on board one of the trains, though his actual position on the train has not been substantiated. However he is more likely to have been a steward as it believed that he also worked as a steward on board passenger ships.

James Thomas Noon was born on 5 June 1881 at Bega, in New South Wales, the son of Patrick and Mary Noon. He was educated at Concord Convent and Croydon Public School. By the time of the 1902 rail trip around southern and western New South Wales, Noon would have been 21 years of age.

On 20 April 1915 Noon enlisted as a Private in the Australian Imperial Force. He is listed in the Nominal Roll for the 17th Infantry Battalion and his occupation is noted as a cordial maker, aged 32, single, and living at "Roseleigh", Stanley Street, Burwood. His next of kin was listed as his mother at the same address. His religion was noted as Roman Catholic and his service number was No.1596. Noon embarked on 12 May 1915 and saw War service in Gallipoli. He was wounded there but continued on duty until the evacuation. Noon went on to undertake further service in France and was wounded again at Pozieres where he was invalided back Australia and dismissed as medically unfit in March 1917. James Noon left the AIF as a Corporal. He was then appointed to a position in the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow but died, at the age of about 38, on the 3 May 1919, in the Randwick Veterans' Hospital, most probably relating to his wounds. He was interred two days later at Rookwood Cemetery. This became a war grave in 1948.

Some time after James Noon died the map passed to his sister, Sarah Agnes Noon, born at Burwood in 1891. Sarah married Robert Donohoe/Donehue in 1924 and the map stayed with them until passed onto their son, also Robert Donehue. Robert jnr had the map in his possession for about 20 years and in about 1990 had it mounted and framed. In 2004 Robert Donehue and his wife, Jacqueline, presented the map to the Museum.


Credit Line

Gift of Jacqueline and Robert Donehue, 2005

Acquisition Date

21 December 2005

Cite this Object


Railway map of NSW showing proposed Federal Capital sites 2022, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 31 January 2023, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Railway map of NSW showing proposed Federal Capital sites |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=31 January 2023 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}