In August 1923, in near gale-force winter winds, the first sod was turned at the site of the provisional Parliament House of the Australian Federal Government in Canberra. Percy G Stewart, Minister for Works and Railways, performed the ceremony in front of approximately 1900 people assembled on Camp Hill: The sacred soil was carried away, not only in bags by many good people who had much better dirt at home, but also on their clothes and their ears.
J Gibney, Canberra 1913-1953, AGPS Press, Canberra, 1988
Some of this soil was fashioned into a pinecone by fourteen-year-old Doris Todd, who came to Canberra that year with her parents. Her father Robert Todd was a plumber’s assistant at the provisional (now Old) Parliament House. The pinecone souvenir is a homemade souvenir of a unique occasion, created by new residents in a new city. They give a personal perspective to a nationally significant event.