Canberra Incinerator


The incinerator is in Westbourne Woods next to the tenth fairway of Royal Canberra golf course, about 500 metres from the clubhouse. There is a sewerage dump annex on the northeast side of the incinerator, and a brick sewer vent is located nearby.

The Canberra incinerator, designed by Eric Nicholls for the Reverberatory Incinerator and Engineering Company (RIECo) was built by Simmien Company in 1938-39, using Canberra bricks from the nearby brickworks. 

In 1930, the architecture partnership of Walter Burley Griffin and Eric Nicholls began designing incinerator buildings for the RIECo.  By Griffin’s death in 1937 they had produced twelve elegant and highly efficient municipal incinerators for local governments in four states. 

The Canberra incinerator is different in both internal operation and building style from the Griffin incinerators, and was the only one built to this design.  Nonetheless, it clearly shows how the process worked, and is one of only two that do so.

During construction a sewerage delivery room was added.  Canberra then used the lavatory pan system, and because the main outfall sewer passed near the incinerator, it was convenient to provide a means of dumping night soil directly into the sewer.

The incinerator burned general garbage during the 1940s and classified waste in the 1950s.  It was decommissioned in 1959 and the furnace removed, although the other two floors remain in original condition.  The building was bought by the golf club in 1960, for use as a storage facility and to prevent its demolition.


More information


Charlton, Ken.
‘The Sewer, the Incinerator and its Architect’, Heritage in Trust, Winter-Spring 2004, pp. 5-8, 16.
ACTHL Location:  H 720.9947 HERI


Nicholls, Eric M. Exterior Perspective View of Incinerator [architectural drawing]. Nicholls Collection, National Library of Australia, 1938.  


National Trust of Australia (ACT Branch)
Westbourne Woods Incinerator