Building removals underway on Ginninderra East

CSIRO advises local residents that building removal works will be carried out on the Ginninderra East section of the former Ginninderra Experiment Station from late May through June 2022.

The removal of up to 24 structures follows the relocation of CSIRO’s agricultural research to the Boorowa Agricultural Research Station and is a step towards preparing the property for proposed future urban use.

The building removal is scheduled to take place during 7 am-5 pm work hours from Monday-Friday.

The removal works have been approved by the National Capital Authority and will be carried out in line with relevant Australian standards and appropriate authorities such as ACTPLA, Comcare and ACT Work Cover.

While most of these buildings or structures are not close to residential areas, we expect that there will be times where residents can see and hear machinery operating and see truck movements across the property, if you are in the area at those times.

None of the works are in the identified conservation areas, however special measures will be in place to ensure tree protection and ecological protection throughout the works.

After removal of the structures the work sites will be remediated in line with Environmental Protection Authority guidelines by a suitably qualified environmental consultant.

Cool science to beat the heat in Darwin and Asia

A new CSIRO Urban Living Lab will help transform Darwin into a best-practice example of tropical urban living and promote Australian cities’ expertise into Asia.

Darwin’s tropical climate, high temperatures and humidity present challenges for urban liveability and sustainability that are shared by countries across Asia.  As populations grow and cities expand in the region, the need for science-led solutions has never been greater, and our scientists are rising to the challenge.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced a new CSIRO Urban Living Lab on 16 November as part of the Darwin City Deal – a $200 million package of initiatives to be delivered by Australian, Northern Territory and City Council levels of government, over ten years.

Our Urban Living Lab will help cool Darwin’s future












Within $100 million of Commonwealth investment, about $5 million is earmarked for tropical city management processes like the cooling and greening of Darwin and the Urban Living Lab.

CSIRO Darwin-based Research Leader for Northern Australia, Chris Chilcott said the new Living Lab will help transform Darwin into a cooler and greener tropical city by working with all levels of government and the community over a 10 year period.

CSIRO’s Research Leader for Northern Australia, Chris Chilcott

















“Our teams will develop, road-test and evaluate the latest heat mitigation technologies and strategies as well as energy-efficient building designs,” Chris said.

“We will evaluate the use of new shade structures incorporating greenery such as vines and creeping plants, the use of water features throughout the CBD and new office buildings designed to be more energy efficient and reduce the heat.”












CSIRO Urban Living Labs are places where researchers, industry, community and government can work together to address the environmental, social, economic and technological challenges facing the urban sector.

CSIRO is moving to establish these Living Labs in a number of different urban, inner city and greenfields settings across Australia and it announced the first such venture with the launch of Sydney Science Park in February 2017. CSIRO Ginninderra is proposed to be a future Urban Living Lab under CSIRO’s Future Cities initiative.

Greening of cities and temperature management are important issues facing tropical cities throughout Asia and were among the key matters discussed at the Smart Cities Showcase as part of the recent East Asia Summit in Singapore.












The Australian Government highlighted the CSIRO Urban Living Lab in Darwin as important for tackling tropical city management design issues and in line with Australia’s role in the ASEAN-Australia Smart Cities Initiative.  As part of an effort to create ASEAN cities that are smart and sustainable, Australia will provide education, training, technical assistance and support for innovation in this space over five years.

“Together with the knowledge gained through our network of Urban Living Labs, the Darwin project will provide valuable insights into solutions for tropical cities and expertise for potential export into Asia,” Chris said.

Scientists and growers have a Field Day

Building on a long tradition of agricultural innovation, CSIRO scientists presented their latest research to local farmers and agronomists at a Field Day at Ginninderra Experiment Station this week.

When CSIRO first acquired the Ginninderra property in the late 1950s, Elvis Presley was an emerging rock star and CSIRO was busy making breakthroughs with rabbit control, Australia’s first computer (CSIRAC) and the invention of the atomic absorption spectrophotometer.

In the years since, the Ginninderra Experiment Station (CSIRO Ginninderra) has been home to agricultural research and until CSIRO’s new research farm at Boorowa is fully operational, that’s still the case today.

Each year, our staff at Ginninderra, sow, manage and harvest about 30,000 crop research plots. We run a merino flock as part of general site management and for specific grazing and dual purpose cropping experiments.

Over the years CSIRO Ginninderra has played a part in crop breeding success stories and generated significant food production benefits for the farming sector and Australia, for example through selective breeding of:

The groundbreaking research continues, and this week, growers and agronomists braved the rain to hear first-hand about some of the latest research from CSIRO scientists including:

Jessica Hyles, Rudy Dolferus and Harriet Sangma spoke about how wheat flowering behaviour can be matched to local climate conditions (on the Monaro) to optimise crop yields and minimise risks posed by frost, drought and heat.

Jess Hyles explains her research on phenology and mutation breeding to improve wheat varieties for the Monaro region.


John Kirkegaard discussed the latest farming systems research including the benefits from sowing canola and wheat for dual purpose grazing and cropping. “Sowing 15-20% of the farm to dual-purpose canola can improve productivity by around $100 per farm hectare,” John said.

Rebecca Stutz spoke about new work to assess different forage types for improving the liveweight of lambs over late spring and summer, when pasture quality and quantity typically declines. The experiments at Ginninderra will compare the performance, for lamb finishing, of brassica varieties against dual purpose canola.

Ben Trevaskis talked about an exciting project called OzWheat which will use ‘big data’ to uncover the secrets from a century of selective wheat breeding. The aim is to adapt wheat for Australia and boost our national and international food production and security.

Tom McLucas introduced the Ginninderra farm and the plans to move the focus of our agricultural research to a 290 ha site in the heart of Boorowa’s farming district.

“As CSIRO Ginninderra transitions to a new future as a sustainable urban development, our agricultural research is moving to a purpose-designed and state-of-the-art research farm at Boorowa, over the coming years,” Tom said.

“Construction of new buildings at Boorowa is almost complete and our plans for water storage and irrigation systems to support our future trials are well advanced.”

Project Update – October-November

CSIRO’s aspiration to deliver a sustainable urban development backed by science and innovation, at Ginninderra, has moved forward on several fronts in recent weeks.

Our science team has been busy consolidating the latest science and technology offerings that CSIRO brings to cities and urban life. Our lead scientist, Guy Barnett presented our Future Cities program to politicians and their teams during a CSIRO showcase event at the Australian Parliament in October. Our expertise in sustainable cities is being called on increasingly in Australia and internationally, with further events in the pipeline over coming months.

We have engaged with a number of agencies and organisations to work through matters relating to roads and traffic, environment and heritage, and urban planning and design principles.

We have also continued to meet with a range of community groups over recent months including most recently the Hall and District Progress Association, Gungahlin Community council and other local citizen groups.

We are looking to engage more broadly with the community in 2019 ahead of moving into further planning stages for Ginninderra.

Surfing the next wave of digital innovation

Data-driven solutions in cities are among the key opportunity areas that Australia can develop, and benefit from, by embracing the next wave of digital innovation.

The landmark Digital Innovation report outlines the nation’s next billion dollar industries and strategic areas where Australia can draw on existing strengths and collaborations, to create data-driven industries that drive jobs and economic growth.

Commissioned by CSIRO’s Data61, the report was prepared by AlphaBeta Advisors, and launched at the D61+ LIVE event in Brisbane.

“Every sector of the global economy has been re-defined as a result of digital science and technology and the extensive use of data,” according to Adrian Turner, CEO at CSIRO’s Data61.

“This next digital wave to revolutionise existing industries and create entirely new ones is ours to capture. But the opportunity is perishable if we don’t collectively take action now.”

Data61 researchers study a six legged robot

While Australia has had economic growth for some time, the report shows the need to increase productivity and find new sources of export competitiveness to secure the economy’s future prosperity in an increasingly competitive global marketplace.

AlphaBeta Director, Dr Andrew Charlton, said digital innovation has created enormous value globally and accounts for around 11 per cent of GDP in advanced economies, amounting to an annual value of $6 trillion. However, Australia has lagged our peers in capturing these benefits.

“Digital innovation is critical to improving our nation’s productivity and sustaining economic growth. It’s not just about creating the next Google or replicating Silicon Valley,” Dr Charlton said.

Immersive Environments Lab

Australia’s strongest opportunities arise from focusing R&D investment and applying digital innovation to existing industry strengths where key drivers of competitiveness are already in place such as strong domestic markets and in high quality basic research.

The report identifies eight high-potential opportunities for Australia in digital innovation, including: precision healthcare, digital agriculture, data-driven urban management, cyber-physical security, supply chain integrity, proactive government, legal informatics, and smart exploration and production.

“Progressive data-driven organisations are investing in four core areas to realise value from data; data capture, management, analysis and taking action with it. Combining this data with domain expertise, in areas like healthcare, agriculture and mining, is where we can create an unfair advantage,” Mr Turner said.

Data61 has launched a national digital challenges program to build stronger collaborations to tackle and accelerate outcomes for some of these high-potential opportunities.

“Data61 is helping Australian organisations capture the opportunity of digital innovation by bringing the ecosystem of government, industry and academia together to create new value,” Mr Turner said.

“As part of Australia’s national science agency, we have access to proven domain expertise and combine it with Data61’s deep data science and engineering excellence to deliver digital innovations that are large scale and globally relevant.”

Project update – August-September

Over the past two months, the Ginninderra team has made steady progress with business planning associated with CSIRO Ginninderra.

We are continuing to search for the right collaboration that will secure the future of the project, and have also been determining, in more detail, the science that CSIRO can contribute to a sustainable urban development at Ginninderra.

Our team is also undertaking ongoing engagement with the National Capital Authority, the ACT Government, various stakeholders, and the community across a wide range of community, planning, design, environmental, economic and social issues of relevance to this project. We met recently with the Belconnen and Gungahlin Community Councils, and will meet with the Hall and District Progress Association in the coming weeks to provide a project update.

A CSIRO Ginninderra drop-in session is proposed for later this year – so watch this space for details and further updates on the project.

Integrated science informs new opportunities

CSIRO’s ability to harness multidisciplinary research to identify potential future development opportunities has been showcased through a detailed study focused on Northern Australia

CSIRO has conducted the most integrated investigation of opportunities for water and agricultural development in northern Australia, the Northern Australia Water Resource Assessment.

CSIRO assembled more than 100 experts to assess the potential of an area close to the size of Victoria. The study area included three priority river catchments across three states which included the:

The investigation, conducted over two and a half years, evaluated available soil and water resources, opportunities for water storage and the commercial viability of agricultural opportunities. CSIRO also engaged with Indigenous people to understand their values, rights and interests in development.

Innovative methods used to assess the potential included:

Providing this information to investors and regulators underpins confidence and helps governments and communities to make future decisions regarding water use, food production, development opportunities and environmental sustainability.

The Northern Australia Water Resource Assessment was commissioned as an initiative of the Australian Government’s White Paper on Developing Northern Australia and the Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper.

Above: Fitzroy River, Western Australia.

Above: Tate River, Mitchell Catchment, Qld, during the dry season.

Innovation fit for the Queen – Aerogard born in Canberra and WW II

The innovation that kept flies off Queen Elizabeth on a golf day in Canberra in 1963 became Australia’s iconic insect repellent – Aerogard – just one of the amazing results born out of 91 years of CSIRO in the national capital.

At a garden party at Canberra’s Government House in 1963, Queen Elizabeth was left madly swatting away flies after one of her aides lost the nerve to spray Her Majesty with a repellent developed by CSIRO’s famous entomologist Doug Waterhouse.

Above: Fighting mosquito threats.

Learning from experience, the next day was a different story – as documented in CSIROpedia:

“… Government House staff made sure the Queen was liberally sprayed before heading off for a game of golf.  Journalists following the Queen noted the absence of flies around the official party and word about CSIRO’s new fly-repellent spread.”

Above: Doug Waterhouse.

“A few days later the good people at Mortein called Doug Waterhouse for his formula, which he passed on freely, as was CSIRO’s policy at the time. The rest, as they say, is history with Mortein’s Aerogard going on to become an Australian icon, ensuring that we all ‘avagoodweekend’.”

After being recruited to the then CSIR Division of Economic Entomology, in Canberra in 1938, Doug carried out pioneering research to tackle Australia’s sheep blowfly problem. This research was interrupted by the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939.

Above: Aerogard.

Commissioned with the rank of Captain in the Army Medical Corps, Doug was located in the Officer Reserves in Canberra and could be transferred to active service as needed. This arrangement gave flexibility for his wartime research focussed on finding ways to prevent malarial transmission by mosquitos. Speaking in 1993 about his work, Doug said:

“To begin with, I was testing oils for spraying onto mosquito breeding grounds …  I also had to test materials which might be used for mosquito sprays and housefly sprays to stop transmission of diseases.”

“For my tests, I would sit in a large muslin cage in a room, along with a thousand or so mosquitoes, and have a substance on each leg, another one on an arm and so on. This work got into the press, and as a result, we got many letters suggesting all sorts of materials and mixtures to be tested. As a matter of course, I tested all of these and all of their ingredients.”

Above: No flies on Queen Elizabeth at barbecue at Government House (1970). Source: National Archive of Australia.

Following some feedback from an oil company, Doug started testing a range of phthalates.
“I found that the diluted dimethyl phthalate was a good repellent but the pure dimethyl phthalate was quite outstanding.”

The formula was found to be equally as effective in field conditions in Newcastle and Cairns and with malarial mosquitoes in Papua New Guinea. Rather than experimenting on troops, Doug tested the product on himself and results were confirmed by entomological colleagues and given the go-ahead for use in the war.

Above: The Australian Bush Fly Musca vetustissima.

By 1943 the repellent, known as ‘Mary’, was protecting Allied troops throughout the Pacific from malarial mosquitoes.  Doug and CSIRO were unsung war heroes and this all gave rise to saving the Queen from the annoyance of Australia’s bush flies and to the ultimate development of Aerogard some 20 years later.

Above: 90 years of innovation in Canberra since the opening (here) of our Black Mountain site in 1927.

The Aerogard formula was just one of a long list of achievements credited to Doug Waterhouse during his 60 years as a renowned entomologist, scientist and administrator with CSIRO in Canberra. His contribution was pivotal to CSIRO’s successful blowfly research, to the development of integrated pest management and to CSIRO’s international recognition as a major centre for entomological research.

CSIRO has been solving some of the nation’s greatest challenges in the national capital since we opened our foundation building on Black Mountain in 1927. We like to share some of those stories on this site. And, by the way, we’re still finding ways to stop the mozzie disease threat.

CSIRO accelerates hydrogen-powered future

Australia is a step closer to a new hydrogen production and export industry following the national science agency’s successful refuelling of two fuel cell vehicles. 

CSIRO Chief Executive Larry Marshall was one of the first to ride in the Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Nexo vehicles powered by ultra-high purity hydrogen, produced in Queensland using CSIRO’s membrane technology. This technology will pave the way for bulk hydrogen to be transported in the form of ammonia, using existing infrastructure, and then reconverted back to hydrogen at the point of use.

It has the potential to fill the gap in the technology chain to supply fuel cell vehicles around the world with low-emissions hydrogen, sourced from Australia. The membrane separates ultra-high purity hydrogen from ammonia, while blocking all other gases.

Above: CSIRO Chief Executive Larry Marshall takes the hydrogen-powered Toyota Mirai fuel cell vehicle for a test drive.

It links hydrogen production, distribution and delivery in the form of a modular unit that can be used at, or near, a refuelling station. This means that the transportation and storage of hydrogen – currently a complex and relatively expensive process – is simplified, allowing bulk hydrogen to be transported economically and efficiently in the form of liquid ammonia.

Recent advances in solar and electrochemical technologies mean renewable hydrogen production is expected to become competitive with fossil fuel-based production, providing an opportunity to decarbonise both the energy and transport sectors while creating new export opportunities.

CSIRO Chief Executive Dr Larry Marshall is excited by the prospect of a growing global market for clean hydrogen, and the potential for a national renewable hydrogen export industry, to benefit Australia.

Above: Refuelling with H₂ gas.

“This is a watershed moment for energy, and we look forward to applying CSIRO innovation to enable this exciting renewably-sourced fuel and energy storage medium a smoother path to market,” Dr Marshall said. “I’m delighted to see strong collaboration and the application of CSIRO know-how to what is a key part of the overall energy mix.”

BOC Sales and Marketing Director Bruce Currie congratulated CSIRO on the successful refuelling of hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles, which proves the effectiveness of CSIRO’s membrane technology from generation, right through to point of use.

“BOC’s innovative engineering team are proud to be collaborating with CSIRO researchers on this technology breakthrough, as we focus on advancing the hydrogen economy and global transition towards clean hydrogen for mobility and energy,” Mr Currie said.

Above: Energy researchers in the hydrogen lab.

Following this successful demonstration, the technology will be increased in scale and deployed in several larger-scale demonstrations, in Australia and abroad. The project received $1.7 million from the Science and Industry Endowment Fund (SIEF), which was matched by CSIRO.

In addition to its membrane technology, CSIRO is applying its expertise to all stages of the hydrogen technology chain (including solar photovoltaics, solar thermal, grid management, water electrolysis, ammonia synthesis, direct ammonia utilisation via combustion and/or fuel cells, as well as hydrogen production).

CSIRO anticipates fresh approach to market through RFP

Over the past seven years, CSIRO has been investigating how we can better utilise the Ginninderra site for the benefit of science and Australia. Following ‘Urban’ reclassification under the National Capital Plan Amendment in 2016, CSIRO formally called for Expressions of Interest (EOI) for a development partner for Ginninderra.  This first stage led to the official release of a Request for Proposal (RFP) in July 2017.

In 2018, CSIRO considered market feedback from the July 2017 RFP, particularly with regard to the staging of payment arrangements and also the mandated aspects of the science collaboration.  CSIRO recognises the need to ensure the best possible outcomes from the project as well as reduce complexity for bidders.

The anticipated refinements to any RFP requirements are such that only a fresh testing of the market will satisfy Australian Government probity standards and accordingly we hope to release a new and simplified RFP to the market in the coming months.

Organisations that have been involved in the previous procurement process (EOI and RFP) will be welcome to submit new proposals in response to any new RFP and to utilise work they have submitted previously.

CSIRO is actively engaging with the National Capital Authority as well as ACT Government to provide as much clarity as possible regarding external works and planning, key agreed design principles for the site and related economic development opportunities. This additional clarity will assist potential proponents in preparing comprehensive proposals for the expected RFP.

This website and future project updates will keep potential bidders and interested parties up to date with further news on the expected approach to market through an RFP. Any RFP will be formally notified and posted on AusTender as per Australian Government procurement processes.

As per usual we will be engaging with various community and interest groups over the coming months to provide the latest updates on the Ginninderra project.