Crest & bulletin name

The Raven masthead

In 1969, The Rotary Club of Canberra Woden was established.
In 2009, the Club changed its name to The Rotary Club of Woden.

This page contains information about the origins and meaning of the Club's crest and the name of weekly bulletin - 'The Raven'.
c printable document of the story (430 kB)

Woden Rotary is based in Woden district located in the 'Woden Valley' to the south of central Canberra.
The Woden district began to evolve as a separate entity of 12 suburbs in 1962 and families started to move into the first suburb of Hughes, in 1963.

'Woden' in Canberra

'Woden' was the original name of a 2,560-acre property, in the Jerrabomberra Creek valley, purchased by Dr James Murray in 1837.

The original heritage-listed Woden homestead, still existing and occupied, overlooks the Monaro Highway near Hume.

Woden Creek is near to the homestead.

With the acquisition of the Federal Capital Territory in 1911, districts were gazetted, one of which, encompassed the Jerrabomberra and Yarralumla Creek valleys.
It was called 'Woden District' after Murray's original property.
In time this district was reduced in size and confined to the Yarralumla Creek valley and eventually renamed 'Woden Valley District'.

Aerial photo of area including Woden Homestead

Aerial photo showing the location of the Woden homestead (circled) to the west of the Monaro Highway, the Hume Industrial area & the helicopter base







The Woden Valley was part of the Yarralumla Sheep Station developed in 1837 by Terence Aubrey Murray assisted by Irish convicts. ‘Woden’ was the name of the homestead built in 1840 by Terence’s brother, Dr James Murray, close by at ‘Jerrabomberra’. The name Woden became associated with Woden Valley when urban development began in 1963. The Campbells, the founders of ‘Duntroon’ bought the Yarralumla and Woden properties around 1912. Later they were bought by the Commonwealth.

Woden the Nordic god

Odin the norse god on a throne


The heritage listed Woden Homestead
- National Trust photo c. 1960s
Woden Homestead photo from 1960s

Woden Valley High School's crest, motto and magazinego to top button

Photo of Stuart Garnsey in 1968

Photo of Stuart Garnsey 1968

The Woden Valley High School opened in 1969 - the year before the founding of the Rotary Club of Woden.
Mr Stuart Garnsey, its first headmaster, stated that the classical origins of 'Woden' in the school name influenced his creation of the school's crest, motto 'thought, wisdom, memory' and annual magazine name 'The Raven'.
Headmaster Garnsey explains this in detail in the first issue of the school's annual magazine at the end of 1968,saying that all his decisions followed extensive research by a wide range of people both from within and outside the school community.

Woden High Scool 1989 magazine cover

The designer of the crest is not known
but one of the school's staff involved was the Art Mistress.

Woden Rotary Club crest and bulletin name

Club crest 1970

Original club crest - first recorded in on the cover of the order of proceedings for the first changeover dinner on 24 June 1970

Woden Rotary Club crest

The Club currently uses this stylised version of the original crest with the crossed spears deleted

It is likely that The Club's founding board, that included Stuart Garnsey, were influenced by the Woden legend.
In the Club's early papers, there is a photocopy of detailed published information about Odin.

A press release in June 1969, announcing the Club's founding, gives the first public indication of the Odin influence. It stated that the weekly meetings of the club are on '... each Wednesday (Woden's day) ...'.
It is tempting to conclude that the founding Board determined Wednesday as the Club's meeting day because of the Odin connection. However, there are no documents to confirm this.
The Club still meets on Wednesdays.

The Club's crest was first used at the first changeover dinner on 24 June 1970.
It comprised three elements:
    * two Ravens
    * a helmet incorporating the word 'Odin'
    * crossed spears.
The Club's crest designers are unknown.

The Club's weekly bulletin acquired the name 'The Raven' immediately after the first changeover dinner.
There was a call to members to suggest a motto for the club in that bulletin.
The Club has never adopted a motto for itself.
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In 2010-2011, the Club created a glass coaster for presentation to the Club's visiting speakers
- with a crest sans the word 'Odin'.

Woden Rotary Club glass coaster

Alternative Aboriginal name for Woden

In 2009, an ANU linguist, Dr Harold Koch, in a chapter of a new book titled Aboriginal Placenames: naming and re-naming the Australian Landscape, claims that, unless there is documentary evidence, such as a di ary entry by Dr Murray, to confirm the generally accepted origin of the word 'Woden'. He writes that, 'it should be 'treated with skepticism' and 'if a plausible Aboriginal source were available, it should be given equal consideration, given the Surveyor-General's policy that Aboriginal names should be bestowed where possible'.

Koch claims that a 'plausible Aboriginal source of the name 'Woden' is the word for 'possum', wadyan (or possibly wadhan), which he says is attested ten times for the languages of Aboriginal people extending from Yass through Queanbeyan and the Monaro to Omeo in Victoria. He adds that if 'the word 'Woden' is indeed de rived from an Aboriginal language, it is possible that its spelling was influenced by that of the Germanic god's name'.

For further information go to pages 124 and 149 of ANU E-Press book at:


  1. ACTHL, 'Draft Press Release: Charter for Rotary Club of Canberra Woden', Rotary Correspondence file 2 Dec. 1968 to 17 Dec. 1971.
  2. ACTHL, 'Photocopy of a chapter of a book with title 'ODIN'', Rotary Correspondence file 2 Dec. 1968 to 17 Dec. 1971.
  3. ACTHL, 'Order of proceedings: Charter Presentation Meeting, 14 June 1969', Rotary Minutes file, 21 Jan. 1970 to 28 June 1971
  4. ACTHL, 'Order of proceedings: Changeover Dinner, 24 June 1970', Rotary Annual Reports file ACT Government, Canberra's Suburbs and Street Names: Woden Valley & Weston Creek, Origins and Mean-
  5. ings, 1992, p. inside cover Commonwealth of Australia, Sketch Map of the Federal Territory, Lands & Survey Branch, Department of
  6. Home & Territories, Melbourne, 1920 Commonwealth of Australia, Plan of Districts, Australian Capital Territory, Lands & Survey Branch, Depart-
  7. ment of the Interior, Canberra,1961 Commonwealth of Australia, Plan of Woden Valley District, Canberra, c.1976. Koch, H., 'The    methodology of  reconstructing Indigenous placenames: Australian Capital Territory
  8. and south-eastern New South Wales' pp. 115-171, See pp. 124 & 149, in Aboriginal Placenames: nam- ing and re-naming the Australian Landscape, Aboriginal History Monograph 19, Published by ANU E-Press and Aboriginal History Incorporated, 2009. Available online at:
  10. Rotary Club of Canberra-Woden, The Raven: Weekly bulletin, Vol. 2, No 23, 24 June 1970 Wilson, Gwendoline, Murray of Yarralumla, Tabletop Press, 2001, pp. 81, 82, 117, 118, 318 Woden Valley High School, 'The School Badge and Motto' in The Raven: Magazine of the Woden Valley High
  11. School, 1968, pp. 8, 12. ACTHL = ACT Heritage Library

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Last update JW 23 November 2011