Construction has officially started on the capital's third public hospital.
It's not the government's most controversial project, but it's one of the most important, Chief Minister Andrew Barr told the sod-turning ceremony crowd on Monday.
The $139 million development, on what is now a vast field of dirt and grass in the north-west corner of the University of Canberra campus, is slated to finish in 2018.
It's expected to receive its first patients in the same year.
The design includes 140 overnight beds, 75 day places, and leans towards rehabilitation and mental health treatments, with facilities such as a hydrotherapy pool.
The hospital will also serve as a teaching and research facility, operated in a collaboration between the University of Canberra and ACT Health.
Professor Stephen Parker said the site's sod-turning ceremony was just the beginning of what will be a world-class facility.
Late last year, Moran Health Care Group announced it would build a 150-bed aged-care facility on the UC campus, as well as a 120-place childcare centre.
A private radiological and oncology service will also join the campus, and Professor Parker indicated there were "other announcements yet to come".
"By 2018 this will be one of the most exciting health precincts in the country," he said.
Speaking at the ceremony on Monday, Chief Minister Barr said the new hospital would help alleviate pressure on the capital's existing hospitals.
Its focus on treating patient mobility and functioning would also mean the hospital was well-equipped to serve an aging population into the future, he said.
Duncan Smith from the Wiradjuri Echoes led a smoking ceremony over the site before the sod was turned, and a didgeridoo accompanied traditional ceremonial dances.
Mr Smith said the smoking ceremony was important to "cleanse the land and make it fresh again" for new beginnings. It's something usually done before setting up camp.
Chief Minister Barr, Health Minister Simon Corbell, Assistant Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris and university vice-chancellor Stephen Parker each picked up a spade to end the ceremony by turning the first sod.
Brookfield Multiplex is the hospital development's head contractor after winning the tender process late last year.