Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I liked this clipping. An insightful article from a generation ago looking back on the generation before them in Canberra. Discussing the pioneers of Canberra by way of generation the article divides the pioneers of the Limestone Plains generation and those of a fledgling capital of Australia. The author wonders what the generation a hundred years hence would think...

The Canberra Times - 6 May 1936

National Library of Australia


Monday, April 25, 2011


Just a quick post... Being ANZAC day in Australia a search of Trove reveals the fervor of Australian society after the famous Gallipoli campaign in World War One. Today this clipping would probably make a good Canberra trivia contest question.

Q. What name did the Australian Senate propose to replace Australia's capital 'Canberra' with in 1916?  Answer - 'ANZAC'...

The Register - 19 May 1916

National Library of Australia

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Friday, April 22, 2011


Happy Easter.

The earliest (legible) historical mention of the celebration of Good Friday in Canberra I could find is this church services memoranda from 1886. The clipping records the Easter observances for the Church of England, Roman Catholic Church, Presbyterian and Wesleyan Methodists churches in the district...

Queanbeyan Age - 20 April 1886

National Library of Australia

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011


The latest video from John Evans whilst he documents the old water weirs of the Brindabella Mountains to the west of Canberra. John's blog has a compendium of the brindabella weirs showing the myriad of designs utilized on these mountain creeks, general info and provides accurate GPS notation of their locations...

John's Youtube

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Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Apparently Black Mountain in Canberra was once home to giant Wombats. I found this series of newspaper clippings reporting the discovery of a 9 inch long prehistoric Diprotodon tooth. These ancient marsupials were the size of an elephant.

The tooth was unearthed  whilst excavating for the Commonwealth Entomological Building in 1929 at the base of Black Mountain. Diprotodons are thought to have become extinct around 50,000 years ago and several theories for their demise include climate change, human hunting and native land management practices. All the major newspapers published a small report on the find...

The Mercury - 27 August 1929

National Library of Australia

The Argus - 27 August 1929

National Library of Australia

The Register News-Pictorial - 27 August 1929

National Library of Australia

The Sydney Morning Herald - 27 August 1929

National Library of Australia

The West Australian - 27 August 1929

National Library of Australia

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Saturday, April 16, 2011


The recent list of Canberra sites being awarded heritage protection include the 1930's Incinerator designed by Walter Burley Griffin located at Westbourne Woods and the nearby Yarralumla Nursery which supplied all of Canberra's original tree plantings.

Surprisingly Gus's Cafe in Civic also gained a place whilst the Uriarra Forestry Settlement did not. I might comment that 14 years for assessment seems an awfully long time...

NewsOnABC Video -

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Friday, April 15, 2011


The story of a hidden treasure of Yarralumla. A stolen diamond's tale as described in an old manuscript found when the stately old Yarralumla homestead became the possession of the Commonwealth. This story is also related in another clipping Yarralumla's buried treasure with yet another clipping offering up a Yarralumla Ghost into the mix. All claim the final resting place to be under an old Deodar tree in the grounds of the homestead...

The West Australian - 18 March 1940

National Library of Australia


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Thursday, April 14, 2011


If your living in the northern suburbs of Canberra towards the Village of Hall in the ACT you could be literally sitting on a gold mine. This newspaper clipping is about a local gold rush in 1896. The exact location isn't mentioned but the Hall District covered a wide area. Interestingly the initial prospects were so good that "They talked of a second Coolgardie and Bendigo."

Queanbeyan Age - 10 October 1896

National Library of Australia

Nothing much must have occurred however by way of mining and they must have had incredibly short memories because 30 years later gold was 'discovered' again...

Barrier Miner - 30 August 1927

National Library of Australia

They certainly did keep it a good secret. There doesn't seem to be any other reported mentions of this great Gold Rush after 1927 but am thinking a visit to the local creeks with a gold pan might be in order.

Map of Hall

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Tuesday, April 12, 2011


The first (reported at least) identification of a Death Adder in Canberra. I know they are 'out there' but I have never personally seen a Death Adder in the ACT. I do know someone who reportedly encountered one somewhere around Captains Flat years ago but suspect they are not very common.

I'm actually glad I haven't run into one because they apparently blend into the leaf litter and lie in wait for prey so I would imagine be fairly easy to stumble upon. They are also one of the most deadly snakes in the world. Sad to say in the 1950's a 'dead snake was a good snake. 'Live and let live' I say...

The Canberra Times - 29 December 1951

National Library of Australia

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Monday, April 11, 2011


Confused me at first because of the date but this article apparently starts off with a historical reference. This is a tale of an encounter, I presume, by William Davis of Ginninderra (Weetangara) with bushrangers as he was returning from a visit to Sydney. I put the story from around 1865 about the time that Ben Hall and his accomplice John Dunn were roaming the area. The 1910 article goes on to relate info for the local cricket club and lament the regions 1910 woes with alcohol...

Queanbeyan Age - 2 September 1910

National Library of Australia

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Saturday, April 9, 2011


Turned up in my inbox this morning... The Hall community have announced celebrations of the 1911 Hall Primary School's centenary to be celebrated over the weekend of April 16-17th 2011. They are calling for past students, teachers and parents of the Hall Primary School and anybody having had involvement with the school to help celebrate. Full details are available from the Hall and District website.

And this...

NewsOnABC YouTube reported the upcoming celebrations and put together this video from footage they had taken over the years.

"Hall Primary School celebrates its centenary - despite being closed down in 2006."

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Friday, April 8, 2011


I like these... another mention of  Yarralumla's ghost. It's a tale of jewel theft, bushrangers, a murdered Aboriginal man and the location of a treasure under a Deodar tree in front of Canberra's Yarralumla. The story is from one of John Gales works. Gale was a Canberra pioneer journalist and publisher who was commonly referred to as the Father of Canberra.

 The Argus - 20 January 1945

National Library of Australia

There's another more detailed clipping here.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011


A common pastime by the shooting fraternity in the Canberra region from the late 1800's seems to have been Hare drives. Seen as an agricultural pests feral European Hares were driven by groups of participants towards waiting shooters to be dispatched. This first clipping from 1893 shows the social nature of Hare drives. The following clippings follow through on the drives that seemed to continue in Canberra's city area into the 1930's...

Queanbeyan Age - 19 July 1893

National Library of Australia

What had been a regular local activity had crossed over from a rural endeavor to an inner city activity to prevent the destruction of new plantings. Somewhere around August 1934 'invitations' were apparently issued for a drive through the city area with ammunition supplied by the government. There were however fears that it was a 'gun licencing' trap...

Examiner - 13 August 1934

National Library of Australia

Strangely what seemed to have been a sanctioned activity for private citizens for many years was for 1934 at least extinguished. In August the Department of the interior declared the Hare drive a rumour and it was ridiculed by authorities. Offers of assistance by private citizens were formally refused....

The Canberra Times - 16 August 1934

National Library of Australia

Obviously the rangers couldn't contain the problem and the following year these inner city drives are still being reported. A drive reported in October 1935 appears sanctioned by the department of the interior and enlisted the help of leading sportsmen and probably included federal politicians...

The Argus - 17 October 1935

National Library of Australia

From reading many clippings I am always reminded of what a bloodthirsty people Canberrans were when it came to firearms and the resident fauna. (see Canberra Possum hunt). Other groups also were also keen to join the campaign notably the Queanbeyan and Federal Cormorant Destruction Association to save the garden city...

The Canberra Times - 20 August 1935

National Library of Australia

I have never heard of any calls to resume hunting pesky Hares so I can only assume that they fixed the problem and with such devotion there's no wonder why. Anyway the Hare population survived the holocaust as I saw one recently near the lower end of Tuggeranong creek...

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Monday, April 4, 2011


One for the fishermen. Apparently in the 1930's quite an illegal fishing operation existed in Canberra. High volumes of trout were removed via traps, drum nets and amazingly dynamite from all the rivers and streams within 40 miles (60 km) of Canberra. It would appear to have been a commercial volume poaching operation...

The Canberra Times - 22 November 1938

National Library of Australia

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Sunday, April 3, 2011


John Evans from Johnny Boy's Walkabout blog's latest walk to the top of Mount Mavis in the ACT. He gives a 'lay of the land' description combined with a wide view of the surrounding area. John is definitely the man to speak to if you want to know anything about bushwalking in Canberra. More videos from John can be found at his YouTube channel.

"Fabulous views from Mt Mavis to Mt Burbidge, Mt Namadgi, Big Creamy Flats and the upper Mavis Ridge."

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Saturday, April 2, 2011


I have come across this story a few times before in clippings. The story is of the origin of the willow trees that line the banks of the Molonglo River in Canberra and their association with Napoleon Bonaparte and his grave at St. Helena.

The story continues with a local man by the name of Elijah Bainbridge completing the planting on both sides of the river from slips. It is possible I imagine that today's remaining trees (they are currently being removed as a noxious weed from ACT waters) are possible descendants from that early time in Canberra.

The Canberra Times - 17 February 1940

National Library of Australia

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Friday, April 1, 2011


Being the first of the month today's the day that I peruse the previous months statistics for the blog. Between December and February I had assumed that the site had reached saturation of interest at about 2000 visitors a month. This month's visitors jumped to 3,269.

Vandalism became a bit of a theme unfortunately this month with the loss of the historic 1840 Lanyon Barn (post) by fire and the destruction by axe of a (rare for the ACT) 100 year + Kurrajong tree (post). If anyone has any information about these events please contact ACT Crimestoppers.

The site saw between 45 - 56 RSS feed readers daily and although not related to the blog 218 people suffered updates (plus my day to day rumblings) via Twitter @davesact. Nearly forgot 5 people still use e-mail subscription for updates.

Past Statistics


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History lost through lack of funding

  The following ABC article laments the possible loss of many historical audio visual records that are waiting for digitising into modern fo...