Saturday, August 27, 2011


More an article about the 19th century history of Canberra, the main families and then St John's Church in the modern day Canberra suburb of Reid. The article also describes the history of the Churches oldest headstone , Sarah Webb. St' John's church recently experienced an attack of vandalism which damaged quite a few historic headstones. I must find out if Sarah's was damaged...

The Brisbane Courier - Saturday 5 February 1927

National Library of Australia


Friday, August 26, 2011


This is the first time I have come across this publication in my Canberra based searches of Trove. Just as the title suggests... an old, or early depending how you look at it, general description of the territory of which there were a few about this time. I did however like one quote about Paddy's River:

"To this place the enamoured may bring his sweetheart, the angler his rod and line, the poet his notebook, the artist his palette - they will not regret it."

Canberra Illustrated: A Quarterly Magazine - Sunday 1 November 1925

National Library of Australia


Thursday, August 25, 2011


Stopped by at the Smith's Road Bridge over the Gudgenby River today to see the recently installed temporary Bailey's Bridge in operation. The portable military bridge was installed to replace the old low level bridge washed away in the 2010 Canberra floods...

Slight confusion in my memory in the video.The burials I refer to were actually at the Nass River Bridge a short distance away. Two clippings -  Pioneers Graves Nass Bridge 1 and Pioneers Graves Nass Bridge 2.

I have posts showing clippings from the Gudgenby bridge's Grand Opening, what the 1930's bridge looked like, what it looked like after the floods and subsequent installation of the Bailey's Bridge. Finally just because it demonstrates a Federation era attitude pretty well a tale of shooting 'Golden' Eagles nearby...

And for anyone unaware I am exploring the possibilities of YouTube. I have a channel here


Tuesday, August 23, 2011


From what I can gather from historical records of the Canberra region it was an area abundant with native species. By far more than today. Our impact over the first 100 years saw the decimation of species such as the tiger cat with the Brushtailed Wallaby and Koala hunted to extinction. I am sure wild dogs had their impact as well.

Dingos were a particular problem with complaints dating to the 1830's with Shepherds continuously on guard on any flock. They were the bane of landowners and at Lanyon convicts were flogged if a dingo killed stock under their care.

From a post Lanyon Cemetery relating to 1837 -
'Oral tradition suggests that William Wright's was the first grave, and that the coffin had to be weighed down with large stones to protect it from attack by dingos (native dogs).

Some video I took on a walk up Simpson's Hill...

The Queenslander - 6 June 1929

National Library of Australia


Friday, August 19, 2011


Some video I took today on a trip out to Gibraltar Falls. Gibraltar Creek rises above the snowline and flows down till it meets a gorge at the falls. It's an impressive and very beautiful natural feature in the ACT well worth a visit or re-visit if it has been a while.

But that was not the reason for my visit. I was making a reconnaissance, as the daffodils appear to be blooming, of an early spring appearance of the Waterfall Redspot Dragonfly (Austropetalia partricia). A rare little beast who's habitat is the splash-zones of waterfalls.

I'll begin with a newspaper clipping from the Queanbeyan Age dated Thursday 30th November 1871 describing the discovery of the falls...

National Library of Australia

And a wander round...


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For more detailed information and photos I have an older post here.



Hard to imagine today but even as a man who has lived in a Canberra before self government it is difficult to comprehend having no voting rights in your country of birth at all. Probably not widely known but when the new Federal Capital of Australia was founded in 1913 apart from the population being made tee-total it was decided that the inhabitants of the new territory would be denied suffrage as well...

Us Canberrans should today appreciate Dr Lewis Nott's tenacity over 20 years in securing the vote for Canberra. He started his crusade in 1927 when Parliament officially transferred from Melbourne to Canberra. Call the new ACT legislative assembly sky-bridge after him I reckon.

I pick up the story 15 years later when Nott starts getting some influential support...

The Canberra Times - Saturday 13 June 1942

National Library of Australia

But Canberra citizens didn't want to be like the Northern Territory...

The Argus -  Wednesday 11 September 1946

National Library of Australia

4 years later Dr Nott, by now a representative on the Canberra Advisory Committee, renews his campaign...

The West Australian - Wednesday 11 September 1946

National Library of Australia

Dr. Nott points out that we still can't vote but we can sell beer on election day...

The Argus - Monday 30 September 1946

National Library of Australia

A bit of a win for the good Doctor two years later but Canberra fell 5000 short of population to be awarded  full voting rights...

The Sydney Morning Herald - Tuesday 6 April 1948

National Library of Australia

Dr Nott goes on to win the first seat on the Canberra Advisory Council and run as an independent candidate in the upcoming federal election.

The Sydney Morning Herald - Monday 19 September 1949

National Library of Australia

And the big day arrived with Dr. Nott the even favourite...

The Courier-Mail - Saturday 10 December 1949

National Library of Australia

He goes on to win, so 8 years after starting this tale and 23 years after starting his campaign for the vote for Canberra he becomes the Independent member for the ACT and in 1950 continues his call for full voting rights. I do note how small the report is however...

The Courier-Mail - Thursday 16 March 1950

National Library of Australia

Dr. Nott died suddenly in 1951. For anyone interested an accomplished death bio is here


Thursday, August 18, 2011


Strangely for a Canberra based blog I have very little interest in the history of Canberra's federal political goings on but found this article interesting. The 'mystery' discovery of what I imagine must have been a very expensive long range radio dumped in the Molonglo River...

The West Australian - Thursday 29 April 1954

National Library of Australia

But it gets more exciting there are pistol parts found too...

Townsville Daily Bulletin - Thursday 29 April 1954

National Library of Australia

The discovery was made at the height of the Cold war era Petrov spy scandal of 1954, known in Australia as the Petrov Affair. The result of the 'affair' was the expelling of Australian diplomats from the old Soviet and their embassy here recalled. Perhaps with the public mood of the time assigning ownership to the Russians was probably a given...

The Mercury - Thursday 29 April 1954

National Library of Australia

But alas for all the excitement things weren't as they seemed apparently...

The Argus - Monday 3 May 1954

National Library of Australia

The equipment was found to be only a long range receiver but I still wonder why someone would throw one away in the river. Perhaps the answer lays in an ASIO vault somewhere.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011


A video by John Evans of the Canberra Bushwalking Club of Brayshaw's Territory.

"Visit many of the sites of European Settlement in the Nass Creek valley. Around 27km and 250m climb, mostly on fire trails." Walk information (John's site).

I take every opportunity I can to let everyone know about John's experience and dedication to community bushwalking in the Australian Capital Territory. There aren't many people with as much knowledge. If you are interested in bushwalking in the ACT & surrounds pretty much anywhere of interest can be found on John's blog.

For more videos of th his YouTube channel has many short videos showing 360 degree views in most cases to some pretty amazing mountain scenery.

Now that was a mountain run I reckon...


Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Just out on the Tidbinbilla Road not far from Tharwa is an historic property that was the base for research that effectively saved Australia's wheat industry at the end of the 19th century. The new strains developed there effectively increased the World's wheat production.

This old clipping details the Canberra property 'Lambrigg' and it's world famous scientist William Farrer a pioneer who's wheat breeding experiments (hybridization) developed strains of wheat that boosted world production enormously.

The article describes the homestead, Farrer's laboratory, his interest in developing the Eden-Monaro region as the location for Australia's new national capital and a brief biography of his life...

The Sydney Morning Herald - Saturday 26 May 1934

National Library of Australia

William and his wife are buried on a hill at Lambrigg and a memorial was erected. Lambrigg is a working property today and the memorial is closed to the public...

The Sydney Morning Herald - Monday 8 August 1938

National Library of Australia


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Saturday, August 13, 2011


Stretching its way west from the Tuggeranong Town Centre to the Murrumbidgee River is a 19th Century rural field stone wall that once separated Campbell's Yarralumla station from Cunningham's Tuggeranong. The wall is a reminder to me of Canberra's rural origins and of the resourcefulness and hard work of the men and women who first settled in the area.

This is some video I took today on a walk of the Tuggeranong Boundary Wall...

For additional information Tuggeranong boundary wall and A walk down Tuggeranong Creek.
ACT Heritage Register entry.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011


This is the story of Canberra's Coat of Arms from the conclusion of  a design competition in 1927 which drew 35 entries, through a vague selection process, to an eventual winner. Some very good Canberra trivia questions contained within...

A story of disappointment, heraldry and Australian controversy culminating with an altering of the meaning of Canberra's motto.

'Pro rege lege et grege' which had officially read in Latin 'For the King the Law and the People'. Scholars however disagreed claiming it read in Latin 'For the King the Law and the Mob'.

The first clipping relates to the close of the competition and the disappointment at the entries quality with only 3 being described as suitable entries. I found this a strange announcement as at the same time they claim that adjudication had not yet begun.

The Canberra Times - Friday 9 September 1927

National Library of Australia

Eventually 9 entries were weeded out of 35 designs with some confusion amongst the entrants as to who the crest was for it seems...

The Brisbane Courier - Thursday 15 September 1927

National Library of Australia

A little confusion also it seems at adjudication with two entries singled out, one from a designer who wished to remain anonymous and declined any prize-money and, I am presuming as he is not specifically mentioned, Mr C.R Wylie who was the eventual winning designer. It is interesting to note that Wylie had in fact been asked to adjudicate but could not because he was an entrant in the competition. Two other entrants get a mention of merit. Prize-moneys were however reduced. Reading the method of selection is confusing I feel...

The Argus - Wednesday 9 November 1927

National Library of Australia

I am reminded of the parting comment in the first article which states; '...but at arriving at a decision the rules of heraldry will be strictly observed'. Mr Wylie a heraldry expert is declared the designer after the aforementioned selection process...

The West Australian - Tuesday 30 April 1929

National Library of Australia

The next article appears to be the official description of the heraldry of the Coat of Arms as the article seems repeated in a few national publications...

The Brisbane Courier - Tuesday 30 April 1929

National Library of Australia

The armorial bearings of the City of Canberra granted by Royal warrant October 8th 1928 at the College of Arms, London. The motto is 'For the King, the Law, and the People'

The Argus - Thursday 2 May 1929

National Library of Australia

This appears to be an article written by Mr C. R. Wylie the designer of Canberra's Coat of Arms. If any meanings are derived it is perhaps best to get them from the designer himself...

The Sydney Morning Herald - Saturday 4 May 1929

National Library of Australia

Not everyone was happy about the decision asking why more emblems from Australia were not utilised...

The Register News-Pictorial - Thursday 2 May 1929

National Library of Australia

But there were it's defenders as well...

The Sydney Morning Herald - Friday 3 May 1929

National Library of Australia

Done and dusted until one final alteration was made... all was well until the scholars of the era deciphered that the motto was not as appropriate as it was represented. An English translation of the motto replaced the original raising us up from 'the mob' to the status of 'the people'...

The Argus - Thursday 8 August 1929

National Library of Australia

My end impression of this armorial tale is that it seemed poorly managed. Somehow it seems a poor brief was put out for the competition and either Trove managed to miss digitizing the issues that announced the competition or it was of a limited distribution of circles.

Secondly the ongoing 'disappointment' in submitted designs before adjudication. Thirdly the inviting of the eventual winner a 'Sydney heraldry expert' and entrant to adjudicate seemed inappropriate. And the reported description of the selection of the winner. Oh! and the reduction in advertised prize money...

And I'd like to know why people thought using a Lyrebird, a Kookuburra or a Platypus lacked dignity...


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...