Friday, September 30, 2011


This is quite an extensive article dealing with exploration from Sydney to Canberra starting from 1788. The first real explorers appear to have been convicts escorted by soldiers. Three names are mentioned, Wilson, Barracks and Collins.

Gentlemen and soldiers then took the lead looking to exploit new lands, Barrallier, Blaxland, Lawson and Wentworth. Hamilton and John Hume and James Kennedy. Charles Throsby, Joseph Wild. Mentioned also is Captain Mark Currie who discovered Tuggeranong, the Monaro and the Murrumbidgee River. The article also has a good description on the origin of Canberra's Molonglo River.

I was actually quite astonished to discover when I read this article that my GGGGrandfather (Dr Reid of Bungonia) accompanied Throsby as far as the Goulburn Plains. It really was quite a journey, a journey that lasted 34 years...

The Federal Capital Pioneer Magazine - Saturday 20 August 1927

National Library of Australia


Thursday, September 29, 2011


I am presuming this list of original pioneers of the Limestone Plains was compiled at the opening of old parliament house but I could be wrong. Regardless the article lists the name, age and occupation of early settlers to the Canberra district from the 1830's.

Old Canberra names like Gale, McKeachenie, Campbell, Southwell, Shumack, Wright, Curley, Southwell, Gallager, Blundell, Mayo, Mclaughlan, Moore, Mcdonald, Webb, Cameron and Kaye...

The Canberra Times - Friday 13 May 1927

National Library of Australia


Saturday, September 24, 2011


Initially titled 'The origin of the Cotter River' this newspaper clipping relates the tale of Garrett Cotter ex-convict after whom the Cotter River and Dam are named. The article describes Cotter as a hermit 'living the simple life' with a woman and children.

Dated 1926 it reports the discovery of Cotter in 1822 the same year as the Canberra region was first discovered by Charles Throsby. I wonder just how long Cotter had been living there?

Federal Capital Pioneer - Thursday 25 March 1926

National Library of Australia


Friday, September 23, 2011


Apparently from where the Ginninderra Creek joins the Murrumbidgee south to near Point Hut Crossing is prime Bunyip territory with sightings reported at both locations. A mythical creature (as far as we know) of Aboriginal culture bunyips are said to inhabit waterways, lakes and billabongs.

One story that had been told to me related that bunyips were a tool used by parents to teach children never to sleep near the river (floods I would imagine) however there are plenty of historical sightings of strange water beasts recorded in Australia. Here are a few local ones...

Queanbeyan Age and Queanbeyan Observer - Friday 4 October 1918

National Library of Australia


Thursday, September 22, 2011


I have been watching the refurbishment of the 1895 Tharwa Bridge over the past few years with interest and have posted about the bridge in various stages of refurbishment during that time. Checked again today to see workman clearing up the area underneath the bridge and took some video...

Older posts:  Tharwa Bridge - Tharwa Bridge Allen Truss - Truss update - Rebirth of the bridge video.


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Tuesday, September 20, 2011


A report from Mr John Gale, known at the end of his life as 'The Father of Canberra' who was noted for his long-lived life and mantle of being the oldest journalist, coroner and author in the world. So it is of no surprise to me that he would also know the oldest horse in the world and a horse that worked till the day that it died.

Whether it was indeed the world's oldest horse or not I don't know but a quick Google search finds claims from the 1800's in America of at least one horse living into its sixties...

Queanbeyan Age - Friday 20 August 1909

National Library of Australia


Sunday, September 18, 2011


I was interested more by the reports of 'hairy men' in the upper reaches of the Murrumbidgee but this clipping from the year of Canberra's naming reports of an African Lioness being loose somewhere about Jerrabombera. The writer is pretty emphatic about the reliability of the witness, a Mr W. Brook, who braved scepticism to make the community aware...

Queanbeyan Age - Tuesday 5 August 1913

National Library of Australia


Saturday, September 17, 2011


I found it interesting that the area within today's ACT and surrounding localities experienced its own gold rush of sorts in the 1890's. Gold had also been found near Hall in 1896 and at Ginninderra in 1898.

In the preceding few years gold was discovered at Yass, Cooma, Bungendore and Braidwood all within a 100 km radius of Canberra.

Ginninderra residents of today whilst landscaping might like to take up the rewarding hobby of  gold prospecting.

Queanbeyan Age (NSW : 1867 - 1904), Wednesday 18 May 1898

National Library of Australia

Gold near Yass...

Queanbeyan Age (NSW : 1867 - 1904), Saturday 26 January 1895

National Library of Australia

Gold near Cooma...

Queanbeyan Age - Saturday 4 June 1892

National Library of Australia

Gold near Bungendore...

Queanbeyan Age - Wednesday 23 January 1895

National Library of Australia

And gold near Braidwood...

Queanbeyan Age - Wednesday 24 February 1892

National Library of Australia


Thursday, September 15, 2011


This article appears to report a hunting trip somewhere to the east of Queanbeyan but the Lyrebird is also native to the ACT so the following post might prove useful to the average citizen.

Ever wondered what a Lyrebird tasted like? Or about the best way to hunt a cock? Well wonder no more. I have found an excellent 1860's guide to shooting lyrebirds and the extra tricks needed to secure the males for their beautiful tail but sorry no recipes...

Queanbeyan Age and General Advertiser - Thursday 8 September 1864

National Library of Australia


Wednesday, September 14, 2011


As a child in the 60's I can remember watching out of my parents kitchen window the great plumes of dust and sound of explosives coming out of the Mugga Lane Quarry.

Blasting days offered an interesting view from our Pearce vantage point. The Woden Valley actually thundered on blasting days.

Growing up we often passed the 'little red houses' all lined up in a row on the bottom side of Mugga Lane and only about 40 years later I actually found out what the little houses were. They are explosives huts, storage facilities for explosives. The huts are about 150 metres from the lane and evenly spaced at approx 100 metres apart. Each has explosives loudly marked above the doors.

The last time I visited the huts about a year ago they were in a very bad state of repair. (photo left) The perimeter gates had all been broken and the doors damaged when forced open. What people expected to find there I don't know, as if they would store explosives in them today.

I was pleased to see on this visit that the damage has all been repaired and the perimeter fences fixed. The ACT Government can be congratulated and whoever fixed the vandalism did a very good job. The buildings and area are very tidy. A nice place for a walk.

I was driving past today and spent 10 minutes to take some video of the huts and take a few pictures. It's part of the Canberra Nature Park so if your looking for a destination for a ramble...


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A veritable who's who of the bird world of Canberra. Checking Wikipedia the total number of bird species in Australia numbers 800. This newspaper clipping from nearly 70 years ago numbers 150 Canberra natives and names quite a few.

I now want to see a singing and swamp hawk, Olive backed oriel and the Back fronted dotterel and with maggie swooping season descending upon us when I am swooped by a magpie be able to identify if the attacker is a Black back, White back, Pied dell or Grey bell...

The Canberra Times - Tuesday 22 June 1943
Image The Australian Women's Weekly 1972

National Library of Australia


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...