Wednesday, June 27, 2012


A short video showing the results of five days watching over a wombat burrow entrance on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River near Canberra. Once again I am learning with the camera position. This time I think I overcompensated for last time and set the camera angle too low. If I can organise half way next time I think I will be on the money.

Only one feral fox showed itself this time however he was photogenic enough to stop for a portrait picture as he slid through. The wombats weren't as obliging however, being very active, but not quite in the right spot. Regardless of this I think the camera captured two wombats mating beneath the camera but just out of frame. They make several brief appearances in frame and at one stage the large wombat rolls over in front of the camera. Perhaps they were just being playful though.

The video starts slow as I left in clips of what could have been mating rituals of some type...


Tuesday, June 26, 2012


I had read this article before and couldn't find it again to add it to the history collection until now. What I found interesting, in what is a very short snippet, were the dreams of King O'Malley. I find him to be a very interesting man. He had a grand vision for the new Canberra and as this article references and adding to his designs he also had a vision for a Pantheon in the capital of the calibre of Rome.

King O'Mally as I have discovered often expounded his visions for Canberra as if he truly was the 'king'...

The Register - Monday 10 July 1916

National Library of Australia
Image - wikipedia


Thursday, June 21, 2012


This was an experiment in capturing wombats on camera. Finding wombat burrows on the Murrumbidgee is pretty easy but finding one with something to position a camera on is quite a different matter. I finally found a wombat burrow with a tree located just in front of a burrow entrance.

I also discovered the limitations of a set of batteries which I hadn't replaced in over 3 weeks continuous use. As the batteries drained (and cold nights contributed to the battery drain) the camera started taking very short clips (1 second) which made many of the 50 collected video clips useless.

I also learned that wombats can easily move a camera from the position you set it when you place a camera so close to the ground. As such many clips showed only the curve of a wombats back or a passing set of whiskers. Out of a corresponding 50 photos though I was surprised at the number of foxes.

I'm not actually sure with the limited evidence shown whether the foxes use the burrow as a den or if the hasty entrance shown in the following video was a 'raid' of some sort. I have made a short video with what was worthwhile out of the two nights I managed to capture footage and called it Murrumbidgee wombats #1...

I'm getting a better idea on how to position the camera in this circumstance now. With a full set of batteries and the correct angle this burrow should be able to tell a better story next time over a longer period. Also now, if they weren't just random events, I am interested in the association wombats seem to have with foxes.


Monday, June 18, 2012


I met an amazing bloke who has rediscovered a forgotten road...

Research & contributing article by Neville Bleakley...


Long Gully Road

Long Gully Road was one of the main roads through Woden Valley before its development into the suburbs of today. It went in an easterly direction from the Cooma Road, across the Valley, then across Weston, where it turned north until it finished at the Cotter Road.

Using present-day landmarks, it left the Valley through Section 43 of Chifley (that contains the only section of the original gravel road in existence today). It then went up Waldock St Chifley, across the Parkway, and follows the route of the walkway from Badimara St Waramanga, through Stirling (through the pine trees at the front of the Weston Labor Club) to the corner of Streeton Drive and Darwinia Terrace.  

At that point it had an intersection with the old Kambah Road, which headed south, while Long Gully Road turned north through Rivett and Holder. A bitumen section of Long Gully Road can still be seen north of the bus stop on Dixon Drive Holder, where Long Gully Road crossed a tributary of Weston Creek via an old bridge.

The remaining 200 metre section of gravel road in Chifley is now covered by vegetation. However, its route through very old gum trees is clear. There were 12 old gum trees bordering that section of Long Gully Road, as can be clearly seen in an aerial photo taken before development. Now there are many more, some growing in the actual road itself. Those 12 old trees were left untouched when the native forest was cleared for farming, and Long Gully Road was constructed, so they are very old indeed. 

Not far from that stand of trees – still in Section 43 – there is another old gum tree that has had its bark removed to make a coolamon for an aboriginal woman. Look for that tree at the north end of Whitelaw St Pearce (where Dave Reid lived as a kid – thanks Dave).

The remains of Long Gully Road are now easy to find because of the new cycle-path through Section 43. First, funds from the cycle-path project have paid for a seat and an interpretive sign to be placed between the cycle-path and Long Gully Road, at the top of the hill. That site will be part of a Southside Heritage Trail. 

Second, the cycle-path construction workers had to find a way from the Threlfall St entrance to Section 43 to the other side. An observant truck driver found a ready-made route through the trees. He had discovered old Long Gully Road! So now there are wheel tracks on the old road for the first time in 50 years.  When, at some time later, the driver was told, he was worried. He was quite relieved when he was told “It’s a road, mate. Why not use it? It’ll probably be the last time anyone drives a vehicle on it.”

The other main road in the Valley when it was farmed was The Cemetery Road. That road went from an intersection with Long Gully Road in Section 43, along lower Gledden St Chifley (house numbers 2 -15), across # 9 Charteris St, down the hill (past a large dam) to Woden Plaza, across to the cemetery, then north along Kent St to Cotter Road.  

The Cemetery Road was the main access road for such properties as Melrose (the Maguires), Yamba (the Eddisons) and Yarra Glen (the Campbells). Robert Campbell arguably used it more than most as his father George also had a property at Arawang. Robert lived at Arawang for a time so would frequently travel (and drive sheep) along The Cemetery Road, Long Gully Road and Kambah Road.  

Lloyd “Smoky” Douglas (who married Marion Douglas nee Eddison) took a photo of the old Valley from the very site where Long Gully Road remains. That photo, which is included in the interpretive sign at the site in Section 43, clearly shows The Cemetery Road, and also the two big gum trees down the hill that survived development until they were cut down when they became dangerous in the backyards of #s 9 and 11 Gledden St Chifley respectively. 

Neville Bleakley

Chifley ACT

Thank you Neville. In closing I might add the road even got a mention in the papers of the day....

Queanbeyan Age - Saturday 14 July 1900

National Library of Australia


Saturday, June 16, 2012

A walk in the Buckenbowra Wilderness

A trip down to the South Coast mountains today at the invite of friends. I have always wanted to poke around the area because of its proximity to Reidsdale which was originally a family holding. Today was all about Lilly Pillis. My friend studies native bush foods and I never miss the opportunity to go bush walking with him when I can.

The Lilli Pilli are a tree which produce a small, round, fleshy edible fruit which contains two small seeds. There are a few different types. It's bush tucker, an Aboriginal food but was used from the earliest European contact predominantly as a fruit for jam.

Joseph Banks first recorded the tree at Botany Bay. I tried a few and found them very astringent. For want of a better word I would call them 'tart'.

(update 11 pm Email from my knowledgeable friend...)

"The only Lilly Pilly that I can find endemic to the area that has white fruit and the shiny leaves is Acmena hemilampra. Good indoor plant grown from seed."

The tree can grow to 30m in the wild and is classed as a rain forest species and the Buckenbowra Wilderness is a rain forest. The walk is very scenic. Rolling rain forest gullies with almost magical little waterfalls one must cross above the falls. We were about two hours slow walk into the bush when I heard the strangest noise.

The noise was repetitive and seemed to have a sort of rhythm. A tapering drumming sound that was neither wood nor rock and was simply too repetitive to be the cracking of a falling tree. The sound was very close and I literally spent 5 minutes trying to locate where the sound was coming from and then we saw it...

Down in the creek gully, 20M up a tree was a lone Gang gang Cockatoo plucking Lilli pilli fruits. The intermittent fruits the bird dropped were falling and bouncing on palm tree leaves below... a repetitious bouncing rhythm. Mystery solved. I was hoping for better photos but the one above was the best I could capture.

The rain forest, particularly along the creek gullies, is lush. The forest was living up to its name with very light showers dampening everything down. As we discovered this brought dozens of tiny leeches out of wherever they hide and onto the sides of our boots where they seemed naturally programmed to inch their way slowly upwards.

Two of us survived unscathed... my learned friend ended with a trouser leg soaked in blood.

The whole scene was simply beautiful though and untouched apart from  rampant pig diggings. Large areas uprooted killing or disturbing the understory vegetation. If the areas just off the very narrow trail were so disturbed I can only imagine how widespread the damage really is.

I also noted several trees nearly ring barked by pig-tusk scraping so there is no shortage of Boars showing off. Signage tells me there is a dog and fox problem as well.

A wet moss rock garden

One thing I can comment on in the area is the variety of habitats over short distances. Everywhere is lush but the gullies are lusher and filled with palms and tree ferns. The forest areas can be impenetrably dense with understory or a bit more open broken only by a sea of ancient tree ferns.

There are dozens of walking trails in the Monga National Park but the most popular would be the Corn trail (photo map). Originally the trail was forged by mule trains or some such in the 19th century. A stunning walk though which will take 6 hours one way and a reasonable degree of fitness.

I actually think there is still a lot left to discover in our ACT parks but I still enjoy visiting different National Parks because the variety is endless.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012


One of the early reports on the proposal for Canberra as the Nation's Capital. Titled Canberra "an ideal site" it paints a glowing picture of Canberra. The article begins with a description of the official viewing of the Canberra area from first sight as they crossed over the top of 'Big Hill as the locals called it...

I thought it an interesting read and another to the collection. A section titled 'Mountain Romance' relates the tale of John Tennant, Canberra's first bushranger, a section 'City of Stone' discusses building materials and compares a future Canberra to Rome and finally a section called 'Automatic water' talking up the Cotter system.

The Mercury - Friday 9 October 1908

National Library of Australia


Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Just a quick post...

Since I have started publishing wildlife videos on this blog I have received the odd question about the difference between a kangaroo and a wallaby (easy, size, colour, shape and habits) but by far more questions on what kangaroos and wallabies we have here in the ACT. I suppose I just take them all for granted but I’ll answer here as a reference I can point future questions to.

Before European settlement there were roughly 53 species of macropods (kangaroos, wallabies, tree-kangaroos, pademelons and several others) in Australia. Since then six species have become extinct and a further eleven species are in a dire circumstance.

The ACT is not much different to a lot of Australia. In the ACT we had a number of those species which are now locally extinct with the most recent being the rock wallaby which was hunted relentlessly and last seen in the late 1950’s. So in answer to the question we are left with the Eastern grey kangaroo, red-necked wallaby, swamp wallaby and common wallaroo. Four species of what was perhaps quite a few more.

I have lined up our remaining species in this 1:20 video and although I included the rock wallaby as a ‘presumed’ extinct species, 50 years on, I don’t hold much hope of any surviving now.

Sunday, June 10, 2012


I had set the camera out at Shanahan's Mountain on Wednesday 30th and collected it today so eleven days out. It always amazes me the consistency of red necked wallaby activity there and this is helping me learn the best heights and angles to place the camera. Its been a hit and miss affair so far.

This time around though seems to be getting close even though when I set the camera this time I thought the angle downward was too severe plus there is a play-off in capturing pictures first, then followed by video in the delay in-between each action. This time was set for 2 photos and 20 seconds of video.

Regardless the area is very rich in wallaby life and conspicuously absent of feral activity. Even the animal trails in the area show the obvious absence of pigs and I have not captured one fox or dog on camera.

I'm calling these little videos from Shanahan's the secret life of wallabies...

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Saturday, June 2, 2012


Update 4/6/12

From the ACT Government:

The ACT Government has today called for information from the public after at least 30 sections of the predator-proof fence at Mulligans Flat Sanctuary were cut open last night. An inspection is currently taking place to determine the full extent of damage and repair works are under way...

Full Media Release

Really exciting environmental work is happening at Mulligan's Flat enclosed nature reserve in Canberra's north. The ACT Government is reintroducing the Eastern bettong to the territory where it has been locally extinct for over a century.

Last year a number of bettongs were re-introduced into an enclosure in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve to form a breeding colony and etablish a backup colony for the next stage of the project. In recent days 24 more bettongs were brought from Tasmania (The animals last wild refuge) with some going to Tidbinbilla and the rest taken to the Mulligan's Flat box-gum woodlands sanctuary in what is described as the first wild-to-wild trans-location of bettongs.

Mulligans Flat reserve is a reserve of over 400 hectares secure from feral animals. The reason Bettongs became locally extinct was because of predation by the European fox, cat and wild dog. This predation would continue in our current circumstance if not for a fox, dog, cat proof enclosure...

From tamsactgov You Tube channel...

"Eastern bettongs from Tasmania are being introduced to the Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary in the ACT, as part of a joint project involving local, interstate and international partners. The translocation of bettongs is part of a woodlands restoration project at Mulligans Flat and Goorooyarroo nature reserves involving a partnership between the ACT Government, Australian National University's Fenner School of Environment and Society, CSIRO and James Hutton Institute in Scotland and is supported by the Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary Board of Management."

More information :

Bettongs 'what's happening

The Eastern Bettong Project

Mulligan's Flat woodland reserve

The Woodland Experiment 

An article from Queensland when Bettongs were apparently numerous...

The Brisbane Courier - Saturday 4 August 1928

National Library of Australia

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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...