Thursday, September 20, 2012


Just a timely reminder that snake season is upon us. A friend of mine just reported his first Red bellied black snake of the season so they are on the move after their winter slumber. A search of 'Canberra snakes' on trove reveal a myriad of snake reports across the Canberra City and suburbs. Sometimes described in nearly plague proportions.

The motto of the day though seems to have been 'a good snake is a dead snake' and the reports usually indicate a grisly end for the reptile. They killed them in the City centre, they killed them on the lawns of Parliament House and they killed them at Yarralumla. One report stood out from the others with the story of catching a Brown snake with a live frog attached to a fishing line...

Western Argus (Kalgoorlie) - Tuesday 12 January 1932

National Library of Australia


Monday, September 17, 2012


All bar the last fox in this video all the feral animals shown were filmed in one small area of Namadgi over irregular 4 day to 1 week settings of a motion activated wildlife camera. It was only when filing these clips away and deleting hundreds of captured images that I thought I would put them in a video.

These short settings of the camera are like small windows into the environment. They capture the natural goings on of an environment, just like this one on a creek clearing in the scrub...

I have mentioned this before but my overriding interest is identifying remaining occupied habitat of Spotted quolls, Once known around here as Tiger cats. They are today an endangered worry. Feral predation has been their downfall, predominantly dogs and foxes, since European settlers finished hunting them mercilessly.

I'm not interested in the known areas. I'll leave them to the learned but if I'm going to be out and about with wildlife cameras I wouldn't mind identifying areas where more intensive feral eradication could be implemented. As yet no success and the perfect habitat of the area I staked out in the video has provided enough information against the possibility that it has ruled that (already baited) area out.

And while I'm musing about Tiger cats... A biologist I follow was recently surprised on camera by a veraciously hungry quoll in its prime in Tasmania. He simply hung a road-kill rabbit in front of the camera and there it was bold as brass. An encouraging sign for his area. Unfortunately some idiot has introduced foxes to a once fox-free Tasmania. History suggests to me this may be the death-knell for quolls on the island.

ACT Vertebrate Pest Management Strategy

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Saturday, September 15, 2012


UPDATED : 30/9/12E-mail from a descendant of William Chippendale Re: Resting place is actually of William Herbert.  (I have left the original post about Michael Herbert for continuity of the story...


Often overlooked at the bridge over the Gudgenby River on Nass Road is a monument to Michael Herbert, first settler in the Nass region. As far as is reported Mr Herbert died in a flood and it was not possible to move him before burial. Sadly a tragedy with Strychnine saw the burial in the same place of two of his grandchildren...

The Canberra Times - Saturday 25 February 1939

National Library of Australia

So a monument dated 1956 suggesting Herbert's death was about a hundred years prior to that. 1856?  Interestingly 156 years ago. I can date one of Herbert's children's (not grandchild) death to 1865 with a strange report mentioning Strychnine but recording a death of  'convultions' The Nanny was a bit suspect...

The spot is only 20 metes away from where the Bobeyan Road begins and the Namadgi National Park boundary is only a few kilometers further on.  I often see fly fisherman, in season, along the Gudgenby River's banks...

UPDATE : 30/9/12 - I received an email from a descendant...


The plaque on the cairn which was erected of stones from the old homestead is incorrect.  It is not Michael Herbert who is buried there – it is William Herbert (snr) his father.
Michael Herbert died in 1891 at St Leonards (NSW Registry of Birth, Deaths and Marriages Historical Index record number 13717/1891).
The information below was taken from the book Cotter Country by Bruce Moore p. 40
“William Herbert snr died at Naas on 25 October 1857, at the age of 80 years. It was intended that his remains would be taken to Queanbeyan for burial but the Gudgenby River was in flood so that was not possible. The river remained at a high level for several days and on 27 October 1857, the remains of the old pioneer were buried in a grave on the river bank close by the homestead.  The grave is close to the present bridge – the road at the time of the burial crossed the river lower down the stream. His son Michael Herbert, and Charles McKeahnie, with his son Alexander McKeahnie from Gudgenby, were present at the burial and signed the certificate of burial. The flooded river accounts for his burial on the river bank but it remains a mystery as to why he was not taken to the cemetery at Top Naas since burials had taken place there from 1839 (William Chippendale).”
I am interested in this because I am a descendant of William Chippendale mentioned above and I have been trying for years to have the plaque amended as this is how incorrect information is disseminated and then becomes fact.  William Chippendale’s son Thomas married William Herbert’s daughter Mary Ann. William Chippendale’s original land grant of 100 acres later became the Sydney suburb of Chippendale.
Lisbeth Orrock



Worth a stop if your passing by...

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012


We are all pretty used to seeing Eastern grey kangaroos in roadside paddocks around Canberra. A bit of a paradise for them really, ample food and water and their only predators, particularly of the young, being cats, dogs and foxes.

It is thought that possibly half of all joeys migrating from 'pouch-ling' to 'foot-ling' will be taken by a feral predator. Things are pretty good in Canberra though for the Greys. In fact populations in the City's suburbs require periodic culling to maintain sustainable populations.

Only a few kilometres out of the Canberra City proper though things change. Where the vegetation turns dense and mountainous different macropod species begin to emerge in the bushland. Red necked wallabies, Wallaroo and Swamp wallabies dominate the forests leaving the open plains for their bigger cousins the Greys.

This video is a compilation of videos of these different species captured in the mountains of Namadgi National Park...

The cameo appearance from the feral fox, by judging photo timings, was probably on the trail of an earlier subject...

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Wednesday, September 5, 2012


I thought I had found every variation of Canberra's name. Everything from a 'woman's breasts' to a 'berry tree'. I won't add links here but a search of 'naming' in the search function to the right should provide the array of opinion as to the name's origin. This article is titled Yarralumla and that name is discussed also.

This article questions the reliability of recorded place and animal names and their meaning and offers the suggestion that the 'erra' in Canberra means mountain and that anything placed before that is descriptive. eg. Canb-erra = timbered mountain, Jerrabomb-erra = mountain range and that Urri-arra = stoney mountain.

Interestingly Queen Nellie when interviewed said that 'nobody knew'. But as is suggested in the anecdote maybe there was too much 'yabba' (too inquisitive)...

The Federal Capital Pioneer Magazine - Thursday 21 April 1927

National Library of Australia


Sunday, September 2, 2012


Gibraltar Falls is a 50 meter high waterfall located on Corin Road in the west of the ACT and spring is the time the waterfall's most famous resident is most active...

The waterfall area is the habitat of the Waterfall redspot dragonfly. Each spring I visit a few times to try and see this insect and perhaps photograph it. This rare dragonfly only inhabits the spash zones of waterfalls and I suspect this could occur at any point along its 50 meter cascade.

The first mention I can find of the waterfall is an article in the Queanbeyan Age dated 1871 which apparently records its discovery...
Queanbeyan Age - Thursday 30 November 1871

National Library of Australia

So the waterfall's splash zones extend a long distance below the viewing platform. I haven't the time but any amateur Entomologists out there looking for a unique opportunity to do a little wildlife photography might find the location worthwhile.

The platform would be a good place to spend a few hours in a quiet time with many nooks and crevices viewable for some distance. The photo to the left doesn't capture the nature of the cascades.

There seems to be very limited pictures of this little beastie and a series of local photos would be very interesting.

Good news for visitors... This season is the first time I have visited since before the walking track upgrades. A staircase has been installed on the steepest grade...

With only a 20 meter natural rock staircase to negotiate after...

Well worth a visit if you haven't been there or if you haven't been in a while. A definate must for visitors with views east back into the territory that are quite breathtaking. If you manage to capture a waterfall redspot let me know.

My thanks to my youngest daughter Sherri for being the model.

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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...