Sunday, October 28, 2012


Canberra turned out her finest weather today for the Annual 'Pink Ribbon Ride' organised by 'Girls on the move'. The ride is of course a charity ride in support of Breast Cancer research. 

 Our little band met up early in Erindale to fuel up and get organised before it was off to Old Parliament House to register. Also an opportunity to stock up on raffle tickets for the ride's end at Eagle Hawk on the Federal Highway.

The kick-off was , rather respectfully I thought for a Sunday, at 10 am.

I would estimate about 200 bikes were there lined up under the Australian coat of arms. I was 154 and we were early so a rough figure. All up an impressive mob. There was a huge array of makes and models of bike with many contesting for the best dressed bike and riders in the pink theme. 


Registration and bikers of all flavours...

A few Spyders followed the main pack...

Coffee @ Bungendore...

From there it was back through to the Federal Highway and south towards Eagle Hawk pub where the raffles were drawn. A little sad to learn after the ride but this is probably the last year the Girls will be hosting the event. In fact the word was the club was disbanding. I hope another riding group in Canberra takes up the reigns and continues the tradition next year.

For us it was then off to Rose Cottage Inn for a retro afternoon band and a refreshing beverage to end a great morning.


Thursday, October 18, 2012


A trip today just past Tharwa to the Tharwa Sandwash. Beautiful weather, no traffic, just a leisurely ride in the warm sun.  Not that I did but it's a great spot for a swim on a hot day. Depending on the river flow it can be as pictured or showing sandbars when the river is lower. It's been raining somewhere... I learned something today about the effects of historical land clearing in the region. The ACT Governments information board is interesting. It paints a picture of a much different place in the past..  From the signage…

Alan Cunningham 1791 - 1839

Clues to the past.

“This area looks very different to how botanist-explorer Alan Cunningham saw it in 1824. The Ribbon Gums – tall white eucalypts with peeling bark – provide an ecological clue. They are all that remains of the original lush sheltered forest, where lyrebirds scratched for food in fallen leaves among tree-ferns and giant daisies.

With settlement came tree clearing. The water loving shrubs lost their protection and dried out. Tougher grasses moved in, and the riverbanks, like the surrounding hills, became home to dry forests of Scribbly Gum and Red Stringybark.

Fortunately, all is not lost. Protecting the remnants is important. Wet forests still exist along the creek banks in Namadgi National Park and the Brindabellas, and the Murrumbidgee is flanked by nature reserves along most of its ACT route.”

Re-creating habitats.

“The Murrumbidgee used to contain deep pools, where native fish would thrive. But human activities, floods and droughts changed the river’s flow. Sandwashes along the river’s Tharwa stretch left it just 30 to 40cm deep in places. 

As the deep pools silted up, local species became rare.
Captive breeding is helping – 100,000 young Trout Cod have been released near here to re-establish a wild population, but they need good habitat for long-term survival.”

Tree plantings along the riverbank...

View South

View north...

You are here...

Through Tharwa... Nass Road... Turn left at Smith's Road... Entry on left just past bridge over Gudgenby River... Nice spot.

View Larger Map

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Historical Society talk

UPDATE: 14/11/12 This issue is now resolved - Completion date for repairs May 2013 (post)

The universe provided me with the opportunity to get on my soapbox tonight. I was asked to speak to the Canberra & District Historical Society at the National Archives. About 30 people attended. I had been advertised as intending to relate historical 'quirky' Canberra history in a series of old articles but I had changed my mind a few days ago.

I decided to relay some recent historical truth in regard to a neglected ACT heritage asset, The De salis family cemetery at Cuppacumbalong. It required a new power-point presentation, me learning how to do it and the addition of three videos and a series of photos.. Being a witness both pre and post 2010 flood event when the cemetery was damaged I am able to express my visual recollections over a period of two years and provide photographic evidence in most stages of the wall's collapse expansion over time. Sort of  like watching the wall falling in slow motion.

I explained the importance of recognising the Murrumbidgee River's wombat's involvement in the walls demise during the flood events in November 2010. I highlighted the fact that it is historically inaccurate to record the collapse as being the result of storm damage when without the wombats wall undermining and burrow building skills the wall would have stood, as it has for every other major weather event for the past 160 years. Ignoring the wombats also raises issues of future maintenance and inspection plans should the wall ever be repaired.

I demonstrated the 'peeling' effect that continues to destroy the wall as it succumbs to gravity. I described this as being like that of an onion skin peeling back. Since the event on the eastern edge of the southern fall I estimate at least 6 metres of additional wall has collapsed with 3 of those metres dislodging in the past 4 months. The western edge isn't accessible to measure but the deterioration 'peeling' is visible.

I highlighted the extensive heritage assessment that consumed a year and expressed its extensiveness and its apparent excuse for repair delay. I acknowledged that this process was reported as having been concluded in March 2012 at which time the Minister when questioned by ABC 666 Radio, and my calls for repair were echoed in the Canberra Times that the ACT Government announced that the repair project would begin in June.

I explained that when the May date came I was met by 4 Government representatives at the cemetery. I wrote about what they told me in a Restoration post I posted on the day and it is publicly available. I highlighted that these representatives informed me work hadn't started but that everything had been done now and work was immanent. I was pleased at the time as the restoration post indicates.

Five months further down the track here we are and I explained that even that delay has lost 3 metres of dry stone wall. I explained that I had questioned why the peeling edges hadn't been supported temporarily. As with the possibly maintenance liable wombats this doesn't seem acceptable to the ACT Government. A few people in the crowd questioned why the walls were not supported. What could I say?

I queried why the Government was so secret with any future start date or public announcement about progress. I explained to them that by now I'm probably seen by the Government as a crank. Most important though and historically accurate I told the truth.

Footage of the damage I captured at the time of the event (30 sec)

And today...


Sunday, October 7, 2012

The story of Herbert's Grave

UPDATE: 10/6/13

This video was inspired by a lady named Lisbeth Orrock. Thank you for educating me as to the true pioneer the memorial at the Nass Road bridge over the Gudgenby River honours. It ends a puzzle I have been slowly uncovering on Trove for 18 months. Apart from Identifiying the earliest pioneer, this link also confirmed the identity of the second reported body found at the roadworks in 1939.

Just putting it out on YouTube for those interested and sorry about the ocassional stutter; these old clippings can be hard to read. Reading was for youtube where the newspaper clippings are probably not easy without computer fullscreen...

It's a story of chinese whispers as a community searched for its own history. It follows a clipping from 1865,  several from 1939 and an the research of references from Lisbeth's ancestor William Chipendale after whom the Sydney Suburb is named. I agree with her that this historical anomoly should be recognised. That's fair enough...

The area of the graves is prone to flooding with a normally gentle Gudgenby River capable of rising to a raging torrent. Like all the flood prone major creeks and rivers in the ACT crossing in heavy weather could be perilous. Unfortunately flood waters could rise for weeks and crossing them could, and did on numerous occassions, prove fatal. The easiest way to see where the graves are in relation to Canberra is to keep zooming out...

View Larger Map

So its still a bit of a Mystery. Was Sarah Biddens responsible for the murder of Percy William Nass Herbert, son of Michael Herbert and Grandson of William Herbert. Strychnine seemed pretty common in those days but I can't see why anyone would desire to taste it? Seemed the locals thought it highly suspicious anyway...

So as far as I can see, for me at least, the end of the story as of October 2012 is William Herbert, first settler of the Nass Valley in the ACT remains unrecognised. That honour is held by his son Michael who is recognised on the Nass Plaque but actually died and was buried near Sydney at a ripe old age for the day. The child Percy seems totally unrecognised.

Why do I suggest the graves may still be there? The movement of the crossing place, They weren't taken to Top Nass, no record of reburial at Tharwa or Cuppacumbalong... Mr Oldfield, I know a decendant, may have made a coffin but I doubt he put a body in it. I think there was more to that tale than we will ever know. It's the 'vibe'. Chinese Whispers...

The place needs a new plaque

There you go Lisbeth it's public knowlege :)-

Update from Lisbeth 7/10/12

Do you mind if I make a small correction on the side issue of the name Emanuelson?  It is not quite correct – it should be Emanuel Mandelson as shown by the following quote from Cotter Country by Bruce Moore p 44.  This is probably why you had difficulty finding any records of burials.
The partnership of Emanuel Mandelson and Moses Joseph acquired both of the Naas properties in 1867. The partners belonged to two Jewish families who had extensive commercial interests in Goulburn. The Mandelsons were hotel keepers and the Josephs conducted a general store. Mandelson was appointed a Justice of the Peace in 1869 and also appointed a Sheep Director for the Queanbeyan district. He later became a successful publican in both Yass and Queanbeyan where he gave much support to the sport of pigeon shooting.”
The only record of the death of a child of Emanuel Mandelson is Louis Mandelson b. Jun 1861, d. 12 Dec 1863, buried in Goulburn Jewish cemetery.

Update from Donald Ford 10/6/13

Hello Dave my name is Don Ford and my ancestor was William Herbert my grandmothers Great Grand father. Very interesting read was the Michael Herbert Cairn at NAAS Valley, also the comments from Lisbeth.
Percy William Naas Herbert is buried at the Riverside Cemetery at Queanbeyan I have attached the photo from the Cemetery also his Grandmother Ann Herbert is buried there as well.
I have also attached death certificates for William and Michael Herbert for your info. Percy wasn't mentioned on Michael's death certificate but it is the same family.
This is all exciting stuff thanks to you and Lisbeth confirming what I already knew except the part about the Cairn at Naas.



Wednesday, October 3, 2012


Updated  5/10

Today I took the bike for a ride to Tharwa and visited the cemetery at Cuppacumbalong. I have been trying to get the De Salis Cemetery at Tharwa repaired for nearly two years. For those that don't know, in the severe floods of 2010, a combination of wombat burrows undermining the wall's foundations coupled with the extreme weather caused a section of the mound retaining wall to collapse. Although I witnessed the extensive burrowing, when reported, was ignored. Seems 'storm damage' is better than 'maintenance negligence'.

Five months ago, on Thursday 24th May I was invited to meet with representatives after the date coming and passing for work to begin. This date was set by the Minister some months before that and only seemed forthcoming when questioned by ABC666. I posted about the meeting with the reps under the heading of Cuppacumbalong Cemetery Refurbishment.

I was fairly pleased after what had been a struggle to see work was about to happen. All the I's had been dotted and all the T's crossed. I then left it a while... When I arrived today I noted the area was still signed as closed by 'storm damage' and that, what is now nearly 5 months later, still no work had commenced. 

I was further annoyed to find the right hand side of the main collapse (pictured above) had extended a further 3 meters past the safety barrier post which was my marker from the last time I viewed the collapse extent.

To prove my point of the unsupported edges of the wall continuing to collapse can be shown from a photo I took approx 2 weeks after the initial event. The photo above shows the mound wall today... and the photo below at event...

Again today...

I ponder what would have happened if Canberra Connect had acted on my report? When the collapse was small. Now I ponder if TAMS is waiting for the whole lot to go? Another big rain and it will in my opinion.

Remember this heritage asset has been in the loving care of ACT Heritage during this whole debarkle. In fact the heritage assessment was so full blown it took over a year. I acknowledged the extensiveness of the assessment and repair methods in my refurbishment post. In hindsight I should have acknowledged that obviously these reasons couldn't be used as an excuse any-more as they had been for nearly two years.  Saying that a contractor had been engaged and was about to start work was pretty conclusive.

I'll get the last laugh though when they uncover the wombat burrows. It was a multi entrance network that had formed after a wombat undermined an entrance into the soft, collected from the riverbank initially, soil in the mound. Perfect... one in... all in. This burrow network would have taken some time to be as extensive at the opening as it was. With the rain and the undermined foundations the wall didn't stand a chance.

The photo above is of the smaller collapse on the western wall. As this wall is behind the barriers this is the best shot I could get. It too has deteriorated with the nearer side edge pushing well out of alignment. I would say a collapse is imminent. It is also easy to note the wombat burrowing at this collapse because it is visible.

Anyway... What to do, what to do? Are you an influential Canberran with an ACT heritage inclined soul? I'm personally over it. I think its appalling how the whole thing has been, and still is being handled and I'm over the lies and spin. I don't speak Gov 2.0, I get frustrated and angry. Best I don't deal with the Directorate's minions. When work starts I'll take this post down.

David Reid

Ps If you dont believe there are wombats down there here are a few. Footage captured about 400 yards from the cemetery. I have others...


View Larger Map -

Update: 5/10/12

Contact from Simon Katz. I actually like Simon...


Katz, Simon via to me
Hello Dave,
One of our media people advised that you have updated your blog regarding De Salis.
I had a look at your site, and what can I say? You’re ongoing concern and frustration is understandable. The process is taking a painful amount of time.
I know it just sounds like were making constant excuses and dillydallying around the job – but in all sincerity we, the Parks and Conservation Service, have been pushing this as hard as we can.  Personally,  I fully understand and share your frustration in this matter.
Having said that – I can tell you that detailed planning and preliminary site investigation work has been completed, including ground penetrating radar analysis and confirmation of heritage advice as to remediation works. We’ve also had a bit of a win funding wise, and challenges with contractor availability have been worked through.
I know you’ve probably heard this before – but; on ground remedial works will be commencing in the very (very) near future.
Please feel free to give me a call or email me whenever –
Regards, Simon.
 Simon Katz
a/Manager, National Parks and Catchments - North


Dave Reid [email protected]
to Simon
Hi Simon,
What you have just told me was exactly what you told me 6 months ago. It is obvious that this project has such a low priority in the big scheme of things that the Government has not even found the time to make any statements about it. Nothing on the TAMS website... no press releases... anything.  In fact if I hadn't have been a constant thorn nothing would be known about it apart from the visitors to the site that are left shaking their heads.

And soon? Really? After two years and working through every possible excuse for a delay. Apparently concluded 6 months ago. Really Simon your organisation is simply treating me like an idiot. What of the additional 3 metres of wall that has collapsed since we last visited together... is this to be an additional cost to the repairs? Obviously it is. 

I made a public comment yesterday that the situation as far as I am concerned seems simply Cultural negligence by this Government... or Directorate... or whoever. Please don't tell me about funding or insurances as 1. We seem to be able to afford 400K fibreglass Owls & I don't want to know about the Territories ineptitude in insuring its own assets.

Please when you have some concrete knowledge do let me know. I am not an overly well man at the moment and really, believe it or not, shun the limelight but I think this terrible situation is one that needs be highlighted and some tough questions asked about the system and the people employed to run it. I have watched that wall fall in 'slow motion' over the past 2 years. I have photographic evidence at every stage of its demise. We have a Minister who when cornered by the media will set any date with no control over how her minions implement that. And I get the same old, same old soon.

It's just not right Simon. In fact it's bullshit. I'm not the only one watching this now though and there is a two year, evidence supported paper trail of incompetence.  I do hope you move on this 'soon'.
Regards David Reid


Katz, Simon via  
to me

Thanks for getting back to me Dave. As I said in my previous, I can and do understand the frustration. As I also said, we too share that frustration. (and I mean that) I will certainly let you know when things start happening. And i hope that is “soon”.


Dave Reid [email protected]
to Simon
There's nothing personal here mate. Believe it or not I gave the Army, Parl. House, Corrective services 18 years of my life. I understand these things are out of your hands. If I was to wish for something it would be a media release by the Govt announcing the restoration. Great photo op for Katie and great for promoting the village to the community. The whole situation (post floods) of the 'Onyong walk' seems lost. 

How many communities have Swimming facilities, a great River BBQ facility, 120 y/o Bridge, with a river walk through century old elms, past a historical building, to a unique 19th century cemetery on the junction of two rivers, in a nature reserve? Not many. Its simply unpublicised.

Please do let me know when you intend to start. I know people that would like to know. Until then how I feel remains on my weblog. I wasn't going to make a big deal about the wombats but I suspect the site isn't monitored very often and if it is, it’s a passing glance. If a management plan isn't drafted to prevent future invasions by the Murrumbidgee corridor's wombats... and it isn't inspected properly... it will simply happen again one day. Just a suggestion.
Regards David.


I'm leaving it at that...


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...