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...



  1. That's pretty poor Dave. With all this money being thrown around in election promises, I would have thought a few thousand could have been committed to this work five months ago - but now the cost might be substantially more to fix. Poor work ACT Govt.

    1. Yes its very disappointing mate. If they don't believe me about the wombats why not at least believe in the 'peeling'. Its been (over actually I think) 2 years since the floods. I'm just making it public knowledge. I don't understand what the delay could possibly be now? Why line me up with 4 experts assuring me work was about to start... 3 M of wall has collapsed since then. Now its just cultural negligence.

  • Marvellous update on the email trail Dave. I can see that Simon really does have his hands tied, but SRSLY!! Your point about Tharwa's attractions is a good one: we have so little in the way of 'history' in the ACT, it seems such a shocking waste of an attraction like that, let alone wasted tourists' dollars. I'll contact TAMS myself, via their website, just so my dissatisfaction is on record.

    1. Thanks & Good luck Jude. Hopefully you can discover the tightly held secret date of project start. And Yes... The Gov spent heaps creating a wonderful BBQ area on the river that I seldom see people use. Walk, Heritage and wildlife is free. And for those inclined there's a cold beer available at the Tharwa Store. Who would have thought a few kilometres south of Banks. Under-publicised... Under-utilized. Great spot.

  • G'day Dave!

    Wonderful news! Media release from TAMS today, saying that they are starting on the site remediation works!

    I have to say, I reckon it's very much your hard work and perseverance with TAMS that has achieved this fantastic outcome for all of us!

    Well done Dave, huge THANK YOU!



  • Thanks J. I'm a bit perturbed about the actual cause of the collapse not being acknowledged though. I saw first hand the wombat burrows under the wall. It always has been a maintenance issue. This should be noted for future planning. I'm over the maintenance butt covering. It's just not right. I am happy with the announcement though. Thanks again David.


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