Friday, March 1, 2013

Historic De Salis Cemetery restoration complete

The ACT Government today announced...

Historic De Salis Cemetery restoration complete

Released 01/03/2013
The ACT heritage-listed De Salis Cemetery, located on the banks of the majestic Murrumbidgee River at Tharwa, has been returned to the community after the completion of extensive restoration works, Manager of Operations, National Park and Catchments, Brett McNamara, said today.
"The De Salis Cemetery is a rare example of a 19thcentury pastoral station cemetery. It is of unique construction, comprising a raised circular terrace with walls of local stone," Mr McNamara said.
"During severe storms in December 2010 and January 2011 the stone wall of the cemetery collapsed as the earth subsided. The walls continued collapsing due to recurring heavy rain in 2012 and the presence of wombats burrowing under the site.
"Staff from ACT Parks and Conservation Service, ACT Heritage Unit and construction contractors have rebuilt and restored the walls using the collapsed stone in a pattern that replicates its original design.
"The raised site has been further stabilised by the installation of internal gabion walls (wire and stone reinforced blocks), the compacting of soil and landscaping to control rain run-off.
"Construction was also assisted by the use of ground penetrating radar to locate potential unmarked burial sites. This important data helped guide contractors to ensure that minimal disruption to graves occurred during the work.
"The ACT Heritage Unit and Heritage Advisory Service provided ongoing feedback on the most appropriate methodology for the site's restoration throughout the planning and construction phase. External heritage experts were also engaged to ensure works were in accordance with the site's heritage plan.
"The 135 year old De Salis Cemetery is the resting place for some 16 members of the De Salis family and employees of Cuppacumbalong station. These works to restore this significant site will ensure the heritage and conservation values of our early European history is preserved and shared for future generations," Mr McNamara said.
- Statement ends -

I am not going to say much about this after a very long involvement but just to tie the matter up I will post what I have recorded publicly over the years on the issue. In fact I have deleted many of the posts as I argued for more appropriate action and an end to a heritage assessment that seemed endless. I was very pleased to see this project completed in 2 years 5 months. I was a witness to the extensive wombat burrowing under what was to become one of the wall collapses in October 2010. The video below shows the original damage some days after the collapse and thus started my annoyance at the ACT Government's delay in organising repairs...
Uploaded on Nov 6, 2010 (Third party music hence the ad)

7 months later I returned...

Uploaded on Jun 25, 2011


2 Months later...

Uploaded on Aug 29, 2011

And finally 3 months later when I was asked by  Genevieve Jacobs on ABC 666 Canberra 14-11-12 

I suppose in hindsight my major issue with the people in charge of this repair was their denial of any wombat involvement in the wall's collapse. All I could derive from that was a fear of acknowledging negligence in the cemetery's past maintenance. Unfortunately for them this required basically calling me a liar.

You only need read today's statement however and compare that to Mr McNamara's comments in the radio interview. Of course I always knew my proof lay hidden under the fallen field stones. I hope this time around they pay attention to the asset and check it once in a while for future wombat diggings.

It really is a very interesting place to visit. I recommend parking under the Tharwa Bridge and walking up the river walk (I believe Onyong walk) through century old elm trees, past Cuppacumbalong Homestead and through to the junction of the Gudgenby and Murrumbidgee River's... That was Rodolph's favourite spot...

View Larger Map -


  1. This is a great (albeit slow) result Dave. A testament to your persistence and patience under trying circumstances. I do hope the repairs are satisfactory and to the level required.

  2. Cheers mate. I was only thinking about the place yesterday and was musing whether to disappoint myself or not. Seems there was something in the air. I'm pleased they finally worked out what caused the problem. Fore warned is fore armed.


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...