Sunday, June 30, 2013

Canberra Noisy Miner Bird

This is the native Noisy Miner Bird photographed at Tidbinbilla but common around the suburbs of Canberra. Unfortunately it is often confused with the introduced and destructive Indian Myna bird.

For more information: The Canberra Indian Myna Action Group Inc.

As you can see there are obvious differences on closer inspection. The introduced bird has a full black head with yellow markings of a different shape and the body colour is different. Basically not all birds with yellow eye patches and yellow beaks in Canberra are the same. 


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Canberra Bunyips and Yahoos

Apparently in the 1920s most Canberra people firmly believed there were real bunyips living in the area. A rundown on some historical bunyip and yahoo sightings around Canberra...

The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995), 
Saturday 31 July 1976

National Library of Australia

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Monday, June 24, 2013

Canberra history snapshots- Cranleigh.

A little history of an old Canberra homestead called "Cranleigh" and its location today...

Video today from jgm64productions

"Author JG Montgomery goes for a wander through the little known Cranleigh site in Latham, ACT, once the home of a significant Australian military figure."

World War One Australian Lieutenant General James Gordon Legge CBCMG (15 August 1863 – 18 September 1947) (Wikipedia bio)

From Wikipedia: 


By 1923 cottages for a manager and workmen were being built at Cranleigh, farm machinery including a tractor had been purchased and a concrete weir across the Ginninderra Creek was under construction. The main house was styled from houses he had seen in India early in his military career. In its external appearance the house was square with a flat roof resembling a fort or block house, built of concrete blocks moulded on site with sand from Ginninderra Creek. 

There was a central verandah courtyard surrounded by ten rooms with each room having an entrance to the courtyard. Due to his early retirement, Legge was denied a pension, but he was able to obtain money from the Soldier Settlement Scheme to buy a lease on a 400 acres (160 ha) farm north of the Weetangera farm in the Australian Capital Territory. 

He called it "Cranleigh" after his school in England and his former home in Sydney, and he raised pigs and horses, and grew potatoes. Many of the local farmers thought him eccentric, as the area is best known as sheep country. The farm failed for various reasons, including that a proposed Canberra-Yass railway line passing the farm was not built; and, there was a drought from 1937-37.


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Quoll found on Isabella Drive Canberra

Sorry if the image is disturbing but hopefully this is an indication that the poor old locally rare and endangered Spotted tailed quoll in Canberra is making a comeback. This is all the information I have been able to get.


Photo: Adam FitzGerald!forum/natchat

The Quoll was discovered on the side of Isabella Drive, Gowrie on the morning of 9th June.

It was near the underpass (on the road obviously) between Ashley Drive & Kellet Streets.

We rang Namadji Visitor's Centre at the time & advised them as we thought it was unusual. They were very interested & asked us to email the details to them. We also emailed them the photo so they knew we knew what we were looking at.

Rangers rang us the next day as they wanted to collect the poor bugger for DNA-testing, stomach contents examination, & possible taxidermy etc.!topic/natchat/q6QPkZiVcpA


The nearest non urban habitat is Fadden Pines. From there a small corridor of habitat exists through the suburb of MaCarthur into the Canberra Nature Reserve...

As an example of the rarity for quite a while....

The Canberra Times - Friday 17 July 1936

National Library of Australia


The Flogging Tree

James Wright - Lanyon

Just a mention of a memory. That of a tree used for flogging convicts when Canberra was known as the Limestone Plains.

The Charleville Times (Brisbane, Qld. : 1896 - 1954), 
Thursday 15 September 1949

National Library of Australia

I have cut the following from an older post on Convict Floggings at the time of settlement in the region. It was transcribed from the Convict Barn display at Lanyon which unfortunately was gutted by a vandals fire a few years ago. It is quite an example of the severity of floggings dished out locally...

One convict, Phillip Lee who was transported to New South Wales for life for burglary at the age of 17, had several run-ins with Wright and the Magistrate's lash. It is a sad record.

14 December 1838
Wright - Yesterday morning I had reason to check this man and with great insolence of manner he told me he had behaved well but would not do so any longer. I might take him to court and do what I please with him. Another servant tried to strike me. I called on the prisoner to assist me which he would not do but kept aloof some four or five yards distant. The prisoner has nothing to say in his defence and says he is sorry for what has happened. GUILTY - disorderly conduct - 25 lashes.

25 January 1839
Wright - The prisoner is extremely idle and shams sick to avoid work. I have had him examined by Dr. Hayley who said he was quite capable of performing his work the same as any other servant on the establishment. Late Monday morning the prisoner did not come to work with the other men. I went and obliged him to come. I afterwards found he was not at work and I went quietly to his hut and found him joking with the shepherd and smoking his pipe. On being questioned why he was not at work he replied he was just coming. GUILTY - disobedience - 50 lashes.

29 January 1839
Wright - On the 25th instant he was tried before this Bench and sentenced to punishment. On his return to Lanyon I desired to see his back. He refused saying he'd see me damned before he'd show it to me nor should I get any good of him. He was also exceedingly insolent and abusive in his manner and language.
GUILTY - disobedience - 25 lashes - Insolence - 75 lashes

In just on four days Phillip Lee received 150 lashes. The end result of this battle of wills was that despite his punishments Lee could not be tamed by Wright and soon after, as a last resort, was returned to the Government. He died in Parramatta hospital in 1840 aged just 30.

And as for bleeding....

The Goulburn Magistrate, Macalister, was so concerned about the matter that he wrote to the Colonial Secretary in 1838 about the ineffectiveness of the government issue lash.

"They are made exceedingly careless... The cord may be sufficiently heavy, but of too soft a twist; although it bruises, bleeding but seldom is caused; consequently the offender escapes that acute pain and smarting to the extent so desirable should be experienced under the lash. I would suggest the scourging cord be of a much harder twist".

Anyway just the mention of a Canberra memory... Actually quite plausible...


Friday, June 21, 2013

Wild dog or ACT dingo?

please note photo is not of a wild dog.

I’ve seen what I believe was a pure bred dingo just west of Piccadilly Circus Brindabella. It stood out from all the ‘wild dogs’ I have seen. I'm told they talk of dingos in percentages of pureness now but regardless they remain an important part of the ecosystem. The first time I heard about Canberra’s long association with dingos was a remark from Lanyon in the 1830s relating to large stones being placed on a buried body to deter the digging up by dingos of the recently departed.

The Trove notification system just announced the release of two Canberra related articles digitised from 1976. One a discussion of sorts around a wild dog/dingo kill in the Orroral Valley and the other the ACT declaration of their protection.

The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995), Wednesday 14 April 1976
National Library of Australia

And some months later...

The Canberra Times (ACT : 1926 - 1995), Saturday 28 May 1977

National Library of Australia

I suppose it is a bit of a balancing act today as to what defines a dingo in the ACT. Probably best left to the experts. John Thistleton of the Canberra Times has an excellent recent article about Canberra's dingo man, Mick Clarke,  ACT Parks & Conservation dingo trapper and his pure bred dingo Jess.

A man, his dingo and the dogs of war

Orroral map.

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Gold at Gundaroo

Another for the Canberra gold buffs. Report of an 1860's gold find at Gunderoo...

Queanbeyan Age and General Advertiser (NSW : 1864 - 1867), 

Thursday 30 May 1861

National library of Australia

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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Views from the descent of the Gingera Ridge

As far as the eye can see. Another video from John Evans. A view from the Gingera Ridge. The title is the description...

There are many other videos of the ACT's wild places on John's YouTube channel

Friday, June 14, 2013

Farewell to the Enlarged Cotter Dam tower cranes

From ACTEW YouTube the dismantling of the construction towers at the new Cotter Dam. Canberra Filmmaker Richard Snashall produces another great documentary showing the many facets of the effort. Pictured above is a photo taken some months ago...

"They became a familiar sight in the Cotter valley in recent years, but their service in the construction of the Enlarged Cotter Dam has come to an end. The three tower cranes have now been removed, and this film features the dismantling of number two. This sophisticated process involves a lot of planning and a well qualified team of people."

[Documentary maker Richard Snashall works with ACTEW Water to help us capture and document the Enlarged Cotter Dam and other water security projects for our Heritage Archive.]

Worker ants on the wall...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Canberra Centenary Typeface Design Competition.

Attention any Typographers and Type Designers & those electronically arty types I think this $10,000 competition deserves a mention...

Entries Close: 27 September 2013

Winner to be Announced: October 2013
"Canberra is the capital city of Australia. It is situated in the Australian Capital Territory and is home to Australia’s Federal Government, its administrative agencies, the diplomatic community and five universities. Every year millions of words are promulgated in this city and published in traditional and electronic media across the country and around the world.
It seems logical therefore that our Centenary should celebrate one of the most essential skills exhibited by this city’s government ministers, politicians, apparatchiks, judiciary, reporters, commentators, spin doctors, advertisers and image builders – namely the art of offering thought provoking communication using the awesome power of the printed word.
Every year Canberra unleashes a flood of legislation, policy pronouncements, adversarial debate, news, back-stories, information, character assassinations, in-depth articles, anguished denials, advertising, press releases, blog pontification and tweets. Pouring persuasion and passion into print in both e-ware and tree-ware* is a Canberra art-form.
However despite the plethora of printed words, this city that otherwise has everything, has no exclusive and definitive Canberra typeface....". The design brief can be found

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Wartime plane crash on Mount Ainslie - Mystery solved

This is the end of the story of a mystery plane crash on the slopes of Mount Ainslie in the 1940's. Part 2 of the original post  A wartime plane crash or crash landing on Mount Ainslie.

Article & research by Dave Wheeler

In regard to this yarn, should a viewer wish to read the original story I did on this site regarding how my deceased maternal uncle came into possession of an engine plate from a crashed plane on the slopes of Mt Ainslie, as shown above. As I could find no details of the crash I called for the help of others, and with the efforts of David Ellery of the Canberra Times for whom I am very grateful, the mystery was solved.
David did two excellent articles on the crash in Gang Gang. One told the initial story and the other gave details of the mystery after he was able to solve it with the assistance of the research of Mr Bob Piper. I am  also extremely grateful to Bob for his efforts. Bob is an aviation historian. He was an RAAF Historical Officer for 15 years and is also a pilot and journalist. See the link to David Ellery's last online Canberra Times article.
The crash occurred on the 15/6/42 and the plane was an RAAF Tugan (or Wackett) Gannet no A 14-5, which at the time was being operated by No 2 Aerial Ambulance Unit (2 AAU). It crashed a kilometre short of the Canberra aerodrome on take off on what was reported to be Mt Russell, which was regarded then and now as the slopes of Mt Ainslie.

The plane was piloted by Flight Lieutenant Bruce Graham (SN 589-born 1919) who suffered a fractured ankle. Others on the flight were Sgt Glenn Smith the radio operator who suffered shock, Sgt John Craig a nursing orderly who suffered a fractured shoulder blade and Sgt Reginald Kupsch a Fitter 2E  (aircraft mechanic) who was unharmed.The plane was written off.

Bob Piper was initially unaware of the incident but with dogged determination and the knowledge he had accumulated over the years he was able to link it to other information he had collected and eventually got the details of what occurred.

Bob also supplied a copy of a telegram which indicates the only crew member with a local address was Reginald Charles Kupsch, service number  4369 who lived at 32 Alice Street Queanbeyan with his wife Agnes. The National Archives military records say he was born on the 25/4/1912 and that he was born in Regent, Victoria and enlisted at Laverton, Victoria. I wonder if Reg and Agnes have any relo's in Canberra or Queanbeyan today or if any old Queanbeyanites can remember them.

Reg would be 101 if he still has a pulse, which means he is unlikely to be playing 1st grade rugby league for the Queanbeyan Kangaroos or the Queanbeyan Blues.The only people with the surname of Kupsch in the Canberra phone book live in Fisher and they are not related. If anyone can assist please contact me by clicking on the contact button above.

Update-Since writing the last two paragraphs I have found records which indicate that Reg was buried at the Kyabram Cemetery, Victoria in 2003, aged 83, and Agnes was buried with him in 2007 aged 92. If those dates are correct it would mean Reg was born in 1920 and the document suggesting he was born in 1912 is incorrect. I will continue my search for his relo's.

Further update-Bob Piper contacted me to tell me Reg Kopsch died at Nathalia Hospital aged 91 having lived at Preston, Kyabram and Nathalia, Victoria. It would seem the cemetery got his age wrong as what Bob has told me is in accordance with the Archives records.

The above photo is of the actual Tugan Gannet (no A 14-5) which crash-landed on Mt Ainslie, obviously sometime before the crash. Again, many thanks to Bob Piper for the work he put into tracking down this photo.

 Bob also put me onto the youtube link below in which some 8mm film captures the first flight of the first Tugan Gannet in 1935. "Alexander's Ragtime Band" is played on the piano as background music.

From the original posting


Friday, June 7, 2013

The source of the Cotter - ABC News 24

A recent Canberra filmmaker Richard Snashall  and a wonderful view of the source of Canberra's water supply.

Published on Jun 5, 2013

"This edited excerpt from is from Triple Trickle: A Journey Into Canberra's Water Catchments, and was broadcast on ABC News 24 and ABC1 in June 2013. Produced and presented by Richard Snashall with funding from the ACTEW Water Source Water Protection Program."


Thursday, June 6, 2013

A comment about National Parks


Decades ago it was recognised that in order to maintain biodiversity and help arrest native species extinction that areas of wilderness and recovering wilderness be set aside. These areas were called National Parks and remain in almost pristine condition for the enjoyment of future generations.

Now let me be clear here… I detest politics and even working for years in another life at Parliament House didn't really engage my interest long term.  Too many wee small hours debate over pig liver amendment bills. Several years with Hansard and several hanging around the public galleries with Parliamentary Security, I was one worker who was truly apolitical… I just didn’t care.  Probably swung more to the left… Whitlam hangover thing…

I do however have an affinity with the environment. I read daily about the plight of once common species evaporating in my lifetime.  Under past governments there actually seemed to be a fairly healthy balance. The parks were maintained, feral species eradication systems established and research programs carried out. They are open 24/7 365 for public enjoyment and remain the last bastion of many iconic species.

Back to politics… What I have just described has been the norm for several decades. Basically a bipartisan acknowledgement of the importance of and protection of National Parks.  I don't know if anyone has noticed a political shift however. A newish conservative view that somehow the National Parks are actually “locked up” unexploited economic resources. The three states on the Eastern seaboard have all altered policy allowing development in their Parks.

This is a recent radio interview with a fairly balanced view

ABC Radio - Bush Telegraph - Monday 3 June 2013 11:45AM

Radio interview with Euan Ritchie, lecturer in ecology at Deakin University

Logging, mining, grazing, resort development, hunting, Quadbiking/4WD and 99 year private leases. Development spreading from state to state like a virus. The exploitation of every possible avenue to sustain economic growth. The notion of securing National Parks for future generations is going out the window. Google the Leadbeaters possum… add the word logging…

Now I'll probably get some negative feedback from supporters of the Shooters & Fishers Party but to logical Australians and voters on both sides of politics I urge you to think about the direction we are heading. It must be obvious the eventual results of such short term exploitation. A weed ridden, vehicle track criss cross of littered, logged land devoid of iconic species.

I think I might spend the weekend in Namadgi and take a few photos... At least I know I won't get shot.

Update... 7/6/13

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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Tharwa girl killed by dingos

The Canberra area has many stories involving dingos. This caught my eye some time ago but re-appeared on another unrelated search today and thought it worth a mention. Its a shame that nobody knows her name and that her only seeming reference is a brief mention in someone's recollections but this nameless girl, age also unknown, was reportedly killed and eaten by dingos at Tharwa in 1845. Gruesome death.

If anyone has or knows of any other references to this vague mention I'd be pleased to know.

UPDATE 4/6/13 Dave Wheeler kindly pointed out John Gales reference to the event...

The 1st clipping... From the original article...

The Argus - Saturday 25 January 1947

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...