Sunday, July 28, 2013

Canberra Diaspora Competition

The Canberra Diaspora is a collection of videos from people who have links to the National Capital. If you have links to Canberra the following competition may be of interest to you... Executive Director Jeremy Lasek has asked for all Canberrans to help spread the word among family and friends who have passed through, worked or studied in Canberra...

A Canberra 100 news release 

Twitter updates @LasekJeremy

“This competition is part of the wider project to gather stories of Canberra’s Diaspora,” Mr Lasek said. “It’s open to anyone from students, politicians, public servants, musicians or one-time visitors, who can enter by uploading a video to the Canberra Diaspora website.

“The video should tell a story about their connection to Canberra, and can also focus on parents or grandparents who have made a significant contribution to the making and growing of the nation’s capital.”

First prize includes:
  • Return flights for two people from any capital city in Australia
  • A 5-star accommodation package for two people, for two nights
  • Canberra Theatre show tickets for four people
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner vouchers at some of Canberra’s best restaurants and cafes
  • Car rental for two days
  • A Legacy of Good Design prize pack
  • A specially-designed itinerary of Canberra attractions
Second prize includes a Canberra Glassworks voucher to the value of $600 and third prize is a Craft ACT Shop voucher to the value of $400.

The competition is open from 22 July to 10 September, with all entries uploaded to the Canberra Diaspora website during this time in the running.

To enter the Canberra Diaspora competition, or for more information, visit:


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Canberra foxes and quolls

A remote camera photographed this little feral fox last year on the Murrumbidgee River at Tharwa. I was staking out a large wombat burrow for a few weeks and discovered a definite interaction with foxes and the burrow. Interestingly in the past few years a fox has been the only animal that seemed to have detected or paid any attention to the cameras presence. They are very smart.

My interest in foxes though is spiked by the plight of our vulnerable fauna. It is a sad reality though that eradication is impossible. Every winter in the 70s and 80s we shot hundreds. Not just us but many others. A pelt in those days from the Queanbeyan skin buyer brought between $16 and $40. Then the anti-fur advocates ended the demand for feral fox skins. Every year I commented that we must be knocking the population around and every year the stats stayed static.

After the June Quoll road kill on Isabella Drive in Tuggeranong. I have been setting remote cameras in suitable selected areas. Looking at those areas the greatest threat to a quoll population would be foxes. I found a 50 year old study of the stomach contents of foxes in the Canberra District. Not exactly fresh research but I can only assume that the dietary habits of foxes haven’t changed much in the past half century.

Food of the fox in the Canberra District
DL McIntosh - CSIRO Wildlife Research
Published: 1963 Abstract

The stomach contents of 267 foxes from the Canberra District and 111 foxes from other localities, mainly in southern New South Wales, were examined. In the two years covered by the survey an additional 31 stomachs, 7.6 % of the total number, were found to be completely empty. The staple foods of the fox were sheep, mainly as carrion, and rabbit. Invertebrates, mainly insects of great taxonomic diversity, made up a large proportion of the diet during the warmer months. Birds and cold-blooded vertebrates did not figure prominently in the diet of the fox. The fox is an opportunist predator and scavenger utilizing foods which are abundant and easily obtainable at any particular time.

Full text doi:10.1071/CWR9630001

Very rare... Quolls seem to turn up in Canberra’s suburbs every few years as either a sighting in, or a road kill near, one of Canberra’s nature park network. Charnwood 2008, Oakey Hill near Lyons 2012 and recently near Fadden Pines in Gowrie. In all these environments the only competition species are the fox, dog, and cat with the later being both feral and roaming domestic.

I suspect most of the pictures and videos I capture will be of those local competitors as I’m using small meat baits. Not enough to feed a feral animal but enough to attract a quoll. I've had to put a bit of thought into the placement of these cameras in the Nature Park environment. I'm used to photographing in remote locations in Namadgi where the likelihood of anyone coming across the camera is virtually non existent. Anyway… the chances we take.

Quolls breed at this time of the year. It is when they are most socially active with males roaming much larger areas than their female counterparts’ territories mating multiple times. Gestation is about 21 days for a litter of 4 to 6 and the male has no part in raising offspring. Most other times of the year they are mostly solitary.

The beauty of these cameras is you set them, walk away and get on with life so we’ll see how we go over the next few weeks. I may be lucky enough to capture something if my assumptions of corridor travel are correct. If not we will have a small study on the feral animals of the Nature Park and nearby burbs.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Open Day At The Cotter Dam, June 2013

Another excellent Richard Snashall production... A last look by the public at the Enlarged Cotter Dam as it has reached completion with community comments from the participants on the day...

From the ACTEW YouTube Channel

"Visitors were given a once a lifetime treat at the Enlarged Cotter Dam Open Day, held on June 23, 2013. See if you were there!"

[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.]

I still think they should put another pub out there...

View Larger Map -

Monday, July 15, 2013

Winter views from Mount Kelly

For anyone interested in organised bushwalking in the ACT I cant praise John Evans highly enough. Out in all weathers and all terrains the information he records of Canberra’s wild places is unmatched. John’s website Johnnyboy’s Walkabout Blog is a wealth of information.

John' most recent excellent adventure was a group conquering the slopes of Mount Kelly in the ACT's south in showers & snow and recording a view from the summit. Mount Kelly is a mountain in Namadgi National Park in the southwest of the Australian Capital Territory. At about 1814m above sea level, Mount Kelly is the second highest mountain in the Australian Capital Territory.

For more information on organised bushwalking in the ACT

John's blog, YouTube Channel & Twitter

View Larger Map

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Red Hands Cave - Blue Mountains

An early start on a beautiful day and a chance taken to escape Canberra's chill. I had read of the Blue Mountain's strong links with Aboriginal heritage. I have wanted to visit a particular site of significance for a while... A walk in the Blue Mountains today near Glenbrook to Red Hands Cave...

From the signage: Red Hands Cave has great significance to all Australians today. While knowledge of the original meaning of the hands has been lost, they remain a link with the Aboriginal People who have lived on this continent for at least 40,000 years - an incredible 2000 generations.

Each hand represents a once living person, and most, if not all, were placed here before Europeans settled in the Blue Mountains. They are therefore an irreplaceable part of Australia's cultural heritage.

A first glimpse...

The securely protected cave...

A series of photos secured through the cage... (click to enlarge)

One rock in the central rear floor is coloured with ochre. Artist's palate?

An outstanding experience.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Three years

I recently had need after an email to revisit the first post on this blog. I realized then that this blog had been going for over 3 years.  It started on Wednesday, April 21, 2010 after a visit to the Aboriginal grinding grooves of Theodore.

Its been a journey in the discovery of Canberra's history, heritage and natural wonders. Simply started as a way to host photos and video and share what I researched. It has turned into a collection of 572 posts occasionally sprinkled with my opinions which have also brought on challenges..

Blogger only keeps stats of page views. The blog nowadays seems to range from 8,000 to 12,000 pageviews whether I post or not. Usually on searches for Canberra's history or wildlife.

It really is an erratic picture. If we get heavy rain in Canberra posts and videos I made of the 2010 floods increase in pageviews. Same with snow. Mentions of historical sites in the media etc..

So for what its worth here are the blogger stats for 3 years.

 The counter clicks over at 11am each day. These are the stats at 2 pm...

There are perennial posts that just get a steady stream of views. These were the top ones...

There are 9 static pages in the link bar...

Visitors have been predominantly Australian...

So there we have it... 3 years on davesact. I actually expect to be posting more in the near future as I embark on a quoll hunt in the region. I hope to get some photographic and video evidence of a viable population in the area. They are a rare thing in Canberra.


Friday, July 5, 2013

Tidbinbilla Lyrebird Song

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve abounds with Lyrebirds. They breed in the deep of winter. The males display their distinctive feathered tails and sing for mates. The Lyrebird is a ground dwelling bird with a unique call and ability to mimic other birds in its environment. In fact this amazing mimicking ability can extend to other domestic noises. I have heard recordings with lawnmower and chainsaw starter pulls from a bird in a south coast wildlife park.

Tidbinbilla of course lives up to its name as a nature reserve. The area I have been recording in the past few months consists of a natural gap between two hills about 6 km above the Rock Valley Homestead. The gap sits above an unnamed gully which in wet weather would be a tributary of the Tidbinbilla River. This is the scene. I have always liked the name of this gap probably named in the 19th century, ‘Devil’s Gap’. 

I set a camera and 2 recorders’ last Monday and left them there until today. As luck would have it all the necessary ingredients for a decent wildlife recording were present mid morning on Wednesday. No wind or foliage noise… no aircraft droning and a bird in full extended chorus prepared to virtually perform into the microphone…

This is a 5 minute recording of a Tidbinbilla Lyrebird in full song.

Just as an historical curiosity to perhaps read while listening the lyrebird was also considered a table bird and were hunted like pheasant. This old article is about hunting the Lyrebird and I suspect it was set just east of Queanbeyan. Its a gripping tale...

Queanbeyan Age and General Advertiser (NSW : 1864 - 1867), Thursday 8 September 1864

National Library of Australia

View Larger Map -

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Capital Woodland and Wetlands Conservation Trust

"The light is fading quickly, and you switch on your torch. There is a rustle in the undergrowth. It’s too small to be a kangaroo or a wallaby. You shine your torch in the direction of the sound. Then, from behind a log, a small bettong hops towards you – oblivious to your presence. It digs a little by your feet, and then scoots into the undergrowth. As you scan the open, grassy woodland with your torch you realise that you are surrounded! Bettongs are hopping all around, digging the soil, and scratching in the leaf litter. Smaller bandicoots run between them, searching for grubs and bugs.

The woodland is teeming with life, and you have just experienced something that no-one has experienced in Canberra for nearly 100 years."

From the Media Release...

The Trust goes live!

The Capital Woodland and Wetlands Conservation Trust (The Trust) has been established to ensure the Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary and Jerrabomberra Wetlands Nature Reserve are sustainably managed to provide rich and diverse environments for current and future generations. 

“The Trust’s new website showcases two of Canberra’s living environments while enabling the community, corporate sectors, local entrepreneurs, developers, and interested local residents an opportunity to support or become involved with these two reserves” said Max Bourke President of The Trust.

Two special places
The Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary and the Jerrabomberra Wetlands Nature Reserve together protect over 600 hectares of the Australian Capital Territory’s most significant landscapes. These reserves showcase the importance of environmental assets in our communities.

The Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary provides a safe haven, where healthy box-gum woodland can thrive and ‘wildness’ be experienced. It sustains a representative diversity of woodland plants and animals while inspiring respect for and understanding of the beauty, richness of species and ecological processes of Australia.

The Jerrabomberra Wetlands Nature Reserve is a species-rich urban wetland that provides an important refuge for migrating and other birds and is a place where you can enjoy and learn about the special characteristics of wetlands and birdlife within them.

The difference between these reserves and all others in the Territory is that they are in our backyard and they have an extremely focussed and intensive evidence based management system that is unique in Australia. Both these reserves have the potential to produce long term results in ways we have never managed to achieve before for the benefit of our children and our grandchildren.

“This is active science aimed directly at better scientific and conservation management for these sites and in similar natural areas in Australia” said Max Bourke.

The Trust is raising funds for a range of projects that are beyond the scope of normal government funding. In this way, Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary and Jerrabomberra Wetlands Nature Reserve will become outstanding locations for nature conservation, ecological research, innovative management, education and nature-based recreation.

You can get involved in supporting these nationally significant wetlands and woodlands to make sure they continue to provide habitat for a diverse range of birds and other animals and remain accessible to the wider community for generations to come

For more details go to or call Jill Faulkner Executive Officer, Capital woodlands and Wetlands Conservation Trust on 0428 224 904 or [email protected]


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...