Showing posts from June, 2011


This post is a continuation of a post Pioneers graves - Nass Bridge, another clipping. It should be read first to fully understand this news clipping. Note that Nass River was a part of the De Salis property Cuppacumbalong and not all burials were at the Desalis cemetery. It should further be noted that the Cuppacumbalong cemetery at Tharwa is not the Tharwa cemetery.

The Tharwa cemetery is a private affair for the community. It is located well away from the village on private land and in my opinion is best left alone at peace overlooking the Murrumbidgee.

As this article suggests the Emanuelsons were not the bodies removed from Nass to Tharwa but those of Micheal Herbert of Nass and two grandchildren. This leaves me with the question where are the Emanuelsons buried or were they ever buried in the area at all? Anyway... The first post did however spur me to discover the location of the Tharwa cemetery and the second learn the tragic tale of the Nass Herberts...

The Canberra Times - S…


I like these old poems.

One for the fishermen... a Queanbeyan (I presume) resident's 1917 poem dedicated to an experience whilst fishing for trout on the streams around Tidbinbilla. Fishing was a popular pastime in Canberra whether residents were casting for fish, dynamite fishing or fishing for dingos.

Queanbeyan Age and Queanbeyan Observer 
Tuesday 30 January 1917

National Library of Australia


I have a new interest... developed because I have found that searching YouTube provides very little information on 19th century Canberra heritage. This I think is surprising as surely people must take videos when they visit these places. Apparently not in Canberra. My new interest will give me fresh reasons to get out and about and walk the dog...

If you would like to follow along I will post the videos here of course or you can subscribe to my YouTube channel here. If you are new to Canberra's 19th century history you can brush up with a few older posts from the past 12 months organised alphabetically usually with keywords in the title in the archive



Out of all the characters in Canberra's history my favourite is undoubtedly King O'Malley. One of Canberra's advocates in the capital's selection process and Minister for Home Affairs at Canberra's inception I admire the grand visions he expressed for a Canberra of the future.

The newspaper clipping below is a letter to the editor re: naming the Federal city dated 1913. Written before the announcement by Lady Denman of the name 'Canberra' the writer unaware of the name is critical of this 'King of Australia' and entertains the reader with his thoughts.

To understand the sentiment in the article a little better a bit of info about him...

From the Wikipedia article. (highly recommended)
Historian Gavin Souter describes O'Malley: "O'Malley's monstrously overgrown persona seemed to be inhabited simultaneously by a spruiker from Barnum's three-ring circus, a hell-and-tarnation revivalist, and a four-flushing Yankee Congressman. He was a…


This letter to the editor dated 1932 suggested the erection of three granite memorials. One for the City of Canberra's place of discovery near Duntroon, One at Pine Island in Canberra's south and a possible final one at Isabella's Plain at Tuggeranong.

Firstly I like memorials to significant events and people. I like reading their brass plates and discovering the place's European history. I can stand at Botany Bay at the point of Cook's landing and read the 'plate' or signage.

I can go to the 'Hovell tree' at Albury where the explorers Hume and Hovell carved their names on a tree on 17th Nov 1824 and know this because I can definitively locate the place and read the hopefully informative signage.

Fredrick Watson of Gungahleen gives us some pretty good reasons why the aforementioned Canberra places are significant, names the men associated and suggested erecting granite memorials. I could only find a few links to the main player's bios. Joseph Wi…


The two articles below relate to the today very rare Tiger Cat or Tiger Quoll or Spotted Tailed Quoll as we like to call them here in Canberra. The first written after the second relates to a time before Federation when the marsupial was apparently abundant and the collective attitude of the day towards the carnivore sought its eradication.

That 19th century attitude, still practised in the 1950's, seemed not only to persist to a by then rare species but also extended to another marsupial in the local area, the Rock Wallaby. Today of course the Southern Brush-tailed Wallaby is officially declared as locally extinct in the Australian Capital Territory.

The wonderful habitat of Tidbinbilla is today however again being used for a breeding program to help save another population in the Grampians of Victoria and the ACT government announced in February the birth in the wild of a Joey from a mother bred at Tidbinbilla.
The second article written in 1936 tells the tale of a trapped Q…


A lovely old article written 13 years after the founding of Canberra as the name of Australia's new national capital in 1913. Quite some debate raged however as to the meaning of the name Canberra. Today of course the generally accepted meaning is 'meeting place' which is highly significant in that federal parliament resides within Canberra's parliamentary triangle.

Anyway there was a lot of conjecture and varying opinion as to its meaning. The head, a woman's breasts, a corroberee ground, meeting place and even canned berries. This newspaper clipping from 1927 seems to summarize the arguments quite well. You can make your own mind up...

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Other posts on Canberra's name - Naming of Canberra -  Canberra origin - Naming of Canberra - Old canberry's berries - The name Canberra and the bloke who appears to have organised it all King O'Malley.


To fully understand the context of this post I would suggest reading 'Queen' Nellie Hamilton for some background info - There are also mentions of Nellie - Ngambri ACT's traditional owners? and the Naming of Canberra
Nellie Hamilton, known by the residents of the Limestone plains as 'Queen Nellie', was described as the last of her race (last full blooded) when she died in Queanbeyan in 1887. I have tried to sift the little information I can find about this 19th century Aboriginal woman and what I have found is contained in the links above.

Nellie was a remarkable woman who I have often described as Canberra's first Aboriginal activist. I think she gives a glimpse of the true impact of European settlement on the traditional owners of Canberra. I put Nellie as being a child when the first explorers came through in 1822. She would have experienced the sudden appearance in the late 1830's through t…


I love these old ghost stories from early Canberra. The two 'reputable citizens' in this clipping that witness the apparition must have been quite convincing because apparently  it caused quite a flap in Canberra...

I have found before a story about a Canberra ghost called the 'winged spectre of Red Hill' dating back to 1886 so was surprised to discover that this Adelaide newspaper was claiming Canberra's first ghost as being in 1930. Even if after reading the lengthy  Red Hill Spectre story and discovering that it really wasn't a ghost at all the claim still cannot be made of it being Canberra's first ghost as there is always Yarralumla's blackfellow ghost from the late 1800's to take the ribbon.

Something I have noticed with these old news clippings from around this time is a general fervour of the national papers to publish just about anything to do with the new fledgling 'city'. Things like possum hunts, brown snakes in Civic and even …


Canberra is I think very lucky in that most people are in walking distance, if not a short drive, from a nature reserve. Most allow dogs on a leash and I travel to a variety within a short distance of my home in order to do just that. One small oasis of nature not far from home is a small knoll called Simpson's Hill...

I'm not sure if it is a part of the Canberra Nature Park but if  it is, it is somehow a forgotten part if the noxious weeds allowed to flourish are to go by. 

Wikipedia under it's Suburb of Chisholm entry describes Simpson's Hill in the suburbs of Canberra thus:

"Chisholm and Gilmore are separated by Simpson's Hill, which provides some wilderness with walking tracks over it, popular for walking dogs."

That appears to be the only information I can find on the Internet about this little Canberra remnant of native habitat.

The summit seems the home of birds, a few eucalyptus and an old kurrajong tree. The kurrajong's sturdy limbs support …


I was walking my dog 'Scruff' on Macarthur Hill in Tuggeranong the other day when I noticed an old, and rare for Canberra, Kurrajong tree growing on the top of the western slope. Lovely to see. In march it was reported that an old tree had been cut down with an axe in an act of mindless vandalism further south (post here) which highlighted the importance of these old slow growing trees from a heritage aspect.

The sight of one of these fine trees is not all that remarkable until I noticed the three smaller trees, obvious offspring, growing nearby and a smaller established sapling growing just down the hill.

The Kurrajong tree being sparsely distributed and indeed often solitary was not generally cleared for grazing because its reputation as a 'fodder' tree was well known and the tree was an asset to graziers during periods of extended drought. This being the case unfortunately the Kurrajongs germinated seedlings were also a tasty morsel for stock reducing natural repro…


A video from ABC News describing the re-discovery of a drawing by the designer of Canberra, Walter Burley Griffin, a hundred years ago. Canberra historian David Headon found the lost annotated legend of Canberra titled the 'View from the Summit of Mount Ainslie' after it's disappearance from the original collection of 16 drawings 80 years ago.

When I was working for Hansard in the early 1980's, on a trip to the now extinct Government Printing Office, I once 'discovered' a near original set of leather bound, gold embossed with 'second reporter' federation hansards. They had been stored in an unused toilet in cardboard boxes.

The area had become damp and going unnoticed for what I suspect was a very long time many were damaged. It leaves me wondering what else is sitting 'lost' in the vaults of government departments in Canberra...



This photo is of a gum tree that grows at the end of my childhood street in Canberra. It's an old tree and not all that different from any other of it's species on the slopes of Mount Taylor however this tree is significant.

Not because it was a tree we climbed and built tree houses in as children but that (as I found out later in life) it had been scarred by the original Aboriginal people of the region prior to or only shortly after European discovery in 1822.

The scars were produced by skillfully cutting the desired shape with an axe (stone and after settlement steel) and stripping the bark from the tree in a sheet to be fashioned into what we would refer to as either a Coolomon or Wira (vessel or a container) or sheilds, canoes, baby carriers and, I am sure, many other general use items produced by the practice. Once the bark was removed the living 'heartwood' of the tree died leaving the enduring scar on an otherwise completely healthy tree that remains today. Depe…