Monday, January 30, 2012


I'm a big fan of local film maker Richard Snashall's documentaries. In this video in his Alpine Stories series Richard interviews Dr Linda Broome, the world's leading authority on the rare Mountain Pygmy Possum (Burramys parvuswhich lives above the Australian snowline.

Interviewed at the Perisher ski resort (blue cow) they discusses the life cycle and habitat of the animal. Diet, ecosystem and the efforts being undertaken to preserve the species and the threats that they face today.

On a side note a different but similar species, the Eastern Pygmy Possum(Cercartetus nanuswas re-discovered in July last year in Namadgi National Park (post here). Both the Eastern and Mountain Pygmy Possum go into temporary hibernation during the winter. I think they are very similar but I'm sure there are many differences.

I present to you the Mountain Pygmy Possum Pt 1...

Richard's Youtube channel

If you like Richard's style he produced a series on Canberra's  history called the Stakeout of Canberra which I highly recommend also.


Sunday, January 22, 2012


Tonight, after the storms, was a very still evening in Namadgi and a perfect opportunity to do a little thermal "spotlighting" of a few marsupials. We arrived at Smokers Trail and decided to walk down an old forestry trail to a wide gully with a small un-named creek at the bottom. Lovely area.

How do I know that its an un-named creek? I'll digress enough to promote a map available at the Namadgi Visitors Center. Its called the Rooftop's Namadgi - ACT South Activities Map. For those technical its a 1:50,000 map with 20m contours.

It was also apparently compiled by a bloke that walked every walking track in the Australian Capital Territory with a GPS strapped to his head. It is double sided with the northern half on one side and the southern half on the other.

Anyway everything is marked, roads, tracks, walking trails and places of interest with a brief description. It also has point to point distance markers which is particularly useful. I can't recommend it highly enough but its only available at the visitors center. Cost about $12.

Back on track... I had noticed a few weeks ago pig diggings on the little flat below the Square Rock walking trail car park. I didn't think much of it until I read the TAMS media release on the success of their control program and I thought well not above Corin Forest...

“The latest data reveals that 9.6% of test plots set up in Namadgi showed some evidence of feral pig activity, down from 17.65% in 2008. These results demonstrate a significant and sustained reduction in both pig numbers and impact,” 

“Feral pig activity is monitored using 500 plots across Namadgi. The plots measure the amount of impact damage caused by pigs and gives an estimate of the population.

“This long term monitoring and evaluation program, which has been running since the mid-1980s, is essential to Namadgi’s evidence based management of introduced pests. Eradication is not feasible or possible, so control programs aim to achieve a sustained reduction in the damage caused by feral pigs" 

It was also reported by ABC News but a much better article was written in The Canberra Times. My thoughts... Well I don't think its a statistic that holds true with observation...

Back to last night... As we approached the creek we stopped in our tracks as a large black pig crossed the narrow track not 10m before us, It was followed a few seconds later by two more pigs. We were rooted to the spot and could hear the vegetation crash and watch it part as they made their way.

Thinking we were in the clear a succession of piglets then emerged to cross also. Two distinct sizes, obviously from different litters. All black except one brown one. Still fine until the final dawdling piglet spots us and starts squealing. At this time we then hear a large pig coming back. Crashing, swaying vegetation. The piglet at this point regained enough composure to run after its mother and meeting up resumed their previous and thankfully different course.

That was on nightfall. And it got me curious...

Later in the evening we decided to take the thermal vision gear to the place I had seen the diggings, the little flat at Square Rock car park where at 10 pm as well as 20 odd Kangaroos was the thermal shapes of at least 4 pigs happily rooting around. Both these locations are 5 or 6 kms apart.

Corin forest is signposted as being baited with 1080. So it must be one of the 500 test plots. From my experiences yesterday I can say that it's not very effective. Perhaps that's why they say "eradication is not feasible or possible". I think the success is over reported, at least around Corin.


Sunday, January 15, 2012


Just a ramble about Canberra’s bi-centenary. Although it is widely publicised that next year marks the 100th anniversary of Lady Denmen formally declaring Canberra as the Nation's Capital, it was however, first ‘discovered’ 92 years before that. By this reckoning Canberra turns 200 in 2021.

Now some will argue that Canberra did not exist before 1913 but I can reference dozens of articles referring to Canberra as Canberra decades before Lady Denman’s declaration.  Today’s Canberra has thousands of descendants from Canberra’s pre federation rural past and it is these families who lose out in some respects in depicting a true and accurate history of Canberra.

For the nation perhaps the unveiling of a stone in 1913 marked nationhood, the capitals centenary but as for Canberra itself it was just another milestone to an area with its origins in our colonial past. If you really want to be pedantic European colonisation was just a milestone in an ancient Ngambri past.

I’ve argued this point in the past about what the origin of the name Canberra is? From research I can tell you it is everything from ‘a woman’s breasts’, 'meeting place', to even a suggestion of an old man’s  ‘Canned berries’ and several others (just search naming on the right or my labels) but I think I know the true meaning and I think it can be derived by phonetics.

This is how I think it happened…
The traditional owners of the ACT are the Ngambri people. When the first settlers asked the name of the place they were told Ngambri. The first settlers called their first sheep station Canberry (the European phonetics). Canberry, Canburry, Kamberra, morphed through the St Johns church records into Canberra.
= phonetics:  Ngambri, Canberry, Canberra

That’s how simple I think it was for the name of Canberra to originate. Anyway…  I’ve drifted off on a tangent.  I’m not all that excited about the upcoming celebrations as I am sure most non Canberrans are either.

Canberra’s history is not all about Prime Minister Fisher, King O’Malley and Lady Denman and the foundation stones for a city. By that reckoning we shouldn’t really be celebrating till 2027 the centenary of Parliament’s opening in Canberra. That’s the nationhood stuff.

It has been a ramble but I think as a Canberra community we short change our selves by limiting our history to the ‘red bricks’ churned out by the Yarralumla brickworks. There is so much more…


Friday, January 6, 2012


Now to really bore everyone. I've been spending time in Namadgi National Park enjoying a new hobby of recording animal and bird noises.

It's a fairly simple procedure involving a voice activated recorder (the dictaphone type) an external lapel microphone and a little plastic for weatherproofing.

Depending on the amount of bird chatter and the quality (expense) of batteries used the recorder can run for around three days and can record anywhere between a minute of recording if there is not much activity and two and a half hours on a good session.

A piece of agricultural pipe protects the recorder and is fixed horizontally on a tree and the microphone leads to an upturned cup suspended as high as I can reach above the ground. I have managed to record some extended sound files of a few different native species who's calls seem to me to be more chorus like in the bush. No interfering noises from surrounding suburbs and a wider variety of species.

Having said all that this post is not about bird recordings. Its about two recordings that have me baffled. The first was recorded in November in the dead of night. Now everyone is going to think I'm nuts but the first recording involves what seems to be 'knocking' noises that must have been made by 'something'.

There are a series of loud knocks that sound, to me at least, like rocks or stones knocking together. Could be natural but having spent many, many nights over the years in the mountains I can't put my finger on the source. I have heard the 'cracking' of granite exfoliation (Rocks in the park peeling somewhat like an onion) in Namadgi, ,a distinctive sound, and trees and limbs fall but this is nothing like it. You may be able to identify it...

The second recording over New Years was just as weird but different... a tentative tampering of the microphone that was suspended 7 feet above the ground on a thin sapling (that wouldn't have supported a possums weight) and the unmistakable sound of 'breathing' into the microphone cup. I am interested in knowing what 7 foot tall animals we have with a delicate touch roaming the park...

Just seemed odd enough to perhaps be interesting...

Namadgi National Park comprises 106,095 hectares, over a thousand square kilometres, with some valleys and ravines not seeing humans for decades.

Now not to scare the kiddies but who really knows what's out there?  A friend of mine may have discovered a new glowing insect in a national park nearby. They fly, glow several colours and can (occasionally) be photographed on trail cameras taking pictures continuously every one second.

As yet though a commercial 'bug catcher' has been unsuccessful. CSIRO can't identify a glowing species there and can't help further without a specimen. Not everything is known of the mountains yet I am sure. It has a few secrets to reveal even in the 21st century. Anyway... the things I do to entertain myself.

Strange stuff happens in Namagi... Happy camping!

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Sunday, January 1, 2012


 This is a personal post. Nothing historical here...

Happy new year! 2012 a year before our capital's centenary. I took a real shine to learning Canberra's real history on April 21st 2010 when I visited the Aboriginal grinding grooves of Theodore. Things went from there...

For those of you who don't know I have had a lifelong struggle with Bipolar Affective Disorder Type 1. I live a calm medicated life today but it wasn't always that way. I digress... I do however still endure the fluctuations of mania and depression. It is always a plus when a mania co-insides with a normalish (is there such a word) activity of interest. So learning about Canberra's rich history has helped me through many high and low times in the past year and a half and I think it has been a beneficial experience.

However, apart from what pops up, I think I have earned my degree in Canberra history and feel a bit over rehashing the same knowledge to a new audience over and over. I didn't expect my private mania to blow out to 450 individual posts and I am gob-smacked at those past posts pulling 10,000 page views a month today. I have no way of maintaining the collection nor the inclination or will to do so. So I'll just leave them there for the school kids, it's time to move on.

 I spend a lot of time in the ACT bush. Not the nature reserves, the thick stuff. Three quarters of the ACT is National Park and I find because of the nature of the average Canberran I can find solitude in our high country. I have taken to making sound recordings of the forest and am intrigued at the various species of bird and animal I am able to record.

Harmless stuff but I have been enjoying travelling to more and more remote places. It really is a beautiful place to be. So I'm spending more time pouring over google maps, learning food sources and planning outings than trawling Trove. I think if you continue reading you will see a different ACT focus emerge on my blog.

I run into enough natural wonders today in the ACT to make that my new years focus. Just having this little fox stalk my sausages on nightfall for 15 minutes reminded me of the importance of what's happening in the present and that perhaps I dwelt too much on the past. Not healthy for me.

So always armed with a camera I might be able to open some's eyes to the magnificence of Canberra's Mountains. I will still report on what 'pops up' historically but it is no longer my passion. I am actually more interested today in the unreported Aboriginal wars.

I thought I owed readers here an explanation... I'll probably keep blogging (its a hobby) but the ACT focus has changed for me personally. Life's an adventure and I'm dragging myself away from the history books into the real world and hopefully I'll come across some interesting stuff this year to share on this blog.

Happy 2012... Cheers Dave.