Friday, February 1, 2013

The Black Mountain cave

Dave Wheeler, another Canberran interested in Canberra's history raised an interesting question. He contacted me asking if I had any knowledge of a cave on Black Mountain. It is not widely known but Canberra is built over a large formation of limestone caves some which affected the building of the National Library and early sewerage system. I have a post on Canberra's caves here.

The question of a, seemingly unknown cave on 'Black Hill' is raised by a man who at the turn of the 20th century was called 'The Father of Canberra' John Gale (1831-1929)(biowas the famous and well respected editor of the Queanbeyan age. In his book Canberra; Its history and its legends he writes a short passage describing a living room sized cave...

It is the respectability, incredible local knowledge and long life of Mr Gale that adds credence to this report.

Above is a picture of the eastern slope of Black Mountain today below the article and an eastern photo of Black Hill at the time of this Gale's book's publishing...

The research Dave has been doing has included recollections of his own Grandmother who remembered seeing John Gale when he was alive in the streets of Queanbeyan and a recollection from an old Canberra resident who claims the cave was deemed dangerous and sealed up in the early days of Canberra post 1913.

The description of having to enter on all fours indicates this cave entrance wasn't very big. Apart from the reported use of this cave as a hide out for escaped convicts, if it existed, I imagine it would have had a long aboriginal history worthy of an archaeological survey. There are many reports of Corroboree on the Black Mountain Penninsular. Who knows it maybe of the importance of Yankee Hat. I'm also wondering if in the bowels of government record vaults isn't reference of it closed for whatever reason and forgotten.

I'd be very interested in hearing from anyone who may have information regarding this supposedly sealed cave on the Eastern slopes of Black Mountain. Who said there weren't any mysteries in Canberra worth exploring. As a closing thought I'll mention it to Tim the Yowie Man... He loves a good mystery.