Showing posts from 2014

New Years, Pigeon Club, Doves & Canberra Politics

Thought I'd blog.

Spending the break before New Years contemplating focus on the coming twelve months. It will be important politically for Canberra this year but I'll get to that..

Apart from the mundane my hobby is developing. This is the first year I'll be pitting my racing pigeons against the club flyers in Canberra which is a bit daunting when you see the dedication of the people in the Canberra Racing Pigeon Club.

People in the club have suggested I race my whites for a while. In fact the club has a dedicated 'white race' from Garlargambone NSW, a distance of over 500 km. My breeding stock are Busschaerts. An English racing strain. So the season should be interesting.

So.. The coming year will be interesting. I'd like to see a bit more attention shown towards the Canberra Racing Club. It really is a well run show with over 40 flying members willing to help new flyers & providing the catalyst for some great racing & social events.

My other interest …

Seasons greetings - onward to 2015

Merry Christmas!

As another year closes and we look forward to the challenges of 2015 I'd like to take the opportunity to wish everyone a wonderful holiday period and a productive & happy new year.

2014 has been a very busy year. One of my major projects was the development of a working 'dove flock' for my daughters' new Ceremonial Dove release business.

The flock consists of 30 pure white birds capable of release anywhere in Canberra and trained to fly home. This has been both a challenge and a pleasure & form the stock in trade of a new & unique micro-business in town.

The new year also indicates 5 years I've been jotting down notes on this blog. Although once prolific, nowadays I only post a few times a month as things that interest me arise.

Perhaps in 2015 I'll be inspired to write more but my time away from the computer is far more valuable to me today than ever. Perhaps it's age.

So seasons greetings. To the regular readers thanks for coming …

John Gorton Hotel

Opportunity abounds. Wonderful heritage building abandoned for newer pastures looking for new life.

Or at least that's what it seems like. Pretty impressive address.

John Gorton Building set to be Canberra's newest phantom office block - via @smh The Phantom John Gorton Building

Archaeological dig on Springbank Island

Springbank Island in Lake Burley Griffin wasn't always an island.

It was the original high ground on the Molonglo River floodplain that is now Canberra's centrepiece water feature and beyond its association with local Aboriginal culture was also the site of a pioneer homestead called Springbank.

The Canberra Times has an interesting article about an upcoming archaeological survey of the island hoping to uncover the secrets of its past.

A little info I wrote up a few years ago..


How a homestead became an island.

Now mostly underneath the water of Lake Burley Griffin sits the first rural property in today's Australian Capital Territory. In October 1831 John MacPherson (1833 - 1894) (bio here) was granted 640 acres (258 hectares) of river flats of the Molonglo River and Black Mountain plus a large portion now occupied by the Australian National…

Search for the cave on Black Mountain

This is an update to a search for the now mythical cave on Black Mountain Canberra. Researched and written by Dave Wheeler, Author of 'A Canberra Boy'.

The most tantalising clue to the caves existence is an inclusion in John Gales Book.

I have deleted my original copy since Dave's subsequent update. It's a fascinating search and his research is tantalising.

Dave Wheeler's Search for the cave on Black Mountain

Pigeons on Instagram

Not a Canberra related post.

A few days ago I decided to upload a few photos from my iPhone to Instagram. Mostly of my racing pigeons and doves. After tagging the photos with pigeon racing related hashtags I discovered an amazing world of pigeon racers and fanciers.

What is particularly interesting was most of the new followers speak and write Arabic. I had no idea that pigeon racing & fancy breeding was so popular in the Middle East.

They say a picture paints a thousand words and the like button and the thumbs up symbol seem to cross the language barriers and the pigeon liberations in desert scenes are outstanding. Also interesting is the promotion over there of European bloodlines. It seems Belgium still exports a lot of birds.

If there was one thing I would suggest to the Instagram app's development would be a built in translator. Probably because I am there for the birds not the politics.

My Instagram account is named DRR63 and can be found at


The name of Canberra's Lake

Lake Burley Griffin is turning 50.

I remember my mothers tale of my arrival at the Old Canberra hospital on a stormy night when the flooded Molonglo River nearly saw my birth at Duntroon. Her reminiscence of the views in 1963 of the new lake filling from the hospitals windows were inspiring.

Debate has today erupted after 50 years sparked today by a Canberra Times Article - New wave of debate over name change of Lake Burley Griffin.

For the record and not that I've pondered it too deeply, have always thought Burley Griffin was hyphenated. Apparently it's not. The giveaway for me should have been his wife's name, Marion Griffin, obviously lacking a Burley.

I'm not going to enter into the debate which I expect will be a vigorous one. Lake Griffin? Lake Menzies? If I was to offer a suggestion we should name it Lake Onyong.

Elm Grove's next stage

Reading in the Sydney Morning Herald about the next stage in the long history of Elm Grove. Restored Canberra property to host weddings. For those looking for a unique venue with a lot of character this is some information I compiled a few years ago on the history of the property along with a Richard Snashall video compiled in his series the Stakeout of Canberra...

Bordering today's northern suburbs of Canberra is a working remnant of Canberra's pastoral history, "Elm Grove". This fine merino wool property was established by James Gillespie next to his parents 1852 property "Horse Park" when he and his wife Isabella built a timber cottage on Portion 186 Parish of Goorooyarroo in 1882.

James was a well known personality in the Ginninderra district and he was involved in the establishment of the nearby Mulligan's Flat School (post here). He also wrote a regular news article titled "Ginninderra Notes" for the Goulburn Evening Penny Post under th…

ACTEW Graffiti

ACTEW Water's Youtube channel have a couple of impressive time lapse videos of Canberra infrastructure being given a make over with some art. Thanks Graffik.

"The Yamba Drive Water Pump Station gets a makeover from our friend Graffik. Amazing before and after shots of the Pump Station."

"The City West emergency sewer storage facility gets a make-over from our friend Graffik. Some excellent footage of before and after."

Simply Doves

Blatant plug for my Daughters' fledgling ceremonial Dove Release business..

I'm very proud of them. As young Canberra entrepreneurs they discovered a rewarding niche market, developed the supply and infrastructure & created a self supplying micro-business without any outside funding.

They plodded along with little reward and developed a flock of 'squeakers' I had bred for them and they trained the birds to fly from anywhere in Canberra. The flock is healthy and easily fit to fly the lazy 20 or 30 kilometres from the extremities of the city or anywhere in the Australian Capital Territory needing a ceremonial release excluding Peregrine falcon territory west of the Murrumbidgee River. (Namadgi).

It's been a 12 month road for them that has seen their working flock grow enough for more frequent and larger releases servicing weddings, funerals, functions & events. This has required dedicated and consistent training regimes and many unpaid hours of care and patienc…

Canberra's first Solar Farm goes live

Bit of technological history in the making. The 1st solar farm for Canberra goes live tomorrow.

The Royalla farm sports 83,000 panels and the opening will be attended by the Spanish Foreign Minister, Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo.

A second farm looks likely to be approved at Hume consisting of 53,000 panels. The Canberra Times has an interesting piece on the project. Canberra's second solar farm poised for approval as the first goes live.

Wallaby punch up

A series of 21 photos in a video slideshow. The images were taken over several minutes recently in Brindabella National Park.

Two red-necked wallabies engage in battle in front of the camera's infra-red light. The motion activated camera was set to take 1 picture with a one second delay between reset. The time stamps tell the story...

What's lurking in the Brindabellas?

Tim the Yowie Man recently stirred my memory to a video I captured in Namadgi in 2012.

Tim found a series of footprints in fresh snow in a locked off area of Namadgi recently which left him wondering about their origin.

Tim the Yowie Man's Bigfoot

All I can say to you Tim is sometimes when you think your alone in the bush you may not be. Or is this the owner of your footprints?

My comment on YouTube:

"First posted this video on another channel some time ago (2012). I want to include it here. I have often pondered this short clip. Probably viewed it thousands of times. I have also wished the quality was better, that I had set the video time longer and that the late afternoon sun was better. It is what it is.

As a backstory I arrived late afternoon on foot after a 1 km walk. I knew where I was going to hang the camera so literally arrived and spent two minutes securing the camera to a tree overlooking a well used animal track, turning it on and leaving.

I returned two weeks lat…

City to the Lake

A Canberra Times article titled 'Government considers geothermal technology to heat Lake Beach' which in it's self is a fascinating addition/concept.

More so the article hosts the promotional video with an overview of the project.

I have to admit it's probably the most exciting local endeavour I've seen in this town probably in my life. Worth a look. It's going to change how we use this town...

Canberra Times Article - Geothermal lake pool

This is the ACT government youtube fly-over..

Note on remote wildlife photography

One of the hobbies I enjoy is videoing & photographing wildlife in the wild setting. Preferably while I'm not there.

It really is an inexpensive & easy process. I'm looking for the unusual or rare and interactions devoid of human influence. I've been doing it for about 4 years often leaving the camera's and audio recorders out for weeks, even several months at a time.

Periodically I post images and video of what is captured after sifting through sometimes thousands of photographs and short videos to find interesting images and behaviours. Things that interest me at any rate like quolls, feral densities, mating behaviours and even the odd well contested wallaroo punch up.

Because I often get questions after these occasional social media offerings, and as I picked up a camera that had been out 2 months I'm reviewing, I thought I might get the jump on the two most commonly asked questions.

1. Equipment. Ltl Acorn camera. $130 eBay. There are better brands with muc…

Old Hume Sawmill video - Brindabella

Out along Dr's Flat road in Brindabella National Park is a small sign saying 'Hume Sawmill 1949'.

I have driven past this sign many times often wondering what it led to. Wonder no more.

Literally a few metres behind the sign in the overgrown scrub is the remnants of an old bush sawmill complete with the bullet hole ridden shell of a 1930's vintage utility/truck.

It's a small area of discarded ruin and difficult to imagine how it would have operated from the archaeology left rusting. I took a bit of video. From another era...

Canberra's bicentenary

One of the things about Canberra that puzzles me is the apparent memory loss of the near century of occupation before Lady Denman proclaimed Canberra as Australia's new national capital in 1913.

We have just finished a year long celebration of Canberra's first hundred years as a capital city but it may interest people to know in regard to the area's discovery we are approaching our historical second centenary.

The Sydney Morning Herald - 9 May 1927

National Library of Australia

So just food for thought. May 23, 2023 marks 200 years since Canberra's official discovery.

Having said all that it is also noted that : "The first Europeans into the area were Joseph Wild, James Vaughan and Charles Throsby Smith who discovered the Limestone Plains upon which modern day Canberra is sited. The following year Dr Charles Throsby reached Tuggeranong and two years later (1823) Joshua Moore's Canberry station was established."

In fact I think the latter true of North Canberra …

A bridge for Point Hut crossing.

Just a date for the building of the bridge over the Point Hut low level crossing in Southern Canberra.

This crossing over the Murrumbidgee links southern Tuggeranong with the western side of the river saving the longer journey to the south via the Tharwa bridge.

Goulburn Evening Penny Post , Thursday 8 February 1923

National Library of Australia

The cave on Black Mountain

Remaining unresolved is the question of a 'living room' sized cave on 'Black Hill' mentioned by a man who at the turn of the 20th century was called 'The Father of Canberra'. John Gale (1831-1929) was 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...

This cave's location is today not publicly known, if at all. Rumour indicates it was sealed up in the early years of Canberra's development and one can only wonder how the entrance may have been blocked.

What is today known is the Black Mountain Peninsular was a well known riverside corroboree ground. An archaeological survey of this cave would be interesting. The corroborees were happening for a long time before we got here.

Posted about this at the beginning of last year so for new readers... A friend of mine, Dave Wheeler, researches the story. I will pass on any informati…

Curiosity killed the cat

Tidbinbilla feral cat.

An interesting article reporting the prospect of a national eradication program for the feral cat using 'curiosity' baits.

My understanding is the small sausage shaped baits contain lethal pellets unlikely to be consumed by other wildlife though the impact on marsupial carnivores seems undecided.

I'm all for doing something about feral cats. It's an interesting report via the Sydney Morning Herald

Poem in the Coree cairn

The story of a poem in a bottle.

Interesting tale of a poem hidden under a survey cairn atop Mount Coree on the ACT western ranges.

Message in a bottle from a time when Canberra was young...

The Canberra Times 9 September 1969.
National Library of Australia

Quolls for Mulligans Flat

The reintroduction of Quolls.

An article from the Canberra Times reporting the release of Eastern quolls into the enclosed reserve of a Mulligans Flat Sanctuary in Northern Canberra. The Canberra area is already home to the rare tiger quoll. In fact there was a road kill last year in suburban Tuggeranong.

For the full story I recommend reading the article...

Dr Adrian Manning to reintroduce eastern quolls at Mulligans Flat.

Plans for Hill Station Homestead

I have a soft spot for this historic Canberra homestead.

This interest is probably because I have watched the industrial suburb of Hume envelope Hill Station over 30 years. The property was restored in the 1980s and was developed into a function centre/ restaurant of some note.

I actually missed this Canberra Times Article from April. The plans for restoration of the Hill Station Homestead in Hume.

I still think there is a golden opportunity in this unloved building. It will be interesting who takes advantage

The issue of slow breeding Kangaroos

I will be directing any further correspondence about the matter to this page.

Recently, and to my puzzlement, after expressing an opinion on the annual Kangaroo cull, several times admittedly, I have received more than normal correspondence questioning my questioning of the methodology of determining cull numbers. If your not interested turn off now.

I'm going to make it as clear as possible where my thinking is coming from. This is not a political post because I am not a political type but it does contain a political adjournment speech by a greens member.

Apparently my fault has been the actual questioning of a small part of the methodology of calculation used to determine the numbers of the cull, that of reproductive rates and the public misconception that "they breed like rabbits".

I'm not even saying don't cull in preservation of grasslands but I question this myth of yearly population explosion here, and although not relevant to the ACT, the economic lie that …

The state of Dave's ACT

I'm taking the time tonight to mark a bit of a milestone for this weblog which won't probably happen for 24-48 hours but I will be busy.

A bit of a ramble covering 4 years and a recent turnover of 500,000 page views.

Back in 2010 when I first started posting to this blog it was simply to share photos and video & jot a few notes. At the time I had sold a small property in the mountains I lived on for a few years and upon returning was keen to revisit or learn of interesting historical sites, old stories and what was to become a large collection of Canberra centric National Library heritage newspaper clippings.

All the clippings and video are cited to the source although there may be oversights but they would be rare I expect. It used to worry me I was perhaps breaking some copyright law but in due time the blog was indexed by Pandora so I suppose it is not an issue.

I'll also make comment on the thousands of links displayed over the years. It is impossible to check, maint…

Blundell's Cottage protests.

An interesting recent Canberra Times article mentioning the protests by Canberrans to successfully prevent the destruction of the building last century. Blundell's cottage - Built in history, nestled in time.

Something I wrote in 2010...

"This small stone cottage was built about 1860 as a home for workers on the Duntroon Estate. The stone is the same as that used in St John's Church and Schoolhouse, locally quarried from Black Mountain and Mount Ainslie. A number of families lived in the cottage over the hundred years it was occupied. Located on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra, the cottage is historically significant as the structure dates back to 1860 and is perhaps the last remaining building of that time along the banks of what is now Lake Burley Griffin but what was once the Molonglo River.

The cottage was part of the 32,000 acre Duntroon Estate owned by Robert Campbell (1769 - 1846) (bio here).Ploughman William Ginn and his family were the first to live in…

Look out for illegal yabbie traps in ACT Waterways

I mentioned this last August in Call to report illegal ACT fishing.

The Canberra Times reports Anglers warned to look out for illegal tabby traps.

Put simply these funnel traps are certain death for platypus. They are submerged and are designed for yabbies to crawl in through a funnel that collapses at the 'ring' opening so that access is easy whilst exit is impossible. For an air breathing monotreme entering for a meal of captured crustacean this is certain death from drowning.

These traps are, and sensibly so, illegal in the Australian Capital Territory. Local waterways and our upper reaches of the Murrumbidgee are prime, and in a lot of cases recovering, habitats for Platypus.

Anyway... At the time of the August post I mentioned to the goodly Minister of the time the daftness of allowing these traps to be sold in ACT stores. From memory I was fobbed off politely.

Once again I'm not going to get hung up on it but these things are available here to kids for under 10 bucks. It…

Namadgi National Park from the air

I liked this.

Just a link to a short video that popped up in my email alerts for Namadgi from the Canberra Times media section. A bit of a window into the plains and valleys of the ACT's highlands. I'd like to see a longer version.

The Canberra Times media section link.

ACT Doves

It's satisfying to know that something you enjoy doing, a hobby so to speak, has a value and a market.

For me this has turned out to be pigeons. Not road peckers mind. These pigeons have been chosen for their bloodlines & characteristics & are capable of flying hundreds of kilometres to find & return to their home loft.

My Dad kept pigeons and I today have a small racing flock of coloured pigeons and although some are valuable to me & racing folk they hold no commercial value as a product.

At my daughters' request, I undertook the work & expense to set-up a breeding flock to provide a flock of brilliantly white birds for their new ceremonial dove release business located here in Canberra.

In the process a system was designed and implemented and 2 breeding lofts house 15 pairs producing starter flocks of 20-30 young un-homed birds genetically capable of fulfilling the requirements of a ceremonial release bird.

Without waffling too much I had planned to sell any…

An update on Hill Station Homestead

Inspired by an article from the Canberra Times describing the disgraceful deterioration of a majestic heritage property surviving in what is now a southern Canberra industrial suburb.

What is sad is the building would suit any number of commercial activities seeking a unique environment to operate . This is some information I collected on the buildings history in 2010. This building has been left unused a long time now...

"The main homestead building of Hill station dates back to circa 1909 but the property was part of the 1830s rural expansion in the district. Hill Station is recorded as an entity in 1862.

Driving through the front entrance you see a large homestead and a small hut to the side. The single-room hut was erected around 1862 with later additions including a second room, window frames and a floor of bricks made at the Yarralumla Brickworks.

The main homestead was built in 1910. Hill Station was part of the larger Woden Station holdings. Three members of parliament have…

Boer War Aboriginal soldier

A note about a nearby area.

Interesting article from the ABC reporting calls for the recognition of Indigenous servicemen of the Boer War in South Africa. One soldier has been Identified from Braidwood...

"Another man, who went by the name Jack Bond or John Alick, is believed to be of Aboriginal descent from the Braidwood area just outside Canberra..."

The full ABC article


ACT’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body

Important that this is publicised I think...

"Candidate nominations for the ACT’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body election will officially open on Monday.

Polling for the elections will begin on Saturday July 5, coinciding with the start of NAIDOC Week celebrations in the ACT..."

The full Canberra Times article...

Royal connection

My royal credentials are impeccable for a colonial commoner. I saw the Queen as a young soldier assigned to guard the cavalcade vehicles during CHOGM in 1981. The experience became something I have in common with Bob Menzies... "I did but see her passing by..."

A few years later I also saw the young Prince William I recall on his Mother Diana's hip albeit on a news report... perhaps in the paper.

And here we are 30 years later and I am again aware of the fervour only a monarchical arrival can generate. That toddler from the 80's is now 2nd in line for our future Head of State and he has his own future Head of State on hip securing our British Heritage for generations to come. I for one sleep better at night knowing there are three blue-blood Englishmen lined up to continue our constitutional future.

Another thing is that whilst the Royal couple enjoy the luxuries of Yarralumla they are only 10 kms from my suburban castle. I know this because I toss pigeons from the su…

A tale of abandoned New Years pigeons.

I just housed 30 pigeons of dubious breed that were rescued by the RSPCA and WIRES.

In early march I read a story about 120 white birds released in Burwood Park in Sydney around the time of Vietnamese New Year. Ten of them were housed at a friends loft down the road.

Daily Telegraph Article.

I had read in some cultures that a release of a white dove or pigeon is a lucky thing during New Years celebrations. Individuals and families pay for a bird to be released on their behalf. So 120 pigeons times $X amount. Not a bad day's stop in a park.

The concept is fine except for in this case the pigeons I suspect strongly had never flown and as such had never been trained to home. What's really ridiculous is if the men releasing these birds had the right breed that had been homed they could have sold a release of the same bird every year for the life of the pigeon.

Another thing I know is though when re homing pigeons is, when offered in large numbers in Sydney & Melbourne, they are us…

Report illegal firewood collection

I think this is important...

One of the remarkable things about Canberra and the whole of the Australian Capital Territory is the beauty of its Nature Reserves & National Park.

I am reminded of ACT Parks head Brett McNamara's comment that "We manage people. The park manages itself."

ACT Government Press Release

Released 11/04/2014

The ACT Government today urged members of the public to report the illegal collection of firewood from reserves and other public areas, after several separate incidences of trees being cut down in nature reserves.

"Our nature reserves protect many threatened plant and animal species and are for people to enjoy so it is always disappointing when rangers find trees cut down," Ranger in Charge of ACT Parks and Conservation Service Murrumbidgee River Corridor, Shelley Swain, said.

"Unfortunately several times this year our rangers have found trees cut down in our nature reserves and on other public lands. Sadly, some people are unawar…