Wednesday, December 24, 2014

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 back. To anyone new It's a generally unplanned work in progress. Let's see what 2015 holds.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

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

Monday, November 3, 2014

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 University. This date makes John MacPherson and family the first resident landholders and their son John Alexander (bio here) the first European boy born on the Limestone Plains.

McPherson's grant was disputed by a neighboring landowner Joshua John Moore (1790 - 1864). Moore wrote to Robert Hoddle the Government Surveyor:'I beg leave to inform you that I am desirous of retaining the 1,000 acres (404 hectares) already in my possession. It is called and known by the name Canburry.' It was agreed that Moore retain the ridge and the name Canburry for his land, whilst the basin be shared with MacPherson.

Springbank was sold to the Kaye family in 1844. The Kaye family moved to Springbank, taking over the existing farm and buildings. The Kaye family moved in 1855 from the Springbank home to a house near the present day Hotel Canberra and in 1888 'Springbank' was sold to the Sullivan family. Canberry Creek which ran through the property was renamed Sullivans Creek after William Sullivan (1829-1911). In 1910 the government resumed 'Springbank' for the new national capital.

In 1914, Sydney Stock and Station Agents Gair, Sloane and Co. valued Springbank at 10,000 pounds and 10 shillings and gave a detailed valuation of Springbank's freehold land: The property comprised of 1,955 acres (791 hectares) of freehold land described as 115 acres (46 hectares) arable flats, 53 acres (21 hectares) as dark soil, 570 acres (230 hectares) wheat land and the remaining 1217 acres (492 hectares) as grazing land. The property also included Homestead Buildings, Yards, Cow Bails, Piggery, Buggy-shed, Woolshed, yards and three dams, eleven hundred willow trees and an orchard. The alluvial flats were on the Molonglo River.

The soil was described as 'rich dark alluvial friable and fertile loam about 12 feet (3.7 m) deep, resting on a gravel bed, providing good draining – liable to be inundated by the overflow water from the Molonglo River annually, leaving a rich deposit of alluvium, rendering it admirably suited for the growth of lucerne and corn and comparing favourably with a great deal of the Hunter River land. The roots of the lucerne penetrate down to the perennial water supply which percolates through the underlying porous bed from the River and from the Creek flowing through the centre of this area, providing natural irrigation in the dryest season – this creek has never been known to run dry'. The arable flats on the property were valued then at 30 pounds per acre.

From 1913 until 1924 the farm was occupied by the Cox family. The Kaye family returned in 1924 until 1961: in 1963 the family sold the farm assets upon the filling of Lake Burley Griffin.

The homestead of the property was on the high ground that now forms Springbank Island in modern day Lake Burley Griffin. Springbank Island (if you can get to it) is an island within Lake Burley Griffin named after the 'Springbank Property'. The Island has a jetty at its southern end and barbecue and toilet facilities, shelter, and a few lights at its northern end. The perimeter of the Island is lined with trees. The Island is quite bare. There is a two-burner electric barbecue situated on the western side of the Island. There is access to fresh water on the Island. Camping on the Island is not permitted.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

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

Sunday, October 19, 2014

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

Probably won't be of any interest to you unless you particularly like birds. It does however contain my first ever, and probably last ever, selfie if you want to know what I look like.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

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.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

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 the pseudonym “The Wizard”.  For 40 years this column strengthened community development and political activism in the Ginninderra region and today provides a unique record of district events.

James lived on Elm Grove until he died in 1926 and Isabella until her death in 1938. Harold Gillespie (1890- 1974), their son, worked the property until his death in 1974. In 1986 Mr and Mrs Carmody purchased the lease from the Gillespie family. 

YouTube introduction: "The first part of a program that looks at the history of Canberra before it became Australia's capital. How many of us stop to think about what was here before the nation's capital. Here we visit Elm Grove, one of the ACT's only surviving sheep properties that has been owned by two families in 160 years. Presented by Richard Snashall, with funding from the ACT Heritage unit".

View Larger Map

Monday, September 8, 2014

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."

Thursday, September 4, 2014

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 patience but they can now openly service a Canberra market 7 days a week during daylight hours with a reliable, professional service.

The business is called 'Simply Doves' because that's all they do. No butterflies or balloon releases which, after loss & deflation, harm wildlife. Just pure white beautiful doves.

They have a website

One release they have planned in a few weeks interests me. A promotional photo shoot at the National Arboretum. A release of 20 birds with the function centre as a backdrop. Mystery releasor. Should be some interesting photographs. I'd say it's never been done there before.

If there's one thing that gives the girls' birds an advantage over some operators is the quality of the birds. I bred them from interstate racing stock. All the parents are Australian registered racing birds. Their offspring could fly from Bourke as sure as Belconnen.

I wish the girls the best. Personally I'll stick to breeding my racers. Mixing European imports with (suspected) old Australian racing breeds. It's about developing a family of fast birds. I have hopes for this fine fellow. I'm a bit like Darwin. I find the breeds mixed colour variations interesting but it's all in the genes whether they are fast or not.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

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.

Monday, August 25, 2014

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...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

What is 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 later, picked up the camera and discovered a 'head' leaning into frame in the video of me leaving. I have had many opinions offered over time from, person in balaclava, pig hunter to yowie. All I can say is I was confident I was alone, it was not me returning and it haunted me for a while."

It doesn't worry me any more but I must admit to being more wary on my wanderings. Don't panic Canberra. I'm not saying we have a plague of yowies but something to ponder next time your bushwalking...

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..

Sunday, August 10, 2014

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 much higher quality, settings and battery life which of course cost more and a Sony Notetaker. The audio recorder will run 5 days & nights non stop on highest quality. GPS. Essential. Or you'll never find your gear again.

2. Method. I took some intermittent video yesterday. Four minutes out of 5 hours. It's basically bushwalking with a purpose. I look for rocky ridge lines of gullies and remote water sources but you could hang one anywhere or manner likely to capture wildlife...

So if you don't mind gps-ing yourself to a pre-explored destination in the hope of interesting wildlife media it adds a bit of spice to an average bush walk.

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...

Friday, August 1, 2014

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 and Curry the expedition of the south where he first discovered the Murrumbidgee River, allegedly around today's Pine Island. South Canberra then on to the Monaro.

So 1820, 1822 or 1823? The official record and settlers movements don't always marry up.

1823 seems the date to aim for for a bicentenary though be it discovery of the south or first official settlement... Regardless 7, 8 or 9 years is probably a bit early to plan a celebration.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

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

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

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 information, story, even rumour through to him that any one may relate.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

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

Friday, July 4, 2014

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

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

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.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

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 in other states a wild harvest for consumption is sustainable.
I actually marry the data in this speech in synch to a recent comment by our minister to me that "We are not an island". When it comes to macropods I'm agreeing with him.

So hey! I don't want the government brought down, I'm not out cutting fences or the like and the thought of a recovering landscape still appeals to me. Something just doesn't sit right.

Please note also that I am not a green and in recent elections I have almost decided my vote on the day but this speech made a lot of sense to me. I hope you take the time to read it.

If you would prefer to read the original.

Senator RHIANNON (New South Wales) (20:46): In 2011, the four large kangaroos that can be commercially shot were nominated for listing in New South Wales as threatened species. That nomination, based on the government's own data, reveals a serious trend of decline in kangaroo numbers in just about every kangaroo management zone in New South Wales since kangaroo surveys began some 30 years ago. The published science of kangaroo reproductive biology and population ecology shows that the so-called population explosions described in the data-used to assert recovery from decline-are biologically impossible for this slow-breeding marsupial. Current analysis of the survey methodology and raw data is now suggesting systematic and massive inflation of kangaroo numbers, from which corresponding excessively inflated commercial shooting quotas are extracted-so that larger numbers may be shot from shrinking populations.

Two years after its submission, the NSW Scientific Committee has still not made a decision on the nomination. Meanwhile, the commercial shooting industry continues to empty local landscapes of kangaroos in what has been described as the world's largest commercial slaughter of land based wildlife. Often landowners mop up what the commercial shooters fail to kill. But it seems that the idea that macropods-various kangaroo species-might be in trouble is one that simply does not register.

We need to ask: why does this issue receive so little attention? It seems that notions of kangaroo abundance and unquestioning belief in the myth of population explosions are so firmly entrenched in the Australian psyche that we do not think to question the science behind shooting kangaroos. From 2001 to 2011, collated national population estimates across commercial hunting zones in the four mainland states recorded a 40 per cent drop. We need to ask why this is not an issue of concern. Maybe it is because there were still an estimated 34 million in 2011. But this is down from 57 million in 2001, according to the department's own collated figures. These sorts of numbers still seem to correspond with early settler accounts of 'immense flocks' and 'swarms' of kangaroos across our landscapes. That is certainly the impression many people have.

It all suggests abundance-twin myths of plague and pest promoted by a highly organised and strategic-thinking industry via an unquestioning political framework and repeated by uncritical media and unknowing Australians as common fact. Our unquestioning acceptance of those myths has, from 1975 to 2011, permitted nearly 90 million kangaroos and wallabies to be legally shot for the commercial market alone, with an unrecorded estimated additional 24.3 million joeys bashed over the head-and that is actually allowed under the code of practice-or left to die. The notion of a superabundance of kangaroos, and a complacency about the science behind the shooting of kangaroos, is pivotal to the continuing industrial scale slaughter of this internationally iconic animal.

What does the science say and what does the nomination of four large kangaroos to the NSW Scientific Committee for listing as threatened species tell us? What should be engaging the serious attention of our scientists and regulators? In discussing the scientific issues, I first add the proviso that we are talking about four different species of macropod here. This adjournment speech is not the place to cite every one of the 500 published scientific references informing the nomination to the NSW Scientific Committee. That information can be found by reading the nomination itself. But the science does raise serious questions about state kangaroo surveys-on which the commercial industry depends for government licence to operate. Considering the myths the commercial kangaroo industry is based on, some of this science needs to be put on the record.

Contrary to popular myth, kangaroos are a slow-breeding marsupial with low reproductive rates. It is biologically impossible for a kangaroo to increase its own maximum capacity to reproduce. A kangaroo doe can carry a developing in-pouch joey while nursing another at-foot dependent joey. However, it takes about 18 months for a joey to be fully weaned. Thus a kangaroo can raise only one joey to independence per year. That does not change.

Embryonic diapause, which is maintaining the embryo in a state of dormancy-something kangaroos have become famous for-is rare in eastern grey kangaroos, unknown in western grey kangaroos and confers no major reproductive advantage for the reds and the wallaroos in which it occurs. That fact needs to be reiterated. Kangaroos only raise one joey a year to independence. That is how their biology works. Certainly it is amazing that an embryo can be maintained in a state of dormancy, but often the results of that in terms of kangaroo numbers have been exaggerated.

Generally kangaroos in the wild will not start breeding and successfully raising their young to independence until about three years, with their first joey becoming independent at about four years. By 12 years-if the doe lives that long-few females are still producing offspring. A kangaroo doe, then, is biologically capable of producing in most cases no more than eight independent joeys in her lifetime.

Kangaroo juvenile mortality in the first year of life is similar to many other mammals in that it can be high-around 73 per cent. A scientific paper on population ecology of western grey kangaroos found 73 per cent mortality of that species. The ACT Kangaroo Advisory Committee has found mortality in juvenile eastern greys was 'high' in the ACT-although no quantitative work was undertaken in that case. A further study has found that about 50 per cent of emergent young still dependent on their mothers are taken by foxes. With 'close to parity' sex ratios in populations free from historical male bias shooting, and using averages as discussed, this needs to be considered.

A kangaroo will only effectively replace herself once in her lifetime. With her first successfully weaned joey at around four years, and an end to her breeding at around 12 years, she can produce just eight young in her lifetime. However, with 73 per cent juvenile mortality in 'normal' conditions, just two of those joeys will survive to independence. In this hypothetical world of averages, and assuming the sex ratio parity carries through to the two surviving joeys, the original female doe will only effectively replace herself once in her lifetime. I have gone into that level of detail because how the kill rate of kangaroos in New South Wales is determined needs to be brought back to those biological facts.

So, the female doe will only effectively replace herself once in her lifetime-but only if she lives her full natural breeding span without being shot, tangled in a fence or hit by a car; or succumbs to disease or injury or starvation and heat stress during drought. And only if she successfully breeds every year and her joeys do not suffer higher than normal mortality. I have set this out in detail as we need to recognise that it is time to reassess how decisions are made on commercial killings of Australian macropods.

All things considered, and without going into the science of fecundity and birth rates, age structure and other factors such as adult mortality and historical shooting biases, an average kangaroo population is biologically capable of growing around 10 per cent a year. This is in good years when these animals are relatively free of stress from lack of food and water. Studies have found that during drought up to 100 per cent juvenile mortality can occur, with up to 40 to 60 per cent adult mortality. Flooding rains also cause mass or epidemic mortality events in kangaroos, with a lack of funding ensuring the causes remain only hypothesised, including the possibility of toxoplasmosis-a zoonotic disease ever present in wild kangaroo populations and a recognised health risk to human consumers. As an example, in 1998 some 300,000 counted kangaroos died suddenly over two weeks in a 30,000 square kilometre area in south-western Queensland and north-western New South Wales.

So, kangaroo populations will increase in natural environments at a maximum rate in good years of around 10 per cent per annum, but this can crash by up to 40 to 60 per cent per annum during drought or mass mortality events during big wets. Yet quotas for shooting kangaroos sit at 15 to 20 per cent of the preceding year's survey population estimates. This generally is not changed despite population crashes due to drought, flood or fire during the year the quotas apply. Consequently quotas can represent up to 40 per cent of an estimated population during drought.

With commercial shooting rates far exceeding population growth rates over decades, and with these rates usually maintained during drought when populations are known to crash by up to 60 per cent, there should be little surprise that the nomination to the NSW Scientific Committee expresses alarm at what the survey data is showing. The New South Wales government's own data reveals that kangaroo numbers have fallen by up to 90 per cent in some individual New South Wales harvest zones in the last 10 years alone, following a 30-odd-year decline in all harvest zones across the life of these records.

There is no need to interpret the data. This is the status of various kangaroos in New South Wales today, and this is from the government's own data. As little as two per cent of some kangaroo species remain in some areas, and preliminary examination of NSW survey transect data recently released under FOI is shows some 85 per cent of five-kilometre survey transect segments returned zero counts-that is, no macropod species. If this of itself is not alarming enough, examination of the survey methodology should raise concerns about basic scientific method and validity of the data. Two reports to the New South Wales Department of Environment and Climate Change amplify these concerns. One report-'Kangaroo monitoring: design & analysis of the Northern Tablelands region helicopter survey'-appears to have been removed from the internet. The other report is 'Kangaroo monitoring: Hunter and Central Tablelands commercial harvest zones design and analysis of helicopter survey.' Both contain very important information.'

This work shows that in one case 26 actual, counted kangaroos were multiplied by 1,456 to become a final population of over 37,000 animals in the Armidale region. That occurred in 2007. In the central tablelands, 1,362 actual, counted eastern greys were extrapolated into a population of 535,600. From these inflated figures, the commercial shooting industry is then allowed to shoot a quota of 15 to 17 per cent of those populations. Again, that is why I have set out the detail of how this methodology operates or, I should probably say, 'fails'-because that quota is based on those inflated figures.

This occurs because of a deeply flawed methodology. The number of transects has often doubled from one survey session to the next. Transect widths have been narrowed without a corresponding lowering of detection factors. Transects overfly national parks and other non-shooting areas, with those numbers applied to surrounding empty landscapes. For example, roughly half the transects in the central tablelands shooting zone overfly national parks and other non-shooting kangaroo habitat. Those non-shooting areas are removed from the equation to further inflate extrapolated densities of empty landscapes. Transects that continually show no kangaroos over regional landscapes have been dumped. This has happened for parts of western New South Wales. Finally, correction or detection factors, a number by which actual, counted numbers are multiplied, are continually increased. This can result in the multiplying of actual counts by up to 300 to 500 per cent. So this flawed methodology is how we see biologically impossible jumps in the number of kangaroos-the so-called population explosions.

In the Bourke kangaroo management zone, the latest survey report asserts that from 2011 to 2012, a year bookended by drought in rural New South Wales, kangaroo populations apparently increased by 249 per cent. Yet this nonsense of a population growth rate of 249 per cent in one year has not been challenged. Growth rates of 50 per cent or more are regularly reported by the department's consultants, but that would require true male-female parity, every female successfully raising young to independence and no animals at all dying for 12 months. Growth rates of between 100 and 300 per cent continue to be asserted.

The systemic nature of this absurdity is illustrated in Queensland's 2013 quota submission to the federal government for export approval of Queensland's kangaroo management plan. For the shooting block of Emerald, it shows a fanciful 371 per cent increase in wallaroos per year for two years, from 2010 to 2012. Little wonder, then, that the industry boasts about its environmental credentials-because its 'take', it argues, can be as little as three or four per cent of the kangaroo numbers it is allowed to shoot. But we now know those numbers are regularly a gross overestimation.

The industry is working hard to access kangaroos in new areas by extending commercial shooting zones across Australian states, including the ACT and Victoria. That is where it wants to go. It is worth noting that Victoria actually stopped commercial shooting in 1982 because 85 per cent of the state had less than one kangaroo per square kilometre. It would be a tragedy if kangaroo shooting started again in that state. The industry is working hard to shift the market for kangaroo from cheap pet food to the more profitable meat for human consumption. This continues despite the unambiguous health risks of toxoplasmosis and other zoonotic diseases associated with undercooking this meat, something often recommended by the industry.
There is growing concern about how the Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia shapes government kangaroo policy, with trade, foreign affairs and environment ministers actively going overseas to promote this market. That is work that, clearly, a lot of public money goes into.

The 2011 New South Wales nomination of kangaroos to the New South Wales Scientific Committee raises serious questions about the operation and sustainability of the commercial kangaroo industry. The issues and realities of kangaroo slaughter sit at the edges of public awareness; I do acknowledge that-but it is not surprising, considering the myths that are perpetuated here. So ingrained are these myths of the abundance and pest status of our kangaroos that they are frequently repeated without examination of the facts. It is not considered that the trashing of water points and waterways, the 95 to 98 per cent clearing of grassy woodlands-prime kangaroo habitat-along with heavy predation by foxes and humans, habitat division by roads and fences, and introduced endemic disease have made life pretty hard for the kangaroo, this amazing creature.

These myths are carefully nurtured by the industry via a well-honed communications strategy that has embedded itself into an unquestioning political framework that lobbies overseas politicians, the media, the market and the consumer. Scientific concerns are diminished by industry's advice to government as the work of activists, and evidence of the cruelty to and suffering of regularly mis-shot kangaroos is labelled as 'extreme'. Meanwhile, the industry commissions its own work to produce explicitly industry-biased materials which are then presented as independent research to overseas governments and an unsuspecting Australian public.

The links between the KIAA and governments and their partnered funding of marketing and promotional research reveal a powerful web of interests, a lack of independent oversight or peer-reviewed science, and a closed shop of industry-funded 'scientific expertise'. This decades-long, highly successful strategising and marketing by industry has diverted attention from the compelling concerns raised by the nomination to the New South Wales Scientific Committee that kangaroos are indeed at risk. It is time that federal and state governments actually engaged with this issue independently, scientifically and in good faith. Given the historical antipathy towards our iconic species, histories of other so-called superabundant species suggest this needs to happen urgently. Thank you.

If you have gotten this far. Well done. All I can say is it's food for thought.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

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, maintain or update the myriad contained in over 600 individual posts.

Mostly the blog contains that sort of material but occasionally it has simply been my comment on particular issues I take an interest in. I will note for anyone contemplating a blog that this can endear you to some folk and alienate you from others from all sections of society, or at least the society with an internet connection and knowledge of your URL.

To be truthful I have considered deleting the blog in its entirety on several occasions. This obviously never eventuated with absences from posting usually sufficient to dampen the urge. Put simply the implications of publishing ones thoughts and opinions should be carefully considered because once in the realm of the google algorithm a word spoken seems can never be withdrawn. At the end of the day I haven't I believe posted anything I didn't think was worth recording be it about a heritage cemetery, platypus trap or an unsustainable wild kangaroo harvest.

Google's search engine seems happy with me. Recent months more so which seems to relate more to a major theme change than any addition of content.

As you can see the increase has been significant. As of this moment, the stats are thus...

I won't go into individual posts because the blog gets a lot of traffic to older posts. I used to list them as I collected them as a separate list but it hasn't been updated since 2011. Still it will give you an idea of the type of the majority of content contained within.

The History & Heritage page.

So that's about it. A $10 domain, free blogger blog and public soapbox. More than anything it has been the surge in traffic in recent months as it pushed towards this mark that has inspired this post... I'll mention it again at a million. < evil laugh >

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

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 the farmhouse they departed ten years later moving to their own selection. The cottage gained it's name from share farmer George Blundell and his wife Flora, (the second occupants) who lived in the cottage from 1874 until George's death in 1933."

Located on Wendouree Drive Lake Burley Griffin of Consitution Avenue Campbell Canberra ACT 2600

Monday, June 9, 2014

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's a ridiculous law when supply isn't restricted but that's up to the Pollies.

Unfortunately these traps often go unnoticed as they are not always conspicuous. If people on their walks simply keep an eye out for ropes/cord secured to the river bank in some fashion. Pull it out and report it please.

Friday, June 6, 2014

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.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

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 excess birds under Reid Lofts but never registered it. I have registered a business called ACT Doves. It's aim is to export from the territory to interstate startup dove release services.

I don't feel I need a dedicated website for the new business. I'm not trying to mass attract potential operators. Not only is it a niche business not suitable to everyone but I am limited in the young flocks I can produce in any given timeframe.

Starter flocks are ordered not purchased. As such there is an About meand an email contact where interested people can arrange a chat on the phone.

Now that I have bored everyone and probably of more interest to twitter users I'll finish with I engage in twitter more than any other media. I have decided to separate my @D_R_Reid feed from this. As such ACT Doves has its own twitter account. @ACTDoves

So for what will probably be mostly observations & pictures from around the lofts in Canberra hop on board.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

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 been associated with Hill Station. The first was Dr James Fitzgerald Murray who was appointed to the NSW Legislative Council in 1856, the second was Sir Henry Gullett and the third was Sir David Fairbairn. Both were cabinet ministers during the Second World War.

In its heyday the main homestead entertained many diplomats and foreign dignitaries."

Not going to make a song and dance about it but in a city only 100 years old it would be a shame to lose the heritage.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

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

Monday, May 19, 2014

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...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

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 suburb on training flights. To think the future King & Queen of Australia are only a 5 minute pigeon flight from home. It would take me 20 minutes if I was to stake out the entrance for a glimpse although if I could get past the security I would never again wash my eyeballs. Perhaps if I'm pepper sprayed.

Just the thought of it inspires me to support the English Cricket Team or join the Australian Monarchists League... at the very least eat more hot English mustard.

My Family in fact came out from Britain in 1820 so after 190 odd years it's completely understandable why my allegiance to Mother England, as with the planned mustard, is so strong.

So three cheers for the Royal Family... May Uluru be red for them and the bilbies bouncy. I for one will be booking in for the 2043 tour of George and his young family. You know it makes sense.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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 usually destined for the pot. So sight unseen, under the condition of vaccination, I met half way at Goulburn and picked up 5 fruit boxes of scrambling birds. After a good look at these birds. A few I wouldn't expect to roam far but see how the rest go with the pedigree racer flock.

If they can't roam I'll slowly find them homes as pairs for someone who wants a flying pet.

As for the next Vietnamese New Year here in Canberra, if anyone wants to organise a lucky event I'll release a hundred birds for you. The difference between the ill fated Burwood release and mine is they will all beat me home.

Monday, April 14, 2014

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 unaware of the dangers and environmental impacts of cutting down trees and collecting fallen timber for firewood.

"I also remind Canberrans they cannot collect wood from public land. Fallen trees and branches form a vital part of the ecosystem by providing animal habitats, returning nutrients to the soil and encouraging revegetation.

"Fines of up to $5500 apply under the Nature Conservation Act 1980 for cutting down trees or removing wood from reserves.

"While we have a number of remote surveillance cameras in operation at parks and reserves across the ACT and our rangers keep an eye out for illegal activity, we would really appreciate the public's vigilance in helping us prevent future incidents."

To report incidents of vandalism, such as the illegal collection of firewood contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or to Canberra Connect on 13 22 81.

- Statement ends

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Filling Canberra with drought confidence

Some interesting stats in the below article...

I thought this was interesting. Canberra in the last 10 days effectively created one and a half times more storage than the city has ever had.

After the 2006-2010 drought the area endured the 72 gigalitre boost of capacity completed recently in the construction/addition to the Cotter Dam effectively drought proofs the population for a generation.

The Canberra Times has a good read... Cotter Dam is filling Canberra with drought confidence.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Official Cotter Dam Time Lapse

A fascinating look at the construction of the new Cotter Dam over the years of its building...

Courtesy of ACTEW Water

Just out of interest the Cotter Dam was named after a Canberra pioneer with an interesting history...

The Cotter River and the Cotter Dam are the namesakes of convict/pioneer/squatter, Garrett Cotter and reminders of a time of exploration and another location of the government of the days exclusion zone. Referred to as "beyond the limits of location".

 Garrett Cotter was nineteen when transported from Ireland and was transported for life. Cotter was a good stock-man and was assigned to Francis Kenny’s property near Lake George. In 1827-28, Cotter took Kenny’s cattle across the Murrumbidgee River to find grazing land. Cotter family history says that Garrett was helped by Onyong, a Ngambri elder, who led him to good pastures.

In 1832 Cotter was accused of stealing a horse from a neighboring property. The charge was thrown out for lack of evidence, He had resisted arrest for two months. The Goulburn magistrates sent Cotter to live ‘beyond the limits of location’. This meant that he had to stay west of the Murrumbidgee River.

For about six years, Cotter lived beyond the river with the probable support of the natives. In 1838 he was granted a Ticket of Leave which allowed him to work in the Queanbeyan District (Squatted at Michelago). In 1847 he was granted a Conditional Pardon... Freedom as long as he never returned to the United Kingdom.

He lived till 1886 and is buried at Michelago