Sunday, October 31, 2010


A recent short video showing the Little Creamy Flats near Namadgi Ridge in the Namadgi National Park. John Evans site Johnny Boys Walkabout Blog has information and videos on trekking in all the wild places of the Australian Capital Territory.

Johnny Boys Walkabout YouTube Channel



Saturday, October 30, 2010


This newspaper article reports on the accomplishments of Moore as he opened up the Monaro and into the present day state of Victoria. The article was prompted by the re-discovery of J.J. Moores cattle brands in 1928. Before the clipping some background information...

Lieutenant Joshua J. Moore was born in 1790 near Horningsen England and in 1813 entered the Army. He rose to become a Lieutenant of the 14th Buckinghamshire Regiment of foot and was present at the Battle of Waterloo. Soon after this famous victory, he retired on half-pay, and in 1816 emigrated to New South Wales.

Joshua John Moore (1790-1864)(bio)

After holding several high positions in the Justices Department in Sydney he retired from official life and resided on 500 acres at Cabramatta NSW which garant he had recieved in 1819. He was the first landed proprietor at Canberra but was eventually forced to sell his estate of 1742 acres at Acton. The property was purchased  by Arthur Jeffreys. R.N., who had married the second daughter of Robert Campbell. J.J. Moore died at Baw Baw, near Goulburn, on July 27 1864.

The Longreach Leader - 20 April 1928

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Friday, October 29, 2010


Located in Canberra's civic square the statue of "Ethos" guards the entrance to today's ACT Legislative Assembly. Ethos (meaning) is a copper sculpture created by Tom Bass and was commissioned by the National Capital Development Commission in 1959 before being unveiled in 1961.

"The NCDC (National Capital Development Commission) intended that the work would emphasize that Canberra is the non-political centre, the locale of commerce and of private enterprise in its best sense. The sculpture was designed to represent the spirit of the community." 

 Bass's interpretation of this outline resulted in the figure in which he intended:

"the love which Canberra people have for their city to be identified with her...I want them to be conscious of her first as an image from a distance...then comes the moment when they become personally involved with her... they feel her looking at them, reflecting their love for the place".

The figure of Ethos is robed in embossed emblems and figures intended to represent the community. The six sided saucer the figure stands in represents the hexagonal Civic Centre and depicts a map of Canberra. A bursting sun is held aloft in symbolism of the culture and enlightenment which education institutions, research organisations and diplomatic corp activity give to the city.

From a plaque located to the right of the statue:

I am Ethos
Though i do not speak with words
I speak to you in other ways

I say to you that
I am the spirit of this place
and it's people

I am the original spirit
and the spirit of now

I rise from the earth
and reach for the sun

I bring together
the old and the new

In me there is
no violence or war
only peace and reconciliation

I am the love,
peace and beauty
of this place

I give you these things
every day and always.



Thursday, October 28, 2010


Dated 1926 this article about the 1820's pioneer James Ainslie tells the tale of his involvement in the Battle of Waterloo and his settling of Robert Campbells property Piallago which was later to become the Duntroon Estate and in the 20th century the Royal Military College Duntroon.

The article relates Ainslies pursuit and eventful capture of the Bushrangers the "Terror of Argyle" John Tennant and his accomplice John Rix who stole the following items from Ainslies hut:

"29lb of Brazil tobbacco, four blue vests, two blue jackets, one striped vest, one black vest, one yellow vest, one light-coloured vest with pearl buttons, one light-coloured vest with covered buttons, one black silk handkerchief, one plaid cotton handkerchief, three red shirts, pair jean trousers, pair fustian trousers, upwards of 150 lb of flour, a quantity of tea and sugar, two or three gallons of spirits, powder and shot, pair half boots, four holey dollars, three Spanish dollars, two rupees, one spitalfields silk handkerchief, one cotton nightcap, and one small horse pistol which had been hanging on a nail beside Mr. Ainslie's bed."

A good read....

Federal Capital Pioneer - 25 June 1926

National Library of Australia (here)

I have another post about James Ainslie (here)

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010


A series of vandal attacks in Canberra on the Lanyon historical property in the past few weeks (ABC News here and here) have damaged the heritage listed property's buildings. The culprits of these attacks on our heritage went to considerable trouble to accomplish their ends with the access road being a considerable distance from Tharwa Drive on foot and I imagine with travelling the vandalism would have taken them considerable time.

ACT Heritage Council chairman Dr Michael Pearson:

"It's a situation you really can't plan for. There's no point in putting up a barbed wire fence around Lanyon,... You just have to try to do the best you can to instill community understanding of the values of a place."

Lanyon is a national treasure. It is particularly important to the ACT as it is a remnant of a time when the European fabric of civilisation was established on the plains of what was to become the national capital. Lanyon has visible and tangible evidence of the colony's convict beginnings and was once the boundary of the "Limits of location" the area west beyond the Murrumbidgee River being beyond government control in the 1830's. We are very privileged to have such an historical treasure that is so ably maintained by the ACT Government as an educational and recreational facility not only for the community but for the nation.

I think it might be time to upgrade security. Regular patrols and electronic surveillance seem now to be in order and I think if the entry fees are raised a few dollars to cover the additional expense that would be appropriate. Ultimately security measures for Lanyon should now go to the top of the ACT government's heritage to-do list and in my opinion robust public flogging (granted regularly at Lanyon in the 1840's) should be awarded to the perpetrators if caught.

For those unfamiliar with  the L'anyon Estate I have strung some video together showing a small part of the heritage listed property. Note: The windows of the Old Kitchen had been removed for refurbishment at the time of filming...

I have further posts about Lanyon:  The homesteadLanyon walnuts, Lanyon Aboriginals, Lanyon cemetery.


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Tuesday, October 26, 2010


The Tharwa Bridge (post) is the oldest surviving bridge in the Australian Capital Territory and was opened on 27 March 1895. The bridge (info) has been undergoing a re-construction and it now appears that the distinctive "arches" of the Allen Truss design are soon to be re-positioned...


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Monday, October 25, 2010


The Murrumbidgee River east of the Tidbinbilla Road marks the boundary of the historical property Lambrigg, formally owned by agricultural scientist William Farrer. The following information is from the signage at the Tharwa scenic lookout which overlooks Lambrigg Station:

William Farrer (1845-1906)(bio)

In 1882, English immigrant Farrer married Nina de Salis, daughter of NSW parliamentarian Leopold Fane de Salis. As a wedding present, Leopold gave the couple 240 acres along the Murrumbidgee, bordering his own land at Cuppacumbalong. Farrer chose the name Lambrigg ('hill of lambs') in memory of his mother's English village.
Nina Farrer (1848-1929)(bio)

Above: Nina Farrer holds a wheatsheaf as members of the de Salis and Smith families prepare to cross the Murrumbidgee River, about 1895.

Farrer used Lambrigg as an open-air laboratory, aiming to grow a wheat resistant to fungal disease and drought. He recorded hundreds of experiments - each requiring painstaking care to pollinate tiny wheat flowers by hand - in his precious field notebook. Farrer's dedication was intense - he even chose to stay in Australia rather than return to England to inherit a family fortune.

1966-1988 Australian two dollar note

In 1897, Farrer finally cross-bred a high-yielding and drought resistant strain. It was released in 1901 as "Federation Wheat". This strain and others Farrer developed, let wheat farming extend into Australia's drier west, and made Australia a major wheat exporter. Within twenty years, Farrer's research had changed wheat-growing around the world.

Sadly, Farrer knew little of his success. He died in 1906, and was buried on a hill at Lambrigg overlooking his beloved wheat crops and the Murrumbidgee.

The following 30 second video attempts to show the panorama of where Farrers experimental "pocket handkerchief wheat plots" once were...


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Sunday, October 24, 2010


A correspondent reports on the Lanyon Estate (post) in 1873. What begins as a simple report on the weather, crops, livestock, shearing, the river, fishing and building programs on the estate goes on to report on the death of an Aboriginal woman named "Nanny" who is known to have been a partner of James Ainsley (post) the first settler of the Duntroon Estate (here). The article ends with comments on the possible cause of the final demise of the local Aboriginal population discussing the effects of the European supply of alcohol...

Queanbeyan Age - 25 September 1873

National Library of Australia (here)

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Thursday, October 21, 2010


(Sheila is a Sydney based artist who is also available for freelance work here)


The story of Onyong - Tribal leader of the Ngambri people an Australian Aboriginal tribe of the Australian Capital Territory. Set in the 1830's and 40's the narration tells the tale of the proud warrior and leader of his people Onyong, who saw the coming of the white man to his country where the nations capital resides today.

A transcript of the video is below:
Aborigines in the Canberra region around the year 1825 were estimated to be between 6 and 7 hundred strong.

Onyong was a well known Aboriginal man and leader of  his people the Ngambri during the time of early European settlement of the Canberra region in the 1830's. Onyong's home-base appears to have been located on the Tuggeranong Plain south/west  of Mount Taylor although he was known to travel extensively - as far as Goulburn and Bungonia to the northeast, Mannus to the southwest and the Bo-gong Mountains to the west.

Two groups of Aborigines are recorded in the Canberra Region in 1834 - the Hagen-Hope tribe numbering 46 and the Nammitch tribe numbering between 60 and 70. The chiefs of these two groups were recorded at the time to be, Jemmy the Rover and Onyong, respectively. The members of the group under Onyong were described as: 

"wild blacks ... [who] seldom go near the haunts of white men".

In 1841 the Colonial Government blanket issue at Queanbeyan listed both men as belonging to the Hagan-Hope Tribe (for some reason the two groups had merged) the tribe now numbered only 56.
JJ. Moore of 'Canberry' Station described Onyong as 
'A ‘tall burly man’, he cut an impressive figure to all who met him.
His leadership of his people was recognised among the European settlers. Onyong was feared by some settlers as he often raided their stock, but he struck up a respected friendship with ex-convict Garett Cotter for whom Canberra’s main water supply was named and the two spent much time together'.

James Wright, owner of Lanyon mentions that Onyong was once caught by Henry Hall of Charnwood spearing livestock and consequently was 'shot in the leg'.
During the 1840s Onyong's band maintained a close relationship with the Wright family at Lanyon, and it is known from Lanyon records that there had always been rivalry between Onyong and Jemmy the Rover over tribal leadership issues.
The Herald newspaper of October 31, 1834, reports that the blacks in the neighbourhood of the Limestone and Maneroo Plains – had been accused of spearing cattle and sheep, but, with its old time caution, the paper remarked:
“This statement is likely to be without foundation. It being probable that the same is published with a view to covering some of the delinquencies of the stock keepers and others in care of their master’s stock.”
Terence Aubrey Murray of Yarralumla when speaking concerning the employment of Aborigines in 1841, remarked:

'... they in general shew [sic] a determined dislike to settled habits of any kind ... their love of independence is too great and habits of wandering too strong to admit of it .... they are so wedded to their own habits - supporting themselves with so much ease by the chase - that it can scarcely be expected they should adopt ours'.

Sometime between 1847 and 1852 Onyong was killed by Jemmy the Rover, as:
'...while the latter was away Onyong had usurped his position as chief'.

Wright records the burial of Onyong, who  he stated was the chief of the Kamberra tribe. The site of the burial was on top of a stony hill about a quarter of a mile from the Tharwa bridge:

 “The body was trussed in the knee-elbow position, and the fat about the kidneys was removed. The fat was supposed to possess great virtues, and was distributed to the gins, who carried it in the bags which were hung from their necks.

A hole was dug in the ground, at the bottom of which a small tunnel was excavated. In this tunnel the body was placed, together with the chief’s weapons a broken spear, shield,
nulla-nulla, boomerang, tomahawk, opossum rug, and other items for use in the next world. The grave was then filled in.”
After Onyong's death it was hard for aboriginals to maintain a traditional existence due to the growth of European livestock, crops and fencing. At the same time European Illnesses were inevitably introduced, decimating the population. Mixed race Aboriginals tended to remain working on local stations and some dispersed to other tribes in other areas
The following quote from James Wright about the eventual fate of Onyong's remains,  as a poignant reminder of the Europeans attitude to Aborigines of the day...

'Well, that was the end of that 'worthy' with the exception that a number of years later a man named Smithie dug up the skull and with questionable taste had it made into a sugar bowl, which I actually saw in use on his table.'
Onyong is buried on a hill behind the village of Tharwa in the Australian Capital Territory.


Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Some interesting facts about this famous Australian explorer and his beginnings as a teenage grazier on the Limestone Plains of present day Canberra.

Grazier, explorer and eventual Colonial Governor of Jamaica Edward John Eyre (1815 – 1901)(bio) arrived in Australia from England in 1833 and that year established himself as a grazier a month before his eighteenth birthday when he bought 400 lambs and took up 1260 acres (510 ha) of land at Molonglo Plains, near Queanbeyan (info). The following year in partnership with Robert Campbell (bio) of the Duntroon Estate (post) he drove 1,000 sheep and 600 head of cattle overland to Adelaide and pocketed a tidy profit.

It was with this money that Eyre financed his exploration of the interior of South Australia with two expeditions to the north towards the Flinders Ranges and west past Ceduna. Eyre was the first European to explore the length of the Great Australian Bight and the Nullarbor Plain by land in 1840-1841 finally reaching Albany, Western Australia.

Sadly on his expedition with John Baxter (see Eyre bio) and three Aboriginals, two killed Baxter and left with most of the supplies. Eyre and Wylie were only barely surviving when they sighted and attracted a French whaling ship at Rossiter Bay (named by Eyre after the captain). Eyre survives to tell his tale and goes on to become a Colonial Governer.

Info on his expeditions (here)

The following video from The National Library references Eyre and his Aboriginal party member "Wylie", how they and other explorers found their routes into the unknown interior of Australia and the problems they faced on their expeditions:

Quite a career from humble beginnings...

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010


A video from Johnny Boy's Walkabout simply described as:

"A pleasant Wednesday wander around the open areas of Rendezvous and Middle Creeks".

Apart from lovely footage of flowing creeks amongst the granite boulders of the higher country the video also depicts the plains of the lower areas where moss "bogs" are filled with water as the seasons progress. These bogs were once the prolific habitat of the endangered Southern corroboree frog (Pseudophryne corroboree) (info)(post).


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Monday, October 18, 2010


It amazes me the amount of debate over the meaning of the word Canberra that occurred in the early 20th century. The official meaning today is of course the Aboriginal word for "meeting place" which is very appropriate given Canberra is the home of the Australian Federal Government.

In a second clipping Mr. John Gale (1831-1929) (known in historical circles as the "Father of Canberra")(bio) dismisses this latest assumption that Canberra was if fact the Aboriginal word for the merchant, Robert Campbell (bio) who established the Duntroon Estate (post) on the Limestone Plains in the 1820's. Mr Gale goes on to provide living proof that Canberra was the Aboriginal word "Goyangberra" meaning (possibly) a woman's breasts...

The Sydney Morning Herald - 13 May 1913
National Library of Australia (here)

The assumption made in the first article is dealt with in this reply by John Gale a week later...

The Sydney Morning Herald - 19 May 1913

National Library of Australia (here)

I have other posts on different meanings for the name Canberra (here), (here) and (here)

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Sunday, October 17, 2010


Memories of today's Canberra and Duntroon in the 1870's from a resident. The unidentified author G.C.P. describes the region in context to the views of the "bush" of the day referencing the balladeers Henry Lawson (bio) and "Banjo" Patterson (bio) in difference to the perception of the Limestone Plains and the interior.

Duntroon 1870

Beginning in youth as an extra to the horse-drawn mail-run G.C.P. describes a time of English settlement, shearing, the water system and more all with a distinct eloquence in his descriptions...

The Sydney Morning Herald - 7 January 1911

National Library of Australia (here)

UPDATE: Lynn Commented:

"GCP" may have been a local grazier from Cuppacumbalong, George Cameron Perry Circuitt. With those fairly unusual initials I am guessing it was him? He sure could write beautifully!

He was married to Ethel and they had four children; Kate (Kitty), Richard (Dick) Edward (died WW1) and Barbara.

He retired to Moss Vale and died there in 1954. 

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History lost through lack of funding

  The following ABC article laments the possible loss of many historical audio visual records that are waiting for digitising into modern fo...