Monday, January 31, 2011


Some wonderful old film footage of the establishment of Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory after Federation. Scenes of the yet undeveloped 'Limestone Plains' of present day Canberra and the laying of the foundation stone in 1913. Courtesy the National Film and Sound Archive. (1 min 33 sec)

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Sunday, January 30, 2011


Another clipping about Captain Mark Currie (bio) discoverer of modern day Tuggeranong in the Australian Capital Territory. The 1823 expedition discovered the Murrumbidgee River somewhere around present day Pine Island and named the Tuggeranong area Isabella's Plain before opening the way to the Monaro...

The Sydney Morning Herald - 9 May 1927

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Thursday, January 27, 2011


Thirty brumbies captured for the 1932 #Canberra Kangarodeo. Interestingly these horses could have been descendants of  several 1830's 'blood horses' that made their escape into the waiting mountains...

The Canberra Times - 19 January 1932

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011


A few thoughts on Australia Day from me...

Australia Day should be a day of Australian unity, a day where all Australian's, of all foreign nations of origin should unite under one flag to celebrate. However it's not. The day to me is a reminder of division for Australia's original people. 

Our relatively short history is, in this 21st century being competently re-researched, re-studied and re-analyzed. Old accepted, society driven conclusions by un-resourced (by today's standards) Historians are continually being updated with what I describe as Australia's cultural history and truths. These truths show a different history of Australia than the one that I and generations of European Australians were taught. The truth that Australian national unity has been based on are, in someways, society driven distortions over time of the historical truth. A brief rundown of why Australian Aboriginal people call 26th January 'Invasion Day'...

1. The day Captain Cook arrived on shore in 1770 his men fired muskets at the first encounter between European and Aboriginal people displaying what was to become an enduring mentality of most Europeans in colonial society. The Romanticism of E. Phillips Fox (picture above) clearly depicts two seamen taking aim with their muskets on arrival whilst Cook shows a calm and steady hand against the noble savages.

2. In 1788 January 26 - Captain Arthur Phillip, commanding the First Fleet, sails into Port Jackson and  establishes the first British colonial settlement at Sydney Cove. From this point on resisting Aboriginal  inhabitants were invariably shot in what is now being described as an enduring poorly recorded 'frontier war'. This disregard for human life followed over eager settlers into the furthest regions of colonial NSW.

3. Phillip also successfully introduced  tuberculosis, cholera, venereal disease, measles, whooping-cough, influenza and even the common cold. The biggest killer, though, was smallpox. Within three years, the majority of Indigenous people living close to Sydney were killed by smallpox and the diseases swiftly followed the colonies expansion.

3. Many organised and deliberate programs of dispersal, murder and extermination (list here) were undertaken by colonists in their rush to secure property with total disregard for the original owners. The Black Line - Tasmania, The Myall Creek massacre, other 'round ups' in the area and the many unreported acts of murder took their toll, estimated during colonization as exceeding 20,000 Aboriginal people. 

4. As for alcohol... within weeks of the arrival of the first fleet grog became available, and this had a devastating effect on the original people. Aboriginal labourers were often employed with tobacco and alcohol as a reward. I have read research on Aboriginal men being 'liquored up' and enticed to fight as a public spectacle presumably with traditional weapons and sometimes to the death. And I could go on... The 26th of January represents what is a painful collective memory for Aboriginal people.

5. This European mentality of disregard continued well into the 20th century beginning with no acknowledgement in Australia's new constitution at the time of Federation. Aboriginals were of course denied suffrage (ending in various stages between 1948-1965) and the state as late as the 1970's ordered the removal of Aboriginal children. It was believed at the time of federation and into the 20th century, that the Aboriginal Peoples of Australia were a doomed race that would be extinct within decades.Obviously this is not the case.

Armed with this knowledge we are left with an enduring need for reconciliation. Reconciliation is essential for us to move on from the social rift formed from our past. We need to move forward as a united nation however I see that reconciliation in Australia as stalled. We are trapped in a never ending public awareness campaign producing no tangible results. Australia now needs something real and tangible to offer as a step to finally complete reconciliation.

In 1770 it was a British flag impaled on the beach that symbolized the Aboriginal people's subjugation. In 1788 the first fleet hoisted the British flag and from that day enforced that subjugation which endures today. Aboriginal People have been, historically and in reality, at the mercy of the British Crown and remain so as angry and unsatisfied Australians today. Even the union jack in the corner of our national flag stands testament as a constant reminder of the European invasion.

I think it is time we took the progressive (and logical) step of becoming an independent nation and begin with recognizing the original owners of this continent in a modern Constitution formulated with an Australian Head of State. I come back to unity... select Australia's Independence day as a symbol of unity and reconciliation for all the people of Australia. That would make an Australia Day.

If your interested in the going on's of the Australian Republican Movement -
ARM Website - ARM Facebook - ARM Twitter

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Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I thought this poem about early #Canberra delightful. Thank you Mr Wickens...

The Canberra Times - 19 September 1928

Sunday, January 23, 2011


A clipping about the discovery by Europeans of Tuggeranong in the Australian Capital Territory. Captain Mark Currie (bio), Major John Evans and the bushman Joseph Wild (bio) open up the gateway to the Australian Alps...

The Canberra Times - 6 June 1953

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Saturday, January 22, 2011


A strange little clipping I thought. Two suicides and a "Chinaman's" off-site interment near St John's Church caused problems for the Federal Capital Commission. In earlier times a person who committed suicide would often be denied burial in a Church cemetery...

Federal Capital Pioneer - 25 March 1926

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Friday, January 21, 2011


I tweeted a few photographs today of a walk I take near the Lake Tuggeranong dam wall. I received quite a few replies asking about the area so I have taken a few pictures and a short video to give anyone interested a feel for the track. It's a nice easy walk with the added bonus of a 19th century heritage drystone wall along the way...

Starting from Athlon drive opposite the Tuggeranong swimming pool we head down towards the spillway of the Tuggeranong Lake dam and enter the Murrumbidgee Corridor and well posted Territory Land:

Looking back towards the Lake Tuggeranong dam spillway after entering the corridor...

The track, which is a gentle walk, winds off toward the Bullen Ranges...

About halfway is a sturdy footbridge crossing the creek that appears to go nowhere... We stay on this side and continue down the track.

The view down the creek from "nowhere" bridge with the creeks banks lush with native pines...

Shortly after we enter the Bullen Range Nature Reserve with the still easy track meandering off towards the Murrumbidgee River and the Bullen Range beyond.

Shortly after we come to a fork in the track. Take the left fork and you go to the 1860's Tuggeranong stone boundary wall and to the right you continue following the creek. The wall was built to define the once enormous grazing estates of Yarralumla and Lanyon (and I believe end a dispute over the boundary).The wall can be seen below...


This is where I turned around as the weather was getting too hot. Time about an hour return...

If you want to walk the creek the parking is troublesome. A car track has been worn into the Athlon drive Kambah bound lane just past the traffic lights opposite the Tuggeranong swimming pool however I would suggest parking at the swimming pool and walking across at the lights.


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Thursday, January 20, 2011


An interesting snippet I thought of advancing technology in the 20th century. Born at Tuggeranong in 1903 and educated at the original Tuggeranong School Dr. James Dwyer McGee is credited as having been behind the production of "the most efficient television camera in the world."

The Canberra Times - 2 July 1948

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Sunday, January 9, 2011


I have read that the pronunciation of Canberra's name was to be decided by however Lady Denman pronounced it at the naming of Canberra ceremony held on the 12th March 1913.

I suppose the most common pronunciation for Canberra I have heard over the years from visitors is Can-ber-rah. Personally my family pronounced it as Can-brah. This article from 1926 concludes with the pronunciation as Canb'ra. Pretty close...

The Mercury - 1 May 1926

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Sunday, January 2, 2011


The bridge on Smith's Road across the Gudgenby River in the Australian Capital Territory unfortunately washed away in December 2010 however I have found this clipping from 1933 reporting the bridge's official opening placing the bridge at 77 years of age. Interestingly the article mentions the same willow trees, recently cut down and not removed, that may have contributed to the bridge's eventual destruction in the flood.

The Canberra Times - 20 February 1933

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Saturday, January 1, 2011


Happy New Year! and the end of the first six months of statistics on the blog. It was a very wet month in Canberra and thanks to the prompt indexing by a thirsty Google search engine the most popular posts were:

MOLONGLO RIVER FLOOD 2010 - 273 Pageviews
POINT HUT CROSSING IN FLOOD VIDEO - (October) - 73 Pageviews
And an old favorite from May - YARRALUMLA WOOLSHED - 73 Pageviews

The site had an average of  44 RSS Readers via Feedburner (subscribe) and I myself now have 76 followers on Twitter. I have quite taken to Twitter and am enjoying the medium for the links that are shared, the knowledge and opinions of people I follow and the social interaction. So if your a Twitterer @davesact.



(note spike of 270 visitors 9 Dec - Canberra flood)





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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...