Tuesday, November 29, 2011


I was reading on a local forum the other day the laments of chicken owners in suburban Canberra backyards of the perils of an unsecured pen and the feral fox. Sounded like Canberra is rife with foxes quite prepared to poach any chicken left unattended and accessible. Problems of a bush capital I suppose.

In my youth I shot a lot of foxes. That might seem harsh but there were a lot of them and a pelt was worth up to 40 dollars. So out of interest a bit of a search revealed that the wily fox has been influencing Canberra society for a while. Remember this is feral pest not Basil Brush. This report from 106 years ago indicates how foxes were dealt with before canberra became the capital...

The Age (Queanbeyan, NSW) Tuesday 18 July 1905

This was pretty much my experience with foxes. Every year same numbers...

The Canberra Times - Tuesday 18 June 1935

I loved this. A Royal connection. A hunt club was formed specifically so the Duke of Gloucester to hunt with hounds. They even imported the hounds...

Cairns Post - Tuesday 23 November 1943

The conditions of the pelts were poor in 1948 influencing fox shooters determination I'm sure. I can remember the reason we stopped shooting foxes was that after the anti-fur campaign in the 80's prices dropped to $4 a pelt. Before that the Qeanbeyan buyer used to average pelts at $28...

The Canberra Times - Tuesday 24 August 1948

Two foxes accused of killing 20 turkeys and 30 chickens...

The Canberra Times - Wednesday 21 April 1948

Foxes in the hedges of Parliament House, in Haig park and once again poor skin prices saw an increase in numbers...

The Canberra Times - Monday 20 March 1950

Sheep and lamb attacks were on the rise with a suggestion being offered that myxomatosis had reduced the food supply of rabbits and alternatives must be found...

The Canberra Times - Friday 30 July 1954

and finally a call for a government bounty on fox scalps...

The Canberra Times - Monday 6 September 1954

There is no fox shooting going on in the ACT that I am aware of but I note areas on Corin Road have been baited with 1080 (Sodium flourocetate) They wouldn't do that in the Canberra Nature Parks I suspect. Well I think that tells a bit of a story on the influences of foxes in the capital and at the end of the day I think people are just going to have to learn to keep their chickens in Canberra very secure.


Monday, November 28, 2011


Ok we're three years into a Canberra with a resident parliament. Residents of the newly formed territory were denied rights of suffrage whilst nearby residents in NSW such as Queanbeyan retained all their commonwealth privileges. Enter the 'Vigilants of Canberra'. A society where Territory members identities were kept secret for fear of reprisals being represented by a Dr Alcorn in the capacity of liason person. I don't know what became of them but I suppose they were the forerunners of the self government the ACT not acquired till the 80's. The notion had to be started somewhere I reckon. Why not the Vigilants of Canberra?

The Advertiser - Friday 7 November 1930


Examiner - Wednesday 12 November 1930


The Horsham Times - Tuesday 18 November 1930


Saturday, November 26, 2011


The following is an obituary for a Mr A.A McKeahnie, grazier, magistrate, coroner and captain of the rifle club. As the headline claims, he was the first white child born in Queanbeyan but his holdings included Gudgenby Station and several other estates. His life's tale includes encounters with 'savage' Aboriginals, as opposed to friendly, and bushrangers. Interesting bloke. He was a true pioneer in every sense of the word I think. For more information on Booroomba I have a post here.

Queanbeyan Age and Queanbeyan Observer - Tuesday 8 February 1916


Thursday, November 24, 2011


Coppins Crossing is a low level bridge which crosses the Molonglo River. The following may be of interest when next you cross. There isn't a great deal of reports mentioning the crossing but what there is is interesting I think. Originally it seems it was used as a range for artillery in world war 1 by the boys from Duntroon. Interesting also that they halted firing for passing traffic and not the other way around...

Queanbeyan Age - Friday 13 February 1914

1930 saw a promise of a new bridge the following year...

The Canberra Times - Tuesday 23 September 1930

And the following year another call is made for a bridge...

The Canberra Times - Tuesday 23 June 1931

National Library of Australia

And the new bridge was constructed a year later...

The Canberra Times - Tuesday 5 April 1932

And livestock no longer needed to be moved through the city centre... imagine that.

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Just a quick one... Another entry to the Naming of Canberra collection of old newspaper clippings. It's not a unique view of Canberra's original meaning as Aboriginal 'A woman's breasts' describing Mount Ainsley and Black Mountain are common but interesting because of naming the Canberra Plain 'Nugungahleen' and mentioning a 'tribal phallic stone' nestled in a recess on Black Mountain...

The Canberra Times - Tuesday 17 January 1939

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Friday, November 18, 2011


Looking at news clippings of a famous ACT rural property with a colourful history. Booroomba is an operating property today located near the village of Tharwa. The tale begins with reference to Booroomba Station's first two owners, originally William Davis who experienced trouble with bushrangers and the McKeahnie family from 1859...

Queanbeyan Age and Queanbeyan Observer - Friday 11 May 1923

Booroomba became a renowned supplier of beef cattle and it seemed very progressive practices were vastly increasing the quality of cattle...

Queanbeyan Age - Tuesday 2 August 1910

More mention of Booromba's superb fattening paddocks... The beef was commanding top prices...

Queanbeyan Age and Queanbeyan Observer - Friday 3 May 1918

The owner of Booroomba is celebrated with this poem 'The squire of Booroomba' which refers to him as the 'Hereford King'...

Queanbeyan Age and Queanbeyan Observer - Tuesday 25 March 1919

Booroomba expanded into a quality sheep breeding enterprise as observed in this woolclip...

Queanbeyan Age and Queanbeyan Observer - Friday 4 February 1916

The property is sold. The Company directors are mentioned...

The Canberra Times -  Friday 5 October 1928

Two years before they purchased though seems WW1 saw high prices for the woolclip and Booroomba's reputation as 'Sheep Country' is declared dropping the primary mantle of Hereford Stud ..

Queanbeyan-Canberra Advocate - Thursday 9 April 1925

We leave the tale in 1953 but with some controversy concerning 'Settler Soldiers'...

The Canberra Times - Monday 30 November 1953

My interest in Booroomba Station ends here. But nearly 60 years has passed since 1953...


Friday, November 11, 2011


Following on from yesterday, a poem from 70 years ago by Annie McDonald describing the Uriarra Crossing in western Canberra. The crossing is today a popular road linking Belconnen and Western Creek for those who like the road less travelled. Anyway its a lovely poem I think and another one for the collection. For those that missed it yesterdays post looked at 30 years of Uriarra's history...

The Sydney Morning Herald - Monday 23 January 1939


Thursday, November 10, 2011


Just because I thought it was interesting 30 years of random reports from the Uriarra District of the ACT and bordering NSW. Originally known as Urayarra I think these snippets of information tell a story for the next time your out past Tidbinbilla and Uriarra...

What caught my eye at first to these at first rural reports was an early report of rabbits arriving in the district. Rabbits once introduced to Australia became a nationally enormous problem for the economy and rabbits were to be an ongoing problem for the ACT community. Then following along through the years a picture emerged of a lovely little community with is ups and downs and people...

Queanbeyan Age - Wednesday 7 June 1893


Two years later people are buying land...

Queanbeyan Age - Saturday 6 April 1895

National Library of Australia


At the time the Uriarra community appeared to be a thriving and happy one...

Queanbeyan Age - Wednesday 5 June 1895


We now seem to enter the boring years of rural reporting focusing more on agricultural statistics than community affairs. Probably more an indication of reporting style of the era than anything from what I gather... 

Queanbeyan Age - Wednesday 5 November 1902


Canberra starts its interests and as a side note 'The Age' seems to emerge with the approach of the new capital...

The Age (Queanbeyan) - Tuesday 30 July 1907


About this time Federal matters truly come to hand...

The Mercury - Monday 29 July 1912

National Library of Australia


Three years after Canberra's birth the Great War. I haven't looked to see if the Urayarra soldiers made it back. Meanwhile in Queanbeyan 'The Age' apparently returns and joins the Observer... 

Queanbeyan Age and Queanbeyan Observer - Friday 25 August 1916

National Library of Australia

A quiet life continues albeit with some stock losses...

Queanbeyan Age and Queanbeyan Observer - Tuesday 4 December 1917


The loss of a bridge...

Queanbeyan Age and Queanbeyan Observer - Tuesday 14 November 1922


Still no bridge and a skirmish over a river punt... 

Queanbeyan Age and Queanbeyan Observer - Friday 14 December 1923

Really to get an overall of the history of Uriarra this article from 1917 sums up its founding -

Queanbeyan Age and Queanbeyan Observer - Tuesday 29 May 1917

More recent than the original rural holdings a Uriarra settlement exists to today and was recognised as such from the 1920's but the community as is illustrated by these clippings I think was older than that. I have a post on the Uriarra Gold Rush of 1895 that I found interesting too. Today's Uriarra settlement was dealt a savage blow in the 2003 Canberra fire storm and the Wikipedia article is an interesting read.


Anyway they gave me a sense of what life at Urayarra was like a century ago.

Cheers Dave.

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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...