Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Lodge on the Lake competition

I was interested to see that an image I had on a post about the Attunga Point Quarry on the edge of Lake Burley Griffin was being referenced in the University of Canberra's Lodge on the Lake competition. I wish I had taken a better photo of the rockface but I was out on a walk and only had a 3MP camera with me.

Everything I know of an historical nature can be found here but I will link to the competition website which has the full details and re-post the wet and windy images I have from 2010 along with a map.... I think a new Lodge in Canberra would be very exciting. I hope they are adventurous...

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A wartime plane crash or crash landing on Mount Ainslie

UPDATE: Please note this is not the 1940 Canberra Air Disaster near Fairbairn.

UPDATE: 8/6/13 New post. The Mystery is solved.

I research several old tales and rumours from Canberra's past, Its a hobby. Recently one old tale was raised by a friend, Dave Wheeler and it is even more interesting when an old report is backed by some physical evidence. We are both interested in discovering the circumstances...

The following is written by Dave Wheeler who can be contacted via his blog

My maternal uncle, the late Bill Guard the 3rd, was born in September of 1930 at Nurse Johnston’s Private Hospital in Queanbeyan. If a child could survive The Depression 1930 was a good time to be born, as it meant being too young to go to WW2 but old enough to enjoy the post war boom years where we had virtually 100% employment, affordable housing and little or no congestion.

Uncle Bill was the son of a sign writer, the late Bill Guard the 2nd, who was a well-known identity in the Canberra-Queanbeyan region.  The Guard family moved to Canberra to live in a new govie house at 6 O’Connell Street, Ainslie in 1939.

I did not meet Uncle Bill until he was in his thirties and I knew him only as a friendly, good-natured and quiet sort of a bloke who was much loved by his kids and in his later years his grandkids. I was aware however, that as a lad in Canberra he had not been an angel. He continually wagged school when he attended Canberra High, and as a 14 year old he wanted to fight one of the teachers he did not like, confronting him after school, saying to him, “Come on; just you and me!” The teacher would not oblige him.

Uncle Bill stayed in Canberra until the end of the war and then moved to Sydney to do a fitting and turning apprenticeship. Apparently he did some boxing in Sydney and excelled as a young adult in the rugby codes, playing at a representative level. He eventually joined the merchant navy and went to sea as a maritime engineer.

I am writing about my uncle because sometime between 1939 and 1945 he and his cobbers saw on Mt Ainslie the aftermath of a plane crash or crash-landing. The boys ran to the scene as quickly as they could but were turned back on arrival, as the plane had been cordoned off and officials and emergency personnel were going over it.

Bill and his mates hid behind some nearby bushes to watch the proceedings, but they never found out if the pilot and/or passengers had been killed, injured or walked away unscathed. It was wartime and there may have been some secrecy involved, as it may have been an RAAF plane.

When the officials left the scene as night began to fall the boys crawled through the cordon and took “souvenirs” from the plane. It must have been entirely premeditated, as Uncle Bill had a screwdriver with him, and when he saw a nice brass engine plate he unscrewed it and kept it for many years before he passed it on to me.

I wish I’d taken in more information about the plane crash before my uncle died, which was only a few years ago. Unfortunately his accomplices have also “fallen off the perch.” I would like to know more details about the crash or crash-landing and have searched online without success for articles in “The Canberra Times.” It seems at this stage all knowledge of the event has been lost in the mists of time, which may have been a result of it being deliberately kept quiet by the authorities.

I wrote to England on the matter trying to find out what sort of plane the engine plate came from, and was told that they did not have any records which could assist, although they did say it was not from a Gypsy Moth.

If any readers have any knowledge of the event they may be willing to share it with us.

Update 1/6/13 The mystery is solved.


Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Rummery's Hill Spotted Quoll

A mate of mine in Glen Innes lives on a 100 acre wildlife corridor he has set up as a sanctuary. We chit chat on different issues via YouTube which is his only way of interacting on the internet via his older style mobile phone. He lives on solar, does not own a computer and to understand why you would need to watch his channel.

He sent me a video this morning which I thought was very encouraging for the Spotted- Tailed Quoll. It was thought generally to be extinct in his area. Apparently it is only quasi-so. A recent road kill, although sad, indicates there is still a breeding population living in the area...

That's great for the Quoll in general and I'm hoping it is an event caused by increasing density moreso than a one off sad event. I haven't been able to capture one on remote camera yet in Namadgi. But this is encouraging.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Suspected Smoky Mouse 2

This is the second time that I suspect that I had captured a rare Smoky Mouse on camera in Namadgi. The first time was in the same location. The capture before was only 2 images as the suspect crossed a fallen branch and these captures were taken from not far away on a fire trail blackberry patch.

I can't confirm this animal as a Smoky Mouse... the pictures are suspicious but far from conclusive but I have identified its habitat and some of its food sources so I am only limited now by the quality of my equipment. Chance plays a large part but location... location seems to be the rule. I will note the obvious absence of feral animals this time around whereas 18 months ago the area was infested.

The series of 11 photos were taken at 30 second intervals at 1.20 am 23/2/13. They show the eye shine of the animal as it moves between the brambles and I have enlarged and cropped the last frame. Anyway... I think I am getting a little closer...

Friday, March 8, 2013

Capturing final moments of Canberra's old Cotter Dam

From the ACTEW YouTube Channel...

Published on Mar 7, 2013
This film captures the Enlarged Cotter Dam's first days of service with some perfectly timed rain just before Canberra's 100th birthday. ACTEW Water Project Manager Ray Hezkial takes us onto the new wall crest and down to say farewell to the old wall. Ray offers some personal reflections and insights into the project and what it has meant for the many people involved in its design and construction.

[Documentary maker Richard Snashall works with ACTEW Water to help us capture and document the Enlarged Cotter Dam and other water security projects for our Heritage Archive.]



Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Yowie - Myth, legend or real

I was asked recently for information on the mythical Australian Yowie by someone on YouTube and instead of spending hours writing something made a video in his favourite medium today. It went a bit long, 20 mins, Truthfully I am actually trying to improve my public speaking skills.

As for the question of what I know about yowies I have researched the phenomena, off and on, for 2 years. I started by getting sucked in by local historical clippings, met a lot of people along the way and found the modern happenings quite fascinating. There is more to the story than we currently know. Maybe someone with the appropriate scientific qualifications should look into that.

The researcher mentioned in the video:

Prepare for an interesting few hours.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Historic De Salis Cemetery restoration complete

The ACT Government today announced...

Historic De Salis Cemetery restoration complete

Released 01/03/2013
The ACT heritage-listed De Salis Cemetery, located on the banks of the majestic Murrumbidgee River at Tharwa, has been returned to the community after the completion of extensive restoration works, Manager of Operations, National Park and Catchments, Brett McNamara, said today.
"The De Salis Cemetery is a rare example of a 19thcentury pastoral station cemetery. It is of unique construction, comprising a raised circular terrace with walls of local stone," Mr McNamara said.
"During severe storms in December 2010 and January 2011 the stone wall of the cemetery collapsed as the earth subsided. The walls continued collapsing due to recurring heavy rain in 2012 and the presence of wombats burrowing under the site.
"Staff from ACT Parks and Conservation Service, ACT Heritage Unit and construction contractors have rebuilt and restored the walls using the collapsed stone in a pattern that replicates its original design.
"The raised site has been further stabilised by the installation of internal gabion walls (wire and stone reinforced blocks), the compacting of soil and landscaping to control rain run-off.
"Construction was also assisted by the use of ground penetrating radar to locate potential unmarked burial sites. This important data helped guide contractors to ensure that minimal disruption to graves occurred during the work.
"The ACT Heritage Unit and Heritage Advisory Service provided ongoing feedback on the most appropriate methodology for the site's restoration throughout the planning and construction phase. External heritage experts were also engaged to ensure works were in accordance with the site's heritage plan.
"The 135 year old De Salis Cemetery is the resting place for some 16 members of the De Salis family and employees of Cuppacumbalong station. These works to restore this significant site will ensure the heritage and conservation values of our early European history is preserved and shared for future generations," Mr McNamara said.
- Statement ends -

I am not going to say much about this after a very long involvement but just to tie the matter up I will post what I have recorded publicly over the years on the issue. In fact I have deleted many of the posts as I argued for more appropriate action and an end to a heritage assessment that seemed endless. I was very pleased to see this project completed in 2 years 5 months. I was a witness to the extensive wombat burrowing under what was to become one of the wall collapses in October 2010. The video below shows the original damage some days after the collapse and thus started my annoyance at the ACT Government's delay in organising repairs...
Uploaded on Nov 6, 2010 (Third party music hence the ad)

7 months later I returned...

Uploaded on Jun 25, 2011


2 Months later...

Uploaded on Aug 29, 2011

And finally 3 months later when I was asked by  Genevieve Jacobs on ABC 666 Canberra 14-11-12 

I suppose in hindsight my major issue with the people in charge of this repair was their denial of any wombat involvement in the wall's collapse. All I could derive from that was a fear of acknowledging negligence in the cemetery's past maintenance. Unfortunately for them this required basically calling me a liar.

You only need read today's statement however and compare that to Mr McNamara's comments in the radio interview. Of course I always knew my proof lay hidden under the fallen field stones. I hope this time around they pay attention to the asset and check it once in a while for future wombat diggings.

It really is a very interesting place to visit. I recommend parking under the Tharwa Bridge and walking up the river walk (I believe Onyong walk) through century old elm trees, past Cuppacumbalong Homestead and through to the junction of the Gudgenby and Murrumbidgee River's... That was Rodolph's favourite spot...

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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...