Activities 2015-2020

Activities Held 2018 (2015, 2016 & 2017 Below)

All items are in reverse date order starting with the lastest at the top and oldest at the bottom

The following is an outline of major shed excursions and special activities that been held. Many of the pictures taken are stored on the sheds Google Photos web presence

First Activity, 2018


Activities Held 2017

The following is an outline of major shed excursions and special activities that been held. Many of the pictures taken are stored on the sheds Google Photos web presence

Christmas Function, 22nd Dec 2017

On this day we had our usual activities plus a short Old Time Melodrama organised by Ray Osmotherly, with a visit by Santa Claus (Harry Redfern) followed by BBQ & Sausage Sizzle

Some photos on Google Photos

Balikpapan – OBOE Two – The Last Major Land Operation of World War II, 24th Nov 2017

Greg showed a World War II 25 min video on the Battle for Balikpapan, a port on south eastern coast of Borneo. It was the location of the last major Aust or Allied ground operation of WW2. Balikpapan was also the largest Australian amphibious landing since Gallipoli. The landing at Balikpapan was codenamed Oboe Two, and was the largest of the Oboe operations mounted by 1 Australian Corps at various places around Borneo.

The landing had been preceded by heavy bombing and shelling by Australian and US air and naval forces. After a tremendous preparatory bombardment, the 7th Division went ashore on the morning of 1 July 1945. They had about 21,000 men including US, Dutch, tanks, artillery & RAAF units. The Morotai to Balikpapan convoy included more than 200 vessels.

The Australian 7th Division, composed of the 18th, 21st and 25th Infantry Brigades, made an amphibious landing, a few miles north of Balikpapan, on the island of Borneo. It was the first time during the war that the division had fought as a whole.

Once ashore, the division had to fight much harder for its beachhead than had the forces at earlier Oboe landings at Tarakan or Brunei Bay, and concerted Japanese resistance continued for the next three weeks as it advanced inland. The Japanese were outnumbered and outgunned, but like the other battles of the Pacific War, many of them fought to the death.

Major operations had ceased by July 21. The 7th Division’s casualties were significantly lighter than they had suffered in previous campaigns. The battle was one of the last to occur in World War II, beginning a few weeks before the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki effectively ended the war. Japan surrendered while the Australians were combing the jungle for stragglers. 229 Australian were killed and over 600 were wounded in the battle and around 1,800 Japanese.

Following the surrender, the three Brigades were committed to occupation duties until around February 1946

Was This battle Necessary – the most complete description of the operation from a site called Digger History. It includes a digital reprint of 7-8 pages from a book “Stand Easy” published by the Aust War Memorial in Sep 1945. This is the most detailed publication  on the Balikpapan operation available on the web.

Balikpapan was one of the most controversial Australian operations of the WW2. By this time in 1945 it was clear that the Australian operations in Borneo were not contributing anything to the final defeat of Japan and many high-ranking Australian officers considered them strategically unsound. The Aust C-in-C, Gen Blamey, advised the government to withdraw its support for Oboe 2. The government, however, stood behind the C-in-C of the South-west Pacific Area, General Douglas MacArthur, who had devised the Oboe operations, and the Balikpapan landings went ahead.

Bowling Day, 20th October 2017


Anzac Presentation on Pat Donnelly by Mike Dywer, 13th October 2017

Mike Dwyer presented a very interesting and thought-provoking presentation on the story of Sergeant Pat Donnelly, focussing on the issue of what war can do to a man, particularly Shell shock (now known more formally as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD).

Pat was 20 when he enlisted on 14 Sept 1914 in the 2nd Pioneer Battalion Brigade, 2nd Australian Division, 1st Anzac Corps.

Pat had been living at Lake George at the family’s guest house, which had been built for tourists. Unusually at that time, Pat had a licence to drive a motor boat. He was the seventh of 12 children, all of whom were good horse riders.

Pat embarked on the Orvieto, which joined a convoy of 39 ships transporting 20,000 men and 5,000 horses to England. Pat’s role aboard ship was looking after the horses. Delays in establishing the camp in England meant the convoy was unloaded in Egypt, where a tent city had been established. While there, Pat had what turned out to be a fortunate accident. A rambunctious horse possibly saved the then Corporal Donnelly from being slaughtered during the first ANZAC landing at Gallipoli. In 1915, while based at Alexandria, he suffered a heavy blow from a horse, which dislocated his left shoulder. After a slow recovery in hospital Pat was transferred to the 9th Battalion in July and eventually found himself at Gallipoli. After leaving Gallipoli, Pat was part of the massive movement of ANZACs to France.

During the terrible 1916-17 winter the Germans built a very strong defence system for 100 miles across France known as the Hindenburg Line. It consisted of two deep trenches (OG1 and OG2) about 150 yards apart with machine-guns, concrete pillboxes and rows of barbed wire entanglements. Bullecourt was one of many small French villages on the Line.

In April 1917 the Allies commenced attacks on the first battle of Bullecourt. It was a disaster. Because 12 tanks were available the attack was made without the essential creeping barrage to protect the infantry. The tanks were a failure and most were destroyed. The allies were forced back into their trenches.

In the second battle of Bullecourt from 3-17 May 1917 a small part of the Hindenburg Line was captured and held, but it came at a tremendous cost. Brigadier-General Gellibrand, an Australian, had argued that the zero hour should be 3.00am but a compromised start some 45 minutes later was too late for the troops to use the cover of darkness. The soldiers’ silhouettes in the brightening sky made them easy targets for machine guns. The decision was disastrous, particularly for the 1st ANZAC Corps. Hand-to-hand fighting took place during heavy artillery shelling and machine gun fire. Bodies – both Allied and German soldiers – “thickly carpeted” the trenches. Evacuated wounded and gassed soldiers from the 2nd Division totalled 2,811. Casualties on the Allied side alone during the two Bullecourt battles totalled a staggering 14,000, at a rate of a thousand a day. The 1st ANZAC Corps lost 292 officers and 7,190 ‘other ranks’. It was indeed “trench warfare at its most murderous”. The loss of life on both sides was so appalling that the battlefield was given the gruesome nickname ‘blood tub’.

Sergeant Pat Donnelly was awarded a Military Medal at Bullecourt. The citation for Sergeant Donnelly, aged 23, reads as follows:

“At Bullecourt [Pat] showed great bravery on the morning of the 3rd May. This NCO was put in charge of a party of 11 men to put in a block and machine gun position in OG1 [the German front fire-trench]. They advanced with the first wave of the 19th Battalion 5th brigade. The infantry were driven back. He then waited with Private Rosenberg (these two being the only ones left of the party, the rest were killed or missing) in a shell hole until the infantry were reorganised and came up again. He then blew in the side of OG1 with Stokes Mortars making a suitable place for a machine gun. This was afterwards occupied and used as a machine gun position.”
(Signed) Brig-General Gellibrand, Commanding officer 2nd Australian Division.

After the battles at Passchendaele, Menin Road and Polygon Wood, Pat was selected to be Sergeant at the School of Musketry at Salisbury Plains, England where he stayed until the end of the war.

With the Armistice signed on 11 November 1918 the welcome home for the first Diggers from overseas was, at times, quite astonishing. On 28 January 1919 the Queanbeyan Age reported that three ANZACs from the Bungendore district: Colonel Rutledge, Major Leahy and Sergeant Donnelly “…… were given a warm and hearty welcome home on Wednesday in the Federal Hall which was crowded to excess”. The town band played patriotic music for an hour outside “before proceedings commenced” and each man was presented with “a handsomely inscribed gold medal”. The Welcome Home Committee had also organised refreshments and dancing “which was thoroughly enjoyed and kept up until midnight”. Bearing in mind that for the past four years the newspapers were full of bereavement notices for those soldiers, sailors and airmen who didn’t come home the joyous
celebrations would have been difficult for some families in the community.

Upon his return to civilian life, Pat was employed by his uncle on his grazing property. In 1920 he applied for a Soldier Settler Block in the Federal Capital Territory, block 98A, which is where the showground (EPIC) is currently located. He was offered an adjoining block of 580 acres, which is now a section on the western side of the Federal Highway just north of EPIC and North Watson on the other side of the highway. His lease was for 12 years from 1920 to 1932.

Pat became difficult to deal with and made some bad decisions. The question is whether or not he was affected by PTSD! Examples were constant arguing with government employees who were required to inspect his land, and eloping with his first cousin five days before Christmas.

Pat was a successful farmer but, in 1932, when it came time for his lease to be renewed he was offered only a two-year extension so he left and purchased some freehold land in NSW, near Blayney. In 1937 he purchased the unused Blayney Town Hall and reopened it as a picture theatre. It was bombed only one month later. At a trial, the suspect was found not guilty.

Pat bought some harvesting machinery from “a Canberra man” (possibly one of the Gribble family, well-known in Canberra). Unfortunately, the first time it was used on Pat’s farm turned out to be disastrous. An eye-witness described the events:

“Then Pat lost a wheat crop and his harvesting machine. The men were working in the back paddock when mum took the smoko out to the men. They had stopped for afternoon tea in the middle of the paddock. They saw smoke. Apparently one of the men had dropped a cigarette butt and there was a hot breeze blowing and within minutes the wheat crop was alight. Pat managed to get the truck out of there but the traction engine, which was steam driven, and towing the threshing machine (which divided the wheat from the ears of wheat) was burnt to the ground.”

Pat won many events at sheep-dog trials, including at the Sydney Easter Show. He was keen on horse racing and built his own racetrack. At one stage, he was accused of training racehorses using batteries but there was “no charge”. However, he was guilty of entering a ring-in horse at a Cowra race meeting.

Pat separated from wife (they had no children) but did not divorce. He sold his property and moved to Sydney where he started a successful lawn mowing business. He purchased Sea Wolf, a huge 48 feet long deep-sea fishing cruiser, which had been used as a Navy rescue boat in the Battle of the Coral Sea.

Pat became friendly with radio personalities Bob and Dolly Dyer of Pick-a-box fame. However, his health was deteriorating from the effects of his war injuries – bullet wounds, including one to the knee, trench feet and mustard gas from which his left lung never cleared up completely. Pat died at a relatively young age (59) from the effects of these injuries.

2017-09-22 Cowra Japanese Gardens Excursion

Google Photos

John Jervis – the Towrang Convict Stockade, 15th Sep 2017

Information from Shed Newsletter #395. John gave us a great presentation. Towrang is 11 km north-east of Goulburn close to the area in which John Jervis spent his young years. John has extensively studied the early history of the region around Goulburn and Marulan; the Towrang Convict Stockade is a fascinating part of that history. Brochure in pdf of the Stockade

Towrang Map

Map of Towrang

The stockade, which was constructed in the early 1830s, is located on farmland between Towrang and Carrick Roads beside the Hume Highway opposite the Derrick VC rest area.

The stockade was one of several built in the 1830s to house convicts work building the “Great South Road” which was designed to provide access from Sydney to the agricultural areas around Goulburn. Other stockades were located at Wingello, Black Bob’s Creek, Berrima, Bargo and Yerrinbool.

The Towrang Stockade was similar to these others, with convicts housed in four by three metre cells, known as ‘elephant boxes’, each holding 10 convicts. The convicts were in two groups – those in leg irons and those without. The former consisted of men who had been convicted of serious crimes (murder, rape etc) and were sentenced to at least 14 years, and life in some cases, while the latter group comprised those who had committed less serious crimes. The leg irons came in different weights and with varying lengths of chain, with those weighing about 7kgs being used on the more recalcitrant convicts. They were also supervised by military guards.

The Towrang site includes a powder magazine and a small cemetery. Nearby is the Towrang Bridge, built as part of Surveyor Thomas Mitchell’s Great South Road in 1839, and six stone culverts, two of which are still in very good condition. The mortar holding them together was made from ground-up mussel shells.

Bridge over Towrang Creek

Bridge near Derrick Rest Area

The first road built south of Mittagong was the South or Argyle Road which was built between 1818 and 1833. It headed south near Marulan towards Lake Bathurst rather than to Goulburn. Macquarie’s Government Road was built in the first half of the 1820s. It ran from near the current intersection of the Hume and Illawarra Highways along the tops of the hills on the northern side of the Wollondilly River (the English practice was to build on hills to avoid the wet ground in the English valleys). As a result, it was a difficult road to travel on and the western part was replaced by Riley’s Road, constructed between 1822 and 1839. All these were superseded by Mitchell’s Great South Road, which was progressively opened between 1830 and 1843 and which was built, broadly speaking, along the current alignment of the Hume Highway between Mittagong and Goulburn.

John showed a cat-of-nine tails, which is clearly a nasty instrument, proved by the fact that he has to register it annually with the police as an offensive weapon and store it in a gun cupboard.

Shed members were asked to indicate their interest in an excursion to the stockade around April next year. There was sufficient interest to ensure that it will happen.

Letters From The Trenches – Part 4, 4th Aug 2017

Roger presented another episode on World War I letters written by his great uncle Stan Willis who perished in the war. To provide context for Stan’s letters, Roger added comments on life in Australia, and on the history of the war.

This episode started with a letter written in January 2017 when Stan arrived in Portsmouth after nine weeks and four days at sea.

Living conditions weren’t the best. Two men had to share each bed; however, they were issued with six blankets each which they used as follows: seven blankets to cover them, with the remainder to be used to cover the straw filled mattress or to form pillows.

On the brighter side, Stan and his brother were able to spend some time in London. This city amazed the two country boys, and Stan mentioned several of the ‘tourist sites’ they visited. Stan wrote that he wished he could save enough money to bring his family to the city. Perhaps it wouldn’t have been his Methodist mother’s cup of tea – Stan had to assure her that he hadn’t been led astray by bad women, and that he hadn’t been succumbed into partaking of the devil drink even though his comrades called him a ‘wowser’.

In March Stan wrote to his family the day before he was to be suddenly deployed to France. He was posted to the battle-hardened 21 Battalion to replace casualties suffered at Gallipoli and in France.

On 10 April he wrote of the horrors of Bullecourt and Ypres, and mentioned some close shaves he had had. He asked his family to pray for him.

On 19 August (100 years ago this month) he wrote from a sick bed in a military hospital.

Kellie Toohey Gave a Talk on How Exercise Can Assist Cancer Patients With Recovery – 28th July 2017

Kellie has visited the Shed several times most notably on Feb 26th 2016 when she and several students talked about their work at UC. About Kellie from her UC page

Kellie’s talk was officially titled “Exercise: The effects on Health Outcomes and CVD risk in Cancer Survivors

The following information is from Shed Newsletter #388 dated 4th Aug 2017

Kellie is an Accredited Exercise Physiologist who is an Assistant Professor of Clinical Exercise Physiology at the University of Canberra. She is also studying the final year of a doctorate, and so over the past few years has been heavily involved in research on the effects of exercise on cancer sufferers.

The Shed thanks Kellie for her interesting presentation, commends her on the fine work that she has done which will help so many people, congratulate her on almost finishing her doctorate, and looks forward to addressing her as ‘Doctor’ in the very near future.

We assure her that as a consequence of UC activities at the Shed over recent years, including this latest presentation, Shed members will involve themselves in more exercise than would otherwise have been the case.

Kellie was introduced by Don Gruber. Don, who is suffering from cancer, has been undergoing exercises under Kellie’s supervision, is an enthusiastic admirer of her skills and empathy.

Kellie began by explaining that she would speak on four topics: The University of Canberra; Cancer and exercise; Exercise recommendations; and Time efficient exercise protocols in improving the health of cancer survivors.

1. University of Canberra

Kellie’s enthusiasm about her university has no limit. She advised that the University of Canberra is regarded as being in the top 100 young universities in the world, that it has a 90% graduate employment record, and that its graduates have above-average starting salaries.

The university has a strong health focus. It already has excellent allied health-care training facilities in a well-appointed health ‘hub’. However, the university’s almost completed hospital will greatly increase the facilities. Included in the hospital are rehabilitation, aged car, and child care centres; residential facilities might also be built.

UC courses are very practical, and students are closely involved with the care of patients. U3A members are currently mentoring students on a volunteer basis.

2. Cancer and the Benefits of Exercise

Kellie displayed a table showing the frequency of new cancer cases diagnosed in Australia in 2016. The total diagnosed was 130,466. The present survival rate after 5 years is about 80%.

Of the cancer patients diagnosed over the past five years, approximately 600,000 are still alive and require medical treatment.

Many cancer patients also suffer from other diseases (comorbidities). In a Year 2000 survey, 1823 persons 58% self-identified as having at least one other disease.

Treatment of patients has side effects. CV fitness, muscle mass, and quality of life all fall, and depressive symptoms, fatigue (often for years) all rise.

(A member of the audience asked ‘How do we know when we are depressed?’  Kellie referred to such things as sadness, not getting pleasure out of the things we do, anxiety, and emotional stress. However, the important factor is the length of time we get such feelings; it is normal to feel down for short periods of time, but if such feelings last for weeks then depression probably exists.)

Exercise helps to overcome these problems, especially as there is lessening of the deconditioning caused by sedentary behaviour. Trials (including the voluntary running of mice) show that exercise can reduce tumour growth by 60% to 70%. However, more research is needed; that research needs to look at how much exercise and what types of exercise are optimal.

Potential exercise effects on tumour growth include:

  • Blood flow – chemo drugs can get into the tumour more efficiently;
  • Muscles produce chemicals that destroy tumour cells;
  • Natural killer cells (NKC) become more active; and
  • Adrenalin and IL6 rise.  Interleukin 6 (IL-6) is an interleukin that acts as both a pro-inflammatory cytokine and an anti-inflammatory myokine. In humans, it is encoded by the IL6 gene.)

Unfortunately, structured exercise is not yet commonly prescribed.

3. Exercise Recommendations

The Cancer Council of Australia recommends at least 20 minutes of moderate activity per day. There is a link at the bottom of this article to Cancer Council recommended exercises.

Medicine Australia recommends 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise per week, or an equivalent amount of high intensity exercise and two to three sessions of resistance based exercises.

A general rule is that more is usually better than less.

4. Kellie’s PhD Study – Time efficient exercise protocol in improving the health of cancer survivors

Kelly’s PhD work involved several studies. Some of these are outlined below.

One research project published in the International Journal of Health Sciences and Research (accepted September 2016) was ‘Do activity patterns and body weight change after a cancer diagnosis?’

Her aim was to determine what impact (if any) a cancer diagnosis would have on self reported activity levels and body weight.

From her sample of 90 patients (81 female, 9 male, mean age 41-50), she found:

For weight:  60% gained weight, and only 26% lost weight.

For activity patterns: In the 12 months post-diagnosis, cancer survivors report increasing their sleeping time and reducing their levels of vigorous and light physical activity (PA).

This may or may not be related to the increases in body weight.

Despite the message of the importance of PA during and after treatment for cancer, people tend to shift their activity patterns towards a more undesirable profile – Increases risk of recurrence and other chronic diseases.

It was known that high-intensity exercise (HIE) is gaining popularity as an effective and time efficient intervention for cancer survivors to improve health.

Another of her research topics was: High-Intensity Exercise Interventions in Cancer Survivors: A Systematic Review Exploring the Impact on Health Outcomes.

The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness and safety of HIE interventions in improving health outcomes in cancer survivors.

Her method was to review other studies.

A search returned 423 articles, of which eight studies (including 507 participants) were included. A high percentage of the cancer survivors included in this review were diagnosed with either breast (25%), lung (23%) colorectal (10%) cancer.

HIE interventions of four to 18 weeks consisting of 15 seconds to four minute intervals of HIE were compared to a continuous moderate intensity (CMIT) protocol or a control group.

Significant improvements in the HIE intervention compared to the CMIT or control group were reported in VO2 max, maximal strength, body mass, body fat, hip and waist circumference.

Mixed mode interventions that included both aerobic and resistance exercise were most effective improving the fitness levels of cancer survivors by 12.45 to 21.35%.

Her conclusions were:

  • Participation in HIE interventions improved physical and physiological health related outcome measures in cancer survivors.
  • Given that HIE sessions require a shorter time commitment for cancer survivors; it may be a useful tool for those who are time poor.
  • There seems to be low risk in participating in HIE. However it may be appropriate for patients to be screened by a clinician prior to participating in this exercise modality.

Details of another study published in October 2016 “A pilot study examining the effects of low-volume high-intensity interval training and continuous low to moderate intensity training on quality of life, functional capacity and cardiovascular risk factors in cancer survivors

Aim: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effects of low-volume (LV) high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and continuous low to moderate intensity training on quality of life, functional capacity and cardiovascular disease risk factors in cancer survivors.


  • HIIT = 30 sec cycling at a HR 85-90% of predicted HR max followed by 60 sec active recovery x 7
  • Moderate = 20 minutes of continuous cycling at 50-65% predicted HR max
  • Assessments: Physical function, QoL, body composition, arterial stiffness.

Results were:

Significant improvements (time) were observed for waist circumference and white blood cell count; augmentation pressure (AP) and central diastolic pressure (CDP); overall quality of life and the quality of life subscales (physical, emotional, functional well-being).

Waist circumference decreased from pre to post intervention in the LVHIIT group

Conclusions were:

  • LVHIIT may have increased benefits in improving fitness levels and anthropometric measures and provide a time efficient.
  • Supervised LVHIIT and CLMIT can be safely carried out by cancer survivors.
  • Changes were seen in both LVHIIT and CLMIT groups in different variables, suggesting that the two types of intensities target different outcomes making it difficult to conclude if LVHIIT or CLMIT is better.
  • Cancer survivors will most likely gain the best benefits by incorporating both forms of training.
  • More research is required to understand the mechanisms by which these changes occur, so that clinicians can provide clinically relevant evidenced-based exercise prescription for cancer survivors.

Finally, where will Kelly’s research go to from here?

  • Specific guidelines for those with treatment effects (neuropathies, incontinence, fatigue etc)
  • Mechanisms involved in the changes; HRV, cortisol, brain (MRI) and heart (Echo) function
  • Guidelines given to patients at diagnosis
  • Specific programs in cancer centres for people going through treatment

References for those who wish to read more

From ABC Radio Canberra Fri 28th Jul 2017 a 16min audio podcast “High intensity exercise, working up a sweat, and chemotherapy may seem like an odd combination, but what began as a University of Canberra project has turned into an on-going exercise program to help people with cancer

Exercise for People Living With Cancer” a 56 page pdf document developed by the Cancer Council of NSW with input provided by Kellie Toohey


John Edge Gave a Talk on the Survivability of the Aust Electricity Network – 2nd June 2017

John Edge talked about survivability issues with the National Electricity Grid with emphasis on the impact of non-synchronous intermittent renewable energy sources such as wind & solar. John also spoke about the possibilities with Snowy 2.0 & showed some slides of how it might eventuate. The following is mostly a copy from Newsletter #380.

Recently there has been much comment in the media on the fragility of our electricity supply, particularly in South Australia & Queensland. Much of this comment is confusing & unfortunately is written by media people rather than people with expert subject knowledge. John set about explaining the complexity of the problem & suggested some of the solutions.

John explained the general structure of the electricity & transmission industry, starting with generation and ending with consumption. The structure consists of generation, step-up voltage transformation, transmission, step-down voltage transformation, distribution system & finally, connections to consumers.

The next thing John explained is the way the industry is managed & controlled. The industry is separated into a multitude of competing entities consisting of generation entities, transmission entities, distribution entities & retailers. These entities are managed by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) operating under the authority of the Australian Energy Market Regulator (AEMR).

The important thing to realise is that AC electrical energy is not something that can be stored as AC energy. Consequently, AC energy must be used as it is produced. In other words; production of energy must be equal to consumption of energy. From moment to moment this is not always the case.

John then explained how complex the National Electricity Grid is and how additional generating capacity can be added to or subtracted from the grid and what happens when the grid is stressed or is over saturated. He explained how and why the grid collapses, as happened recently in South Australia, causing many days without electricity being available and with the interconnect from Victoria collapsing as it was unable to handle the increased South Australian load as intermittent power sources (wind generators and solar panels) became disconnected from the grid.

In relatively recent times there has been much discussion about renewable energy sources. This discussion has been particularly about Wind Turbine Farms and Solar Farms. The discussion also includes the roof-top solar panels installed on private residences & commercial & industrial buildings. Wind & Solar energy is by its nature intermittent. The connection into the grid of energy generated from these sources is therefore intermittent. The electricity grid can cope with a degree of intermittency, but there comes a point where there must be something available in the system to compensate for the intermittency. This point has now been reached in the system.

One solution to addressing compensation for any loss of generation from intermittent sources is hydro power which is the key element is the ‘Snowy 2 Proposal’ recently announced by the Prime Minister. Snowy 2.0 is a pumped hydro project with the potential to provide storage for large scale, reliable renewable energy to Australia at a time when energy security and climate change are at the forefront of public policy. Essentially this involves the building of three tunnels – a headrace of 17Km to take water from Tantangara Dam to a new underground power station, a tailrace of 9Km to exit the water to Talbingo Reservoir & a third tunnel to access the power station. The proposal envisages a 2,000MW capacity, raising the Snowy Scheme’s overall capacity by 50%. This energy storage capacity could then be used to mitigate times of high demand & would provide a rapid-response capability when electricity supply is under duress. During periods of low demand, Snowy 2 would utilise excess power to pump water back to Tantangara Dam for re-use during periods of high demand. This is important as we reduce reliance on fossil fuels & increase use of cleaner energy.

John’s talk was fairly technical & there was much more discussed than identified above. Thanks John for a very informative presentation and for the use of your technical notes.

John’s Talk | Extracts from John’s Talk  – John did not get to talk about all the items in these documents

Jeff Brown – Australian Survivor 2002 Gave a Fabulous Talk – 19th May 2017

Those 19 members who didn’t attend the excursion to the National Gallery were entertained by member Jeff Brown. Most members would not have known that Jeff was a participant (the oldest participant) in Australian Survivor 2002. Australian Survivor 2002 was the first season overall of the Australian franchise of Survivor.

Filmed in the Eyre Peninsula near Port Lincoln, participants competed for $500,000. The format of the season followed closely on the inaugural edition of the American Survivor franchise. Sixteen castaways were selected to compete, divided into two tribes, identified by a different buff (American marketed ‘headwear for the active’).

As the series progressed, Survivors were evicted until the last remaining contestant was announced as the winner. The evicted contestant from each episode was featured in an interview on Channel 9’s Today show on the following day.

Jeff was an interesting presenter, telling us of his background, why he decided to nominate and how he managed to be selected following his production of a ten minute video which opened the door to the next selection stages.

He told of having to live off the land eating flowers and seafood that he could scrape off the rocks and of the need to walk 8Km return each day just to get drinking water. He told of how the Tribe members had to retrieve two telegraph poles following a 150 metre swim through freezing, shark infested waters. They then had to haul the poles up a steep sandy slope where each foot forward resulted in an 11” slide back in the soft sand. On eventually reaching the top they then had to lift the telegraph poles up against another pole.

Jeff talked about the freezing and wet conditions and the difficulty of getting a reasonable sleep in the bush. He talked about the intrigue and personalities of the participants and also talked about the mental impact on participants saying that many never recovered from the stresses to which they were subjected.

After the series was broadcast, participants were in much demand as speakers and together raised significant funds which were donated to community aid projects in Thailand and elsewhere.
Would he have entered had he known at the time what he knows now? Probably not.

Google Photos

Visit to the National Gallery of Australia 19th May 2017

13 Shed members attended the National Gallery excursion. A Gallery guide took members through the Indigenous Art section and then on to see some modern art. The National Gallery of Australia collects art of the highest artistic merit and excellence created by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The Indigenous art of Australia is part of the oldest continuing living culture in the world and one of the two major art traditions operating within Australia today.

Following the guided tour, members perused the art on display whilst others enjoyed coffee.

The Gallery is the Commonwealth of Australia’s national cultural institution for the visual arts and is a portfolio agency within the Department of Communications and the Arts.

Google Photos

Ray Osmotherly – Running a one man school- 5th May 2017

Ray gave an interesting talk. Some Google photos of his school experiences

Kevin’s 2015 trip to Gallipoli for the Centenary of the ANZAC landing – 28th April 2017

From Newsletter # 375

Canberra resident Kevin Kirk was our quest speaker. His topic was ‘Kevin’s 2015 trip to Gallipoli for the Centenary of the ANZAC landing’. Kevin is a second cousin of President Roger Amos at whose invitation he accepted to address our group. Part of the speech includes references to Roger’s great uncle Carl Amos who was killed on the first day of battle.

Kevin’s father served at Gallipoli but landed in November and was one of the last to leave the Peninsula in December, 1915. He later served on the Western Front as a Lewis Gunner and survived the War.

It was due to this connection that Kevin entered the national ballot and was one of the lucky 8,000 who were selected. He was accompanied by his son, although his wife was also on the cruise ship they travelled on.

Kevin’s talk explained the reason for the campaign. There were actually 3 campaigns – Sea, Land and a little-known Air war. The naval battles were a failure due to the ships hitting mines laid by the Turks.

Kevin started his tour from Lemnos which played an important role in the campaign as a staging point for the troops and then providing military hospitals for the wounded who were evacuated from Gallipoli and the important role played by the Nurses. Special mention was made of Matron Jessie Haggard who literally died in her sleep from exhaustion. Troops also trained at Moudras Beach, however as the beach was flat it did not represent the conditions to be found at Gallipoli. A ceremony is held on Lemnos each year several days earlier to coincide with the date the troops embarked for battle.

The talk included mention of the various battles that took place, eg., The Nek, Lone Pine etc. Mention was also made of L/Cpl Harris who was killed but was only 15 years 10 months old. His father signed his papers knowing the age of his son, but could not do anything as he himself had enlisted at a very young age and served in China years previously.

Kevin spoke about the many memorials on the Peninsula representing both sides. A large memorial is dedicated to the Turkish 57th Regiment which was completed wiped out. To this day, there is no 57th Regiment in the Turkish Armed Forces in recognition of their sacrifice.

Kevin carried with him a set of replica medals which he hoped to place on the headstone of Carl Amos, but as the road to the cemetery where Carl lay was closed he was unable to reach his grave. Instead he paid tribute to Carl at the grave of a fellow 1st Battalion comrade. Kevin also paid tribute to John Simpson Kirkpatrick and also a member of his father’s unit, by taking photos of the headstones with the replica medals laying on them.

It is interesting to note that the Turks suffered 10 times more casualties than the Allies.

As part of Kevin’s presentation, he played a video of the speech made by the then Prime Minister of New Zealand, John Key, which he considered the best of all those delivered at the Dawn Service. It was certainly a moving speech.

Kevin suggested that if one is considering visiting Gallipoli that they do their homework, especially learning what happened and where the various battles were staged.

Visit to the National Aboretum 7th April 2017

Google Photos

Michael Dwyer Talked to the Shed about Polio and How it Effected his Family & Others – 24th March 2017

From Newsletters #370 & 371. Michael Dwyer presented a session on Polio, a virus that destroys nerve cells causing muscle wasting and paralysis. It is a virus that spreads through contaminated food or water. Michael’s presentation on this subject was from a personal perspective in that he related the story of his elder sister’s journey with Polio over a span of 85 years.

As far as Australia is concerned, Polio first became evident in Tasmania in 1909 and it became a notifiable virus in that state in 1912, with all of the other states and territories effecting this notification requirement by 1922.

In 1938 Australia recorded its highest incidence of paralytic polio with 39.1 people per 100,000 contracting this virus. Some years later Sister Kenny, a famous Australian anti-Polio veteran campaigner, was instrumental in introducing radical yet effective techniques in promoting the mobilisation and activity of affected limbs by patients, as opposed to the standard accepted treatment of the day via immobilisation via splints etc. This brought her much opposition and scorn form many in the science and medical profession and she was not truly recognised for her efforts until she took her ideas and radical method to the United States of America.

The Salk Inactivate Polio (IPV) was introduced into Australia in 1956 and went into production at the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories (CSL). Following this, in 1966, the Sabin Oral Polio vaccine (OPU) was introduced into Australia.

In 1988 the Australian President of the International Rotary Foundation, Sir Clem Renouf, led the campaign to vaccinate every child against Polio. This campaign has been faithfully maintained to the present day by Rotary International. This focussed action is also being increasingly supported by scientists and health advocates throughout the world, as we remain vulnerable to this debilitating virus.

The last case of acquired Polio in Australia was reported in 1972, and the Western Pacific Region including Australia was declared Polio-free by the World Health Organisation in 2000. The number of Polio cases worldwide decreased by more than 99% from 350,000 cases in 1988 to fewer than 420 cases in 2013. The world’s longest surviving Polio patient spent 60 years in an iron lung, an incredible span of time, until her death in Melbourne at the age of 83 in 2009.

Pat’s Story

The Polio virus, destroying nerve cells and causing muscle wasting and paralysis, has affected millions of people throughout the world over many years and severely impacted on their lives. One such person is Michael Dwyer’s older sister Pat, who has endured the effects of Polio for the majority of her life. Here is Pat’s story, as told for the first time by Michael:

“My sister has lived with polio for 85 years. Pat has faced challenges almost beyond our understanding. At seven years of age she was a very healthy girl. Then came the accident.

Pat and a sister had attempted to ride a horse under the slip-rails at the cow yard. Her sister, holding the reins, ducked her head but Pat’s view was blocked and she was knocked to the ground, fracturing her arm. Apparently, she contracted the polio virus while she was being treated at the doctor’s surgery. A few days later she became paralysed, was admitted to the local hospital and given the Last Rites as she was not expected to live.

The slip-rails are long gone, but the family farmhouse which hasn’t been lived in for sixty years is a great spot for a successful family reunion.
From time to time the nurses unsuccessfully tried to get Pat to walk. Her parents were told that their daughter should be placed in a Home for Crippled Children. The approved treatment at that time for infantile paralysis was to keep the patient as immobile as possible, so Pat spent most of the next six months lying in her hospital bed. Then her doctor obtained a bed for her at Canonbury, a small convalescent hospital at Darling Point, Sydney.

Here she received intensive treatment that included special corsets, arm splints, an exercise program – and daily schooling. Unfortunately, Pat spent a large part of each day in a type of laced-up straight-jacket; her arms were bent at the elbows and placed in bandaged splints. Elizabeth Kenny paid a visit to Canonbury and expressed concern about the bandages on Pat’s arms. The unqualified nurse knew that muscles would waste away unless they were used. But her ideas, controversial at the time, were slow to be accepted.

There were also happy memories for Pat. She recalls going by taxi to a big picture theatre in Sydney to watch a movie starring Shirley Temple.

There were no fees at Canonbury. All treatment and accommodation costs were covered by the AJC, which had converted a residence into a hospital for polio patients. Pat was discharged aged 14. Thanks to some improvement in the methods of treatment and her own courage and determination, she was now walking normally. However, she had totally lost the use of her left arm and only limited use of her right arm. Both arms were withered and remained so throughout her life.

Pat returned home briefly. Then she applied for a job at the Far West Children’s Home at Manly where she lived and worked for twelve years. She became very independent and learned to use her teeth and feet to help her do everyday things. Her duties included taking groups of up to ten young country patients by bus and ferry to attend specialist doctors’ appointments across Sydney. This would not have been an easy job!

Painstakingly, Pat learnt to type using one hand. Who could she send a letter to? She chose Princess Margaret who lived in a palace.

An article in the Hobart Mercury of 24 April 1948, accompanying a group photo, reads…Children at the Far West Home, Manly, gather around Pat Dwyer, an infantile paralysis victim, who wrote to Princess Margaret “as one girl guide to another” asking her if she could spare an hour to visit the home next year. A Buckingham Palace spokesman said that it was almost certain the Royal Party would make the visit.

But the King was in poor health and the trip to Australia was cancelled. So, Pat did not meet her princess. In 1970, after a visit by the Queen, the organisation became the Royal Far West Children’s Scheme.

Pat married the man she fell in love with, although her doctors strongly advised her not to try to have children. But after several miscarriages Pat gave birth to a healthy boy. For many years, she cared for her son while her husband was at work.

Pat and her family were now living in their own home: this was a high point in her life. And further down the track there would be a daughter-in-law followed by grandchildren.

My big sister has lived a full and productive life and continues to enjoy a chat over a good cup of tea. Despite her disability, Pat joined the workforce, married, gave birth to a son, lived on her own when her husband died, and is a cherished grandmother. Recently, the family celebrated Pat’s 92nd birthday.”

Canonbury and Sister Elizabeth Kenny

At the point where Canonbury and Sister Elizabeth Kenny were referred to in Michael’s presentation, Bob Wills and Roger Amos shared with us some ‘For’ and ‘Against’ points about the life and work of Sister Kenny (1880-1952). This remarkable and determined campaigner for a (then) radical alternative treatment for patients suffering from the polio virus received both strong animosity and wide acclaim during her career.

These ‘For’ and ‘Against points are summarised below;
* Unqualified (little formal education, but developed a working knowledge of nursing when volunteering at a northern NSW hospital). However, in 1913 she opened a hospital in the Darling Downs where she pursued (apparently successfully) her alternative treatment practices (heated cloth application mobility exercises as opposed to immobilisation)

* Claims about her nursing work and locations in WW1 were said to be exaggerated, however she did in fact contribute through her work as a nurse on troopships bringing soldiers back to Australia. Given the title ‘Sister’ in 1916-17.

* Uncomplimentary names, including “Doctor-bashing Battle-axe” were aimed at her among strong opponents to her radical ideas, also unkind criticism for her imposing figure and large hats

* Mischievous sense of humour * Inventor of the ‘Sylvia’ stretcher for use in ambulances * Took her controversial treatments to America where she received wide recognition and admiration * Opened the Sister Kenny Institute in Minneapolis USA in 1942 * Authored several books on the cause and treatment of infantile paralysis and the Kenny Method * Received honorary degrees and gave speeches in USA
* Returning to Australia and retiring in 1951, Sister Kenny’s highly effective work gained little attention following the introduction of polio vaccines that ultimately became the primary control method.

Michael then requested any input from members who had any personal experience with polio. These contributions are summarised below

Geoff Grimmett spoke of his contracting polio at the age of three. Having become very ill on a long steam train trip to Kempsey NSW, doctors confirmed Geoff had polio and he was immediately put into hospital in Kempsey for an extended stay of many weeks. Very thankful for his mother’s attentive and intuitive actions (holding him and effectively stopping him from bearing his own weight) and subsequent hospital treatment, Geoff was only left with some minor leg-muscle wasting in his right leg and associated spinal stress (later fused), as a result.

Peter Mitchell recounted his father’s encounter with polio. After unexpectedly collapsing, Peter’s Dad was put into hospital and constrained in an iron lung in Sydney’s Royal Prince Alfred (RPA) Hospital. Eventually returning to Goulburn where he received massage therapy he was able to leave the iron lung and received and maintained physiotherapy treatment. Peter recalled a special moment for his family when his Dad was able to come home for Christmas dinner in a specially-designed wheelchair. Mr Mitchell retained a limp in his right leg for the rest of his life.

Callum Reid, Roger Amos and Brian Harber spoke very briefly of friends they had known who had contracted this virus and the long-term effects and impact this had on their subsequent lives.

Peter McCardle spoke on the wonderful contribution that Rotary had made to fighting and eradicating polio throughout the world. This effort started in 1988, being led by the then Australian President of the International Rotary Foundation, Sir Clem Renouf. Rotary to date have given over 250 million dollars to this fight. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are also supporting this great cause by donating $3 for every $1 that Rotary can raise, which is a wonderful effort.

Margaret Wade author of “Canberra Secrets” Talked to the Shed about her Passion for Canberra – 10th March 2017

Margaret Wade talking to Shed

Margaret Wade talking to Shed

From Newsletter #369. We enjoyed a very interesting and informative presentation from Marg Wade, author, regular radio guest speaker and now local tour guide. A number of our members may have heard Marg’s voice on her regular radio spots on the last Saturday of the month on ABC Radio Canberra (7.10 am) and 2CC (11.15am), and weekly on Mondays on 2CA (7.15am) when she relates stories and interesting facts about people and places in this great city in which we live.

Marg published the first edition of her book “Canberra’s Secrets” in 1999, and it has been so successful that its third edition is due to be published later this year. After leaving her teaching position in 1999 Marg decided to write a book and sought the advice and assistance of the ACT Writers Centre – the rest is history…the subsequent “Canberra Secrets” publication, a resident and visitors guide to Canberra, was born!

Marg then undertook the position of Marketing Manager with Sing Australia, a private organisation led by Colin Slater OAM. This was an exciting three-year period for Marg personally and the organisation itself, with 43 choirs being established Australia-wide and 7 more ready to start at the time of her departure from this position. For her work in this role Marg was awarded a Life Membership for outstanding service to Sing Australia.

Following publication of the second edition of “Canberra Secrets” Marg decided to use her substantial marketing, media and promotional skills in a number of Public Service positions, namely: Communications and Marketing Manager, Environment ACT; Senior Arts Communications Advisor at the Department of Communications and the Arts; International education promotion and Departmental Liaison Officer with Australian Trade Commission (Austrade) and Online Marketing Manager at the National Archives of Australia.

Resigning from her role at the National Archives Marg decided to have a “Sea Change” and start her own business – an exciting new venture called “Canberra Secrets” Tours – a range of small bus and walking tours around Canberra led by Marg. This venture brings together Marg’s passion for Canberra and its history generally, and her ability to share with others the great sites and public places we have in our National Capital. Examples of these tours are the half-day “Highlights” Tour (8-person bus trip) looking at such important and historic buildings as Surveyors Hut and other public buildings; the “Kangaroo Spotting” tour; “Café Culture” and “Cupping” coffee walking tours. As Marg says, “Life is busy and exciting!”  Click here for more information on the tours available from Canberra Secrets.

As Canberra Day occurs again on Sunday 12 March (the official date) Marg was keen to tell us something of the original Canberra Day, the day set aside to commemorate the founding and naming of Canberra as our National Capital. Marg spoke to a PowerPoint presentation that included historic photos of that special day on 12 March 1913 and shared with us some of the people involved and the fascinating stories that occurred on that cold Canberra morning.

We saw photos of the laying of the Foundation stones, involving the Governor-General of the day Lord Denman, Prime Minister Andrew Fisher, King O’Malley, Minister for State and Home Affairs, and Lady Denman.

Foundation stones of the intended Commencement Column monument were laid by the Governor-General, the Prime Minister, Andrew Fisher, and the Minister for State and Home Affairs, King O`Malley. These stones were originally laid at Camp Hill, a little further down towards lake Burley Griffin from Capital Hill, about 80 metres north of Old Parliament House. Never actually constructed, the monument’s column was intended to be 27 ft. high and mounted on six granite blocks, with one block coming from each state.

Marg then “painted” a picture of the day for us. It was a freezing cold morning and the site was covered with temporary tent accommodation. Heavy rainfall in the area leading up to the event saw the field hospital site flooded. In those days, it took the local dignitaries and VIP’s some three hours to reach the site from their accommodation in Queanbeyan (they had caught the train from Melbourne and Sydney respectively). Cars and horse buggies, wagons etc. filed along the dusty roads to the site. The official ceremony commenced at 11.30am as scheduled. The commemorative stones were then laid in the order: 1. Lord Denman 2. Andrew Fisher and 3. King O’Malley. After a hymn was sung accompanied by the various bands, the ‘big’ event was finally under way..the revealing of the official name to be adopted for the National Capital. Apparently, this was eagerly anticipated by the crowds, after a wide range of weird and wonderful names had been put forward e.g. ‘Cookaburra’ and ‘Marsupiala’. More serious names, for example, “Myola” (an aboriginal word) favoured by Prime Minister Fisher and “Shakespeare” (O’Malley’s choice) were also in contention.

Lady Denman, wife of the Governor General, then opened the container that held the official name and duly announced the name Canberra (which Marg said she pronounced ‘Canbra’). The official program ended with a luncheon for the invited guests, accompanied by speeches by dignitaries and politicians of the day. The original Foundation (or Commemoration) Stone was relocated on Capital Hill on Canberra Day 12 March 1988. A small plaque exists to acknowledge the original site of this stone on Camp Hill.

What a momentous day in Australia’s history!

Marg then concluded her presentation by taking a many questions and comments from the floor related to her talk. Asked what her motivation was in getting involved in promoting Canberra and its qualities, Marg related how she had once overheard a QLD politician state to interviewer Ray Martin (when he asked whether the politician would consider moving to Canberra if elected) that no, Canberra was a “dreary place”! Well, Marg needed no other motivation and immediately felt energised to correct that false impression and begin promoting Canberra Day in particular.

Marg related Prime Minister Menzies’s original dislike of Canberra and his eventual shift to appreciate and enjoy it, expounding its virtues.

Asked about the history of the (now deteriorating) Sydney and Melbourne Buildings in Civic, Marg explained that these were the original commercial hub of Canberra. Originally Government-owned for its business, the individual buildings were then leased to private operators, which was never intended. Marg said that the Melbourne Building was in fact not finished until after the Second World War, even though it was officially opened years before in 1928.

Questions from the floor confirmed, as did Marg, the wonderful contribution made to the social life of Canberra by Gus Petersilka, the vital Viennese-born restaurateur who introduced al fresco dining to Canberra despite strong local Government resistance and hindering.

Marg was equally delighted to receive feedback and interesting local information from several people who were, like many of our members, long-standing Canberra residents. Marg was interested to hear about the terribly dry weather leading up to the opening of Lake Burley Griffin by Prime Minister Robert Menzies in October 1964. It was only a matter of days before the opening that the Lake was dry, but local heavy local rains and floods along the Molonglo River ensured that the lake was filled, and to its intended level – quite amazing!

Thanks to Marg for her fascinating talk. It was inspiring to hear from one who is so passionately committed to promoting Canberra and its environs.

BBQ Excursion to Uriarra Crossing – 3rd March 2017

26 members went in 10 cars to Uriarra Crossing for the monthly BBQ. A large number were also at the Shed from 8-30-9.30AM for assessment by UC Students to determine their status and if they were suitable for attending the further Exercises Sessions in the following 5 weeks. Google Photos

University of Canberra – Faculty of Health – 24th Feb 2017

From Newsletter #367 – Kellie Toohey together with students Sophie, Alex, Kayla, Alex and Adam, from the Faculty of Health at the University of Canberra, presented a session on fitness.

With a focus on innovative education methods, the Faculty is continuously evolving and producing high quality graduates and leading health research and has previously organised exercise programs at our Shed.

Kellie is a PhD Scholar and Lecturer, Clinical Assistant Professor (Exercise Physiology), Sport and Exercise Science at the Faculty. Among other activities she is involved in research on how exercise can help cancer and heart attack patients. She indicated that many cancer victims don’t exercise after treatment and her studies are focussed on helping these people and assessing how their cognitive ability and heart performance is helped by exercise. She is always on the lookout for suitable volunteers so if you fall into this category, and would like to join an exercise program, please contact Kellie. Kellie thanked the Shed for the opportunity to link up with us once more and said the students were keen to be part of an exercise project involving the Shed.

Kellie Toohey with students Adam, Alex, Alex, Sophie and Kayla from Uni of Canb Faculty Health

Kayla then led into the types of exercise and the frequency, intensity and time taken for exercise as well as the type of exercise – aerobic or resistance. Any exercise is beneficial but most benefit is achieved if performed in conjunction with one another. Kayla explained the differences and benefits of aerobic (walking, running, swimming etc), resistance (weight training etc) and stretching (muscles, tendons, flexibility and yoga) and gave us recommendations on how often and strenuously to undertake these exercises.

Sophie then told us about the benefits of exercise – improve cardiovascular function and decreased risk factors, improved cognitive function, decreased anxiety and depression, increased self-confidence, decreased risk of falls and injuries in older adults and decreased risk of cancer and obesity. Sophie suggested that we should actively exercise – climb stairs, garden etc. rather than watch TV.

Adam then talked about bone health and the risks of Osteoporosis (quality and density of bone) and Osteoarthritis (inflammation of joints) and the importance of jumping, resistance exercises, stretching and moving to strengthen bones and muscles and hence reduce our chance of injury.

Alex #1 told us about brain health and how exercise can help prevent or delay the onset of dementia and can reduce stress, anxiety and depression. He explained that dementia affected thinking, behaviour and the ability to undertake everyday tasks. The risk of developing dementia is lower in those who are more physically active as exercise increases blood flow to the brain which keeps brain tissue healthy and promotes cell growth and repair. Exercise prevents high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke which are all risk factors for dementia sufferers. Indeed, exercise can be as effective as medication in reducing fatigue, improving sleep, improving cognitive abilities and reducing stress and anxiety levels.

Alex #2 then talked about the cardiometabolic effects of regular exercise and how it affects your heart, arteries, blood pressure, blood volumes, brain, metabolic processes and cardiovascular risk factors. Alex said the brain particularly loves exercise which causes it to release beneficial chemicals, hormones, endorphins, serotonin and dopamine among others. He indicated that exercises helps reduce blood pressure, decreases body fat and waist circumference, decreases blood glucose levels and generally means we can do more without getting tired and that we will enjoy more and better quality sleep.

Sophie then explained the exercise program that would commence on 3 March with pre-assessment testing, followed by five Friday exercise sessions, a post-assessment testing day and a final presentation of the results.

To be part of this exercise program a member just ha to turn up at 8:30am this Friday 3 March. Thanks to Kellie Toohey, Sophie, Alex, Kayla, Alex and Adam for their presentation and also to Don Gruber for organising their attendance.  Click to view or download a copy of the Students’ PowerPoint slides  |   Click for details of the assessment & training sessions program

75th Anniversary of the Bombing of Darwin, 17th Feb 2017

Australians joined in the commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of two significant events this week and Harry Redfern told the story of the Fall of Singapore on 15 February 1942 and of the bombing of Darwin which commenced on 19 February 1942.

Harry said that following their rapid advance down the Malay Peninsula in December 1941 and January 1942, Japanese forces crossed the Jahore Strait separating the peninsula and Singapore island on 8 February 1942. At 8.30pm on 15 February 1942, Commonwealth forces with 130,000 personnel were taken prisoner. Of the 15,000 Australians captured at Singapore, 7,000 would die before the end of the war. This is regarded as one of the greatest Allied defeats of the Second World War, and one of the greatest defeats in British military history.

On 19 February 1942 more than 240 Japanese aircraft attacked Darwin in two separate raids, representing the first ever enemy attack on Australian soil (excluding Australian dependencies). On that day more than 240 civilians and Australian and US service personnel were killed, and eight ships were sunk in Darwin Harbour. This was the first of 64 bombing raids by Japanese aircraft on Darwin between February 1942 and late 1943. The 19 February bombing would remain the most significant attack of the Second World War on Australian soil.

Read or download in pdf Harry’s complete notes

Roger Amos also told of Tom Morris who was a Prisoner of War, captured in Singapore and sent to work on the Thai-Burma railway. He told of how the dirt and rock required to be moved each day by prisoners rose from one cubic metre to three cubic metres.

Exercises at the Shed

19 Aug 2016 – 10 Feb 2017 (Fri)Jon Beale, a UC graduate ran exercise classes at the Shed at 8.30am. This was a commercial arrangement between Jon & the Shed.  He charged each participant $5 a session.  This started Fri 13 May and finished on Fri 10 Feb 2017. Jon also prepared a series of documents which will assist all Shed members interested in exercising at home. Look at or download Jon’s guidelines which include Exercise Program Guidelines, List of Exercises, how to rate exertion levels & what equip (available at K-Mart) that you should consider.

Shed Coffee Morning, 31st Jan 2017

Google Photos


Activities Held 2016

The following is an outline of major shed excursions and special activities that been held. Many of the pictures taken are stored on the sheds Google Photos web presence

Letters From The Trenches – Part 3, 23rd Dec 2016 & Christmas Function

Our Christmas meeting program on Friday 23 December started with our President reading from a letter written by his Uncle Stan dated 6 January 1917 whilst aboard S.S. Afric, a British passenger ship transporting Australian troops to Europe and sunk on 12 February 1917 when she was torpedoed by German submarine UC-66 off the Eddystone Rock in the English Channel.

Stan told of his trip, saying he was only able to get off the ship in Adelaide and Durban in South Africa after leaving Sydney over nine weeks earlier.

He told of buying and mailing postcards in Durban and of reaching Capetown on 2 December 1916 and departing the following day only to have the ship turn around and return on 4 December. The troops suspected that a submarine may have been the reason but they were never told.

The next port of call was Freetown in Sierra Leone which they reached on 15 December 1916. The weather was very hot and only some troops were permitted on shore. Stan spoke of buying fruit from the locals and hauling it onto the ship in buckets lowered down to the small boats and of having to help shovel 900 tons of coal from a collier.

They took on more troops and were joined by two cruisers named ‘Kent’ and ‘Highflyer’ and the following day by ‘Port Nicholson’ on which his friend, Barney was travelling. They then travelled in convoy until anchoring at Dakar on 22 December 2016. Stan told of spending Christmas there and although they were not again allowed on shore, they swam in the harbour, and visited the other ships in the convoy.

Letters From The Trenches – Part 2, 11th Nov 2016 & Remembrance Day

Our Shed commemorated Remembrance Day, with President Roger commencing with a reading of ‘In Flanders Fields’, a poem written during the First World War by Canadian physician Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae. He was inspired to write it on 3 May 1915, after presiding over the funeral of friend & fellow soldier Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, who died in the Second Battle of Ypres.

The poem inspired an American teacher, Moina Belle Michael, also known as ‘The Poppy Lady’, to write a poem in response to ‘In Flanders Fields’. She & Frenchwoman Madame Anna Guérin, known as ‘The French Poppy Lady’, encouraged people to use the red Flanders poppy as a way of remembering those who had suffered in war. The poem’s references to the red poppies that grew over the graves of fallen soldiers resulted in the remembrance poppy becoming one of the world’s most recognised memorial symbols for soldiers who have died in conflict & the poem & poppy are prominent Remembrance Day symbols throughout the Commonwealth. The poem also has wide exposure in the United States, where it is associated with Memorial Day & in Europe where it is associated with Armistice Day. The poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War I & their brilliant red colour became a symbol for the blood spilled in the war.

Then followed a number of short presentation by Members of interesting facts, letters, medals, photos etc that related to their relatives who fought during Australia’s armed conflicts.

A minute’s silence was observed at 11 am, in memory of those who died or suffered in all wars & armed conflicts and this was followed by reciting of The Ode. The Ode comes from ‘For the Fallen’, a poem by the English poet and writer Laurence Binyon

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

Brian Harber then read a quite emotive poem titled ‘The Inquisitive Mind of a Child’ by an unknown author:

Arend Bleyerveen recounted growing up in Holland during the war. Arend was born 20Km from Amsterdam and his father was 35 years old when war started. Arend told of the Germans invading Holland and the countries to the south and east.

Stan Willis

Rogers Uncle Stan Willis

Roger Amos read letters from his Uncle Stan who was killed in action on 9 August 1918. The first was written at Holsworthy on 17 Sep 1916. It tells of meeting with a Minister who knew the family well. He talked about the troops entertaining themselves by catching and trying to ride a buckjumping donkey. Stan could hear a German band (from the German internment camp) playing in the distance. The second written to family on 16th & 20th November 1916 telling of life, hardships and friends whilst on a troop carrier approaching Durban in South Africa, enroute to the war in Europe.

Harry Redfern read Paul Keating’s Eulogy to the Unknown Australian Soldier. The eulogy was delivered on Remembrance Day 1993 at the Australian War Memorial here in Canberra.

Bob Salmond told of his trip to Gallipoli last November & about the history of the Flanders poppies. He spoke of the Americans learning about the story of the poppies & Flanders Fields & of how the poppies became ‘remembrance poppies’ & a US symbol of remembrance for their Memorial Day commemorated on the last Monday in May. Bob talked about the significance of the red poppy in Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, US, France, & Belgium.

Don Gruber produced four rifle World War 2 bayonets that his father & his wife’s father had acquired. One was of Japanese origin. He also produced a bush knife (like a machete) of unknown history. Don’s father had reshaped one of the bayonets to form a meat killing knife.

Luke Wensing talked about the Flanders blood red poppies & how some varieties had black hearts with crosses. He brought some from his garden & also took both
photos of the poppy. Stuart Allan produced some medals that his wife’s grandmother, (E C L Wilson) had been awarded in World War 1. She was a nurse & had medals for serving in France, a British medal for WW1 service & a Victory Medal for war service. She also had an Australian Army Nursing Service 1918 appreciation

Roger Amos told of his father’s uncle Carl Amos who died at Gallipoli on Anzac Day, 25 April 1915.

Ray Osmotherly told of his father prepared, packed up & ready to leave Australia, only to learn that World War 2 had just finished. Ray showed a number of photos and postcards from that time. Ray also told of his mother’s cousin, Alfred Lucas, who was killed in France in 1917 & initially thought to be buried at Grevillers British War Cemetery. There was great confusion at the time on his actual date of death and his family was initially told he died on 5 November 1916. However, his parents received a letter from him dated sometime after this. The Red Cross then confirmed to them that he had died on 5 November 1916 but it later turned out there
were two Corporal Alfred Lucases and it was not their son who had been killed. Confusion reigned indeed. Regrettably, their son was later killed in 2017. After the war finished, his family was sent his medals and also a Memorial Plaque, commonly referred to as ‘Deadman’s Penny’.

Roger Amos then mentioned learning of two such forgotten medals which had been found when an old mantelpiece was being removed.

Ray said that parents at home in Australia had a difficult time with worry about their sons going to war & serving overseas. Many were only just married & had young children. Communications between them were few & far between. Parents suffered greatly when a son was killed & often didn’t want to talk about their death or war service.

Finally, Ray told of the local schoolkids who recently undertook a project focussed on Alfred and his war history.

Luke Wensing spoke of visiting war memorials in many small country towns & being saddened by the incidence of families who suffered multiple losses.

John Canning spoke of his National Service in London in the early 1950s where he was a Russian interpreter working for the British government. He told also of his cousins Mike and Bert who were killed when their plane crashed in WW2. He also had an Uncle Henry who was killed but he didn’t know much about him.

Information on The ode and In Flanders Field among many others things is available on the Army History website | The Army History website on Remembrance day

Melbourne Cup Lunch, Tuesday 1 Nov 2016

We held a late(ish) lunch (starting at 1.45pm at Black Pepper) & a drink, ran a sweep & then watched the race on a TV at Black Pepper, which is in Beissel St near the intersection with Emu Bank at Lake Ginninderra. About 19 Shedders & cyclers attended. It was organised by Cycle Meister Paul McCarthy

Visit to Carey’s Cave at Wee Jasper, 29th Oct 2016

28 Shed members travelled to Wee Jasper for a conducted tour of Carey’s Cave whilst others remained at the Shed for Coffee and Chat organised by Don Gruber.

Wee Jasper, located on the beautiful Goodradigbee River, has one of the most diverse geological landscapes in Australia. The road passes through a range of volcanic and sedimentary rocks with a mix of broad acre and grazing rural properties. The town is on the backwater of Burrinjuck Dam and following the recent wet weather, the lake and surrounds were spectacular.

Our Guide at the caves was Geoff who, after the usual safety talk, told us the history of the cave and how the various limestone formations occurred. The limestone in the area is some 400 million years old and very hard. Geoff explained the different types of limestone ranging from the very soft South Australian limestone to the very hard Wee Jasper limestone. Inside the cave we saw many different formations – dripstone, straws, stalactites, stalagmites, columns, shawls and flowstone. Geoff explained how these occurred and demonstrated how beautiful they could be under the soft light of candles rather than harsh electric lights.

We toured around a small area of this seven cavern cave – there was much more to see but our tour time was limited and lunch was waiting.

After our tour we visited the Duck ‘n’ Fishes Café at Cooradigbee Homestead which was about 4 Km from the caves for a welcome lunch and then departed for home around 4:00pm after a great day.

More information on Carey’s Cave

Our photos taken at Carey’s Cave

Red Cross Visit by Steve Curran & Grant Watt, 30th Sep 2016

Steve Curran is the Senior Volunteer Engagement Officer in the ACT Branch of the Australian Red Cross, which is affiliated with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), based in Geneva. The organisation we know as the “Red Cross” operates under three emblems – Red Cross, Red Crescent and Red Crystal (introduced about 10 years ago, with Israel under this symbol). All are recognised and protected under international law in the Geneva Conventions and they are recognised world-wide as neutral protective symbols.

The origins of the Red Cross date back to the Battle of Solferino in 1859. The plight of the more than 20,000 wounded left lying on the battlefield led a Swiss businessman, Jean-Henri Dunant, to organise local citizens to assist the wounded, without regard to the side they were fighting on.

Dunant wrote a book about his experiences, which ultimately led to the Geneva Conventions or International Humanitarian Law (IHL) being formulated and the International Committee of the Red Cross being founded in February 1863. Its initial purpose was to provide care to wounded soldiers without regard to their nationality. Neutrality was a fundamental principle of the ICRC and it later extended to being a neutral intermediary in issues such as civilian aid and protection, detention visits, tracing missing soldiers, passing on messages, promotion of IHL and medical services.

Today, the ICRC oversights 190 national societies. All national RC societies are independent but are affiliated with the ICRC. The functions vary globally but blood services, assisting youth and families, and disaster response are common across most countries. The Australian Red Cross was established in August 1914, just after the outbreak of World War I. Today there are 40,000 volunteers 24,000 members and 3,000 staff involved nationally. The Red Cross maintains Australia’s blood and organ donation services.

In Canberra, the Red Cross runs the Blood Bank (in Garran) plus the mobile blood bank which provides services to donors in Canberra and on the NSW south coast. It also provides emergency response and assistance in times of natural disasters, such as the current floods. In the past couple of years, the Red Cross has established retail stores in Woden and Civic. The funds raised from these sources and from donations assist the Red Cross in carrying out its humanitarian charter, which includes the following:

  • Refugees’ orientation;
  • Migration support program;
  • Assist in compiling resumes and explaining what to expect from interviews;
  • Community programs on nutrition and providing food;
  • Assisting homeless or socially isolated;
  • Providing assistance so people can stay in their own homes longer (e.g. meals on wheels);
  • Telecross, telechat and personal alarms (i.e. pendant alarms).

An activity for which additional volunteers are required is to make a weekly phone call or visit to provide social connection for people who are socially isolated. This could involve a visit to a park, museum etc. The Red Cross match the volunteer with the person being assisted and needs more male volunteers to assist men.
Apart from a willingness to assist someone, the only requirement for a volunteer is to obtain a “vulnerable persons card”, which lasts for 3 years and is free for volunteers. Foreign language skills may be useful.

A member of Red Cross is someone who wants to be involved but does not have time to volunteer. Generally, they contribute financially to the work of the Red Cross. Volunteers can register on the Red Cross website. Any queries can be emailed to Steve Curran ([email protected]).

Excursion to Honeysuckle Ck and a BBQ, 23rd Sep 2016

Twenty six Shedders headed south on Friday morning to Namadgi Park and the site of the Honeysuckle Creek space tracking station in the 1960s and 1970s.  They were accompanied by Dick Stubbs, who worked as a communications officer at the station until the mid 1970s.  Dick (below, with Roger) provided some interesting information about the station itself and the working conditions there.

Honeysuckle Creek was opened in March 1967 by the Prime Minister, Harold Holt.  It was one of three stations that provided coverage world-wide for the American Apollo Program.  The others were in Houston (the base for the Apollo Program) and Madrid, which was staffed entirely by Americans.  The staff at Honeysuckle Creek consisted mainly of Australians (about 100) and 10 Americans.

When Neil Armstrong became the first man to set foot on the moon during the Apollo 11 mission, the images seen by the largest TV audience in history were received via Honeysuckle Creek.

Dick explained that the most dangerous part of the Apollo missions was taking off from the moon.  The lunar lander had to lift off at exactly the right time and at the right angle to enable it to meet up with the circling spacecraft.

The Apollo Program was initially designed to cater for 30 space missions but was discontinued unexpectedly in 1972, with Apollo 17 thus becoming the last moon landing mission.  In 1974, Honeysuckle Creek was reconfigured for Deep Space Missions and it was  decommissioned in November 1981.  The large (26 metre) antenna was moved to Tidbinbilla in 1983 and Honeysuckle Creek was demolished around the same time.

A fleet of 27 Ford Falcons was provided as transport to and from the facility.  Dick drove 600 miles in total each week from his home in Holt to Honeysuckle Creek and back again.  Kangaroos were an ongoing hazard and snow also caused problems in winter.  On one occasion Dick and his fellow workers on his shift were trapped there for two days by a heavy snowfall.

The signals from the space craft were fairly weak and the spark plugs in cars would interfere with them.  To avoid problems when something was being tracked, a set of red lights was used to stop cars about 1½ miles below the tracking station.  Occupants had to wait, often for some time, for the tracking to be completed before they could continue their trip to the carpark.

Dick lamented the decision to demolish the facility.  He said that, being in a beautiful setting, it would have served very effectively as a tourist destination.


Pulses Day with Erica Roughton 16th Sep 2016

Erica, who is a Dietitian, is the Health Promotion Coordinator for the Arthritis Foundation of the ACT.

The cultivation of pulses can be traced back thousands of years. Evidence has been found of faba beans being cultivated in Israel over 10 000 years ago. Pulses are essential for their nutrient value, to assist in maintaining good health, in biodiversity and they also have a role to play in reducing climate change and alleviating of world hunger.

Pulses are formally defined as “A subgroup of legumes, plant foods from the leguminosae family commonly known as the pea family. The edible seeds of pulses are eaten by humans and animals.” Pulses include chickpeas, lentils, dry peas (but not green peas) and beans such as mung beans, baked beans but not green beans. They exclude crops produced mainly to extract oil, such as soy beans, and they also exclude seed for sowing purposes (e.g. alfalfa, clover) and vegetable crops.

Australians are not large consumers of pulses, with only about 22% consuming pulses (mainly baked beans, lentils and chickpeas) each week.

Nutrient value of pulses

Pulses give a feeling of fullness, increase stool volume and transit and they bind toxins and cholesterol in the gut. They have a high nutrient value, contain no hormones or antibiotics and are a rich source of complex carbohydrates. In addition, they are low in fat, low calorie, low sodium, but have a high iron content. In terms of protein, they are double that of wheat and triple that of rice and are vegetarian and vegan diet compatible. Pulses are rich in iron, potassium, magnesium and zinc and have the advantage of being low GI (glycaemic index) which makes them beneficial for people with diabetes.

Climate change and biodiversitry

Pulses have a role in biodiversity and alleviating climate change. Good soil health is the foundation of food security and the natural abilities of pulses to improve and support soil health make them an excellent choice for farmers. Pulses are able to fix their own nitrogen in the soil through exploitation of symbiotic microbes, so they use less synthetic and organic fertiliser and, in this way, play a part in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, pulses are able to release soil-bound phosphorus, which plays an important role in the nutrition of plants as it is also essential for normal growth and maturity, photosynthesis, respiration and energy storage.

Pulses help to increase microbial biomass and activity and nourish the organisms responsible for soil structure and nutrient availability. In this way, planting pulses as part of an agroforestry system, helps to increase crop resilience to climate change. Pulses are able to withstand climate extremes, provide nutrients to the other plants as well as provide food for the farmers and families that grow them. Pulses have a broad genetic diversity from which improved varieties can be selected so it is possible to develop more climate-resilient strains. A high soil biodiversity provides ecosystems with greater resilience and resistance against disturbance and stress and improves the ability of ecosystems to suppress disease.

Pulses and food security

One third of food produced world-wide is wasted. In developing countries this loss is during production and transport whereas in developed countries this loss is more commonly at the consumption stage. Protein and energy deficiencies in both quality and quantity are often the culprits for widespread malnutrition. Iron deficiency is common worldwide especially in people who do not have access to balanced diets. Pulses provide a cost-effective method of increasing the availability of protein, energy and essential nutrients to poorer communities.

Pulses can be grown as cash crops for sale at markets as well as being used for food by subsistence farmers. Drought resistant varieties can be grown in areas where rainfall is very minimal. Intercropping of deep-rooted pulse varieties provides ground water to companion plants.

Pulses are shelf-stable, which means they can be stored without needing refrigeration. They can be kept at room temperature in a sealed container. If stored properly, pulses can remain edible for several years and they are able to germinate after being stored for long periods.

Why aren’t pulses eaten more?

Pulses are a perfect partner for health, food security, provide a partial solution to climate change and are an important part of biodiversity BUT they are not part of the Australian diet (only 22% of Australians eat them on a weekly basis).

Reasons include lack of knowledge of their health benefits, reluctance to try new food, they cause flatulence and often lack flavour.

Increasing the appeal of pulses requires education/awareness. Soaking pulses reduces cooking time and makes them more easily digestible. Any extra can be frozen easily for later use. Pairing with common foodstuffs like oranges or tomatoes increases nutrients and they go well in sauces (e.g. bolognaise) or in soups.

Erica provided the following link for pulses recipes:

A recipe specifically for baked beans is at:

In addition, many different recipes for baked beans can be found by going to and typing in “baked beans”.

Trying pulses

After the meeting, Shedders were invited to try lentil soup with chick peas, lentil burgers and hummus and Lebanese bread.
Sausage sandwiches were also available for anyone who preferred the tried and true barbecue food.

Letters From The Trenches – Part 1, 9th Sep 2016

Roger read from letters from his uncle Stan Willis, one of 17 children in the Willis family, who went to WW1 and gave his life for his country. Roger has a number of letters from Uncle Stan & reads them as each passes 100 years since it was written.

Stan Willis

Roger Amos Uncle Stan Willis

The first letter was written on 8 September 1916

8th September
A Company
2nd Battalion
M Camp Cootamundra

My Dear Mother,
Well I never left here yesterday after all, my luck was right out. One of the chaps in my tent paraded sick Sunday morning, and he had the measles no less so when I came home from Church Parade, wasn’t I narked to find out we had to go in-contact for a fortnight, that is we are not allowed down the town or anywhere among the other soldiers during that time, it’s like being in gaol in a way they think we might carry the germ you see and give it to the others. This Camp was nearly emptied yesterday, it was a nark to see them all lined up in the Khaki last night and about 50 of us all together in-contact left behind and some had to come in through their mates getting mumps, meningitis, scarlet fever, measles etc. We are not allowed to mix up together and not allowed to go out of the in-contact grounds but I am bothered if they didn’t come and make us go out working this morning pulling tents down and rigging them up again etc. it is pretty hot when we are not allowed out and not supposed to work, some of the chaps reckon they are going to renege this afternoon and they are just the sort that will. There are only four of us in my tent so we have plenty of room. We got one chap out of coming in and the boy that got the measles, Ted French – a nice kid – only twenty – is in hospital.

I’d just like you to have a snap-shot of this Mum. I bet you laugh.

One thing we are living high here up to the present, we was well in with one of the cooks so he gave us a leg of mutton and some chops and some potatoes so we had chipped potatoes and chops for breakfast – fried them ourselves – we also have a pound or two of butter which is a great luxury and 7 or 8 tins of jam not a bad cook is he? And we got prunes and rice for dinner also some jam roll (are we down hearted?) NO.

We must make the best of it now, we will be transferred to Liverpool when we do our time. They are cleaning up the camp ready for the Militia I heard this morning, they are going to make the camp 2000 strong, I suppose they will be conscripts eh? I am feeling real well Mum and getting fat. I weighed Saturday and was 12 stone 3 pounds. I had to get my hair bobbed the other day to save getting fined 5 shillings. Mr Bellhouse the Methodist Minister Mum – told me he got a letter from Rev Dwyer the other day so perhaps he knows him well I didn’t ask him. It was a very nice little service they gave us Sunday morning but don’t do the chaps much good I don’t think. Well Mum as I am writing this in dinner hour on a box in my tent excuse the writing as I have been in a hurry and my time is up now so must end up. I am working under Lieut. Kirkland today. I have been wondering if he is a relation to Sergeant Kirkland in Millthorpe. Well bye bye for this time Mum and write to same address, Love to all.

I am your loving son,


Tell Urwin S Bell has gone home on the sick list and I never sold a bridle with the pony – will write to him later. How is Helen, – Nellie I meant – caught Harry yet? and did they unveil Roll of Honour Sunday night?

The second letter was written on 15 September 1916

15 Sept 1916
Contact Camp

My Dear Mother,

Well they never kept us in Coota to finish our time in-contact after all. We left Coota last night, at 7 o’clock and arrived at Liverpool 4.00 am this morning, We were treated like prisoners coming down – wasn’t allowed out of the train all the way, not even to get some refreshments, so you can guess how hungry we were when we arrived at Holdsworthy. It is 8 miles from Liverpool and we came out on Army Service wagons, so that was better than walking with the kit and bluey over our shoulders like we had to from Cooota Camp to the Station.

The German Concentration Camp is only just across from here, can see them, there are 7,000 of them they say and the Camp tonight looks like a little township the way it is lit up, I was quite close to about 30 of them this morning, they had them working with pick and shovel under guard and my word they look fine big fellows. Some had all their shirts off – just had their dungarees on so I recon they must be pretty tough. There are about 100 men here in-contact. So we’ll have to drill just the same as when we are out.

Any of our friends can come and see us Sunday afternoons and we can have a picnic in the bush, but I suppose it would be too far for any of the girls to come out. Well they don’t know I am here yet and I can’t let them know before Sunday. Monday week I hope to get out, all being well, If any of us get the mumps or measles before then, we’ll have to do our fortnight from when he gets them, again. So it is pretty risky when we are all mixed up together eh Mum?

I suppose before you receive this you will be wrote to me and addressed to Coota Camp don’t know if I will get it – they should send them on. Well Mum I think I will end up now. As I want to write to the girls. I am writing this on the back of my tin plate not a bad writing table eh? And sitting on the old kit.

We had a straw bed to sleep on at Coota with not much straw in you know, but here we have got to sleep on the ground, just a waterproof and our 4 blankets so I guess I’ll ring off now. Trusting you and Dad and all are well as this leaves me.

From your loving son,

We have Church here Sundays they say.
The other 3 chaps are just joking about the hard beds, one is a doer all right.


2016-08-29 8th Anniversary Dinner


2016-08-26 Quiz Day


2016-08-19 Visit to National Dinosaur Museum


Passing of Wal Cooper

Wal Cooper

Wal Cooper

Wal Cooper (24/11/1935 – 18/8/2016)  Wal had a stroke & following a stay in hospital did not regain consciousness. He was a long-time Canberra resident & had served on our Shed Committee. He was active in Rotary & the Australian Rugby Choir. Our sincere sympathies are extended to Wal’s wife Nell & to his family, Louise & Clive, Andrew & Nicole & Robyn & Kirsten & their four grandchildren. Wal’s funeral service was 25 August at 11 am at the North Belconnen Uniting Church, followed by a wake at the Southern Cross Club in Jamison. A huge attendance was at the Church for the service including many people who he had known over his life, from family, Rotary club members, Rugby Choir, stockbroking clients & shed members.  It is believed around 300 attended. Remembrance Service Wal Cooper | Pics of Wal from Remembrance service program | Google Photos of Remembrance Service

John Feehan talks about Dung Beetles, 4th Aug 2016

First published in the Newsletter #340 Link to Google Photos album with several pictures

On this date we welcomed John Feehan, a highly recognised entomologist and authority on Australian Dung Beetles. We learned a huge amount about this marvellous (and not very handsome!) little creature from John, and thank our President Roger Amos for arranging John’s talk.

A farmer born in Braidwood, for 38 years John was a member of the CSIRO team tasked with introducing bovine dung beetles into Australia. He has five insects named after him and in 1997 was awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for his services to Australian Agriculture and in 2011 was an ACT Finalist for Australian of the Year.

Shed members who lived in Canberra as recently as 25 years ago will well remember the flies that made outdoor activities most unpleasant.

Well, that situation no longer exists due to the work John and others have done by establishing the dung beetle colonies in the area.

With support from his CSIRO mentor Dr George Bornemissza who conceived and led the Australian Dung Beetle Project (1965–1985) at CSIRO, John was heavily involved in an international scientific research and biological control project with the primary goal to control the polluting effects of cattle dung.

Every day some 28 million cattle deposit more than half a million tonnes of dung (some 300 million cow pads) onto Australian pastures, not only locking up nutrients and creating a breeding ground for bush flies, buffalo flies and other pests, but also causing significant pollution of waterways.

The dung beetles provide extensive above ground and below ground benefits and are capable of burying cow pads in 24-72 hours. These benefits include reduced nutrient input into waterways, reduced pasture pollution, greatly reduced bushfly and buffalo fly breeding and reduced stock parasites. The beetles’ extensive tunnel systems help recycle nutrients from dung, fertilisers and other source, thus increasing the soil’s nitrogen content and subsequent utilisation by grasses, increased soil aeration allowing better natural microbial activity, improved water penetration, improved soil structure and improved habitat and food supply for earthworms.

When the CSIRO project concluded due to lack of funding, John formed Soilcam which is based in Canberra and where he coordinates the largest and most efficient collection and redistribution of dung beetles in the world. John has for a very long time promoted the benefits of dung beetles, often against overwhelming indifference from the various Federal and State Agriculture departments and water authorities.

Over the past 18 years John has redistributed more than 4,500 colonies consisting of 18 different species of dung beetle. As a result of his diligent research and field work over many years, John is now able to supply the species best suited to particular locations to ensure maximum beetle activity through different seasons.

John is also very committed to educating the community about the importance of the dung beetle and has made an outstanding contribution to Australian agriculture.

Learn more about John and dung beetles by clicking here.  John’s Powerpoint presentation.

10 Jun – 29 Jul 2016 – Joanna Gray’s Studies

Joanna is an accredited exercise physiologist who graduated from UC at the end of last year under the guidance of Dr Stuart Semple & Ms Kellie Toohey. Stuart & Kellie visited our Shed on 26Feb with a group of UC Faculty of Health students to talk about how essential exercise is to good health, particularly as we age. We followed this up with a six week exercise program organised by Kellie & the students & then an on-going exercise program run by Jon Beale at 8:30am every Friday morning at the Shed. Joanna was conducting research which aims to improve client outcomes & further ensure optimal exercise prescription during cardiac rehabilitation. To do so she compared the physiological responses to exercise between both cardiac rehabilitation patients & apparently healthy males aged between 55 – 75 years. Joanna used around 20 healthy & 15 cardiac rehabilitated adults aged 55 – 75 as volunteers for the study. This involved high intensity exercises but nothing invasive. Volunteers were to receive a report on their cardiac health at the end of the sessions. Joanna’s work with volunteers was completed on 29th July. Joanna’s email: [email protected], 0499 004 950.

Excursion to the Australian National Museum of Education, 22nd July 2016

From Newsletter #338 of 29th July 2016

Approximately 24 Shed members enjoyed a fascinating visit to the Australian National Museum of Education (ANME), a not-for-profit organisation associated with and located at the University of Canberra. Established in 1996 by its Director, Dr Malcolm Beazley AM FACE, the ANME has just celebrated its twentieth anniversary.

Supported by the Australia and New Zealand History of Education Society, ANME has the objective of promoting an understanding of the history of Australian education through the development and preservation of its collection, through support for related research and scholarship and through collaboration with the national network of school museums.

Our visiting group was warmly welcomed to ANME by Dr Beazley, who introduced us to the voluntary staff who staff and maintain this fine institution, namely; Dr Geoffrey Burkhardt (Senior Curator), Dr John McIntyre (Communications Manager), Mr Hakim Abdul Rahim (Curator), Ms Grace Turner (Research Assistant) and Mrs Coralie Amos (Archival Assistant).

Prior to splitting into three groups to tour the facility, we were given a most enjoyable morning tea, where we had the opportunity of informally chatting with ANME staff and fellow Shedders. Thanks especially to Coralie Amos, who facilitated this morning tea for our members.

The respective groups were then shown around the ANME facility by the above voluntary staff. In the Display room we viewed some of the vast collection of school ephemera held by the ANME, constituting the largest collection outside of the National Library Canberra and the University of Armidale. Dr Burkhardt showed us a sampling of the over 500 copies of school records held in the collection, together with a wide range of histories of individual schools (including various school readers from many states), early textbooks and scholarly works e.g. an 1831 Botany text used at the Female Orpan School, which operated at Parramatta from 1813 to 1850, and “Bransby’s School Anthology – Selections for Reading and Recitation” 2nd edn, by James Bransby, a Unitarian Minister, dating back to 1831.

Dr Burkhardt also displayed a number of fascinating documents and certificates that were typically issued in the late 19th and early 20th centuries e.g. a “Rules for Teachers” publication from 1879, and “Rules for Women Teacher’s” dating from 1915 (which included the requirement to not marry during the life of the contract, not keep company with  men, and the hours that they were expected to be home within). We also viewed a selection of Award Certificates, and a historically valuable collection of silver school sporting cups and trays, along with some historic school photographs.

We heard from Dr Burkhardt about the first school that was initiated in Sydney only 18 months after the First Fleet arrived. It was housed in a basic tent and continued as such until 1793 – its female teacher had only a Catechism and Bible for pupil instruction (a very good start perhaps!). This was a tremendous contribution, given that Governor Arthur Phillip had made no provision to establish schools on his arrival.

This historically irreplaceable collection is frequently used by researchers, authors, academics and the general public interested in early education e.g. ‘to see what school conditions Grandpa experienced’. It is hoped that digitisation of this wonderful collection will continue to expand greatly in coming years.

Curator Hakim Rahim then briefly showed us the small but impressive Ngunnawal art and artefacts exhibition of items from all over Australia and housed close to the ANME premises, yet independent of it. Hakim then took us to another part of the campus and explained to us the interconnectivity and relationship of the ANME to other parts of the University e.g the Geology collection repository and animal ecology etc. We were then introduced to the University of Canberra Library and heard something of its history and  collection. It was interesting to hear the true account of how the official plaque to open the building was never attached or opened by the relevant Education Minister at the time, Malcolm Fraser in 1972 (it remains perfectly preserved in their collections case in its original shiny brass condition). This mystery has never been solved.

For the final stage of our tour we were hosted in another collections room by Dr Beazley AM, who gave us a detailed account of the history of the scholarly collection housed there, and the purpose and aims of ANME generally. This facility again is used by many researchers and authors etc, and some recent visitors had included researchers from the University of Tasmania, PhD students from WA, and Dr Peter Stanley from the National Museum (formerly with the Australian War Memorial), among others.

This room houses a vast collection of books that have been donated, and have now been allocated to sections named according to the Surname of the donor (e.g. the Burkhardt collection). Why not scour your shelves where appropriate? Why, you too could have a section named after yourself!! This collection has recently been assessed by a local academic, with appropriate recommendations and suggestions made to maximise their accessibility. Coralie Amos has recently meticulously audited the collection against the indexed database and is now in the process of cataloguing the Curriculum collection.

Dr Beazley stated that he hoped the collection would go ‘online’ by next year, after translation of its collections listing from an earlier Excel spreadsheet format into a new inventory system. Dr Beazley told us that the ANME was the only National Museum of Education in the world other than in the Netherlands..truly impressive, especially when it exists only due to the care and diligence of trained and dedicated volunteers and the generous ongoing co-operation and support of the University of Canberra.

We were then given an overview of the collection’s valuable and historic schools photographic collection by Dr John McIntyre, Communications Manager at ANME. Dr McIntyre spoke to us initially about the history of the collection and the various means by which the collection has been obtained. Many individuals have contributed to this collection, and Dr McIntyre encouraged our members to ‘scour’ their own personal family albums for any old school photos that they felt would be of interest to ANME…it is a major and important collection source.

We were shown a collection of photos from the early Sydney Teachers College days, and the invaluable and rare Mowbray House School Archive, which houses the entire collection of Mowbray School, Chatswood (Sydney) between 1904 and 1954. The collection includes documents/registers and photographs from the period, whose pupils include people of note such as Kenneth Slessor (Poet) and Gough Whitlam (former Australian PM) for example.

Dr McIntyre displayed a particularly poignant photograph of a Mowbray School class group taken in 1908. In later years handwritten names had been annotated against various pupils around the perimeter of the photo, indicating the former pupils who had subsequently lost their young lives in the carnage of World War 1.. a remarkable piece of history.

We then reassembled and were farewelled by the ANME Director and his voluntary staff. Melba shed president Roger Amos thanked Dr Beazley & ANME for their fascinating tour and their generosity in sharing their time and knowledge with us. Dr Beazley reiterated the fact that he is very keen to see that the work of ANME advertised widely among our wider community (and rightly so!). Why not tell all your friends, community groups etc of this wonderful facility and arrange a visit to ANME at a mutually convenient time?

Learn more of ANME’s functions & activities
View our collection of photos from our excursion to ANME

2016-07-16 Robert Messenger on Typewriters


2016-06-24 Visit to Questacon


Erica Roughton spoke for Arthritis ACT on Arthristis & Osteoporosis, 10th Jun 2016

Erica is a Dietitian at Arthritis ACT, a not-for-profit community organisation that encourages self-management of musculoskeletal conditions, so that sufferers can make decisions they are comfortable with to improve their health. Arthritis ACT incorporates Osteoporosis ACT.

Here are some facts about Arthritis:
Arthritis means inflammation of the joint & is a general term used for a variety of conditions affecting the muscles, joints & skeleton. The most common forms are Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis & Gout but there are more than 100 different types of arthritis including:

– Ankylosing Spondylitis | Tendinitis | Lyme Disease | Giant Cell Arteritis | Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome | Raynaud’s Phenomenon | Stills Disease | JIA | Myositis | Pseudo Gout | Lupus | Fifth Disease

Arthritis is the leading cause of chronic pain and disability in Australia with some 3.3 million Australians affected.

Osteoarthritis most commonly affects joint cartilage. The joint is the structure between two bones which allows easy movement. Cartilage covers and forms the surface at the ends of the bones. This smooth and elastic cartilage, when affected by Osteoarthritis, may wear away entirely, causing the bone surfaces to grate against each other. Spurs or bone growths may appear alongside the places where cartilage has frayed (particularly in the fingers but can occur in any weight bearing joint).

Rheumatoid Arthritis is an auto-immune disease where the body’s own immune system, for reasons still unknown, attacks its own tissues (the synovial membrane). Inflammation results and if left untreated, destruction of the cartilage covering the joint and eventually parts of the bone can occur.

When this cartilage is destroyed, the bone ends are joined together by the formation of fiber containing tissue. This tissue becomes hard and fuses the joint so that it is immovable. Early diagnosis and correct treatment is essential as it can reduce the impact of the disease.

Gout is an extremely painful form of Arthritis often known as the ‘disease of kings’ and was thought to result from overeating and drinking too much alcohol. While these factors can contribute, gout can affect anyone regardless of diet and alcohol intake as it is occurs as a result of high levels of uric acid within the body. The first attack of gout usually involves the big toe or ‘bunion’ joint. The ankle, feet and knee may also be affected. The affected joint rapidly becomes very painful, often to the point that the weight of a bedsheet is unbearable. Untreated, each attack lasts approximately a week and repeated attacks may accelerate joint damage.

Arthritis can be managed by:

– becoming informed | working closely with your chosen health care team, and | learning various self-management skills

Doctors can provide treatment and pain medication.

Physiotherapy can reduce pain, improve joint movement and strengthen muscle around the joint.

Occupational Therapists can advise on using muscles and joints more efficiently, simplifying daily tasks to conserve energy, special equipment for increased mobility, splints and braces for joint protection, correct posture and alignment.

Podiatrists can treat problems affecting the feet and provide advice on footwear and orthotics for support and comfort which is important for arthritis that affects the feet, ankles, knees, hips and spine.

Regular Exercise reduces pain, improves physical function, increases social, domestic and recreational participation and can improve muscle strength, range of motion, proprioception and balance.

A Healthy Diet has many benefits including having a positive effect on overall health and well-being, minimising fatigue and maximising energy, gaining and maintaining a healthy body weight and providing good fuel to promote healthy bones and muscles.

Current scientific evidence and research studies do not support the use of any particular diet, supplement or food to “cure” arthritis. Instead, diet can be used as a means of managing or reducing associated symptoms. For example losing weight if you have osteoarthritis will reduce excess load on joints and help to reduce associated pain. Or in the case of Gout, avoiding/reducing the intake of foods that are known to contribute to flare ups. The general rule of thumb is to stick to the dietary guidelines and if you have any questions to speak with a Dietitian.

Here are some facts about Osteoporosis:

Osteoporosis is where our bones become fragile and brittle and can fracture more easily than normal bone.

It occurs when our bones lose minerals, such as calcium, more quickly than our body can replace them. This imbalance leads to a loss of bone mass or density.

Osteoporosis is sometimes called the ‘silent thief’ as it ‘steals’ bone density over many years without any signs or symptoms. Many people do not realise that they have osteoporosis until they have a fracture.

You can reduce your chance of osteoporosis by addressing these risk factors:

– Smoking | Excessive alcohol consumption | Diet lacking in Calcium | Reduced sunlight exposure leading to lack of vitamin D | Sedentary lifestyle | Low body weight.

Other risk factors which you can’t do too much about, are age, family history and medical history.

For more information on Arthritis or Osteoporosis or about Arthritis ACT see HERE.

See &/or download Erica’s full presentation HERE.


2016-06-10 Exercises at the Shed



Understanding your Pension, Fiona Fleming, 3rd Jun 2016

Fiona is the Financial Information Officer at the Australian Department of Human Services, Southern NSW Zone, & is located in Goulburn. After 30 years experience she is in a great position to assist clients plan their finances so as to maximise pensions & benefits provided to retirees by the Australian Government.

Age pensions are payable to eligible Australians who have reached the age of 65 & who satisfy an income & an assets test. Both tests need to be satisfied to qualify.

A couple whose joint income is less than about $76,000pa & with total assets of less than about $820,000 for home owners or $1,020,000 for non-home owners (both values effective from 1/1/2017) should be entitled to a pension or part pension together with the other benefits that go with the age pension – including the Pensioner Supplement & the Energy Supplement.

Income includes bank, building society, term deposit & similar accounts, bonds, debentures, bullion,
money on loan or owed to you, cash on hand, shares & securities, managed investments, annuities with a term of 5 years or less, superannuation and rollovers
and since January 2015, grandfathered account based pensions. Irrespective of the actual earnings, the income from financial assets is assessed at a ‘deeming rate’ which is 1.75% for amounts up to about $80,000 and 3.25% for amounts over that figure for a couple.

Assets do not include your primary residence but do include bank accounts, vehicles, boats, caravans, real estate, rental properties, farms, businesses, antiques, collectables & excess gifting (amounts in excess of $10,000 per annum with a maximum of $30,000 over five years). Assets don’t include accommodation bonds for Aged Care, funeral bonds or pre-paid funerals or special disability trusts.

The eligibility for pensions & the calculations of income & assets are quite complicated & Department of Human Services has far more detail than can be provided here. If you think you may be entitled to a pension or part pension, or would like to understand your rights, obligations or appeal processes, you should contact the Department Human Services Financial Information Service. It’s a free service. They also cover other pension enquiries including Disability, Carers & the Seniors Health Card.

Click here Financial Information Service (FIS) to learn more about this service. You can contact them by phone on 132.300
Fiona has left at the Shed a number of information sheets with details about income & asset tests & showing rates for both single and couple pensions.
These show the reductions in the full pension that apply where income or assets exceed the threshold set for a full pension. The full pension for a couple is $1,317.40 per fortnight & $658.70 for a single pensioner but part pensions may be anything from zero up to those amounts.

Members should seek their own financial advise or contact FIS before making any significant changes or investment decisions if they intend applying for the pension or have one already

2016-05-20 Laurie’s 80th


2016-05-20 Bench refurbishment


2016-05-18 Memorial Ride – Ray and Wally


2016-05-13 David Kilby



Passing of Two Great Members

Starting on Anzac Day 2016 we lost two great men. Firstly Wally Blumenfeld was a great Canberran & Australian. He was actually born in Germany but the family emigrated to UK before WW11. Wally had an amazing career being a Lt Col in the 32 Special Boat Squadron serving in Malayasia, Borneo & Vietnam. He later worked in AMSA & its predecessors, was in the the ACT SES for 37 years, cycled, kayaked, bushwalked & skied. Secondly, the following Sat we lost Ray Nelson, another great Australian, born in Sydney, lived a few other places but ended up in Canberra. He was prominent in our Shed through giving presentations about Boomerang aerodynamics and writing technical articles on why Boomerangs were not meant to come back, see below. He was also heavily into protecting aboriginal arterfacts & sourcing gem stones and setting them into jewelery

A host of members attended Wally’s memorial service at the Duntroon Chapel on Fri 6th May attended by hordes of people who knew him from military, AMSA, cross country ask association, and even our Harry Redfern who read out his poem (see below). Similarly on Thu 5th May many members attended Ray’s funeral at Tobin Bros, Belconnen. So many it was hard to park. We learned so much of Ray’s life we didnt know

Ray Nelson

Ray Nelson – After a long battle with illness Ray passed away on April 30. He was very appreciative of the friendship and activities of the Melba shed. Ray Nelson on ‘Boomerangs were not meant to come back’  Ray’s Great Great Grandfather was the Policeman at Collector Shot Dead by the Ben Hall Gang. Read a summary and details of that event  Funeral arrangements were 1pm Thursday 5 May at Tobin Brothers, Belconnen | Ray Nelson Eulogy | Album of pictures of Ray on Shed Walks

Ray playing the ukuelele (Dont double click on this, but right click on it and select download the file)WallyBlumenfeld@BigHole2015

Wally Blumenfeld – Wally went to Sydney with his son Michael to march in the Anzac Day parade in 2016. He &  Michael were out strolling on Sunday night when Wally collapsed suddenly. He recovered consciousness, & was taken to St Vincent’s hospital. However, he had another stroke in St Vincents & died later on Sunday night. Wally’s memorial service was at 1 pm Friday 6 May at the Chapel in Duntroon. He was buried in a private service by his family on 28th April in the Jewish section of the Woden Cemetery. Vale Wally Blumenfield written by Lachlan Kennedy President, Canberra Cross Country Ski Club. Poem about Wally Blumenfeld by Harry Redfern | In Loving Memory of Walter Blumenfield

Uni Canberra Exercise Program 4 Mar-22 Apr 2016

On Fridays the Uni of Canberra Faculty of Health undertook assessment for any members who wished to avail themselves of a free offer for a 6 weeks targeted exercise program. On the first 2 weeks some 22 members were assessed. These exercises finished on Fri 22 April with personal assessments of those who finished the program. There are more assessments at 9.30AM 6th May. It was so successful the Committee will see if it can be repeated next year | Pictures from Google Photos

This all started after talks by Uni Canberra students on 26th Feb led by Kellie Toohey the Clinical Education Co-ordinator (Exercise Physiology) from the Faculty. Kellie is the convener of a cancer rehabilitation group exercise program at the University – one of a number of exercise physiology group classes providing clients with an individual exercise program in a social group setting. She was introduced by Don Gruber, who is participating in a health rehabilitation program at UC.

These programs aim to enhance physiological capabilities, increase functionality and improve quality of life. The first speaker, Dr Stuart Semple, Associate Dean, Enterprise & Partnerships in the Faculty of Health at UC, talked about the changes at the University that have occurred over the last few years and which will continue over the next few years. These changes include the establishment of the Health Hub, health care & health rehabilitation programs, the building of Belconnen’s second hospital, aged care initiatives, & an increasing focus on the role the UC has to play in the community.

Kellie, a PhD student at the Faculty, then explained her research role and how her team is working with cancer survivors by assessing their requirements and devising specific targeted rehabilitation exercises. She explained how exercise is essential to good health, particularly as we age. Kellie then talked about the student led clinics which cover many health issues including heart disease, chronic pain, osteoporosis, diabetes, cancer, sleep issues and bone health. She introduced six of the Faculty students (Alex, Luke, Laurence, Sam, Brady and Dan) who later talked about these various health issues and how beneficial exercise was to achieving a better quality of living.

Alex talked about the need to exercise saying that 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of high intensity exercise spread over 5 days per week was essential to good health. Laurence talked about bone density and the importance of good nutrition and resistance exercises, particularly high impact exercises, to improve bone density. Luke talked about how to keep your heart healthy and said that 30% of all deaths in Australia were due to heart failure and that 1 in 6 people were affected by heart disease. He also talked about strokes which are similar to heart attacks but which affect the brain. Dan talked about flexibility and the need to do stretching, dynamic and static exercises, particularly before beginning heavier exercise. Brady talked about sexual dysfunction and how this increases rapidly in the 60s when it affect over 52% of men. Contributing factors include diabetes, medications, cancer, sedentary lifestyle, obesity, and high blood pressure.

Sam talked about cognitive functions and explained that as we get older, the pathways in our brains diminish and that exercise increases blood flow to the brain and acts as an anti-depressant and improves the pathways. Aerobic and mentally challenging activities are very beneficial to cognitive functions.

The students are available to lead follow-on exercise programs for Shed members over a 6 week period at the Shed. Classes were then to be held at the Shed each Friday morning commencing promptly at 8:30am for a six week period.

On 4th March we had a great response with some 20 members being assessed & participating in baseline testing of fitness in several categories. This testing will continue this Friday 11 March. These exercises were extended by one week, & ceased on Friday 15th April, with final individual assessment being held at the Shed on the following week, Fri 22 April. On 6th May the University of Canberra Health Faculty students provided participants with feedback on their improvement on the recent exercise program held at the Shed. Eight members completed the program. We learned that grip strength is an indicator of a longer life & that the group improved by 2Kg average. Blood pressure & balance was improved over the group & all members improved on the 6 minute walk test & the ‘sit to stand’ test. We all need at least 30 minutes exercise a day & this can be broken into shorter activities.

2016-03-11 Search for a Site – Mike Dwyer



Martin van der Hoek’s talk about Ghost Towns Near You….. 19th Feb 2016 ( from Newsletter #317 – 26th Feb 2016)

Martin van der Voek

Martin van der Voek

Shed member Martin van der Hoek spoke about three so-called ghost towns within a few hour’s drive from Canberra, namely Newnes, Yerranderie & Joadja. All three are mining towns that rose to prominence in a very short space of time and then almost as quickly, were abandoned.


Newnes is in the beautiful Wolgan Valley, NW and less than an hour’s drive from Lithgow, which, once in the valley, includes a 40km stretch of heavily corrugated dirt road. The settlement was originally built by the Commonwealth Oil Corporation. Construction commenced in 1906, it was not until 1911 that the initial stage was completed and the retorts charged for the first time.

Shay Loco No4 abandoned Newnes late 1930s

Shay Loco No4 abandoned Newnes late 1930s

The company built the 50 kilometre Newnes railway line from the main government railway south of Newnes to their works through very difficult country, particularly where the line descended into the Wolgan Valley from the plateau above. Click HERE  to read more about this unique railway.

This railway is no longer in use and the rails have been removed. A tunnel on the railway has survived as the Glowworm Tunnel, which has become something of a tourist attraction.

There were three distinct operating periods for the Newnes shale oil operation; June 1911-Jan 1912, 1912-1923 and 1933-1934. Lack of capital and overseas competition eventually caused the Newnes operation to finally cease and the site was effectively dismantled in 1939.

Newnes had a population of 1,650 people in 1911, when operations started. By 1921 it had dropped to 820. Most of the time it was around 1,000. Click HERE to see photos.


Old Building Yerranderie

Old Building Yerranderie

Yerranderie was once a thriving silver, lead and gold mining town, established following the discovery of silver in 1871, by William Russell. It is about halfway between Oberon and Camden.

Due to a depressed silver price, the mines didn’t open until 28 years later, in 1898. Yerranderie prospered until 1914 but virtually ceased to operate in 1927. It had an effective working life of only 30 years. By 1914 Yerranderie had a population of 2,000 people. In 1898 a road was constructed from Camden via The Oaks and the Burragorang Valley and mining machinery was brought in by horses. The town had many services, including two butchers, a school, silent movie theatre, and three churches. There was a police station, court house and hotel. The small Government Town was built on top of a hill, with the more populated Private Town below.

Between 1900 and 1912 the mines in the area yielded 5,381,000 ounces of silver, 9,951 ounces of gold and over 12,000 tons of lead. World War 1 saw miners leave the area and it never really recovered.

Yerranderie was caught up in the 1919-20 miners’ strike, the longest strike in Australian history. There were a number of attempts to re-open the mines after World War II but this did not eventuate due to the flooding of the valley for the Warragamba Dam. By the 1950s, fewer than 100 people remained.

A drop in the silver price had driven most back to the city and the rest were forcibly removed following the construction of Warragamba Dam in nearby Burragong Valley. The Yerranderie Post Office which opened on 1 November 1899, closed in 1958 and the town was eventually bought by Valerie Anne Lhuede, who developed it as a tourist centre and total environment project. The old post office is now known as The Lodge and serves as a guest house. In March 2011, Val Lhuedé donated Yerranderie to the National Parks and Wildlife Service. Click HERE for pictures.


Joadja is just north of the Belanglo State Forest (of Ivan Milat fame) and west of Mittagong. It was one of the most expansive and profitable sources of paraffin (kerosene) during its heyday.

Joadja kerosene oil shale mining and refining site

Joadja kerosene oil shale mining and refining site

Shale oil was discovered in 1870. The discovery brought people to the Joadja Valley and production commenced in 1873. It preceded Newnes by more than 30 years. It was a thriving mining town until 1911 and was home for approximately 1,100 people, many of whom were skilled immigrants from Scotland, and was connected to the nearby town of Mittagong by a narrow gauge railway.

The town existed to mine oil shale from which kerosene was extracted by the Australian Kerosene Oil and Mineral Co. The process was superseded by conventional kerosene production from oil and the oil shale mining became uneconomical. By 1911, the town had become deserted as inhabitants relocated in search of work. The property was auctioned off that year to a private buyer. The fruit orchard, which included 6,700 trees continued to operate until 1924, exporting fruit for local and interstate consumption.
The township is still recognisable, despite the state of its ruins. The sandstone school, the mine, houses, refinery and even the cemetery remain as a testament to the community that lived in the valley more than a century ago.

Scottish miners were promised a good salary and quality housing in a more pleasant climate but the majority of these miners and their families only survived in Joadja on the bare minimum wage.

By 1880 there were 300 people living in Joadja. By 1892 there were 1,200 living there, more than the combined populations of Mittagong, Bowral and Moss Vale. But by then production began to fall off and by 1903 production ceased altogether. Click HERE for pictures.

2016-01-29 Encounters National Museum


Don Grubers History Talk on Ginninderra Area 15th Jan 2016 (from Newsletter #312 – 22nd Jan 2016)

Click on this link to view his slides and pictures

Don commenced his talk by relating some interesting early history of settlement in Australia – Hume and Hovell in 1824, Blaxland Lawson and Wentworth in 1813, Charles Sturt from 1828 to 1830, Throsby at Suttons Forest in 1804 and Goulburn in 1815.  For example, the explorers had reached Marulan as early as 1798? Goulburn was established in 1824.

Don then talked about the settlers who took up land in the 19 defined Counties in NSW. These Counties were referred to as ‘the limits of location’. The granting of free land ceased in 1831 and the only land that was to be made available for sale was within the Nineteen Counties. Land was typically allocated in lots of 40 acres up to a maximum of 340 acres.

Despite the uncertainty of land tenure, squatters ran large numbers of sheep and cattle beyond the boundaries. From 1836 they could legally do so, paying £10 per year for the right.  From 1847 leases in the unsettled areas were allowed for up to 14 years.  Squatters were not ‘down and out’ people but rather men of substance with sufficient resources to develop the properties they claimed.

In 1861 The Robertson Land Acts allowed unlimited selection and sale of agricultural crown land in designated unsettled areas at £1 per acre, making the limits of location of the nineteen counties redundant. Don then talked in some detail about the Ginninderra area with references to earlier Aboriginal times and then white settlements at Palmerville, Ginninderra, St Pauls and Rosehill.

Earliest written reference to the area use the spelling ‘Ginninginderry‘ though by mid-19th century the ‘Ginninderra’ variation was in general use. The name Ginninderra is derived from the Aboriginal word for the creek which flows through the district of Ginin-ginin-derry which is said to mean ‘sparkling or throwing out little rays of light’.

The first European to visit the area was Charles Throsby in October 1820.  He was searching for the Murrumbidgee River.  He was followed by Smith, Wild and Vaughan who travelled to Black Mountain and the Limestone Plains in December the same year.  Other early settlers included George Thomas Palmer (1826), William Davis, Edward and Everard Crace and George Harcourt.  In the 1841 census Palmerville boasted a population of 68 people (15 convicts) and Charnwood 32 people (11 convicts).

George Palmer established his Palmerville Estate in 1826 in Ginninginderry with a homestead located on the banks of Ginninderra Creek adjacent to the present day suburb of Giralang. The estate encompassed much of what is now Belconnen and southern Gungahlin. It adjoined the Charnwood Estate to the west and Yarralumla Estate to the east. The combined area of the Ginninderra and Charnwood Estates was nearly 20,150 acres (8,155 ha). Between the years 1830 and 1836, the colonial surveyor Robert Hoddle (he was the man who found the bodies of Burke and Wills) made several visits to the district, to survey property boundaries. He captured Ginninderra’s wild beauty in watercolour and ink. The property was sold to William Davis, also from a prominent local family, and it continued to prosper.

The first sheep in the area were brought from Bathurst by Ainslie.

The second wave of Ginninderra settlement began in the early 1850s with free settlers such as the Rolfe, Shumack, Gillespie And Gribble families. These settlers established wheat and sheep properties such as ‘Weetangara’,’Gold Creek’, ‘The Valley’ and ‘Tea Gardens’. During the mid-19th century Ginninderra was predominantly a wheat growing district especially for the smaller landholders. Much of the local produce supplied the large workforce at the region’s goldfields located at Braidwood and Major’s Creek

Some of the important facts and buildings Don talked about included:

  • Hall establishment in 1886.
  • Ginninderra School closure in 1911 when Hall school opened.
  • Land acquisitions commencing in 1913 but land earmarked for settlement was used for soldier settlement post World War 1.
  • Ginninderra Police Station – heritage listed. West of Barton Highway opposite Gold Creek Road
  • St Pauls Church and The Glebe were given to the Anglican Church by Campbell – 1860 for 40 years.  School until 1874
  • Belconnen Farm had a stone cottage built in the 1850’s – only 6 of its type
  • Rosebud Cottage and apiary – house from Ginninderra – Hillview homestead
  • Mt Painter which was originally called Round Hill
  • Springvale Homestead – Redfern St 1k from Bindubi Street Macquarie
  • Emu Bank Homestead – located at the Belconnen Library probably housed workers on the Palmerville property
  • Cranleigh Farm Latham
  • Parkwood church near Ginninderra Falls
  • Weetangera Road – access to Belconnen district from Dryandra St, opposite Lomandra Street
  • Weetangerra Cemetery – William Hovell Drive (opposite Hawker)
  • Methodist Church 1873 to 1953, 26 graves, 44 burials but likely a lot more
  • Plaque – On this site the Weetangera Methodist Church was erected in 1873 (from Lyneham) and demolished in 1955.
  • Cairn in place, Plaque gone, headstone condition – Rotary working bee to maintain.
  • Belconnen Naval Transmitting Station established in 1939 – key part of overseas broadcast of 1956 Olympic Games.  RAAF station closer to Lyneham
  • Services – Telephone – Weetangera post office / telephone exchange opened in 1926.  Electricity to Weetangera area arrived in 1950
  • Urbanisation – first residential leases in Aranda auctioned in 1967.  Electric substation at Parkwood commissioned in 1966.  Belconnen telephone exchange at Emu Ridge 1964/65
  • Belconnen – name from a 1937 land grant to explorer Captain Charles Sturt (land on-sold to Campbells at £1 per acre).  District of Belconnen gazetted 31 March 1966

Elm Grove – significant as the only remaining working property within Gungahlin that maintains its traditional functions of fine wool and hay production in a rural lifestyle that has continued since the Gillespie family first occupied the area in the 1840s.  Elm Grove remains a fully functioning remnant of the once broad holdings of the extended Gillespie family, pioneer settlers of the upper Ginninderra Creek area. The current owners, the Carmodys, expanded the acreage with the purchase of the neighbouring Oak Hill property in 1997. Elm Grove was placed on the ACT Heritage Register in 2008. Some pictures of Elm Grove

For more information try the following sources:-

Activities Held 2015

The following is an outline of major shed excursions and special activities that been held.

2015-12-18 Christmas Function


2015-12-04 ACT Fire Brigade Museum



Nov 2015 – Our Past Secretary Bob Salmond and his wife toured India & Turkey

Some pictures of the trip from Turkey & Taj Mahal in India

2015-11-21 Voices in the Forest


2015-11-20 Visit to AWM


2015-11-20 Shed Open Golf Day


2015-10-02 Tulip Top Gardens


11th Sep 2015 – Bob Miller gave a great slide talk titled ‘Out of the Dust’ about Archaeology in Greece & the Middle East’ with emphasis on the Australian dig site at Pella, Jordan


Bob shooting Roman mosaics

Australian dig site at Pella information and link

On this day we were entertained by a presentation and a series of great photographs taken by Bob Miller during visits to the Pella Project Excavations.

Bob is an Australian photographer and educator with a specialisation in archaeological photography. He has always had a passion for photography and has used his image making in such broad ranging areas as commercial, press, sport and over 20 years of archaeological photography. His assignments take him primarily to the Eastern Mediterranean region on sites ranging from Neolithic to Byzantine periods.

View from Tell Husn of main Tell

View from Tell Husn of main Tell

When not working Bob can often be found cycling, sailing or in the outback of Australia.

After explaining about the special requirements for photographing archaeological items and the different cameras types, media and techniques needed, Bob talked about the Pella Project in Jordan.

Bob with overhead camera rig

Bob with overhead camera rig

Pella is located in the Jordan valley some 130 km north of Amman and the site has been continuously occupied since Neolithic times. First mentioned in the 19th century BC in Egyptian inscriptions, its name was Hellenised to Pella, perhaps to honour Alexander the Great’s birthplace. The Roman city, of which some spectacular ruins remain, supplanted the Hellenistic city. During this period Pella was one of the cities making up the Decapolis. The city was the site of one of Christianity’s earliest churches. According to Eusebius of Caesarea it was a refuge for Jerusalem Christians in the 1st century AD who were fleeing the Jewish–Roman wars. The city is also the site of the battle between Byzantine troops and Muslim invading forces in 635AD at the Battle of Fahl.



The city proper was destroyed by the Golan earthquake of 749AD. A small village remains in the area and only small portions of the ruins have been excavated. The University of Sydney and the Jordanian Department of Antiquities have been conducting excavations at Pella since 1979. In recent years the focus has been on the site’s Bronze Age and Iron Age temples and administrative buildings. A Canaanite temple was uncovered from 1994 to 2003. In May the discovery of a city wall and other structures, dating back to 3400BC was announced.


2015-09-04 Excursion to Loaded Dog Tarago


21st Aug 2015 – Robert Turner – Self-Managed Super Funds Specialist – Dixon Advisory

Robert gave us a very informative session dealing with the very relevant issue of managing Superannuation in retirement. Robert spoke to the key elements of Superannuation in general, including the three types of Funds generally available i.e. MySuper and APRA Regulated Funds (Pooled) and Self-Managed Super or “SMSF” Funds (Self-directed), and Pension regulations & implications.

The following is a short summary only with comments on Robert’s presentation, as Robert has given us permission to distribute the full presentation with all details to our Shed members. View presentation.

Robert began by reminding members that an essential part of wealth creation and tax minimisation in retirement is contributing available funds into Superannuation – tax can be up to 49% on funds deposited in other institutions outside superannuation, whereas the tax imposed within the super schemes is 15% only.

MySuper & APRA Regulated Funds do mostly attract lower fees in comparison to SMSF funds, where members are responsible for its administration and decisions i.e. self-directed. However, SMSF’s generally attract a higher return in comparison.

Robert fielded many questions with respect to pensions and other related financial considerations. Some of these question types are summarised below:

Borrowing from financial institutions to then re-invest into a Superannuation scheme – Feasible? (No!) Bank borrowing fees and charges would definitely exceed and offset any expected return in anticipated Superannuation earnings.

Negative gearing – does the above approach makes sense? (Yes) – Interest on these types of borrowings for this purpose is (currently) tax-deductible.

Passing your retirement funds onto next generation at death – the residual balance (after tax) can be passed onto other family members as superannuation, (preferably binding nominations should be in place).

Tax implications of inherited Shares – Capital Gains apply? – This is a complicated area and determinations may well vary according to individual situations and financial structuring.

Are potential changes to Commonwealth Seniors Health Card anticipated? At behest of Government.

At death – who is responsible for preparing your last tax return if required? Generally nominated trustee.

Comment from floor: We should keep a perspective on Super – more important to think about how long you might live and what you are going to with your time & savings – hold onto them in the (sometimes) vain hope of spending later, which may never happen? The money is not the only key issue to consider!
We thank Robert and assistant Dixon Advisory executive Hock Liaw for presenting to us, and answering many questions. It was a very useful and informative session for members, clearly evident by the fact that Robert had to work hard to keep up with the range and rapidity of questions.

14th Aug 2015 – Canberra Glassworks Excursion

Sixteen shed members enjoyed a very interesting tour of the Canberra Glassworks in Kingston. The tour around the facilities and studios was led by our very friendly and knowledgeable guide, Trevor Lewis, who was able to share his in-depth knowledge of the history and functions of this world-class facility. As outlined in last week’s newsletter, the Canberra was opened in 2007, and is situated in what was the historic former Kingston Powerhouse. The Powerhouse was constructed in 1915 of poured cement reinforced by river gravel. It was the first permanent public building in Canberra and is now an iconic Canberra building.

Trevor explained that the architect who designed the Powerhouse, John Smith Murdoch, was a noted architect who designed other heritage buildings in Canberra such as Old Parliament House, East and West Blocks and the Hotel Canberra. This was consistent with the plan laid out by Canberra’s planner Walter Burley Griffin.

The Powerhouse was situated adjacent to the Molonglo River to enable water to be pumped up into the building’s boilers where the steam helped the turbines to run. It then pumped water back out to the river, the water being warm as a result. Prior to the instillation of the steam turbines, coal (circa 1915 on) was used for the pre-existing generators, railed in and loaded into the Powerhouse via conveyor belts and overhead shutes. The steam operation building effectively ceased when the Burrinjuck Dam’s hydro-electric scheme began servicing Canberra.

The building closed in 1929 but reactivated for periods between 1936 and 1942, and also between 1948 and 1957. Although it was intended to be a temporary building supplying Canberra with coal-generated electricity from 1915, it continued to operate as a powerhouse until 1957. It was used as a storage and training facility from the 1960’s to 2000.

Since its opening in May 2007 the Canberra Glassworks has been a working operation demonstrating the skills of Canberra glass artists and providing them access to state-of-the-art equipment, facilities and studios. They have mentoring programs for developing glass artists where they can explore, develop and create new work. As a result, this has contributed towards Australia gaining an enviable reputation nationally and internationally for the quality and skill of its glass artists.

Trevor led us through each of the operational areas of the Glassworks. Photos of these areas and samples of work generated by the artists in residence can be viewed by clicking HERE. The areas explored were the:

Casting Area: Trevor showed us typical plaster model and its related one-piece mould, along with the finished glass product. The designed models are first made in plaster and moulds created from these. Glass, often coloured, is then put into these moulds and fired in a furnace at extremely high temperatures (2000° C), and after cooling removed from the mould.

Working/Polishing Area: This room is equipped with sophisticated washing tables, lathes used for polishing glass works in production to a high lustre, hand engravers for etching glass and heavy-duty pressure hoses and glass cutting and grinding equipment.
Abrasive Blasting Area: Amongst other equipment, this area contains two large primary machines for sand blasting. It was noted that one of them used a #150 grit for sanding opaque glass in the machine.

Colouring Area: This room is a storage repository for coloured glass canes and full coloured glass panes of every colour that are used in the production of glass artworks. These canes (or rods) are produced by sticking a long iron rod into a furnace to gather the molten glass on the end and the shape is formed then cooled. The glass can be coloured with small amounts of metal oxides for effect. The resultant canes can then be cooled and stored. Combining different coloured molten canes together can produce a myriad of colours and designs.

Artists Production Studios: From this top floor of the building, with the original Powerhouse coal shutes above our head, we could look down on the principal artists’ studios. These studios contain all the equipment for producing all kinds of glasswork and jewellery, with the associated furnaces. This studio allows artists to use existing glass-making techniques, but also allows them the opportunity to experiment and design new procedures.
To produce much of the jewellery, powdered clay is put on the end of a metal rod and then fired to create the desired coloured jewellery. Different colours can be created with a combination of heat flames and glass beads.

We met Spike Dean, one of the glass artists in residence at the moment who is creating a range of attractive and innovative glass products. Spike showed us some of the artwork she is creating which incorporates the use of screen-printing in the design and production phase.
These studios produce world-class glasswork, and are used by both Australian and international artists.

Glass Blowing area: This area was fascinating as we saw the glass actually being heated and shaped at various phases of production. We saw the use of the blowpipe (or blow tube) and other major equipment and tools, benches etc. used in producing the products.

The tip of the blowpipe is first preheated; then dipped in the molten glass in the furnace. The molten glass is collected onto the end of the blowpipe then rolled on a flat sheet of steel. Air is then blown into the pipe to get it to its desired size the molten glass is attached to a stainless steel or iron rod for shaping. While working the glassblower (Matt Curtis) and his colleague sat on a low bench with his various tools in close proximity, and fired and manipulated/rolled the glass on the rods at different intervals to create the final shape.

This was a very interesting and enjoyable trip to the Glassworks, and many thanks go to Trevor for leading us on our tour. Information on the Glassworks

14th Aug 2015 – CapTel’s Captioned Telephone

Glenn Vermeulen, Community Officer with AccessComm Canberra presented on their distributed CapTel telephone product to those members not involved with the Glassworks excursion.

Hearing loss can make talking on the phone difficult, but CapTel’s captioned telephone helps those with hearing loss stay in touch over the phone. The captioned phone service is intended to assist anyone who is hearing impaired, not necessarily deaf.

If you’re living with hearing loss, you aren’t alone. Nearly 1 in 3 adults between 65 and 74 years old has some degree of hearing loss, while nearly one-half of adults older than 75 years old reports being hard of hearing. One of the most common concerns for people with hearing loss is staying connected with friends and family, especially over the phone. Many hard of hearing people start avoiding phone conversations out of sheer frustration.

CapTel’s captioned telephone works like any other phone, but it allows those with difficult hearing to read captions word-for-word on the phone screen at the same time, similar to the way you read captions on TV. This lets you support the hearing ability you have and ensures you catch every word the caller says and enjoy stress free conversations. When you want to make a phone call, just press the caption button on your CapTel phone to be connected.

The user does not have to be registered with the Australian Communications Exchange. A CapTel phone automatically engages a relay officer when being used and there is no registration required. Also the user is never required to prove that they have a hearing loss to gain access to a CapTel phone or the captioning service.

The service that gets the captions to the phone itself, is free of charge, provided by the federal government. However, the cost for the special phone and the service is a one-off refundable deposit of $50 on the phone and an annual rental fee of $55 per annum from AccessComm. Captioning services are available to people with hearing loss 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Please note: Glenn will perform all installations, provide all necessary equipment (required to install the phone e.g. modem/router) and train the new user, free of charge here in the ACT.

Currently there are about 800 captioned phones in NSW, and QLD, and this captioning service is now available Australia wide. However, CapTel only have representatives in QLD, NSW and ACT. CapTel phones can be shipped anywhere in Australia at the same costs as above but no installation service is provided outside of the states above at this stage.

The service is strictly bound by privacy laws and is not permitted to record any part of the conversation. It started about 18 months ago with 4 relay officers, but has expanded to now have 16 relay officers on shift to handle the volume of calls, as the service becomes more popular.

This phone could be of real benefit to anyone with hearing difficulties. If you would like to find out more information about this telephone product and its features you can click on the following links to contact AccessComm or Email or Phone Glenn directly;

  • AccessComm website (for general phone information and obtaining order forms)
  • Glenn Vermeulen (CapTel’s local Canberra-based Community Officer). Glenn will be happy to help you feel comfortable installing and using your new CapTel phone or answer any other enquiries re this product). Glenn’s contact Phone Number is 0418 311 621

Thanks to Glenn for visiting us at the Shed and presenting on this great product. Thanks also to John Machin for his introductions and facilitation of Glenn’s visit and Bob Greeney for recording supplementary technical details for this product

2015-08-07 Sing Australia Belconnen


2015-07-31 Dion Russell of the AIS


2015-07-24 St John’s Ambulance



3rd Jul 2015 – Talk by Ms Andreja Horvat of the Slovenian Embassy, John Grubb of Beekeepers Assoc and Mateja Koštrica

Around 55 listened to five guests from the Embassy of Slovenia and the Bee Keepers Association of ACT, who put on a ‘Honey Breakfast’ for our Shed.



Our guest speaker was Ms Andreja Horvat of the Slovenian Embassy and First Secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia. Andreja told us a little about Slovenia, its history, its people, its industry and its tourism.

The history of Slovenia chronicles the period of the Slovene territory from the 5th century BC to the present times. In the Early Bronze Age, Proto-Illyrian tribes settled an area stretching from present-day Albania to the city of Trieste. Slovenian territory was part of the Roman Empire, and it was devastated by Barbarian incursions in late Antiquity and Early Middle Ages, since the main route from the Pannonian plain to Italy ran through present-day Slovenia. Alpine Slavs, ancestors of modern-day Slovenes settled the area in the late 6th Century A.D. The Holy Roman Empire controlled the land for nearly 1,000 years, and between the mid-14th century and 1918, most of Slovenia was under Habsburg rule. In 1918, Slovenes joined Yugoslavia, while the west of the country was annexed to Italy. Between 1945 and 1990, Slovenia was under Yugoslav Communist regime. The country gained its independence from Yugoslavia in June 1991, and is today a modern state and a member of the European Union and NATO. It has a population of just over 2 million people with Slovene being the official language throughout the country, whereas Italian and Hungarian are co-official regional minority languages in those municipalities where the Italian and the Hungarian minority are present.

Slovenia’s capital city is Ljubljana and is the political, administrative, cultural and economic centre of Slovenia and home to over 280,000 inhabitants. It was recently awarded ‘European Green Capital 2016’ because of the significant transformation which has been made by the city in sustainability over the previous 10 – 15 years. This transformation has been achieved in areas including local transport and the transformation of roads to pedestrian traffic in the city centre. From being a city which was previously dominated by car transport, the focus is now on public transport and on pedestrian and cycling networks.

Ljubljana has also demonstrated how they have progressed in terms of the treatment of waste and waste water. They have committed to pursuing a zero waste objective.

Slovenia is also known for its tourism opportunities among which include mountains, outdoor recreation, caving and ski resorts. Set on a glacial lake fed by thermal springs, the town of Bled contains a church-topped islet and a cliffside medieval castle. Nearby Triglav National Park in the Julian Alps offers skiing and hiking, plus rafting along the Soča River, renowned for aquamarine water.

We also had the pleasure of hearing from Mateja Koštrica, daughter of Jožica Koštrica of the Slovenian Embassy and a student at nearby St Francis Xavier College in Florey who told us a little about the history of World Bee Day and Honey Breakfasts and the importance of bees in our environment. Mateja told us that May 20th has been declared World Bee Day which is also the birthday of Anton Janša who is recognised as a pioneer of modern beekeeping and one of the greatest experts on bees at the time.\

Mateja explained that bees and other food pollinators are very important for human survival and that in recent periods, especially in areas with intensive agriculture, bees are increasingly endangered due to environmental threats. Their habitat is shrinking and the conditions for their survival and development are steadily worsening leading to poorer development of bee colonies, new bee diseases and increasing pest impact due to the reduced resistance of bee colonies.

We also welcomed John Grubb and Dick Johnson of the Beekeepers Association of the ACT. John’s talk gave us all a new perspective on the joys and hazards of beekeeping and explained how Australia was the only country in the world free of varroa mite. The European Honey bee Apis Mellifera was introduced to Australia in the 1822 and is essential to the propagation of up to 60% of our crops.

John explained that there were three kinds of bees, worker bees which are all female and build and maintain the hive, collect nectar and pollen to feed the developing bee larvae, the queen bee of which there is only one in each hive and which is responsible for egg laying and for controlling the hive using pheromones, and the drone bees which are all male, quite small in number and whose job it is to fertilise the queen bee’s eggs. We learned about hive management, candied honey, mead (an alcoholic beverage created by fermenting honey with water), royal jelly and food sources for the bees and the fact that honey keeps forever.

Thanks to Andreja, Jožica, Mateja, John and Dick for a great series of presentation and for the wonderful experience of enjoying a ‘Honey Breakfast’ expertly prepared by Andreja, Jožica and Mateja with honey supplied by Dick. Below are a few pictures of the day

5 Jun 2015 – RoboCup Junior Soccer


Gerry Elias with the Robots at Shed

Gerry Elias from St Francis Xavier High School, Florey came & gave us a great presentation on RoboCup Junior Soccer played with student built autonomous robots  He demonstrated a couple on units one built using a 3D laser printer & the other made from parts and designed circuitry. Gerry, is currently serving as General Chair of the RoboCupJunior International Committee and Committee Chair for RoboCupJunior Australia. Gerard has travelled to RoboCupJunior World Cups in Mexico, Turkey, The Netherlands, China and most recently Brazil as a lead organiser of the competition. He is an IT teacher at St Frances Xavier College in Florey.


Robots at Shed

RoboCup is an annual international robotics competition proposed in 1995 and founded in 1997. Its aim is to promote robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) research by offering a publicly appealing, but formidable challenge. Thirty five schools in Canberra and 600 schools throughout Australia involving over 4,000 students play robot soccer and Australia is bidding to host the 2017 World Cup in Sydney. The robots, each around 20cm in diameter, are built by the students who make them from a mix of commercially made and home-made components. The robots are autonomous (ie make their own decisions without assistance from the student).

The brain of the robot is usually based on an Arduino platform. Arduino is an open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for anyone making interactive projects. 3D printers are used to fabricate the base of the robot and again, are programmed by the students. Most of the student generated software to control the robots is written in C or Robotic C, a cross platform programming language for educational robotics. The soccer ball has an infra-red or laser light which is tracked by cameras on each robot. The robots are aware of their own location on the playing field, the location of all other robots, the goal and the ball and instantly react to any movement. Click HERE to see a video about robot soccer

22nd May 2015 – 4WD Excursion to Bulls Head in the Brindabellas

On this Friday 20 Shed members travelled to Bulls Head Picnic Area in the Namadgi National Park for morning tea and a bit of a wander around the area. The weather was bright and sunny and thankfully the wind abated just after we arrived. A very pleasant sojourn indeed amid the grand scenery of the Brindabella Mountains. Photos

2015-04-24 ANZAC presentation



6th March 2015 – Excursion to Snowy Hydro Southcare Base

On this date around 23 members visited the Snowy Hydro SouthCare Base at Hume to see what it was all about and to hear first- hand of the work and life of the SouthCare helicopter pilots and medical staff. President Laurie made a donation of $100 on behalf of the Shed to help support the work of SouthCare. From an email appreciation for our visit from SouthCare base, Alison L. Tonkin, Fundraising Manager wrote Thank you so much for coming out to the Snowy Hydro  our volunteers Len and Tony and myself really enjoyed the visit and hope that you all did….. “Snowy Hydro SouthCare provide aeromedical and rescue helicopter services for the ACT & southern NSW region and have performed over 6,000 life-changing missions since the service commenced in October 1998. Primary, Secondary and non-medical missions take place north from Canberra almost Orange, west past Wagga Wagga out to Hay, south to the Victorian border and east to the sea. Primary missions are where Snowy Hydro SouthCare provide a rapid emergency response directly to the scene of the accident/incident and attend the patient/s onsite; preparing them for aeromedical transportation to the nearest major trauma centre, usually the Canberra Hospital. Secondary missions are aeromedical hospital transfers where a patient in a rural or regional hospital requires a higher level care at a major hospital. The Snowy Hydro SouthCare Bell 412 rescue helicopter is also fitted with specialist equipment to assist with search and rescue missions and firefighting. FLIR, a forward looking infra-red device assists with search and rescue missions and a Bambi bucket can be fitted to the underside of the aircraft and filled with water from a still or moving reservoir and assists the Rural Fire Services with firefighting. With mission numbers rising annually and ever-increasing costs Snowy Hydro SouthCare are reliant on community support to stay in the air saving lives. During the visit to the base on Friday 6th March, the Melba Men’s Shed presented Snowy Hydro SouthCare’s Fundraising Manager Alison Tonkin with a cheque for $100 that will contribute to the work of the rescue helicopter. “Snowy Hydro SouthCare now complete 500 missions per year on average which is a shocking increase of approximately 20% over the past few years,” Ms Tonkin said. “We are very appreciative of the support given by our generous community members such as the gentlemen from the Melba Men’s Shed who through their visit to the base now have a better understanding of how vital Snowy Hydro SouthCare is for the people who live, work and play in the region.” March is Snowy Hydro SouthCare Awareness Month; see our website for more information about the service and how you can make a difference.” Photos of our visit

2015-02-27 Errols Model Trains



16th Jan 2015 – Narrabundah Pre Fabs – A unique story in Canberra’s urban history

Alan Foskett leads an explanatory walk through Narrabundah’s past and present

Some 19 Shed members enjoyed a very interesting and informative walk through old Narrabundah in lovely weather, guided by Alan Foskett, local historian and author. Alan explained that the houses we would be observing on our walk were built on a portion of what was an original Canberra property named “Kurrumbene”, leased and farmed for sheep and cattle by the Murray family from 1920 until its resumption in the 1940’s when work began on the suburb of Narrabundah and its associated pre fabs. Of the original 365 pre fabs established in Narrabundah between 1947 and 1952 only 80 remain. The group proceeded to circumnavigate the streets forming the boundary of the original community of pre fab homes.

Alan Foskett

Alan Foskett

As we set off we viewed what was originally the Narrabundah Infants School which was first established in 1951, adjacent to the local shops. The pre fabs were made in Sydney and then transported by rail to Canberra and hence Narrabundah, where the streets at the time were only numbered, not named as they are today. The first pre fabs were built between 2nd (Keira) to 6th (Wambool) Street in 1946. Alan pointed out the narrow green ‘lung’ or belt which runs through the centre of the pre fab area for its entire length, bounded on each side by Kootara and Matina Streets – a rare green area that was the scene for many happy community activities, bonfires, children’s games etc. during the formation of the community. The original pre fabs were cladded by plywood and had only one access door through the front of the house, with back doors added later. Plumbing was external to the cladding. Typically they had chip heaters and tin baths, and outside laundries were grouped to service each cluster of four houses, with clothes dried on post and lines. The introduction and appearance of the pre fabs at Narrabundah proved to be of concern to some Canberra bureaucrats at the time. Indeed, the City Administrator at the time made sure that avenues of fast-growing trees (as seen along Matina Street) were mass planted to hide the view from Canberra Avenue! This effectively meant VIPs, visitors and many locals didn’t really get to appreciate the hard work and lives of these pioneering Canberra families. Narrabundah residents at the time comprised many ethnic origins, with a large percentage (over 60%) of residents being of non-English speaking origin. This eventuated as Canberra’s administrators aimed to encourage family groups to establish in the area as an alternate to the many (single male) workmen’s hostels built in Canberra in the immediate post-war period. A quick diversion from our route was made to view the house of a friend of Roger Amos’s, where his friend Willie had skilfully constructed several authentic looking cannons from steel tubing in his front yard, and members were able to view early vintage cars in his garage. We paused to have a look at the Narrabundah Pre School, again built in 1951 and whose 50th Anniversary celebrations in 2001 saw many original residents return to join in the festivities.

Original Tuckermans Store Site

Original Tuckermans
Store Site

Narrabundah oval, now a general recreation area, was once a top class turfed Canberra cricket ground and the scene of many high standard matches. Near the corner of Matina and Keira Street now stands the Russian Orthodox Church of St John the Baptist, forming the boundary of, and extending partially into original pre fab land. In Keira Street Alan pointed out the site of the original location for Tuckerman’s Cash Store and residence, the first grocery store built in this area at Narrabundah in 1949. After its closure in the early 1970’s the renovated shop was used as a drug rehabilitation halfway house, which then made way for residential development about 1990. Following on the successful establishment of Tuckerman’s Store, a number of other local businesses began to flourish in the area, including a mobile clothing van; Jacko the fruit and veggie man; Blundell’s Bakery and Morton’s butchery. We then walked past the buildings that originally comprised the Narrabundah Primary School in Kootara Crescent, now used and known since 2009 as the Narrabundah Early Childhood School. We saw the site of the then Bowling Club and original Community Hall, which included a Salvation Army outreach established in 1951. We then returned to our starting point at the Narrabundah shops, having enjoyed a very pleasant walk learning about the origins of this part of Canberra’s history. Our grateful thanks to Alan for once again generously sharing his time and extensive local knowledge with Melba Shed members. If you would like to know more, why not purchase Alan’s recent book entitled “Homes for the Workers – Narrabundah Pre fabs”. You can buy copies of this and others of Alan’s extensive range of books at the National Library Book Shop. Pictures of the walk around Narrabundah Thanks to Geoff Grimmett for preparing the above article on our Narrabundah visit which first appeared in Newsletter #263.