Memorable characters from Canberra's past

Jennifer Horsfield

Jennifer Horsfield:
Some years ago, I was invited by a family member of the Daley family to research the story of CS Daley, a man who played a central role in the early life of Canberra. Charles Studdy Daley, whose working life began in the Ministry of Home Affairs in Melbourne in 1905, was to be closely involved in the building, administration and cultural and social life of this city for the next 50 years. In fact, the chief archivist of this - the National Archives - saw him as a man who by any yardstick, must be judged as one of the most remarkable public men of his time. Through reading his papers, which are held at the National Library, I gained a ritually detailed insight into the building of the new federal capital.

Daley became my guide to that first half-century of Canberra's life, a city whose history is such a fascinating mix of the visionary and the mundane. Daley was also a critic, an observer, a protagonist in my story, but the city itself remains the central character. Daley was a very private individual. Very few of his truly personal papers remain, or perhaps he was not the man to commit his inner life to paper - in diaries or letters. So the talk that follows is not about CS Daley, though I hope my book has done justice to his character and his achievements. Instead I plan to talk about some of the other characters who inhabited his world and his working life.

We residents of Canberra live surrounded by the legacy of the past, the legacy of those creative and energetic people who have left their stamp on our city. We think first of course, of the partnership of Walter Burley Griffin and his wife Marion Mahony Griffin, in their collaboration of the winning design for the new federal capital. That design, compromised though it has been over the years, is still with us           …in that wonderful layout of Canberra, as seen from Mount Ainslie. Griffin's plan for Canberra as embodied in the brilliant drawings of his wife, had a feeling for landscape, for the particular layout of the Molonglo Valley, that put it ahead of its competitors and still has the power to inspire us. Griffin saw the city side as an amphitheatre. The top galleries were formed by the three northern hills of Black Mountain and Mount Ainslie and Mount Pleasant. The slopes down to the water formed the auditorium. The formal expanse of water, formed by damming the Molonglo River would form the arena and the southern slopes rising to Capital Hill would form the stage.

The government structures - judiciary, Parliament and administrative buildings - would be set on these southern slopes, rising tier on tier to the preeminent building of the city, the Capitol on Capital Hill. The Capitol would be a place for national gatherings, an archive of the nation's history, a public space that symbolised and celebrated the Commonwealth as a democracy. Beyond Capital Hill rose other hills, Mount Mugga Mugga and Red Hill and beyond them, the blue and distant range of the Brindabellas. Under the clear upland light of our region, they formed a spectacular and inspiring background to Griffin's imagined city. This visionary plan for the new federal capital was summed up in Griffin's credo, above Parliament, the people and nature above all.

Sadly much of the Griffin plan was compromised and watered down over the years by new economic and political agendas. The concept of the public gathering place, the Capitol, a place for national celebration and a repository of the country's history, disappeared very early on from the plan. Such a concept was alien to many Australians, though one could argue that the building's function was later to be taken over by the Australian War Memorial. Instead of the Capitol, the politicians got their way with their own house now dominating the city landscape on Capital Hill. The other very large change in Griffin's plan saw his boulevards, tramways and busy urban life replaced in the 1960s by a city of free flowing traffic, where the placement of main roads was central to city planning.

But the hills and the lake remain as central parts of Griffin's vision. It is still a city rare in the 21st century, where the natural world quietly asserts its presence and its healing power. It's our bush capital. We mustn't forget that the original choice of the city site and the lake lay with New South Wales surveyor Charles Scrivener. He was directed to bear in mind that the federal capital should be a beautiful city, occupying a commanding position with extensive views and embracing distinctive features, which will lend themselves to a design worthy of the object, not just for the present but for all time.

In 1909, Scrivener found such a position in the peaceful pastoral landscape of the Molonglo Valley, an area of lightly wooded hills, with an outlook north east, over open grazing country through which the Molonglo River meandered. He and his team of surveyors were also to survey the wild and broken country to the south west of the city, including the upper reaches of the Cotter River, an area of, 'heavy, steep, rugged hills of granite formation, so tough and unfit for settlement, that some parts of it did not appear on the maps of the state'.

This was to be the source of the city's water supply, about which New South Wales Engineer William Corin commented, 'there are few cities in the world where such a magnificent supply of pure water is available from an absolutely uninhabited catchment'. Scrivener himself was not convinced of the feasibility of sourcing water from the Cotter catchment, believing it would involve prohibitive expense. He favoured supplies of water from the Queanbeyan River, if the catchment could be protected from further over grazing and deforestation.

The final boundaries of the territory excluded Queanbeyan, though if they hadn't it is certain that the Queanbeyan River would never have matched the Cotter for purity, as the Queanbeyan River's catchment was already heavily degraded by the farming practices of the day. Scrivener's contribution to the future city is remembered in the naming of the Scrivener Dam. The lake itself rightly honours the name of Walter Burley Griffin, but in fact its final shape following the natural contours of the land, rather than formally designed basins owes more to the efforts of an early Canberra official, Colonel Percy Owen who was director-general of works, during the years when the city was being planned.

Owen spent much of his time investigating the Molonglo and Queanbeyan Rivers in preparation for the building the lake. Owen should also be given much of the credit for designing the city's early infrastructure, the reliable water supply, electricity and good sanitation that were prerequisites for a truly modern city in the early 20th century. Owen and his department designed the broad features of the modern sewerage system for Canberra and the main underground sewer that was driven west from the city to its outfall at Weston Creek is still a vital part of Canberra's sewerage system. The Cotter Dam, the Powerhouse at Kingston and the Yarralumla Brickworks were other major projects that Owen supervised.

Neither Owen, nor Scrivener nor the Griffins were to live to see the creation of the lake that each had envisaged as a centrepiece for the new city, but there was one important aspect of Canberra that began to take shape from its very foundation. Thomas Charles Weston was director of afforestation in the new federal capital, from 1913 to 1924. We still enjoy the tree-lined avenues, wooded hillsides and parklands which he created. He planted some of the trees near this building where we sit today. I plan now to tell you something of his story and his contribution to our city. His legacy is all around us.

By the early 20th century, land in the federal territory, as in much pastoral land in New South Wales, was showing signs of serious degradation. It was suffering from the multiple assaults of drought, over grazing, ring barking and invasion by feral pests. Only the Great Alpine ash forests in the Western part of the territory remain relatively untouched. In the settled areas, many of the wooded hillsides had been thinned or cleared by farmers and the water courses stripped of vegetation and with nothing to hold their banks in place, crumbled into dry, eroded gullies after heavy rain. Of the invasive pests, the most noticeable were the rabbits. They swarmed over the land destroying grass cover and regrowth in the open valleys of the territory.

The architect George Taylor described the invasion. This is in 1910. Australia's capital site was simply honeycombed with warrens. Rabbits had already built their federal city and in the evening dusk, they crowded in their myriads upon their piazzas. The appointment of a competent man to oversee the afforestation of the city site and the wider environs of the territory, was seen as urgent. In July 1912, Minister King O'Malley approved 70 pounds for ploughing and fencing a site at Acton for an experimental nursery. Thomas Charles Weston, head gardener at Government House in Sydney, made several visits to the federal capital site to provide advice on the establishment of the nursery.

Charles Scrivener, impressed by what he saw of Weston, recommended that he be engaged at once and begin work at Acton, to prepare the ground and supervise construction of the nursery. With so great an area of absolutely bare country to treat, the loss of a year is a matter of great importance, he stressed. Weston's initial appointment to Canberra was to develop the nursery at Acton, which would in time provide planting for the hills surrounding the city, both for their protection from the westerly winds and to help overcome erosion. As Scrivener came to know and respect Weston, he thought of further initiatives, the planting of the city site itself and afforestation projects further afield.

The Acton nursery, where Weston began his horticultural work, had a propagation nursery, a tool shed, the large testing area surrounded by a shelterbelt of fast growing trees. This is where Weston and his staff began planting trials of a range of indigenous and exotic tree species, to establish what would grow well in Canberra with its harsh climate, poor soils and low rainfall. Before the era of plastic, plant pots were made of cardboard or hollow reed. Seeds and plant material were obtained from a large network of suppliers in Victoria and New South Wales, as well as overseas. Weston began building up a reference library.

His colleague, friend and mentor, Joseph Maiden of the Sydney Botanic Gardens, was a respected horticulturist and the author of a number of standard reference books on Australian flora. The two men corresponded regularly and Weston often sent plant material to Sydney for Maiden to inspect and identify. Maiden claimed, 'I look upon Weston as one of the most advanced horticulturists I know'. In 1919, Maiden told the Royal Society of New South Wales that Weston was the first man to make a successful cross-pollination of a white gum and a Yellow Box eucalypt. By 1917, the afforestation branch was well established and employed 28 men.

After the main nursery was established at Yarralumla, nursery work at the Acton site still continued for many years and in time, the area was home to many beautiful specimens of exotic trees. The Yarralumla site included a sheltered area for propagation and testing, an open nursery for hardening off trees before planting and a 300-acre area set aside as an arboretum, a place of beauty, interest and education for the public, where in time they could view over 200 different species of conifers, deciduous hardwoods and native Australian trees. One hundred years later, the arboretum known as Westbourne Woods, is a shady and beautiful sanctuary on the edge of Lake Burley Griffin, beloved by Canberrans of all ages, who can walk or cycle through the area. It is the oldest arboretum in the territory.

The arboretum was located on rock hard soil, on what was known as Shale Ridge. Sometimes Weston had to resort to gelignite to dig holes before planting. The shale provided good material for making bricks at the brickworks that were established nearby. Water for the nursery was pumped from the Molonglo River, as Yarralumla was not connected to the town's water supply until 1921. The experimental orchard at the nursery was soon producing abundant crops of fruit, which were supplied to the local small hospital at Acton and to government hostels. There were 123 different varieties of apple, as well as pears, peaches, almonds, apricots, plums and persimmons.

The orchard also attracted many observant locals, both small boys and men from the nearby work camps, who clambered over their fences at night and filled their pockets. John Hobday, the chief nursery man, reported on one theft of a quantity of peaches. Hobnail boots were worn and their tracks led towards the brickworks. Weston was happiest engaged on the outdoor work which he found so absorbing. He had the ruddy complexion of an English farmer. As was the custom of the day, even in rural Australia, he wore a tie and coat as a matter of course. Labourers wore coats and waistcoats, but no tie.

A typical day would see Weston out in the field, maps or charts tucked under his arm, legs clad in leather gaiters and a plan for the day's planting spread on a board, held at arm's length as he scanned the rows of seedlings set out before him. He asked the department to provide the branch with a motorbike and side car, which had heavy and constant use along the back roads and tracks of the territory until 1919, when Weston saw that after a number of breakdowns, its usefulness was at an end. By 1920, he had persuaded the department to issue the branch with a Ford car. Weston knew that large-scale plantings in this untried environment would only prove of long-term value if careful records were kept of their progress.

The original card filing system, which he established, documents the history of each planting from the date and location where the seed was collected, to a record of the plant's performance. There are records for trees, shrubs, flowers and pasture grasses. Joseph Maiden believed that Weston's methods of keeping records were quite in advance of planting records anywhere in the world. Among the nursery's first stock was a batch of seeds from Roman Cypress, which Weston brought with him from Sydney. The first seedlings were raised in the nursery in 1915 and planted out in Westbourne Woods and up on Green Hills, which you pass on the right as you go down the expressway. It was on high ground to the north of the Molonglo River.

Progeny from these trees was then collected to raise more seedlings in the nursery. In 2003, after the bushfires that destroyed a great swathe of western Canberra, these seedlings were planted out to regenerate the burnt out Green Hills slopes. In this way, Weston's early work and careful record keeping has left its own remarkable legacy for generations to come. The seeds stored at Yarralumla are now given full heritage protection. They lie on shelves in rows of old glass jars, reminiscent of a countrywoman's pantry, but this humble setting disguises the great scientific and historical significance of the collection. It is a storehouse of the seeds of most of the plants grown in Canberra and the surrounding countryside over the past 100 years.

While seeds were ordered from Weston's network of suppliers, many seeds were sourced locally and their provenance tells a story of wide ranging expeditions by Weston and Hobday into the mountains, country roads, scattered farms and large estates of the territory. Weston gathered plant specimens from many places, including [Booroomba], a lonely mountain property in the shadow of the [Tidbinbilla Range], from the verges of the road between the mining hamlet of Captains Flat in Queanbeyan and along the Cotter River. Weston's records allow the researcher to match the seeds collected with their progeny, so casuarina seeds collected near the bridge over the Cotter River in 1920, provided seedlings which were planted in Telopea Park in August 1922.

In 1918, Weston gathered the seed of the white Brittle Gum on the slopes of Black Mountain. Today the visitor to the Australian National Botanic Gardens is welcomed at the entrance to that site by a large Brittle Gum from that seed bank. The tree which Joseph Maiden had discovered and bears his name, is one of the native trees given pride of place just out here on King George's Terrace, in front of what was then the new Parliament House in 1927. The large estates of Gungahlin, Duntroon, Yarralumla, Tuggeranong and Lanyon yielded a large variety of exotic seeds. These properties had all been planted in the 19th century by landowners with strong attachments to their family homes in England and Scotland.

Their gardens reflected these attachments. Oaks, elms, cedars and other conifers had pride of place along the gravel driveways and bordering the lawns. Willows lined the creeks and helped keep erosion in check. Climbing roses, lavender, lilies, spring bulbs and flowering fruit trees all brought memories of northern spring times and summers to the dusty limestone plains. Duntroon was a favourite site for Weston, because of its established garden, which the Campbells had planted years before. Weston gathered pinecones from the magnificent [Atlas cedar] in its grounds and also germinated thousands of seedlings from a Roman Cyprus tree on the property.

These trees were to become part of the plantings to enhance the surroundings of some of the public buildings of the early city - the Albert Hall and the Hotel Canberra - and were to border some of the main roads as set down in Griffin's official plan for the city. The advisory committee planning Canberra's development took Weston's advice that extensive belts of trees be established to protect the city from strong north-westerly winds. As a result, Weston and his staff planted Haig Park, a long windbreak extending east to west across the northern city area. They also planted additional shelter at Yarralumla and the Powerhouse and established a beautiful park, Telopea Park, to shelter the southern area of the city.

Tests undertaken in 1952 at the Forestry School and at Acton and Duntroon, indicated that wind pressure in these areas had dropped by 25 per cent, as a result of this farsighted program. Weston was also much engaged in restoration of the rural landscape, where farming practices had led to extensive ring barking and lopping of trees for firewood, fencing and fodder. Weston himself in strongly worded terms talked of a holocaust of destruction when viewing Mount Majura, whose natural cover of mountain pine had all been removed as fodder for stock and only bare earth remained with no regeneration due to rabbit activity.

Weston was trying to change traditional land management practices in the territory and from 1919, the Timber Protection Ordinance gave him legislative backing for his work, but he also became known as a wise counsellor and good friend to many people on the land, or in villages and small towns in the district, providing free horticultural advice and arranging for generous free issues of plants from his nurseries. He often visited Tuggeranong Homestead, where he received a warm welcome from its new incumbent, the war historian, Charles Bean, who had moved there with his staff in late 1919. The property, its main house and outlying cottages would be their home and workplace for the next five years.

Bean wanted to maintain the gardens, which Mary Cunningham had established there in the early years of the century and which were renowned for their beautiful roses. The garden was also graced by an almond tree, which Charles Bean believed was at least 80 years old and which still bore heavily. In 1914, the Cunningham family had vacated Tuggeranong and moved to Lanyon, but Mary Cunningham still arranged for those almond crops to be harvested during the war and the boxes of almonds were sent to the troops overseas. Weston arranged to collect seed from the old almond tree and cones from the Monterey Pines that bordered the long driveway to the homestead. These pine seedlings were later planted out in the pine forest being established on Mount Stromlo.

The Municipal Council at Queanbeyan gave Weston permission to collect seeds from any tree in the district. In return, he was generous in sharing plants with a wide range of householders. These included John Gale, the venerable editor of the Golden Age, who had a long association with the federal territory. Sister [Brigid] of Saint Benedict's Convent in Queanbeyan, approached Weston in 1920 for advice about where to buy a lawnmower. Over the next few years, she was the grateful recipient of trees and shrubs for her convent. One-teacher schools in the district discovered that Weston was very ready to help them with issues of climbing roses, pine shelterbelts and wattles.

Children had been encouraged since federation to celebrate Wattle Day on the first day of spring, as a way of developing patriotic sentiments, but also a love of their native flora. Frank McGee of Tuggeranong Schoolhouse encouraged his pupils to see the value and beauty of the trees in their district. In February 1917, McGee helped them compose a carefully written letter to the district surveyor, [Percy Sheaffe], requesting him to stop the cutting down of old eucalypts that bordered the lanes that they walked or rode on their way to school. Not only did the trees provide pleasant shade and reflect relief from the summer sun, but they were home to numerous small creatures who relied on their shelter. Sheaffe sent a courteous reply, promising to protect the trees.

The issue of free plants was regarded from the start as a useful public relations exercise in the district. As well politicians who requested them could obtain free plants – whether for their own electorate or their properties, was never quite clear. But from 1932, the issue of free plants was restricted to ratepayers of the territory. Weston's most significant plantings were to be carried out on hillsides that had been stripped of timber and needed massive afforestation. Once the grazing leases were revoked, rabbits eradicated and the areas fenced, plantings were made of a number of species that Weston had found to be hardy, both eucalypts and exotic conifers.

Mount Stromlo was an early priority for afforestation, as that was where the new observatory was being built and it was important to achieve a dense tree cover to keep down dust. Though a major drought in 1918 led to heavy losses at most of the plantations, the Monterey Pine - what we now know as Pinus radiata - proved durable on Mount Stromlo and became the main species for planting in the lower catchment and the basis for a local timber industry. Weston fully understood the symbolic importance of trees for human communities, especially those who were mourning. He helped propagate many seeds brought back from the graves of AIF men, who had died on the Western Front and on Gallipoli.

The shrubs were planted on the approach to the Australian War Memorial, but none remain, having been replaced by rows of eucalypts. Weston helped the small hamlet of Nimmitabel on the edge of the Snowy Mountains, to plan and plant their small war memorial. In 1919, he helped plan a peace park at the small village of [Hall] in the north of the territory, advising on a mix of deciduous and evergreen trees. The springing into life annually of the deciduous trees, he thought, was important for those who would regularly visit the site. One of his employees, Private Malcolm Mack Southwell, had been killed in action in France in November 1916. Southwell had described himself as a ganger and his calling as afforestation.

Now my time is nearly at an end and I realise I haven't talked about the women who initially - in planning this - I had promised to mention. Partly that is because their stories are very much side notes to the public narratives about early Canberra. Their influence was both more subtle and more hidden. I'm thinking of women like Verity Hewitt who started a wonderful bookshop in Canberra, Pat Tillyard, one of the founding members of the Historical Society, Jessie Daley, lifelong worker for women and child welfare, Ruth Lane Poole, the woman who designed the interiors of the Lodge in Government House. These were all dedicated, creative women, who played a part in Canberra's early days, but you'll have to read my book, Building a City, to explore their story.

But instead, I plan to end by reading a poem, which I think is one of the finest poems yet written about Canberra. It's written by one of our own Canberra poets, Geoff Page. It's called The Forester and it's written in memory of Thomas Charles Weston. It's actually addressing him in the poem, in which he sees Weston arriving in Canberra in 1913 and then is really describing his work during the Great War of planting and harvesting, at the same time as he is using imagery of the planting and harvesting that is of a very different kind, that is going on, on the Western Front. It's called The Forester.

At the end of another century, in the year 1913, in the bitter cold of 5 May and wearing 47 years, you check in at the Bachelors' Mess, your wife and daughter stored in Sydney. Officer in Charge, Afforestation, Ministry of Home Affairs. By June, you're fixed on Sheedy's Paddock and sent your requisition in. Ten good men, with skilled gardeners, office, seed room, stable, glasshouse, residence and potting shed, four hundred acres fenced with netting. One year on, it goes ahead in a month marked off by Sarajevo. Here as fingers spread a map, the shooting of holes across Shale Ridge begins. A little gelignite employed to see what trees from overseas might decorate the future. Your men with spades and watercart try out the eucalypts as well. A smart, young clerk to keep the records.

A busy time for clerks, that spring, assigning each recruit his number or joining up themselves. Measuring the stems and weather, you quietly start to savour distance, your Minister down there in Melbourne, the world that rattles in each day by Cooma mail from Sydney. Forty-seven years and married, best way to be in that Bachelors' Mess. The arguments there are lost in the ceiling when news could never quite be news. The frontline further off again, then those damp fields in middle England, unseen for 20 years. The only wire they roll out here is to check for rabbits. A well-read man and fond of music, you scan the casualties by night, to see another ganger gone or recognise some pale apprentice.

Your propagation shed has shoots from half the countries in the world. In northern France, they're planting out their 60,000 dead Australians, while you at the edge of another's dream will set as many seedlings down. Towards the end, you walk among them, some knee high, a few to the shoulder. You have the forester's assurance that everything you plant outlives you. You check young Burley Griffin's plan, those curves and soft geometries, set down between nibbled hills. You see the lake that makes a city, also 50 years it takes a ministry to fill it. You see the trees which helped to smooth the sharp accounts of public buildings. In 1916, (Pozieres), you're setting down the pines at Stromlo.

Then for two more ticking years, the plantings at Shale Ridge continue, as do those ones in Europe, until at last on 11, you would have heard Saint John's one bell insistent there across the river and looked up, sweating from a seedling, to see in saplings on Shale Ridge, the foliage of a future.

So I think that says a lot about Canberra and how lucky we are to have a bush capital.

Male 1: [Inaudible].

Jennifer Horsfield:
Yes, it is. It's a beautiful poem. I find it very hard to read actually, because it's…

Yeah, so look I haven't said anything about Charles Daley. I mentioned his wife. If you want to ask any questions, I have copies of my book - or any questions at all, because we've got time before you go and look at the television footage.

Female 1: [Inaudible].

Jennifer Horsfield:
Well I was approached by a member of the Daley family, who really initially wanted me to investigate Jessie Daley - her story - because in the past I've always written about women. She felt that I would take this on board. I did, but the reality is, during the twenties, thirties, forties, women have a very low public profile. There is not as much about them. Although I've recently discovered to my fascination that Verity Hewitt's papers are in the National Library. I thought, oh goody. I'd like to look at those. But on the whole, women - and so Jessie Daley, while she was a fervent worker or she established the Mothercraft Society here and was involved with the Girl Guides and YWCA - there's a room the YWCA named after her - these were little fragments.

There wasn't enough to make a book out of it, whereas Daley, there were lots of papers in the National Library and there was so much in the Archives here to follow up, because his signature is on every second document from those years, because he was civil administrator. Before that, he was secretary to the Federal Capital Commission, the Federal Advisory Company. He took a lot of notes. He was a respected advisor, so it was so much easier to trace his path, but then also because he led a public life, it was so much easier to talk about the issues that affected him, so I could talk about the Depression. I mean he was the man here in Canberra who was responsible for deciding how many people lost their jobs and who could be held on.

He insisted that people in what was then the parks and conservation areas - the forestry - they had to be held on, because it was needed for bushfire control, but also for the future of the city. So he left his footprint everywhere, whereas his wife didn't. I mean she had quite a tragic early end to her life through cancer, so she died young anyway, but so I took up the invitation from the family and I think they're pleased with the result, but it ended up being much more a book about the husband and the public world he lived in, that he moved in. I mean he knew Burley Griffin well. He admired Weston greatly. It's harder to write about women in those years.

Female 2: [Inaudible].

Jennifer Horsfield:
He retired really. I mean he was 47 when he started - out of doors all the time, on a motorbike and landings in Mount Stromlo and all the expeditions out at - you know what [Gudgenby] and Booroomba are like and the road out to Captains Flat. He was out there, very outdoor life and he was probably worn out, but he did come back for the 1927 opening of the Parliament House and he was given – [the] Prince of Wales gave him - not an Order of Australia - AN or something. It's in my book. It wasn't quite the award for the senior people like Sir John Butters got, even though we would consider that his legacy is - just because he was a man of the soil, that he grew up through a gardening background. In those days that was considered more lowly, wasn't it?

Female 3: [Inaudible].

Jennifer Horsfield:
Yes, well yes a lot of the issues are still very contemporary. Yes, so any other questions you have? Yes?

Female 4: [Inaudible].

Jennifer Horsfield:
Yes. No, well she started a bookshop in Canberra. She actually had…

Female 4: [Inaudible].

Jennifer Horsfield:
Yes, she would have a little library as well, but it was a bookshop as well.

Female 4: [Inaudible].

Jennifer Horsfield:
Yes, so there we go. This place is a wonderful repository of documents and I've spent half of my time in here. In fact, I'm now - following on from this book, I'm working on a book I'm going to call, Voices Beyond the Suburbs, Tales from the lands that became Canberra, which is looking at some of the [soldier] settlers and the descendants of the early pioneers who had land in the Tuggeranong area and the river valley and even out in the Cotter, even though Corin said that the Upper Cotter was absolutely uninhabited. Well they were grazing. They had cattle out there, so the people who had grazed land - I'm sort of looking at it as it's a combination of social history, but my interest as a bushwalker - in the landscape.

Yeah, the landscape I suppose, combination, so there's a lot of wonderful material in the Archives here.

Thank you very much. On behalf of the Archives [unclear], this booklet should - here's something that will link you back to early Canberra.

Jennifer Horsfield:
Thank you very much. Thank you, yes.

[Unclear]. Do you use a lot of digital records now at home, or do you still prefer to look at the original gallery?

Jennifer Horsfield:
Well, no I prefer the original records. I find staring at computers for a long time is not good for your eyes, or your brain or your body, I find.

It's quite interesting, because you've certainly noticed that we still have a lot of usage of the original records in the reading room, but the amounts of people that [unclear] physical collection and I don't think we'd ever be able to…

Jennifer Horsfield:
Of course.

…copy all the records that are in the National Archives. There are over 40 million records and we have about I think, 23 million pages in digitised. We're always under pressure to digitise more through someone out there, one way or another, but it is interesting that you pick up [unclear] original records.

Jennifer Horsfield:
Yes, I think a lot of people find the World War 1 records very easy to access online and I mean throughout the world they can do that, can't they? Then you've got people who have a family and you've just got - yes.

Well thank you very much for choosing to be here at the Archives [unclear].

Jennifer Horsfield:
My pleasure.

I won't [unclear].

One thing that we do [unclear] connection, you might recall that we are … but we do an evaluation at the end of each of our programs … we believe early Canberra … people out on a Saturday afternoon … So through your booking, we have your email address and we will in about a week, send out a survey and we … and we'll pass on any of your comments. But of course, come out and have a yarn to us and explore …

Thank you.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019