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1850s “Underbelly” for Canberra’s Grave yard nuts.

By fgzk 21 September 2011 23

cover and fingers

Samuel Shumack’s autobiography written in the late twenties and first published in 1967, gives us an account of rural living in the Canberra district before federation. It offers detailed accounts of his recollections and conversations with other locals. There are a lot of tales about crimes, how people died and where they are buried. I liked how he comments on peoples honesty, their work and sobriety. He was naming and shaming way before the internet. He did have the good manners to wait decades before he “posted”.

Its a great coffee table book you can pick up and randomly read interesting local legends. Some ring true today. Visiting Qeanbeyan was often fatal, strange going-ons in Charnwood, property owners with money. “Media” bribes, its got the lot.

If you are interested in Canberra’s history this is a book to track down. I found my copy at the Curtin Second hand Bookshop for $28. It is published by Australian National Press Canberra.


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23 Responses to
1850s “Underbelly” for Canberra’s Grave yard nuts.
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Spykler 6:53 pm 24 Sep 11

Thumper said :

Definately an old family plot at the Pines in Latham (cnr Kingsford Smith and Southern Cross drive), was well known as a local legend when I was a young takka..Playground eventually built over/near it.Some of the original cottage’s footings remain in the centre of the Pines area (but are well covered by blackberry bushes).

Sorry to burst your bubble but it is a legend. The area was previously called Cranleigh and was first settled and developed in the 1920s by Lieutenant-General James Gordon Legge who, after his retirement from the Army, built a homestead and planted numerous fruit and pine trees on the newly acquired 400 hectare property and lived there until 1947.

The homestead, built in 1923, was sadly demolished in 1953 to make way for the development of the new suburb. Of the homestead, only the concrete foundations remain in places, made from sand and gravel from the nearby Ginninderra Creek.

No graves I’m afraid. But you can still make out the original site of the homestead so interesting in its own right.

Bubble duly burst, but now have a at least some knowledge concerning the old place..

jay24 8:59 am 22 Sep 11

There are many such street names and the excellent publication (available at ACT Govt. Shopfronts) called Canberra’s Suburb and Street Names has further info.
Yes, Shumack Street in Weetangera is named after the Shumack family, as is Gribble Street in Gungahlin named after the Gribble family.
The Gribble homestead (The Glebe) was situated in what is now the suburb of Evatt and was demolished in 1971, despite much protest at the time. I am a direct descendant of William and Mary Ann Gribble (nee Southwell) who lived on the property until their deaths.
The Shumack book is entertaining, but often described as a set of fanciful tales. Not all 100% accurate – a fair amount of artistic licence was used.
Other good books about pioneer Canberra region include Memories of Hall by Leon R. Smith and Ginninderra – Forerunner to Canberra by Lyall L. Gillespie. They are hard to find but worth looking for in second hand bookshops. Memories of Hall has a detailed list of who was buried at The Glebe Church according to the St John’s Parish Register.
I agree that a detailed account of who is buried at all the old grave sites would be welcome but unfortunately many of the records no longer exist.

Thumper 8:41 am 22 Sep 11

Definately an old family plot at the Pines in Latham (cnr Kingsford Smith and Southern Cross drive), was well known as a local legend when I was a young takka..Playground eventually built over/near it.Some of the original cottage’s footings remain in the centre of the Pines area (but are well covered by blackberry bushes).

Sorry to burst your bubble but it is a legend. The area was previously called Cranleigh and was first settled and developed in the 1920s by Lieutenant-General James Gordon Legge who, after his retirement from the Army, built a homestead and planted numerous fruit and pine trees on the newly acquired 400 hectare property and lived there until 1947.

The homestead, built in 1923, was sadly demolished in 1953 to make way for the development of the new suburb. Of the homestead, only the concrete foundations remain in places, made from sand and gravel from the nearby Ginninderra Creek.

No graves I’m afraid. But you can still make out the original site of the homestead so interesting in its own right.

DUB 7:50 am 22 Sep 11

JB, troll-sniffer, Skidd Marx, CHW -Thank you all, that is the answer I was looking for.
Will check it out.

Spykler 8:52 pm 21 Sep 11

PBO said :

There is so much history in Belconnen that you can almost trip over it. Lots of family grave plots have been covered over or left to decay and in some cases playgrounds built on top (higgins/holt/latham). It would be really interesting to have an accurate history written down somewhere.

Definately an old family plot at the Pines in Latham (cnr Kingsford Smith and Southern Cross drive), was well known as a local legend when I was a young takka..Playground eventually built over/near it.Some of the original cottage’s footings remain in the centre of the Pines area (but are well covered by blackberry bushes).

caf 8:30 pm 21 Sep 11

Presumably Schumack St in Weetangera was named for the author.

CHW 7:45 pm 21 Sep 11

Oh – and yeah, we have had this book for decades and it does have some intriguing info about the locality… just wish it had more about the indigenious residents…

CHW 7:41 pm 21 Sep 11

Gosh, no – the old zoo is not opposite Quamby.

It is opposite DAS – the Pound – but I would be careful going in, no trespassers + the roos are really big and really aggressive 🙁

Skidd Marx 2:59 pm 21 Sep 11

DUB said :

Sorry for offtopic. Can anyone please tell me where exactly was the Mugga Lane zoo?How do you access it too? Cheers

Opposite Quamby.

bigfeet 12:58 pm 21 Sep 11

ConanOfCooma said :

What is with Canberra women and terrible, God-awful nails?

Wasn’t there a Rioter some time ago using the monicker “Bogan Fingers”?

PBO 12:08 pm 21 Sep 11

poetix said :

It looks like lip marks on the back of the book. Now it may be an interesting read, but that’s taking things a little far…

I’m actually more interested in the cover of the book. It looks like a churchsteeple being blown apart by a meteorite.

poetix 11:56 am 21 Sep 11

It looks like lip marks on the back of the book. Now it may be an interesting read, but that’s taking things a little far…

troll-sniffer 11:54 am 21 Sep 11

DUB said :

johnboy said :

DUB said :

Sorry for offtopic. Can anyone please tell me where exactly was the Mugga Lane zoo?How do you access it too? Cheers

We have covered this rather comprehensively

http://the-riotact.com/ghost-zoo-the-wreckage-on-mugga-lane/8028

Read the thread, this is why I was asking here-maybe I have missed something in that thread, but no exact location was mentioned?

If memory serves it’s opposite the RSPCA or DAS as you head up the hill past Narrabundah Lane. If you get to Murray’s you’ve gone too far. Not hard to recognise the ruins, but not very exciting either.

DUB 11:39 am 21 Sep 11

johnboy said :

DUB said :

Sorry for offtopic. Can anyone please tell me where exactly was the Mugga Lane zoo?How do you access it too? Cheers

We have covered this rather comprehensively

http://the-riotact.com/ghost-zoo-the-wreckage-on-mugga-lane/8028

Read the thread, this is why I was asking here-maybe I have missed something in that thread, but no exact location was mentioned?

johnboy 11:36 am 21 Sep 11

DUB said :

Sorry for offtopic. Can anyone please tell me where exactly was the Mugga Lane zoo?How do you access it too? Cheers

We have covered this rather comprehensively

http://the-riotact.com/ghost-zoo-the-wreckage-on-mugga-lane/8028

Thumper 11:36 am 21 Sep 11

There is so much history in Belconnen that you can almost trip over it. Lots of family grave plots have been covered over or left to decay and in some cases playgrounds built on top (higgins/holt/latham). It would be really interesting to have an accurate history written down somewhere

Evatt. Corner of Copeland Drive and Moynihan Street is a pioneer grave, although all traces where destroyed in the early 70s when the suburb was being built. It is reputed that the bulldozer driver operating in the area refused to bulldoze the graves which is why there is still an open patch of land.

Also, Weetangera Methodist cemetery which is quite quaint and can be accessed from William Hovell Drive just south of Drake Brockman Drive in Higgins.

DUB 11:33 am 21 Sep 11

Thumper said :

Sorry for offtopic. Can anyone please tell me where exactly was the Mugga Lane zoo?How do you access it too? Cheers

Just a guess, but I reckon it’s on Mugga Lane…

LOL, you like to flame.
Mugga Lane isn’t exactly 200 m long.:)

Thumper 11:29 am 21 Sep 11

Sorry for offtopic. Can anyone please tell me where exactly was the Mugga Lane zoo?How do you access it too? Cheers

Just a guess, but I reckon it’s on Mugga Lane…

Tez T 11:05 am 21 Sep 11

ConanOfCooma said :

What is with Canberra women and terrible, God-awful nails?

Nice assuption and generalisation.

ConanOfCooma 10:58 am 21 Sep 11

What is with Canberra women and terrible, God-awful nails?

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