The Story of ‘Our Grandad and his Box’.

What’s in the Box?


Somewhere, everywhere there are boxes. Hidden in our cupboards, drawers and dark corners. Once loved and cherished for the secrets or treasures that were held most dear, but time moves on and so do we. Our boxes are lost and forgotten, even discarded or abandoned to their fate, but not always. Some are rescued against all odds, like a message in a bottle. Are you the keeper of such treasures? Where are they now?

Gdad_1249  GDad_1250

Grandad’s box is not large and has little monetary value but was dear to him and kept ‘squirrelled away’ through the best and worst of times. Occasionally, it saw the light of day, reassured him and was gone again. He knew it would eventually come to me and it would be safe. Trust is an amazing phenomenon.  Now, it is our only ‘real’ connection with him. I cannot divulge his ‘treasures’ except to tell you that all is not what it seems. Of course there is a box within a box and the original battered metal one has been replaced by the wooden cigar box.

Such a ‘hoard’ may include a ring, a piece of jewellery, a button, a postcard, a photo or album, a stamp, a letter, a book, a telegram, some tickets, ribbons, money, newspaper clippings, trophies, maps, brochures, service records and certificates or other legal documents which often divulge more than what first meets our eye. A little time may reveal initials, names, dates, places, likes, dislikes, or even a glimmer of their personality or relationship to one another. So tantalizingly near, but often so far away.

Have another look inside one of your boxes, is there something that’s always been there that you’ve missed? If you take a photo it may help to make the details clearer or jog your memory. Talk about it. Perhaps, in a day or two, you might even remember a snippet of conversation, a family tale, a face or a connection. Now consider… have you found any more clues to add to the story of your ‘Grandad and his box’ ? I hope so.

Canberra, ACT. Celebrating the Centenary of Canberra.

The Federal Capital Site 1913


Busy time in Canberra this week as they celebrate the Centenary of Canberra. Over the past year or so Explorers Tree has researched many aspects of the quest for Australia’s Federal Capital Site, particulary in relation to Bombala and Yass which were both among the original 45 or so contenders in 1901. Canberra was not even considered until 1906 when no agreement could be reached. The National Library of Australia (NLA) is a marvellous resource and has a huge variety of items in its collections, including a watercolour of the Canberra Federal Capital Site by Penleigh Boyd. Links to all the items are included as permission is required from the NLA to publish the actual pictures or articles online.

A Timeline on Canberra 100 shows that on 20 February, 1913, the Minister for Home Affairs, King O’Malley, hammered the first peg of the survey for the city of Canberra. A quick look at Trove helps us to locate both newspaper articles and pictures from 1913. Here’s the photograph taken on the day, although the event seems to have been overlooked by the media at the time, except for the Broken Hill ‘Barrier Miner’ which ran an article on ‘The Unnamed Federal Capital’ and the Goulburn Penny Post which welcomed the subsequent naming in ‘Foundation Ceremony’.

According to the Timeline ‘On 12 March 1913, three golden trowels were used to lay the first three foundation stones of the nation’s new capital: the first by the Governor-General, Lord Denman; the second by the Prime Minister, Andrew Fisher; and the third by the Minister for Home Affairs, King O’Malley’. The National Library of Australia actually has the  trowel used by King O’Malley which he donated to them in 1934 and was featured in many Australian newspapers at the time, including the Sydney Morning Herald, the Courier Mail and the Townsville Daily Bulletin.

In 1938, after 25 years, the short history of Canberra was reported in an illustrated article from the Canberra Times entitled the ‘World’s Youngest and Fairest City’. Tonight a new program on ABC TV entitled ‘Canberra Confidential’ begins and will hopefully showcase many of the resources available at the National Library of Australia and elsewhere.