Tuesday, 30 April 2013


ROBYN FROM NARRABUNDAH
By Wayne Riley
  This true yarn was written by a mate named Wayne Riley, another Canberra boy.
Dave Wheeler 30/4/13
  It was a Friday night, probably in 1968, and I was 19 or 20 at the time. I was at the "Chapter One" nightclub in Civic, which was started in 1966 by the Hewsons. It was a dollar in and 25 cents a schooner back then and one of the few places where the number of female patrons was at least as many as the number of males.They also got Australia's best bands there at one time or another. 
  It was pretty dark inside though, apart from those strobe lights that seem to slow down everything. So people sat at tables or stood at the bar, but you couldn't tell exactly what people looked like till you got up close.
   I went up to two reasonably attractive girls sitting together at a table and asked one of them to dance. Her response was, "Fuck off!" I walked back to the bar dejected.
   I drowned my sorrows for a while but decided to have one more shot when I saw a very pretty girl who looked to be a couple of years younger than me sitting at a table by herself after her friend had headed off to the toilet. She was wearing a summer dress that was cut fairly low from her shoulders, revealing a shapely figure. She had long light brown hair and was in her prime. 
   My heart was pumping hard as I summoned up the courage to approach her, but my conversation skills were limited and as the music was loud I had to shout to be heard anyway, so it was not ideal.
    "Would you like to dance?" I asked. 
   "No thanks," she replied.
   "Can I buy you a drink?" I tried again. 
   "No thanks," she replied. 
   "Can I sit and talk to you?" I persisted. 
   "No thanks," she again replied. 
     I was as hard of thinking as I was of hearing, so I then said,"Would you go out with me next week for a meal and a drink?" 
  She looked at me and said "Okay," then took out a pen and paper from her handbag and wrote down her name and address and gave it to me.
 "I've got to go now," she said as her friend returned. 
  "I'll pick you up at 6 on Saturday then?" I asked.    
   "Okay," she replied as she walked out the door with her friend. 
    I looked at what she had written and could see that her name was Robyn and that she lived in one of the streets in Narrabundah which at the time had numbers as names. Other than the Causeway, the numbered streets of Narrabundah were the closest Canberra had to a slum. The area was renowned for its roughness and criminal element, although it also obviously contained many residents who were nice honest people, and I was hoping I'd picked a girl who fell into that category. 
    Driving down her street on Saturday I must have carried a worried look as I passed rundown houses and others with an occasional broken window with car wrecks on the front lawn. I drove to the house with the right number and pulled up next to the kerb, staring at the place. 
    On the front lawn was an old FX Holden with three very mean and unsavoury looking characters who looked as if they were on day leave from Goulburn Gaol working on it. I was wondering whether to risk it but thought, "No, she seemed sincere." So against all my instincts and common sense I got out of my car and strolled up to the house trying to put on the toughest voice I could use. 
   The bloke under the bonnet of the car saw me first and came out and stood there looking at me as if he was going to either talk to me or spit at me.
    "Yeah mate, what do yer want?" he muttered. 
  "Um gidday mate, I'm looking for Robyn," I replied.
  "Robin? Ya wanna see me brother Robin?" he replied. 
  Like a bolt of lightning I was made instantly aware that the girl who called herself Robyn had been having me on. I don't know if her real name was Robyn and she shared her name in pronunciation with a Narrabundah tough boy she knew or whether she had another name and just knew the name and address of a Narrabundah tough boy named Robin. She may have even been Robin's girlfriend. 
   Whatever the case, if Robin grew up in the numbered streets he would have been teased for having a name which could be pronounced like a girl's name and he would probably have been very sensitive about it.



  Robin's brother was at least friendly when he replied in a deep and rough voice, "Sorry mate; Robin's shot-through. He won't be back for a few hours."
   My heart sunk as I began fishing for my keys in my pockets so I could perform a quick exit.  
  "Thank Christ," I said under my breath, but instead said, "Oh, okay then, thanks."
   I started to walk back to my car when Robin's brother yelled out to me,"Who'll I say was lookin for im mate?" 
   "Um, just tell him it was Jack. See you mate," I replied. 
   I got back in my car and drove off very slowly as I  considered staying away from Chapter One for at least 6 months or until I could grow a beard. 


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Tuesday, 23 April 2013


A FIGHT TO THE DEATH AT THE QUEANBEYAN SHOWGROUND
by Dave Wheeler
   It was sometime in the 1960’s my grandmother, the late Vera Guard, told me about a fight to the death between two Aboriginal warriors during the 19th century in an area of land which eventually became the Queanbeyan showground. 
   I had forgotten about it, but was inspired to get as much information as possible on the subject after visiting Dave Reid’s excellent blog, http://www.davesact.com, in which he has collected a large amount of literature and references to literature regarding Canberra’s early indigenous post invasion history, including a reference to the duel I have referred to.  

   Pictured above is my dear old long departed grandmother, the late Vera Guard, in 1975. She was born in 1895 and lived in Queanbeyan from the early 1920’s to 1939, prior to moving to Ainslie. She was a great talker with a keen interest in history who would readily chat to anyone. When she was a young and newly married Queanbeyan resident she got to know many of the old time Queanbeyan residents, including John Gale, and in doing so acquired much historical knowledge regarding the district’s early days. I wish I had taken in more information from her than I did when I was younger.
   As Dave’s blog has collected many documents and links associated with Canberra’s indigenous past it makes it easier to overview much of the recorded history. It also highlights what is in real need of clarification; not only in relation to the duel in Queanbeyan, but other possible duels between indigenous Canberrans of the time.
    How some of those people died and where they are buried also needs further confirmation and/or clarification, and it is not my intention to provide my opinion on all of the matters, because for many of them I don’t really have one. What I hope to do in this essay however, is refer to particular records and newer literature on the subjects which provide particular viewpoints, and while doing so I will point out exactly where clarification or further information is required.
   In doing the latter I will concentrate on the task relating to one-on-one battles and a leadership issue. 
   I will not attempt to provide an historical timeline in regard to what happened to indigenous Canberrans from European invasion onwards. I can however, assist readers who do not have a good broad knowledge of recorded and contested post invasion history of ACT Aboriginals by giving appropriate links in the next paragraph.
 Other than reading the relevant material on Dave Reid’s site, http://www.davesact.com, in order for the reader to get a good broad overview of post-invasion ACT Aboriginal history, both contested and not contested, I recommend you view the site http://www.kunama.com/custlaw/CH2.HTM#RTFToC1 , in which you can read Steven Avery’s thesis entitled “Aboriginal and European Encounter in the Canberra Region- A question of change and the archaeological record.” Further reading is “Moth Hunters” by Josephine Flood and the Ngambri website http://www.ngambri.org  as well as the Ngarigu website http://www.ngarigu.com.au/ and the Ngunawal website http://www.ngunawal.com.au .
A very comprehensive source is a book entitled, “THE KAMBERRI- A history of Aboriginal families in the ACT and Surrounds.” ISBN 0958563748 Ann Jackson-Nakano. There will be differences of opinion between the various sources I have quoted.
  The main subjects of this discussion are Onyong aka as Hong Kong or  Hongjong and Noolup aka Jemmy or Jimmy the Rover, who have been recorded as leaders of two separate groups which ultimately amalgamated into one group.
 According to the Ngambri website http://www.ngambri.org/who.php , Canberra Aboriginals had two groups, one being the Ngambri, which was led by Onyong, and the other being their neighbouring kin group, the Ngurmal, which was led by Noolup. The site says they combined into one group in the 1830’s.
    These groups prior to their amalgamation have also been named by various sources as the Hagan-Hope and Nammitch groups, with Onyong leading the Hagan-Hope group and Noolup leading the Nammitch group. Shumack refers to the combined group as the County Murray or Canberra tribe.
   Common sense and most anthropologists will tell you that Australian Aboriginals, or just about any hunter gatherer society for that matter, did not have chiefs or kings in the European sense of the word. For a start, they could not be waited on by others as occurs with European and Asian royalty, as in hunter gatherer societies everyone had to pull their weight just to survive.
    Although initiated males who had proven leadership qualities would have been listened to and obeyed on many matters, an outsider could erroneously believe that this meant that such a person was a chief with absolute power.
    I may be wrong, but it seems to me it would have been a case of the tribe listening to and following whoever had superior knowledge and skill in given activities. If a tribal member had a proven ability as a hunter or tracker which was superior to that of other tribal members, but also had poor leadership skills, he would still be listened to and obeyed if he suggested a certain strategy related to the matter of hunting or tracking, as the tribe’s survival would be dependent on it. For further reading visit: http://www.nma.gov.au/online_features/aboriginal_breastplates/creation_aboriginal_kings
   Before discussing Onyong and his relationship with Noolup I will address the matter of the duel on the site of the Queanbeyan Showground. Other than my grandmother’s story about it occurring, based on 1920’s Queanbeyan folklore, it is addressed in an article which appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on the 11/6/27, written by Samuel Shumack, entitled “Canberra Blacks."See this part of Dave Reid’s blog: http://www.davesact.com/2011/02/canberra-blacks.html.
    Shumack tells of how he arrived in Canberra in 1856 and became acquainted with the local blacks as well as the whites who had arrived in the 1820’s.  He describes how in 1862 his father resided at Emu Bank, Ginninderra, and that the remnant of the County Murray or Canberra tribe, who were reduced to 64 members, were camped about a quarter of a mile away.  He said Jimmy the Rover (Noolup) was the chief of the tribe at the time as a result of the former chief Hong Kong (Onyong) having died.
    He does however, also say that Noolup had fought another black whose name he had forgotten for the leadership of the tribe, and that Noolup had killed the man on the site of the Queanbeyan showground. He said that when he left Canberra in 1915 there were two living witnesses of the fight, although he did not name them. 
   He was obviously not referring to Onyong being killed by Noolup at that stage as he had mentioned Onyong as being a former leader and having died. And when referring to Onyong's death elsewhere he has stated that he died at the hands of Noolup, which also arose as a result of a leadership quarrel, hence the confusion. 
    Shumack stated that it would take too much space to describe the combat in Queanbeyan, which is a pity. I would like to have known if they fought with traditional or more modern weapons. And if they did use traditional weapons was it at close quarters or was it from a distance using a woomera and spear?
     He went on to say that a few years  later "Babby,” an Aboriginal who became famous for his cricketing ability, defeated Jimmy (Noolup) at Ginninderra, but he does not give the cause of the fight or say whether or not it resulted in Noolup’s death. 
    The above photo was taken around 1890 in the Byron Bay area. Most tribal people grappled regularly, as it is an excellent exercise for developing strength, power, balance, mind-body awareness and reflexes. All of the latter are required for real battle and sometimes just for day-to-day survival. According to our local Ngambri man, Paul House, the Ngambri also grappled regularly.

   For all we know he may have been referring to them taking off their possum skins and going outside for a sporting knuckle, although they were probably already outside when the dispute arose.
 Steven Avery’s thesis states in part: 
 http://www.kunama.com/custlaw/CH2.HTM#RTFToC1
   “During the 1840s it appears Hongyong's band maintained a close relationship with the Wright family at Lanyon, and after 1847, Cuppacumbalong. Meredith (1844: 100-101) recorded that there had always been rivalry between Hongyong and Jemmy the Rover over tribal leadership issues. Hongyong was later killed by Jemmy the Rover, as while the latter was away Hongyong had usurped his position as chief (Shumack 1977: 148-149), suggesting that the Nammitch and Hagen-Hope 'tribes' had united. This is also supported by the 1841 blanket issue at Queanbeyan, where Jemmy the Rover and Hongyong are listed as belonging to the same group (AONSW Blankets to Aborigines 4/1133.3). Hongyong died sometime between 1847 and 1852 and was buried at Cuppacumbalong on a rocky hill near the Tharwa bridge (Wright 1927: 56).”
  The Ngambri website http://www.ngambri.org/about.html states in part:
   "Onyong lived at Cotter's property "The Forest"in the Naas Hills, just before he passed away, c 1852. On returning to Cuppacumbalong for a visit he got involved in a fight for leadership with his old friend and countryman, Noolup, (also known as Jimmy the Rover), and was killed."
   The Cotter they refer to was Garrett Cotter, an Irish convict, which the Cotter River was named after. Did the fight between Onyong and Noolup occur at Cuppacumbalong? According to the ACT Heritage Council document regarding Onyong's gravesite, on the link below, Shumack stated that the fight between Noolup and Onyong occurred at Lanyon. Either way, it would seem it occurred in the Tharwa district.
http://www.environment.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0012/696486/Background-Information-Onyongs-Grave-Site-ENDORSED-HCM20150604.pdf   
  The Ngambri website also mentions Onyong being buried on a hill that bears his name in the Tharwa region, and Noolup eventually dying in a cave at Booroomba Rocks in 1860. They are therefore in general agreement with Avery in relation to where Onyong was buried, and there is no doubt in my mind he is buried on the said hill in Tharwa.
   In John Gale’s 1927 book” Canberra History and Legends,” he quotes a long passage mainly from the diary of Samuel Shumack in which Shumack tells of how Jimmy the Rover (Noolup), after travelling north, procured a white wife and had to fight for his claim on her, which resulted in him killing his rival. (Pages 81 and 82). Shumack says he was very kind to her and that they were very fond of each other. This obviously has nothing to do with any duel/s he may have fought in Canberra.
   In regard to the fight between Onyong and Noolup,  in the book "Moth Hunters" by Josephine Flood, she says nothing about Noolup having killed Onyong, and when describing how Onyong's skull was stolen after he was buried she states that Newlop (Noolup) swore revenge. She, like today's Ngambri, also maintains Jimmy The Rover (Noolup) died at Booroomba and was buried in traditional manner with all his possessions. Flood gives references in the back of her book but does not directly refer to particular references when she makes particular statements within her book.
   In summary, it seems that Onyong fought Noolup at Cuppacumbalong or Lanyon and that Noolup fought and killed another Aboriginal, several years later, whose name was not recorded, at the site which now encompasses the Queanbeyan Showground.
 
  To get a good overview of Onyong's life and a description of his burial, by James Wright, the then owner of Lanyon, visit the following link to part of Dave Reid's blog as well as the previously mentioned Ngambri site:
http://www.davesact.com/2010/10/onyong-last-of-wild-blacks-video.html

  The above photo was taken not far from Onyong's grave, on Onyong Hill. The grave is unmarked and impossible to find without knowing exactly where to look, and if any persons know exactly where to look they are keeping it to themselves, which is as it should be. 
Aboriginal burial grounds in the ACT
  I thought I should include the question of Aboriginal burial grounds in this essay, as some believe that Noolup’s remains are in Evatt, and probably lying beneath a house in Sharwood Cresent. Others, and I am one of them, believe he was buried at Booroomba as described by Flood and today’s Ngambri.  
   If you visit the National Trust of Australia (ACT) site by clicking HERE and read:
 “Historic Cemeteries and Rural Graves in the    ACT” by Anne Claoué-Long, she, when discussing burial sites around Canberra, states in part:
    “In 1864, Jimmy the Rover, (Noolup) a local Aboriginal chief, was buried by white settlers in accordance to ancient Aboriginal rites in the absence of others of his tribe to undertake the burial. Later in time, the records tell of the burials of Aboriginal people just outside the boundaries of general cemeteries and then, towards the end of the period of study, within them.”
   Unfortunately Claoué-Long gives no references for her sources of information nor does she say where Noolup was buried. The references may be elsewhere on the site but I could not find them.
    
  Were there Aboriginal burials at the cemetery in Evatt?
    Without giving further discussion on where Noolup was buried, I will discuss the said cemetery in relation to whether or not there are any Aboriginals buried there at all. 
  Unfortunately the cemetery has suffered by way of development and no longer has any visible grave-sites or tombstones. I am surprised the desecration of the cemetery was allowed, because although some of the graves are in open space I am led to believe many of them are beneath houses and roads.
   I will quote below additional parts of Claoué-Long’s previously discussed article on the National Trust (ACT) link.
1/ "The historic record also mentions traditional Aboriginal burials, such as that of Onyong at Tharwa and an Aboriginal burial ground in the vicinity of Ginninderra and Charnwood, which was still used after white settlement. In 1864, Jimmy the Rover, a local Aboriginal chief, was buried by white settlers in accordance to ancient Aboriginal rites in the absence of others of his tribe to undertake the burial. Later in time, the records tell of the burials of Aboriginal people just outside the boundaries of general cemeteries and then, towards the end of the period of study, within them." 
2/ "As the population grew, with the development of Ginninderra village to the north of the Limestone Plains, another Anglican church, St Pauls, was established with a graveyard, in 1861. Today, nothing can be seen of either church or cemetery, with at least eighteen burials, located now in an urban open space surrounded by the suburb of Evatt."
3/ "Resulting lack of knowledge and appreciation of these historic heritage sites has resulted in at least three old cemeteries being compromised by modern road developments in Evatt, Ginninderra and Tuggeranong, and one being submerged under the waters of Lake Burley Griffin."
   In regard to the cemetery at Evatt and the questions relating to where the graves are and whether or not the cemetery contained any Aboriginal graves, I have a connection to the extent I personally knew the late Tom Gribble, a former neighbour of my sister, who was born in 1911 and raised at The Glebe, which contained the remains of the said church and cemetery.
  The Glebe was originally run by Tom's grandparents and at a later stage, Tom's parents. Tom's grandfather, also Thomas Gribble, arrived in Canberra in the 1860's and would have seen Aboriginal burials, and I have no doubt much of what he saw as well as the information he received directly from the first whites who arrived in Canberra would have been passed onto his grandson, the Tom I knew. 
   Why this is relevant is because the younger Tom told my sister and me that the cemetery definitely contained Aboriginal graves, and it would seem another ex neighbour of Tom's, Tony O'Shea, must have been told the same thing by Tom, because I have a copy of the eulogy he composed for Tom's funeral, which I will quote in part:
   "Tom knew his land would one day be resumed but he was bitter about the subsequent destruction of his heritage. The Ginninderra woolshed in Giralang, rebuilt in 1905, was demolished in the 70’s. All that remains of the Glebe pise homestead are the Elms in Goosens Place behind Copeland College. Even the graveyard of St Paul’s Anglican Church at The Glebe was desecrated for housing.
   Out of all this Tom had one little victory. Driving down Sharwood Cresent, Evatt he saw a man watering his garden wearing, in Tom’s words, “a dog collar.” Tom stopped for a chat and when he confirmed he was a vicar, pounced, “ How long have you been here? Have you seen the ghosts yet? Your house is built over the graves of pioneers and Aborigines.” 
   When the lady next door joined the discussion Tom told her “You wouldn’t be able to sleep at night because of all the creaking floorboards.” When he next went past Tom related, with great glee that the house had a For Sale sign up."
  In summary, there are many questions that remain unanswered regarding early post-invasion indigenous Canberra history.
UPDATE 16/5/13. I spoke to Ngambri man, Paul House, and raised several questions regarding Ngambri history, and he told me certain things. As I expected, Paul, who is also a very nice bloke, has a thorough knowledge of what has occurred post-invasion and I would rather let him tell more of the stories of his ancestors. I do not claim to be an expert on the subject. The objective of this essay was to give people a general overview of an aspect of Canberra history that has been largely forgotten. 
   I was taught nothing about local indigenous history when I was schooled in the Berra. Why? If things have not changed it is a disgrace.
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Wednesday, 10 April 2013

SHE PUSHED HERSELF ONTO ME!  
by Dave Wheeler
   
   The title of this yarn is not about anything that has ever happened to me. I'll get to the guts of the story eventually.
   To begin, I had many jobs during my working life which varied in nature; too many to list. Most did not involve working for governments, but prior to my retirement from the full time workforce, which was at the end of 2005, I worked for the ACT Government. The work was not difficult as most positions at most levels within the various public services are unskilled or semi-skilled and require little more than basic computer skills and basic literacy.
   Even though I should have got out earlier than I did and got a more pleasant and less emasculating job,I often brightened my day by shit-stirring and cracking bad jokes. 
   I was to find many accomplices who were also fish out of water. One who comes to mind we called “Mental Mick.” Mick like me spent his formative years on building sites. He told me that being in the public service made him feel like he was in gaol.  I can recall while working with him, watching him yell out to himself as he walked along the petitions that surrounded the desks. 
   The public service is not the ideal workplace for non-snags, but unfortunately the same could be said for many other jobs within the Australian workforce. 
   Having said all this, at times some aspects of my work within the ACT Government were interesting and entertaining, and some could have been depressing had I let them get to me. 
   My last job was in the child protection area of the ACT Government where I occupied an admin position. I had no wish to become a child protection worker and continue to deal directly with the malfunctioning biological machines who abuse and neglect their kids, although  I could not avoid having some contact with them on matters of a practical nature. 
   There were some members of the public we dealt with (The system referred to members of the public as "clients." Why I don't know, because they purchased nothing from us.) who were nice-natured and responsible people but just down on their luck and in need of a helping hand, but most of those we dealt with for any length of time should have at least been sterilised, as they were a waste of space and oxygen. I find the idea of allowing people who have abused or neglected their kids to continue to reproduce grossly immoral. 
    In regard to extreme cases, such as those who sexually abuse kids or who are sadistically violent towards them, they should be rounded up and humanely euthanised to ensure no other kids suffer from their actions and that the cycle is stopped. 
    I would say to myself, “Why are we dealing with the symptoms and not doing what is required to prevent abuse and neglect occurring in the first place?"
   I will of course be compared to Hitler by advocating sterilisation and euthanasia, but Hitler's motivation was to build a super race, whereas my views are based primarily on a desire to protect kids from the actions of dangerous malfunctioning biological machines.
   Part of my duties for part of the day while working in the child protection area involved having my turn at answering the phone. It was not always as easy as most jobs within the public service, because our main line was used for emergency calls as well as general enquiries, which was ridiculous.
   
   It was the first point of contact for persons wanting to report the abuse or neglect of children, and sometimes callers would be in two minds as to whether they should make the report. I was supposed to put the call through to a child protection worker, but often no worker was available or the caller was on the verge of hanging up, and if I had have attempted to put them through to someone it would have been the last we heard from them. This put me in the position of being morally obliged to attempt to convince such callers they should go through with their allegation, even though I was not required to do so by way of my duty statement. Why I don’t know.
    I had skills that enabled me to communicate with persons who were in two minds in regard to whether they should report child abuse or neglect. That however was by no means always the case when other clerical workers were required to be the first to answer such calls. I found this an absolute disgrace, and I often wonder how many kids continued to suffer unnecessarily because indecisive callers hung up on the inexperienced clerical workers who were the first persons required to answer their calls. I don't know if ACT Child Protection has retained that policy or whether child protection workers are now the first persons to answer reports of abuse or neglect. I am also hoping they have a phone line which is not used for purposes other than the reporting of abuse or neglect). 
   We often however, got calls unrelated to children being at immediate risk, and one I received along those lines was from a bloke I will call Eric, although he did not identify himself. He sounded as if he was in his late forties, which was a similar age to me at the time, and  it did not take long for us to find a rapport and go into “blokespeak.”
   Blokespeak is a more down-to-earth type of communication that is used between Aussie blokes of a certain type. It does not necessarily involve the use of particular language; it's more of an attitude and understanding which is experienced and shared through conversation. I am not saying it does not occur in other cultures, although Australia does have its unique form.      
    This is roughly how I recall our conversation, which I did my best to record in writing directly after it occurred:
Me- "Family Services; can I help you?"
Eric-"I’m not sure if I’m onto the right place mate; I need some advice." 
Me-"What sort of advice are you after mate? If I can’t help you I’ll see if I can redirect you to someone who can."
Eric-"Because you’re called Family Services I thought I'd try you first. My problem's of a very sensitive kind and I don’t know who to turn to, as it’ll affect the welfare of my kids. I've never discussed it with anyone before."
Me-"Does it involve any kids being at risk of abuse or neglect mate?"
Eric-"No mate, I don’t think they’ll ever be at risk of abuse or neglect, but it does involve their welfare. They’re happy at the moment, but I have some concerns for them in the longer term."
Me-"I doubt we'd be able to help you mate, but if you can briefly give me more details I can put you onto the appropriate people?"
Eric- "Well, I have a son to a woman I got pregnant a few years ago and my wife doesn’t know about it. The woman's now threatening to force me to pay maintenance through the government. I've been paying her plenty of maintenance without my wife's knowledge but she now wants to make it official even though she'd get less than what I've been paying her."
Me-"No, we definitely can’t help you on that one mate, particularly since no kids are in immediate danger or long term risk. Hold the line and I’ll see if I can find someone I can direct you to who may be able to give you some advice."
Eric- "I don’t want to see a counsellor mate; most of them are fucked in the head themselves and wouldn’t know if their arses were on fire. They usually get into the job because they’re fucked in the head. What do you reckon I should do mate?"
Me-"I’m not supposed to give advice mate; all I can do is try and steer you onto someone who can."
Eric-"That’s okay mate, just let me know what you think as another bloke. I realise it’s not part of your job and if you do advise me you’re not representing who you work for. I know the score; I work for the government. It's just that you're more likely to have some sort of clue than I have because of where you're working."
Me-"Okay mate. Run your problem past me in greater detail and I’ll see if I can help you."
Eric- "Well, I’m fairly high up in the public service, and a few years ago I had to go away for work with a younger woman I was working with. When we had to bunk down for the night she came to my motel room and came onto me. I swear it was all her. She pushed herself onto me!"
Me- "And a standing cock has no conscience!"
Eric- "Yeah that’s right mate. It was the biggest mistake of my life. I only gave it to her once and I knew I'd made a blue as soon as I’d done it. And she got pregnant from just that one session!" 
   "I would have left my wife years ago but because we've got kids I’d never mucked around on her until that night. If she ever finds out about it she’ll leave me and take the kids, and I love my kids. They also need me because she's a psycho at the best of times and not fit to bring up kids by herself, and nobody wants to see their kids suffer."
    "I can understand why those navy wives don't like their husbands going away to sea with female sailors. It's not natural for blokes to be put into situations like that. What would you do if you were in my position mate?”
Me-"The first thing I’d do if I were you would be to make sure it’s your kid, and you can do that with a DNA paternity test. If she’s not prepared to let you test the child I would be very suspicious about it being your kid, particularly if she only had one rogering from you." 
  "If it does turn out to be your kid you can try and appeal to the morality of the woman to do the right thing for the sake of the kids you have with your wife." 
  At that stage DNA paternity tests were not as common as they are now. Our work had begun using them and I had just had to code an invoice cover sheet and get approval for the payment of a test that had been done on one of the subhumans we were dealing with at the time. He was not sure if he was the father of the kid he and his wife had been neglecting and abusing. The test had cost about $800.00.
Eric- "I can try but I can’t see her caring as she's a bitch. How much is the test mate?"
Me-"It’s about $800.00 mate. It may be the best investment you make in your life. The only other advice I can give you is to seek advice from as many people as you can, including legal advisers, because so far you've only sought it from me, and you don't know what someone else may come up with. Maybe you can make some sort of confidential legal contract with the woman. I don't know."
Eric-"Thanks mate. I’ll take your advice on all counts, but I can’t see this having a happy ending." 
Me- "No worries mate; I hope it does have a happy ending for the sake of your kids. See you later."
Eric-"See you mate. Thanks again."
  
  I am not giving my personal opinion on the morality of anyone involved in this yarn and I am hoping I will not be thought to be doing so. I'm just reporting the conversation I had with Eric as I recorded it and attempting to give some sort of insight into the sorts of conversations I had while answering the phone during the time I worked in the child protection area of the ACT Government. 
Dave Wheeler 

Monday, 1 April 2013


THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE TURNER PCYC    
by Dave Wheeler
   What are now known as "PCYC'S" (Police and Citizens Youth Clubs) began in NSW as Police and Citizens Boys' Clubs in 1937.They were usually just referred to as Police Boys' Clubs and their primary objective was to give direction to boys to assist them in avoiding lives of crime. Their title and function changed because they have for many years also assisted female youth. 
   I have previously written about the Turner PCYC in a book I wrote in 2011 entitled “TALES OF A CANBERRA BOY” which can be downloaded free of charge from this site above. In it I wrote an essay entitled “JACK DEALY AND THE TURNER PCYC” which describes how the late Jack Dealy was in charge of the Turner club during part of the early 60’s and how he saved it from financial ruin. Jack was a well-known and very tough Canberra policeman and wrestler who served in the ACT from 1949 to around 1973. He died in 2012 at the age of 94.
  This document however, is about the early history and establishment of the Turner Police Boys' Club (or PCYC), and in particular the building of the Turner club itself. I have not gone beyond the early sixties other than to describe the Turner club’s closure.
   The equivalent of today’s PCYC was founded in Canberra by the Canberra policeman the late Harry Luton, who in 1957 called for a public meeting to get the organisation established and a building erected. Unfortunately only five people showed up at the meeting, but it was enough to form a committee. Those who fronted were the previously mentioned Harry Luton, another policeman named Sergeant George Groves, Vic Sagacio who owned a gym in Queanbeyan, a Mrs Robinson and Dick Redman.
   Dick was the only living member of the original committee when I began gathering information for this document in August of 2012, and I thank him very much for the valuable information he gave me. I received much of the other information from Jack Dealy, old Canberra Times articles and PCYC newspapers.
A 2011 photo of the Turner PCYC
    Harry became the secretary of the committee, George became its chairman and all members set about the task of raising money for the club’s establishment. Within weeks they received £1000 in donations as well as offers of voluntary labour. The sum was to increase considerably in the next few years.
   Fundraising was initially done by the late Col Hillier, the late Ken Wood, the late Bill Lovejoy and the late Jack Dealy, who were all ACT policemen. They organised dances and boxing and wrestling tournaments. The boxing and wrestling was held at the Duntroon Gymnasium.
   Rotary also had a lot to do with the fundraising. More funds were raised by weekly housie held at the Services Club at Manuka, and committee members and many other persons set about organising an enormous garage sale covering at least half an acre in Ainslie Avenue where the Canberra Centre now stands.
   The club became an incorporated body in 1958 and the government granted the lease for the land in Turner. More donations came in from individuals, local businesses and other charities.   When work on the club commenced most of it was done by voluntary labour, with the volunteer adviser being a local architect, G.W. Dunlop. The building supervisor was Les Holland, who also became the vice president of the club.
  The building was completed in 1960 and officially opened on the 3rd of December by Viscountess Dunrossil. According to Harry Luton in an 11/12/90 “The Chronicle” article, the task of constructing the building cost around £50,000 but it was officially valued at £70,000 due to so much money being saved by way of voluntary labour and donations of material.
    
    Above is a photo of “The Corvettes” playing at the PBC in 1961. They often shared the venue with “The Alpines.“ The Corvettes, as shown in the said photo, are from L to R Jim Miller, Ron Sankey, Ken Weaver, Ray Storey and George Lazenby. George Lazenby played James Bond in the 1969 film “On Her Majestry’s Secret Service.” He was able to get the lead role because he was from Queanbeyan. The Alpines were the first band to play at the club, on the 3/12/60. Other local bands, “The Casuals,” and “The Invaders,” also played at the club, and eventually “Bruce Lansley and The Presidents” became the regular band for the 50-50 dances.

    Thanks to Val Starr for providing me with this information and Jim Miller, who, through Val Starr, provided the above photo of his band.
  The former World Boxing Champion, Jimmy Carruthers, assisted the club by purchasing for it a boxing ring and associated equipment. I believe the current PCYC still possesses that boxing ring.
   A minute from one of the first committee meetings after the completion of the club states:
  "Ladies Auxiliary - Without the Ladies Auxiliary we feel that the large numbers of voluntary tradesman and labourers at weekends could not otherwise have been properly catered for, and we feel that the meals supplied by the auxiliary was, in addition to the public spirited feeling that was present, a great enticement for volunteers to come along and work on the building, especially those who lived in hostels."
   Names I have received from the CT’s articles and other sources indicate that the following people were office bearers and committee members of that era and/or involved in the club's establishment, fundraising and construction. They are Harry Luton, Ken Wood, Bill Lovejoy, Col Hillier, G.W. Dunlop, R.L. Odlum, Frank Thornton, Dick Huckstepp, Bob Smith, Dick Redman, Mrs Robinson, Sgt G.H. Grove, JD Button, K Schreiner, S East, K Hardwicke, Les Holland, Mal Grace, M.McDonald, K. Hatcher, Vic Sagacio, Mrs J.W. Ashton, Mr and Mrs Vincent, Mr & Mrs BJ Donoghoe, Mr Gruzas, V. Ford, K. Batley, E.W. Waterman, W Osbourne, Jack Dealy and Bill Reichel. There were many more.    
   I had two interesting Canberra Times newspaper clippings dated 20/11/59 & 11/2/60 which showed the club being built and named those who were on the committee as well as businesses and individuals who donated labour and materials. Unfortunately a woman from the Canberra Times library informed me the Canberra Times could not give me permission to publish the articles and photos in “ Tales of a Canberra Boy,” as they did not know if they were done by CT’s staff. Maybe The Paparazzi travelled to Canberra specifically to cover the construction of the club. The CT’s library was also not prepared to guarantee the CT’s would not sue me if I published the articles and photos and at a later stage it was discovered that the CT’s did have copyright. What a nice corporation!
Below are the links.
http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/103069912/11490261
http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/105902321/11512017
   Another photo and article from the CT’s dated 5/4/63 I would have liked to have published in "Tales of a Canberra Boy,” showed the junior PBC Judo team, led by coaches Robert Carveth and Eric McCabe, prior to a trip to a tournament in Griffith, NSW. My mate, Spud Murphy, aged 13 at the time, is in the photo and remembers with fondness the sympathy and support he received from Eric McCabe after he (Spud; not Eric) vomited in the bus on the way to Griffith.
    One of the previously mentioned CT’’s photos shows the slab being poured with voluntary labour from the building firm “W.J.Campbell.” It indicates the cement was donated by “Portland Cement,” the metal was donated by “Australian Blue Metal” and the concrete was mixed with the voluntary labour of “Transit Mixed Concrete.” The floor of the club was laid by voluntary Scandinavian labour from the Ainslie Hostel and the builder, Karl Schreiner, and his employees, also spent many hours of their weekends building the club with their donated labour.
   I don’t know if any of these businesses still exist; nor do I know if there would be any Canberra businesses today who would be prepared to show the same degree of benevolence as the latter businesses should there ever be a call for assistance in restoring the Turner PCYC.  
   The club struggled financially after its opening, but with a loan from Vic Sagacio, the hard work of committee members and volunteers, and eventually the enterprising skills of Jack Dealy, the club survived.




   Immediately above is the club while it was being built some time in early 1960. The top photo is of it when it was near completion towards the end of 1960. Thanks to Jim Hosie and Neophytos Pertsinidis who rescued these photos and other documents just before they were about to be thrown out.
    Above is the opening of the Police Boys’ Club in 1960 by Kathy Morrison, the Mrs of the then Governor General, Bill Morrison, whose mates called him Viscount Dunrossil.
    A highly controversial decision to close the club was made by the 2006 PCYC Board of Directors who had other plans for the site, and it was closed in that year. Part of the reason for its closure was because a structural report seemed to indicate it should be written off. The report, of which I have a copy, was publicly disputed by a top QLD builder and the board was criticised for not having called for input from users and the public before making its decision. 

  In the above photo facing us is the late Bruce Vincent sparring an unidentified opponent. Bruce, who did much for the club and was a life member, was ACT's best heavyweight boxer of his era and an excellent judoka. The photo was taken in 1975. Bruce died from a heart attack on the 3/3/14. He was a very high quality human being who will be missed.   
  The building did not have a problem with asbestos as has been reported, as that problem had been fixed several years before its closure. It does however, have some asbestos in it, as have most buildings of that age, but it is the type that is harmless unless it is disturbed. 
  I had previously attempted to have the building heritage listed, but, as expected, it was rejected without my being consulted. The ACT Heritage Council has a reputation of being very much pro-development and lacking true independence. They must have realised the building's heritage value, but it would seem they simply did not care. 
    So far nothing has been done with the site and the building appears to have been totally neglected. Even though it still stands the vandals and the elements are slowly destroying it. I am guessing this is being done deliberately by the current PCYC Board of Directors in the hope that if a fire, the elements or vandals destroy the building, to the extent that it is beyond repair, when what remains of the building is bulldozed blame will not be directed to the current PCYC Board of Directors. 
   Although that is one of the oldest tricks in the book when it comes to the art of attempting to get rid of historic buildings in a way that will minimise public discontent, the public are now fully aware of that tactic and it can no longer be executed in a credible manner.
    I would like to make the current PCYC Board of Directors aware that although Canberrans are aware that they, the current Board, was thrown a hospital pass by the 2006 Board of Directors, and as such should not cop the blame for an error of judgement that was not their own, it is up to the current Board to rectify the error of the 2006 Board.
    Should the building succumb to fire, the elements or vandalism, to the extent that it is written off and bulldozed, the persons who hold office in the Board of Directors at the time will be written into Canberra’s history for all the wrong reasons.

A recent photo of the Turner PCYC wrestling room. Why is the place being allowed to deteriorate?

DAVE WHEELER 2/4/13 

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