CSIRO tries to piece together its early days
In the happy black and white photograph on this page you see two mattock-equipped, cheerful sheilas out and about in a field of tall poppies in a place where, today, there's a long-established Canberra suburb.
Who are these gals? Where was the field? When was the photograph taken? And, perish the thought, the poppies are surely not opium poppies, are they?
The director of the CSIRO's Discovery Centre, Cris Kennedy, says that the CSIRO is about to have two ''memory collection'' days and that photographs like this one ''are exactly the kind of thing'' the CSIRO is hoping these days will unearth.
He says that the two women (we don't know their names, yet) were members of the Australian Women's Land Army that did essential work here at home during World War II. The photograph is circa 1944 and shows the two mattocktrixes in one of the CSIRO's experimental paddocks where, today, the suburb of Downer stands.
It's not entirely clear why the CSIRO was dabbling in opium but Kennedy reminds that in those days there were many totally legal medicinal uses of opium and it may have been that the CSIRO was looking at possible medicinal uses of opium for the treatment of our armed forces.
The CSIRO's memory collection days (inspired of course by our looming centenary because the CSIRO has long been an important Canberra presence) are on Friday and Saturday at the Discovery Centre on Clunies-Ross Street, Acton, between 11am and 3pm. The CSIRO invites you to take along regalia and memories of the CSIRO in Canberra. CSIRO staff will be scanning in photos and making notes on them for the CSIRO archives, and recording oral histories.