The story behind Kambah's killing tree

This column continues to receive photos of curious objects engulfed over time by growing trees.  Each object provides a unique snapshot of a time when it was first placed, or left there.

Ian Macdonald at the Kambah Killing Tree, now part of Urambi Hills Nature Reserve. Photo: Tim the Yowie Man

Ian Macdonald at the Kambah Killing Tree, now part of Urambi Hills Nature Reserve. Photo: Tim the Yowie Man

One of the more remarkable of these is a length of chain partially devoured by a tree in Urambi Hills Nature Reserve in Kambah. This chain is remarkable for two reasons. Firstly because the thousands of people who walk or drive past it every week do so oblivious to its existence, and secondly for it provides an insight to pastoral life in the Tuggeranong Valley in the 1950s, before the widespread use of refrigeration.

“We tied that chain up there just prior to the winter of 1955,” recalls Ian "Macca" Macdonald whose first job after leaving school in 1954 was a rouseabout on Gary Sheehan’s Urambi property.

“Each winter Sheehan would kill a bullock, hang it on that chain and cover it with a couple of chaff bags,” recalls Macca. “Over the course of winter, friends and family would cut off chunks as they needed it, or store in their own meat safes.”

“You can still see a hook up in there,” points out Macca, who explains“we had to use a block and tackle to lower it as the bull weighed some 300 kilos.”

Placed in this tree 63 years ago, this chain was used by a farmer to hang slaughtered bullocks. Photo: Tim the Yowie Man

Placed in this tree 63 years ago, this chain was used by a farmer to hang slaughtered bullocks. Photo: Tim the Yowie Man

Glenn Schwinghamer, a Tuggeranong history enthusiast, reports “people walk past and wouldn’t know the chain was there, or the history behind it.”

“This just looks like any other paddock, but if you look closely there are also other tangible links to our pastoral past here, such as bits and pieces of pottery in the dirt and a pole up the hill where Sheehan tied up his 29 dogs,” explains Schwinghamer.

Bushranger Beauty

A bell embedded in a tree stump in Singleton, NSW. Photo: George Pietrzak

A bell embedded in a tree stump in Singleton, NSW. Photo: George Pietrzak

Further afield but with just as remarkable a story is a tree stump on display at the Singleton Museum in the NSW Hunter Valley.

Tightly embedded in the tree stump, which was brought to this column’s attention by George Pietrzak of Kaleen, is a bell which, according to a spokesperson for the museum, was “set in the fork of a sapling red gum way back in the 1850s-60s to signal shearers to work at the nearby St Clair Homestead.”

When, in 1981, part of the St Clair property was resumed by the state government for a dam, oversized trees were cut down so that they didn’t cause any future danger when the dam was being used for recreational purposes.

When the stump was first salvaged, only the half-metre chain of the bell could be seen, the rest of the bell having been totally "consumed" by the red gum. Before it was put on display at the museum, however, “craftsman carefully chiselled away at the stump to reveal part of the bell”.

Click go the shears 

Deniliquin’s historic shearing tree, and yes, that is an inquisitive goanna just below the shears. Photo: Geoff Corboy

Deniliquin’s historic shearing tree, and yes, that is an inquisitive goanna just below the shears. Photo: Geoff Corboy

Although he queries as to how they first got into the tree, Chris Woodland has submitted a photo of the hand shears which were allegedly left in a tree at Deniliquin at the start of World War I (Appetite for the Bizarre, more trees swallowing strange objects, November 6).

“About 20 years ago my second-cousin (Geoff Corboy), aware of my interest in Australian folklore, sent me the photo,” Woodland said.

“The yarn goes that a bloke finished the run at this particular shearing shed and stabbed his shears into a nearby eucalypt tree, saying he will leave them there until he returns from the war [WWI],” explains Woodland.

“He never returned from the war and the shears have been there that long that they grew higher from the ground as the tree matured.”

Despite the story of the shears being documented in several local newspapers, Woodland questions the validity of the story.

“I am certain it is just a colourful folktale as a shearer would not intend leaving a well-cared-for and important tool of trade sticking in a tree to suffer weathering and deterioration by sap if he intended to use it again.

“Also – and an arborist may confirm this – marks on a tree, or a blade stuck into the tree, will not elevate over time.”

While Woodland’s argument may have some merit, on a camping trip 38 years ago, Paul Webb recalls seeing a tree near Cobar in western NSW, where shearers definitely had no qualms in leaving not one, but “up to 50” broken shears embedded in a tree, some up to “eight metres above the ground”.

Spotted: Yowie Laws

A worrying sign in Stromlo Forest Park. Photo: Kelly Anne Smith

A worrying sign in Stromlo Forest Park. Photo: Kelly Anne Smith

While walking with friends around Stromlo Forest Park’s Pipeline Trail, Kelly-Anne Smith of Waramanga stumbled across this sign warning of yowies. While your Akubra-clad columnist can categorically guarantee he hasn’t been wandering around Mt Stromlo with a can of white paint in one hand and paint brush in the other, it begs the question, who has?

Mailbag : Pooh on holiday

Pooh Bear on holidays on the Clyde River. Photo: Janet Thomspon

Pooh Bear on holidays on the Clyde River. Photo: Janet Thomspon

While this column’s recent exposé on Pooh’s Corner (Poohs Corner – get involved, October 20) flushed-out many readers who confess to leaving soft toys at the landmark roadside stop, it also prompted Janet Thompson of Garran to report an out-of-place Pooh.

“On a recent walk along the Clyde River with the Batemans Bay Bushwalkers we came across Pooh ‘sitting in a tree’,” reports Thompson, who wonders if “he washed down from Pooh Corner? ”

Meanwhile, Trevor Shumack reports his father “was a member of the army team in World War II, whose task, if the Japanese landed and tried to venture inland towards Canberra, was to blow-up the Clyde Mountain at what is now Pooh’s Corner.”

Where in Canberra?

Do you recognise this place? Photo: Tim the Yowie Man

Do you recognise this place? Photo: Tim the Yowie Man

Cryptic Clue: I don’t see any spilt milk, do you?

Degree of difficulty: Medium

Last week

Where in the Region last week. Photo: Tim the Yowie Man

Where in the Region last week. Photo: Tim the Yowie Man

Congratulations to first-time entrant Carole Purry of Evatt who was the first reader to correctly identify last week’s photo as Forgotten (Melanie Lyons, 2004), a sculpture created from the hoods and doors of wrecked cars and located in a rest area on the Barton Highway near Capricornia Estate.

A sign adjacent to the striking sculpture points out that Forgotten is a powerful reminder of accidents on Australian roads. “The artist has experienced tragic loss associated with road accidents and this artwork is a tribute to the memory of a friend … whilst the pain of a lost one is not easily forgotten, the preventability of road accidents often are.”

Wise words indeed. Take care on our roads if exploring our region this weekend.

For the record, Purry just beat a hoard of Barton Highway regulars, including Bridget Rauch of Chifley, Julie Nimmo of Kambah and Leigh Palmer of Chifley to the prize.

How to enter: Email your guess along with your name and address to timtheyowieman@bigpond.com. The first email sent after 10am, Saturday November 24, 2018 will win a double pass to Dendy - The Home of Quality Cinema.