The ACT Government has airlifted a dead tree out of deep bush in the Namadgi National Park in order to honour the surveyors who mapped the boundary between the newly established Commonwealth Territory and New South Wales more than 100 years ago.
ACT surveyor general, Jeff Brown, said Border Reference Tree H87 was significant because it had been blazed by the team led by New Zealand-born surveyor Harry "Happy" Mouat.
It is now the centrepiece of The Mouat Tree Project, which was launched on Thursday.
Mouat, who endured climatic extremes along the rugged ridgelines of the Upper Cotter, received his nickname because he never smiled.
Mr Brown said he may have had good reason for looking miserable given at least one request to come in from out of the cold of his bush camp to write up his survey notes in the comfort of an office had been refused by his superiors.
ACT Planning Minister, Mick Gentleman, said the reference tree, now dubbed "The Mouat Tree", had been airmailed to the grounds of the Namadgi National Park visitors centre where it was undergoing conservation work to eradicate its termites by an expert engaged by the Canberra Museum and Gallery.
Once this work is complete the four-metre long trunk will be housed in an interpretive centre designed by heritage architect, Philip Leeson.
"The shelter will hearken back to the early surveyor camps with a sailcloth roof, a shape to reflect the ACT and a lockspit (row of rocks used to indicate direction) reminiscent of the actual border the tree was referencing," Mr Gentleman said.
The ACT Government has committed $30,000 to the shelter project. A public appeal has been launched to raise additional funds and it is possible the shelter could be ready in time for next year's Heritage Festival.
On the same day the Mouat Tree was flown off into the sunset Mr Brown blazed a replacement, utilising skills he had not used since the dawn of his career.
"I took about 25 minutes to blaze my tree," he said. "The original would have been blazed by one of the trained axemen in Mouat's team in under 10 minutes. If he had taken as long as I did he would have been out of a job."
The original Commonwealth Territory survey was a serious matter. Good relief maps were needed for the design competition and there was also the issue of freehold land on one side of the border and leasehold land on the other.
While the border survey was overseen by Charles Scrivener, the leg work was carried out by Mouat, Percy Sheaffe and Freddie Johnston.
Descendants of Mouat still live in Canberra.
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