Tharwa Drive is newsworthy today because Tuggeranong traffic is being slowed and tied in sheepshanks by the ACT government's digging of a sewer-pipe supertrench across a section of Tharwa Drive.
Hell hath no fury like a Canberra motorist inconvenienced. Social media and this paper's Letters page are throbbing with indignations. It is very Canberran, very First World indignation, with 99.9 per cent of mankind wishing it had something so tiny to catastrophise.
Meanwhile, as if anticipating and wanting to contribute to the city's conversation on this, Archives ACT sends us as part of its Find Of The Month a discussion of Tharwa Drive's ye olde past. It makes the point that although Canberra is a recent and a painstakingly planned city "many of our current roads follow the same routes as the 19th century roads they have replaced".
The Archives' archivists show, with maps, that "much of the current-day Tharwa Drive follows the same route taken by the old Tharwa Road". And it emerges that that "old" road is very, very old indeed by our young nation's yardstick. It dates back to at least the 1830s. We know this because in the Queanbeyan Age of September 2, 1869 there is a long report of a furious-sounding public meeting about the road and its future, during which the long-embedded local coroner, Dr Morton, declares that the Tharwa/Lanyon Road "has been for upwards of 30 years the public road from Queanbeyan to the Murrumbidgee River". Another local present, Charles McKeahnie of Booroomba, says he has relied upon the road for 31 years.
To digress a little for a moment this reads, from the Age, like a meeting it would be fun to time-travel back to. Some of those in the hall have very knotted knickers and some harsh things are said. Reading between the lines you can tell there was hubbub in the hall.
The issue is not entirely clear (the meeting is a continuation of an ongoing debate and the Age presumes a reader will have followed earlier episodes) but the congregation is furious about government proposals for a new, different, road from Queanbeyan to the Murrumbidgee at Tharwa.
Claims are made that this will be "ruinous" for plucky, pioneering landholders who depend upon the road being where it is and who took up their holdings on the understanding that the road would be there forever.
Hyperbolic things are said about the evils of the proposed road. It is made to sound like a highway from Hell, on a route that would be far longer, hillier and stonier than the heavenly old road they know and love.
Spiteful things were said about the machiavellian "individuals" who have "hoodwinked" the minister for lands into entertaining the idea of this new road, this catastrophic "eastern deviation" that would profit the hoodwinkers at the expense of local battlers.
Whatever the knicker-knotting issues of the 1869 imbroglio it's fun, isn't it, to know that the Tharwa Road, raising hackles again today, has been agitating us for 150 years! It gives us a connection with our fabled past.
And there is a romance about old roads. This columnist is from a place, England's East Anglia, where some of the roads in use today were first laid down and trundled along by the Romans. I have been rather missing ancient roads but now it emerges that some of Tharwa Drive has an endearing antiquity about it.
And so, surely, every model of Ford made in the 1930s will at some point have skedaddled along the old Tharwa Road. We mention this so as to return to the topic of the dear old Ford Ute body portrayed in Wednesday's column. Reader and Ford enthusiast Bob Piper had come across it, rusting in peace and looking really rather more like a sculpture than a wreck, in an impossibly remote landscape in Kosciuszko National Park.
Our story based on the photograph only mentioned the old Ford's vintage in passing (Piper had fancied it was a 1934), but since then we have had a bombardment of Ford scholars correcting him and saying that any fool can see it is a 1937. How like you, Canberrans, to be obsessive about teeny-weeny details!
But now the plot thins, with an authoritative-sounding "Ian" (doesn't want his full name used) saying that the Ford in the picture is definitely a 1937.
He asserts that you can tell that from the design and positioning of the grille, and that we can be sure that he knows his 1930s Fords (he calls them "the bastards" but uses the word fondly) because he worked with the bastards in a Riverina Ford dealership in the 1930s. He knew every model that there was.
He told us some lovely yarns. They included a description (the occasions came alive as he described them) of how as a young man in the 1930s he would go out nocturnal fox hunting with chaps aboard a 1928 Ford model A. He had to sit out on the front holding the spotlight and "with one leg wrapped around the headlight so that I could hang on". Once, when a fox pursuit turned wild in a bumpy place, he was flung off the careering car and into some thistles and seemed to be picking prickles out of himself for days afterwards.