Following this column's exposé on the landmark Squatters Arms at Bunyan (near Cooma) last year, a curious missive from Bill Willis of Queanbeyan lobbed in my inbox.
"One of the front windows of the Squatters Arms has the name of a young fiancé scratched in the glass by her suitor to prove that the ring was a diamond ring. The suitor was John Byrne, a relative of my grandmother Alice Byrne of Queanbeyan's Royal Hotel, Byrnes Mill and Woden Station fame. I wonder if it's still there."
The story sounded a bit far-fetched, even for your open-minded columnist, so during a recent trip to the high country I stopped in at the former drinking hole, now a private home-cum-Airbnb, to have a look around.
Incredibly, the etching is still in the window pane. In fact, the probing fiancé must have wanted to be extra sure for it's etched in a couple of glass panes.
The date of the etching is unknown but it's likely to be well over a century old, making it some of the oldest "graffiti" in the region. There have been a number of John Byrnes in the Queanbeyan area, and Marshall Sanderson and Raelene Forbes, owners of the Squatters Arms, would love to know which one it was. "It might help us narrow down the year when the etching was made," Marshall says.
If you end up bunking down at the Squatters Arms, which has been almost completely booked-out since opening in May, the clearest etching is on the northern side of the front door.
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Did You Know? Historically, one of the most common techniques to test if a diamond was real or synthetic was to scratch the gem against glass - if the glass is scraped or scratched, the diamond was deemed real. However, according to website livescience.com this method is far from foolproof, as some faux diamonds can also scratch glass.