Who, What and Where?

Matthew Sharp and Michael O'Connor
Matthew Sharp and Michael O'Connor
Matthew Sharp and Michael O'Connor, co-founders of the Australian Student Veterans Association on Anzac Day 2016.

Matthew Sharp and Michael O'Connor, co-founders of the Australian Student Veterans Association on Anzac Day 2016.

As part of a discussion on the history of Gunning Public School, an image was discovered for which

little is known. It would appear to be in the 1950’s by the clothing worn by the kids and there is no

doubting it is Gunning in the colder seasons as coats are the order of the day.

Can you recognize any of the people in the picture and also where it might have been?

The gentlemen in the foreground looks very official and the boy helping looks very pleased to be helping.

If you have some clues, contact us on 02 4845 1809.

Maybe a tree planting ceremony?

More Gunning news


It was National Volunteer Week last week and what follows is the heartening story of a young man with whose mother lives in Gunning.  Matthew Sharp an army veteran who enrolled at university with his friend and fellow student veteran Michael O’Connor have set up the Australian Student Veterans Association (ASVA).  The ASVA mission is “...to promote the academic success, empowerment, and professional development of student veterans at university through advocacy and supporting resources.”

A few years ago, his mother Carol Sharp shared Matt’s story through this column.  After a turbulent adolescence, Matt joined the armed services and was deployed in Timor Leste and Afghanistan.  He left the forces and immediately enrolled at Griffith University where his career has gone on a remarkable trajectory.  Most recently he was awarded the New Colombo Plan Scholarship that includes his working for the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in Jakarta.


A particular enrolment option available only through the Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre (QTAC), offers an entry rank to university of 82 for those who have experienced Australian armed service training plus two year’s experience post training.  This is the option exercised by Matt in 2013 and Michael in 2015, both studying for a Bachelor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Griffith University and later embarking on a double degree by adding a Bachelor of Laws.   

Last semester Michael achieved a High Distinction for every subject in which he was enrolled.  He has been welcomed into both the Griffith Honours College and the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice’s Academic Excellence Society due to his outstanding academic achievements together with those of leadership and community engagement.  


Neither Matt nor Michael would have left the army to attempt university via the Special Tertiary Admissions Test - the usual pathway for older enrolees to qualify for study at university.  Their six years in the Australian Infantry did not prepare them well to sit such a test.

So how did Matt and Michael’s army training justify their success at university?   Surely not as riflemen being qualified in over 15 different weapon systems!  These two dedicated young men assert that it is their ability to adapt; to use initiative; to be disciplined; to know what needs to be done to achieve a goal and to strive towards that goal no matter what – traits that mark the Australian soldier.

The transition from armed services life to civilian life has proved difficult for many and is a particular challenge for those suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and those medically discharged.  The statistics on suicide are very worrisome.  

The young men’s aim is to advocate for the QTAC enrolment option to be offered at universities outside Queensland thus encouraging both current and former ADF personnel to enrol at university.  Scholarships, tutoring services from fellow student veterans and establishment of student veterans groups on university campuses across Australia under the banner of ASVA are part of the wide ranging ambitions of this not-for-profit organisation.  Check out the ASVA on the internet and prepare to be impressed.

Not willing to rest on their own considerable personal academic laurels, Matthew Sharp and Michael O’Connor have dedicated themselves to ensuring that other defence force veterans like themselves can realise their potential.  No wonder there is one very proud mother in Gunning!


Last Saturday, the recently formed Gunning Roos and Rooettes lost their home games against Harden. The best is yet to come.

There will be further home action this coming Saturday 14 May with three MBK junior soccer matches in the morning followed by Gunning Rooettes kicking off at 1pm and Gunning Roos match at 2pm.

There will be a canteen starting from 8.30am.  There was a noisy enthusiastic crowd at the last matches, so come along and give your support to all the local teams.


The approaching winter was looking bleak with stock being hand fed and green grass only a vague memory. Several days of soaking falls from Mother’s Day have changed the landscape and improved the outlook.

With temperatures remaining fairly mild and frosts only light so far, there is hope of getting some decent growth before the winter chill sets in. Most have reported in excess of 30 millimetres spread around the district with some areas getting 50 millimetres.

Meadow Creek is flowing after strong falls in the catchment area closer to Canberra.


It easy to think that villages consist of a random collection of local workers, commuters and business owners. A little glimpse beneath the surface reveals a group who have made a perhaps more focused and selective choice. They perhaps felt the inviting and calming aspect to our village and inspiration from its historic and picturesque streetscapes which echo the seasons.

Icons such as Max Cullen and Margarita Georgiadis and their Picture House Gallery and Bookshop is both inspirational and welcoming, sets the scene. There are others in the town, often more hidden happily focusing on art and letting the world do its thing. These are no lesser treasurers. I just marvel that such a small village has so many and intrigued to find out more.


The annual Gunning two-day Peter McLennan Memorial cycle race organised by the ACT Veterans Cycle Club was held last weekend.  The Saturday saw 75 riders racing in perfect weather but oh what a difference a day made with the numbers well down on a Sunday due to the weather.  The Gunning PA&I Society was on hand to cater for a lunch marked by quality, quantity and variety that was greatly appreciated by the cyclists.

My sincere thanks go to those who donated food and/or helped on the day – Anne Walmsley, Louise Duncan, Kerry Gribbin, Penny Leah, Karilyn Brown, Liz Read, Kelly Dowling, Trish Hallam, Lucy Knight, Doug Darbyshire, Jenny Medway, Vanessa Mackay, Emma Martin, Alison Colebrook, Margaret Hindley and Elysia Mackay.  The monies raised will go towards children’s events at the 2017 Gunning Show.

Again, a great demonstration of how our little community comes together from the old and new families when called upon and the outcomes flow back to our kids and events.

It does also remind us that, having been on the Old Hume Highway and still having access to the road surface through the Cullerin Range brings new and diverse opportunities for visitors and community.


The last Saturday in April saw the first meeting of the Gunning and District Historical Society in full flight after the success of the Gribbin’s open house.

The Gunning and District Historical Society has incorporated and moved from the shadow of the Pye Cottage 355. This is part of wider aim to bring to life the diverse history of the area in a more welcoming and open format.

The meeting was well attended by members old and new. In a move to focus on new initiatives, presentations came first followed by refreshments and then the formalities.

To keeping the Anzac Spirit alive, Jerrewa resident Edith Buckley was invited to give a presentation on her father Ralph Haynes Lewis who served in the Australian Mining Corps in the great war. Edith has a great deal of material and her teaching background helps to shed an endearing and engaging light on what was life well lived and celebrated that extends past his service.

This was closely followed by a presentation by new Gunning resident Michael De Percy on how he would like to show us the value of Trove and the wealth of information that it holds. Michael is proposing to give courses on Trove’s use in mid-June in the Gunning Library so you might want to book your place early. We welcome Michael and his family. More information on Michael’s background can be found on www.governanceinstitute.edu.au/people/fellows/person-488/michael-de-percy#biocv.

Rosemary Spiller gave presentation on Digital Photographic Collection management based on her visit to the Berrima Historical Society and discussions with their archivist that was very timely.

Refreshments followed and most members lingered to find out more. General meetings will now be held every last Saturday of the month at 2.30 pm with all welcome.


Staying the course at Showground

Staying the course at Showground

We have hosted two Cross Countries over the past two weeks.  On 29th April the Burrinjuck Learning Community (Bowning, Dalton, Gunning & Wee jasper Public Schools - BLC) held their cross country at Gunning.  This involved using residential streets and the showground for their run. The top 8 of each age group (boys and girls) went in the Yass District Cross Country.  The outright winners of the BLC Cross Country were Gunning Public School with Wee Jasper & Dalton being the joint winners of the Handicap Trophy.

The Yass District Cross Country was held on Thursday 5th May at the Showground. This involved Yass Public School, Berinba Public School and the BLC.  The outright winner was Berrinba Public School with the Burrinjuck Learning Community winning of the Handicap Trophy.

Brea Waters and Rubin Lees from Gunning made it to the Regional Cross Country at Nowra on 3rd of June. Congratulations to all who participated. I would like to thank parents and community members for assisting with both Cross Countries and consideration of the residents of the streets the coarse ran though.


Ken Hewitt, Jenny Saul, Pam Lees, Kay Ferraris and Beth Baines enjoying tennis

Ken Hewitt, Jenny Saul, Pam Lees, Kay Ferraris and Beth Baines enjoying tennis

The tennis competition has finished with the Spring night competition to resume in October.  There were nine teams in the 1st Division with the winning team being Ben Burden (Yass) and Jenny Saul (Bellmount Forest).  In the 2nd Division seven teams competed with the eventual winners being Carolyn Hannan and Rubin Lees.

This carries on a long held tradition of tennis competitions in the district.

Any interested person can book the courts for social tennis by contacting Beth Baines on 0422 431 470.


Gunning District Landcare’s [GDL] first major offensive against the feral fox has got off to a great start according to President Bob Spiller.  Recently some 170 locals put out over 5,400 baits right across the district.  “This is a huge effort” he said,  “It is the first stage of a sustained strategic attack on the fox problem managed by GDL’s lead organisers Jenifer Heffernan and Lucy Knight in partnership with South East Local Land Services.”

Foxes are a huge environmental and economic problem.  They kill and maim native animals and vulnerable farm stock for food.  Foxes carry diseases that can result in death or misery for some native animals, farm stock and household pets.  

Foxes are not pack animals, raising their young in small families called a “skulk” of foxes.  GDL wants these skulks to skulk off!  The most effective way to achieve this is for neighbours to work together to bait over large areas at strategic times.  

The current baiting exercise is the first stage of a long term plan.  “We won’t achieve a fox free Gunning district overnight” says Bob “but by working together over time we are confident we can create a much better environment here.”  For information on further developments please contact GDL at gunningdistrictlandcare@gmail.com.


Executive members of the incoming Gunning PA&I Society Committee are Frank Hannan (President); Kay Walmsley, Wes Cosgrove and Kelly Dowling (Vice Presidents); Jenny Medway (Secretary) and Trish Hallam (Treasurer).  Newly appointed Show Patrons are Kay Walmsley and John Granger.

Friends of the Gunning Library’s executive committee recently elected are Ann Darbyshire (President); Mary Walsh (Vice President) and Pat Bowden (Secretary/Treasurer).  Events planned at the Library include Bingo in June and Scrabble in July.  A table with books for sale or swap is also in operation for travellers and locals.


Few of us are immune from having a family member or friend who has been touched by some form of cancer.  The fundraiser KICK! Bowel Cancer dinner/dance will be held at the recently renovated Old Coach Stables Restaurant just outside Gunning on Saturday 4 June from 6pm.  Tickets are $75pp that includes dinner, non-alcoholic drinks, dancing and entertainment with Scot Finnie tickling the ivories as “The Piano man”.

Premium wines and beers will be available for purchase and you will be able to bid on an impressive list of auction items.  A bus will be available to ferry patrons to Dalton, Biala and Gunning village at $5pp (email to book at nedkellyphillip@gmail.com).

To book tickets for this terrific event with a vital focus or to donate if you are unable to attend, please go to https://trybooking.com/LDER.  Alternatively email kickbowelcancer@gmail.com or phone Kelly 0448 274 366 or Theresa at 0419 970 930.


Sat 21/5 Shire wide Garage Sale www.bagabargaintrail.com.au

Mon 23/5 last day to enrol to vote at Federal Election on 2 July

Sat 28/5 Hist Soc meets 2.30pm @ Foley Centre, all welcome

Sun 29/5 10.30am @ St Edmund’s re 100+ years of Anglican women

Sun 29/5 Lions Markets 8–2pm+ Show Soc Wood Auction, stalls & info 4845 1271/0405 539 482


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