Canberra’s autumn leaf collector we all need one?

This is Tom Maloney, and his faithful horse Dobbin, whose job it was to collect leaves around the streets of Canberra. He and another man called ”Old Sox” worked for the Department of Interior on parks and gardens, also using a horse and dray. Maloney did this job until the early 1970s!

Younger members of the family remember that Tom even made time after work to take the local kids at Marymead School in O’Connor for a ride on the horse and cart.

How slow and innocent the times were…

American Elm trees in the inner city of Canberra

…can’t you just imagine old Tom and Dobbin clip clopping up this street?  It must have taken a long time to clear the leaves in one street.

When Old Parliament House was built, it was surrounded by dusty paddocks, used for grazing sheep…

Opening of Parliament House in 1927 : photo: library

Politicians of the day, were not happy about moving from the developed city of Melbourne to the windy plains of Canberra. However, in time, trees and shrubs were planted to build gardens around Old Parliament House and surrounding buildings.

Canberra now has a mixture of mature native and deciduous trees, and it gives the city a real sense of space and parkland.

Old Parliament House, now the Museum of Australian Democracy

On this lovely autumn Sunday we are taking a walk from Old Parliament House to the lake, to look at the autumn colour before it disappears.

Old Tom Maloney would have needed more than one horse and cart to gather leaves these days…

The Sulphur Crested Cockatoos love the oak trees, and spend the autumn days dedicated to eating….

…a very sensible idea with the coming cold Canberra winter..

The male and female Red-rumped parrots are blending into the grass and leaves, while a Galah is feeding around them. Galahs are one of Canberra’s most familiar cockatoos.

These young Australian King Parrots are well camouflaged in the grass, but once they reach adulthood they will be bright orange and green.

Down at the lake’s edge, autumn is the perfect time for a fishing competition….on this slow warm Sunday.

Lake Burley Griffin, the Carillon in the distance, and a Darter drying his wings


Lake Burley Griffin, Telstra Tower in the distance, and the Manchurian Pear trees along the lake

We finish our walk with a cup of coffee looking out on these beautiful Manchurian Pear trees along the edge of the lake…..I think they are my favourites…for today anyway.

Do you have a favourite tree in your garden, town or city?

Does your heart sink when you see those autumn leaves falling…do you need a leaf blower, or even Old Tom and a horse called Dobbin?

Copyright Geraldine Mackey: All Rights Reserved.










16 Replies to “Canberra’s autumn leaf collector we all need one?”

  1. You are right – I need to get to Canberra in the autumn one day. Such rustic splendour! It looks so tranquil, and hard to believe these gorgeous photos are taken in the heart of a capital city.

    1. Autumn is definitely the best season in Canberra & the city has grown up a lot since the days of your early visits.A definite time to visit!

  2. What a beautiful city, I loved the then and now photographs. In my nearest London park there is a large Jacaranda tree which flowers for ages, the colour is stunning.

    1. Canberra looks much better these days! I think of Jacarandas as being a tree for hot climates, so I’m surprised you have them in London. They are wonderful trees, they flower for ages in Sydney.

  3. Canberra looks stunning in it’s autumn colours. Yes I can definitely see Old Tom and Dobbin strolling down the street, sweeping up the leaves.

  4. Oh, I do think I would have enjoyed the time when Old Tom was picking up those leaves. 🙂 Fall is not my favorite time of year because we have way too many mature trees. Although we spend days moving leaves in the fall, there are always so many more to move in the spring that it is a lot of work. I could do without that job. 🙂 Thanks for including those amazing photos of your gorgeous birds because I am always amazed at the idea of seeing those beauties on a regular basis.

    1. It is lovely to be able to show these birds to other parts of the world. This has been a good autumn for them…lots of food. I remember you said you did not like fall, you’ll have to take some photos of your mature trees in Fall…I bet they look gorgeous.

  5. Oh, those birds! I enjoy their color as much as the leaves. It seems so disorienting to see you moving into winter when we are barely emerging at the other end.

    1. I agree about the upside down seasons, I am feeling a bit of ”spring envy” looking at all the Northern Hemisphere blogs bursting into spring! The birds really do blend into the leaves don’t they?

  6. The colour of those trees…. simply gorgeous! Loved the story of the guy with his horse and cart, we have a chap like that, he rides his horse and cart to the pub on a regular basis, when he goes in I scratch the horse’s ears under it’s harness. Your birds…..sighs….why don’t I get to raise their chicks at home??? Another lovely, interesting

    1. I remember a guy with a horse & cart in Ireland, the horse knew to stop at the pub and got a nose bag of food while the guy had a whisky! I love the birds too … Birds are such personalities once you know them .. As you would know!

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