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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 5 May 2015) . . Page.. 1341 ..

Tharwa. Tharwa is the oldest settlement in the ACT. It was established in 1862. It currently has a population of around 110 people and it is 32 kilometres from the centre of Canberra. It is on the picturesque Murrumbidgee River and it is only 5.4 kilometres from the nearest neighbouring suburb of Banks. Tharwa includes one of Canberra’s oldest businesses—the Tharwa general store, which was established in 1922. It is still the hub of the village.

Other attractions in the area include the Cuppacumbalong cemetery, which serves as a memorial to some of the earlier settlers of the region. It has a federation carpenter gothic-style church called St Edmund’s, which was built in 1916 on land donated by the then owner of Cuppacumbalong Station. It is typical of the type of church that you will find all around Australia in that era when communities were looking for a simple but dignified place to hold remembrance services for the sons, husbands and brothers who did not return from World War I.

Tharwa is along Tourist Drive 5. Other attractions in the vicinity, either along Tourist Drive 5 or nearby, include Corin Forest, with the bobsleigh there; the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve; Tidbinbilla Space Tracking Station; and Lambrigg, which was William Farrer’s property where Australia’s wheat industry germinated. They have an annual plant fair, which is very popular.

There is the Namadgi visitors centre and the entry to the Namadgi national park. There is an outward bound centre located just out of town. Cuppacumbalong, which used to be a conference and wedding venue that many of us would have been to, is now no longer used for that purpose. But there is, in the area, Cuppacumbalong free- range eggs and there is a forge that makes quality knives that win awards at shows around Australia.

In Tharwa itself, there is the Tharwa preschool. It has a fantastic annual fair, where I take my family each year for rides, face painting, petting the farm animals and other entertainment. Just next to the Tharwa general store is the Tharwa hall which, again, holds a bush dance annually. It is not just a fun community event attended by almost all the local community; it raises money for the hall, which is in need of repairs and restoration. Unfortunately, as we have heard, the Tharwa school closed in 2006 after 107 years. The Tharwa bridge closed between 2005 and 2011 for restoration. It was quite a long period of time for the restoration of the bridge. It led to the decline of many of the attractions in the area because visitors had to go a much longer way around.

An issue we have also heard about already is that of the water supply. Tharwa is not on town water, and residents have their own tanks for drinking water and for use in the home. But for their garden and for firefighting they use non-potable water from the large shed located behind the Tharwa general store, just up the hill a bit. It is a large and very ageing tank. From memory, it is about 60 years old. It was installed by Val Jeffery’s family about 60 years ago. They fill it with water pumped from the Murrumbidgee River. Of course, we know that Tharwa was one of the first lines of defence against those devastating 2003 bushfires. Val Jeffery himself has been a hero in the community for his very active bushfire fighting work.

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