Laddie Timbery’s death marks the end of an era at La Perouse


One of La Perouse’s most respected and well-known identities, Laddie Timbery died on July 23.  Laddie was known as the La Perouse Boomerang Man.  He used to travel from Nowra every weekend with his boomerangs and other works and display and demonstrate them around the La Perouse Loop up until its redevelopment in 2011.

The following is by Robert Crawford, extracted from The South Coast Register 

“Highly regarded and renowned around the world for his superb Aboriginal arts and crafts, he was also a devoted family man and a generous soul who would do anything for anyone.  Highly respected in the South Coast community he was always happy to “have a yarn” and pass on his vast knowledge.”

A man with strong beliefs who was willing to offer an opinion on many different topics, he always had a smile on his face and will be remembered as one of the “genuine” nice guys.  He had a vast knowledge of culture and history, and shared that through visits too numerous local schools.

Hubert “Laddie” Thomas Timbery was born at La Perouse on February 12, 1941.

He belonged to the Dharawal language group which spans from Sydney to Jervis Bay.

As a youngster, living with his Aunty Marge (photo) and Uncle John he attended La Perouse Public School and as a young man spent his time between the Sydney seaside suburb and the South Coast.

It was while he lived in Nowra in the mid to late 1950s, as a teenager, he met Ann Cullen who would later become his wife. After a four year courtship the couple married in the All Saints Anglican Church in Nowra on August 12, 1961. They would have four children, daughters Debra and Kerry who were both born in Nowra, and sons Paul and Jeffery, born in Sydney.

For many years, especially in the early part of his working life, he worked as a brickies’ labourer up and down the coast and then later drove and maintained trucks for Sydney fuel company Total.

In 1981 he and Ann “retired” to the Shoalhaven, but there wasn’t much rest as with help from his mother Rose and her partner Laddo they opened up an Aboriginal Arts and Craft Centre adjacent to the then Lady Denman Museum at Huskisson.

From there for the next 38 years he built up a reputation as an artist, legendary boomerang maker and thrower.

(Photo:Laddie with John Cann in January 2018 at the La Perouse Museum)

It was a career that saw him travel not only to almost every part of Australia but the world, with many visits to Canada and Switzerland, while his arts and crafts have also gone worldwide.

He also provided artwork used at the equestrian centre for the Sydney 2000 Olympics.

“There are pieces of his artwork everywhere,” said his eldest daughter Debra.

“You can’t really go anywhere major without seeing some of his artworks or a photo of him in his now famous pose, throwing a boomerang.”

(Photo: Randall Sinnamon’s portrait of Laddie which was a recent finalist in the Moran Portrait Prize)

Laddie and his family make the traditional original returning boomerang from mangrove knee, as it has a natural bend.

He used the highly regarded and unique craftsmanship of “burning in”, to decorate a large variety of artefacts and artworks, a technique his family has been using for hundreds of years, and one the family continues with today.

The family is also well-known for its incredible shell work with his great grandmother Emma Timbery’s work sent to England for Queen Victoria in the early 1900s.

In between work Laddie was also a keen and accomplished rugby league player, taking the field until the ripe old age of 41.

He was also a very keen and talented golfer, becoming an A grade champion and also proudly representing the Indigenous golf team in New Zealand and Hawaii.

“Everyone just knew Dad,” youngest son Jeffery said.

He lost his love Ann 16 years ago in 2004, after more than 40 years of marriage but continued his work at the now Jervis Bay Maritime Museum with other family members with even more vigour.

When he was a little boy he had a dog named Laddie and everyone simply started referring to him as well as Laddie.

Jervis Bay Maritime Museum director Diana Lorentz paid tribute to Mr Timbery saying the organisation had been deeply saddened his death.

“Uncle Laddie has been an integral part of the museum since it opened in 1988 and over the years has provided an intangible link to Aboriginal culture for schools, locals and tourists,” she said.

“Engaging everyone with a wonderful sense of humour and engaging younger generations in a history that has often been forgotten.

“He will be sadly missed by everyone at the museum, past and present.”

Bumborah Point and Napoleon’s Ambitions



In 1802 the Baudin expedition stopped over in Sydney for provisions, botanical and other scientific pursuits and to collect military intelligence. Francois Peron was a naturalist on the expedition and also the principle spy. His assessment was found relatively recently in the Museum of Natural History L’Havre. It was a 122 page report on how best to attack Sydney. It can be seen that Botany Bay was the recommend route for a surprise overland attack on the Port Jackson colony  

Péron proposed the French armada should enter Botany Bay at night. As quickly as possible the troops would be landed, near a malt house belonging to a man named Smith, and at daybreak rapidly marched into Sydney. The road the soldiers would take, which led through the brick fields, is clearly marked in Louis Freycinet’s map which accompanied the official record of the expedition.

In Botany Bay the main garrison was stationed at Bumborah Point as that was the main defence point against a ship incursion of the Bay.   Only a few soldiers were stationed at the La Perouse casemate, the  Macquarie Watchtower (photo of the 3 tier gun casemate at Bumborah Point. Note extensive wall running to the north. This would provide for land defence against an attack from the beach). Charles Abela took photographs of the foundations of the casemate around 1960 and noted the flatness of the sand within the circle, indicating that the floor stones were still in place and likely to be buried under the hard fill deposited by the Maritime Services Board when they used the area as a compound for machinery during the construction of Banks’ Revetment Wall in the 1970s.  (Photo left taken 1951, John Cann).

Photos below show the position of Bumborah Point, now subject to a proposal for a 3000 site expansion by Botany Cemetery.  




Bumborah is a recreation area. Photo left shows hangliding while other pursuits include scuba, snorkelling, swimming and fishing.

Critically Endangered Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub under threat on Jennifer Street


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The battle on Jennifer Street to protect Critically Endangered Eastern Suburbs Banksia Scrub (ESBS) and provide habitat corridors between the National Park and Prince Henry continues. Over 1000 people have already signed a petition to protect these parcels of land.  Jennifer Street ESBS was subject to an earlier battle in the 1980s which resulted in a portion of the land being incorporated into the National Park and a parcel handed to the La Perouse Local Aboriginal Land Council.  The NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 (TSC) provided protection for ESBS (scheduled in 1997) and further protection was afforded Federally with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC).  A recovery plan was subsequently published in 2004 with landholders required to produce Plans of Management to protect sites under their protection. In December 2017, ESBS was rescheduled as Critically Endangered under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 which replaced the TSC. Despite the significance of the plant community and the native fauna it supports there have been plans for medium density residential development proposed since 1999 (see SMH 2004 report “The bay of plenty that ended up returning so little“) The problem all along has been the land zoning failing to align with environmental protection legislation and poor management of the site.

Randwick Council in the discussion paper for its Draft LEP 2011 proposed that the inappropriate zoning be addressed: “The Jennifer Street holdings, with an area of about 11,400 m2, are currently zoned 2B (Residential B). This unoccupied land contains a significant amount of ESBS and the ESBS buffer zone, as identified by the Office of Environment and Heritage (requiring more detailed investigation and confirmation). The consideration of suitable zone/s should protect the valuable natural vegetation on the site.” In the report discussed at Council 6/12/2011, pp.176-7: The OEH “Recommend an Environmental Conservation zoning be applied over the ESBS remnants in several sites (ie Jennifer St LALC holdings, St Michaels Driving Range, and the Telstra land at the end of Jennifer. St) particularly as these are contiguous and geographically linked with larger ESBS patches in the adjacent Botany Bay National Park and Prince Henry site.” Council response: ” Zoning and other planning provisions for all LALC holdings will be resolved as part of the future planning study. Action 9.2.7 of the ESBS Recovery Plan states that DEC will continue to liaise with the La Perouse and MALC regarding the management of land that contains ESBS. · The St Michaels Driving Range, as consulted and agreed with Crown Lands Division and DoPI, is proposed to be zoned Public Recreation (RE1), consistent with the lease extension for golf purposes. The ESBS on this land will be mapped and the land will be subject to the new Biodiversity clause in the draft LEP whenever a development application is considered.”

Regardless, LALC holdings remained zoned as residential medium density.  Because of this failure to address the problem for the 2012 LEP, Council sent a message that it still considered the land suitable for housing rather than requiring environmental protection.  After the new LEP confirmed residential zoning, Lot 11 was sold in 2012 and Lot 27 – the 4798 sqm strip adjacent St Michael’s Golf Course – was sold  in December 2013 for $1.1million.

There have been previous development applications submitted in 2013 eg. Jennifer-St-Multi-Storey Development and 2016 for Lot 11, as well as expensive Land and Environment Court hearings. The most recent DA was submitted in January 2018. In September residents attended a hearing for No.11 and then earlier this month for No.27.

Last month an amendment to the No. 11 – Ref Number: DA/101/2018 was submitted.  Background details are available on Council’s website. Anyone who opposes the development will need to make a submission. (plan for 40 dwellings as per Council webpage – on page 11 of SEE states 45 dwellings)

SUBMISSIONS TO COUNCIL CLOSE 5th April:  Email (Att. Frank Ko) All the papers are on Council’s Planning Page(this link). Previous submissions will NOT be held over as Council is looking at this afresh.  Note:  The Statement of Environmental Effects (SEE)(this link) is important to read.  This is where the consultants for the proponent attempt to address the ‘problem’ of ESBS protection. The Consultant is Paul Grech (B.Town Planning (Hons) UNSW) of GLN Planning 

The consultant responsible for the Species Impact Statement(SIS) is Cumberland Ecology.  They have already received criticism for their SIS for the  Cooks Cove Development as well as other developments.

The Species Impact Statement was provided in August 2017 just before the status of ESBS was changed from Endangered to Critically Endangered.  A referral to the Federal EPBC Act was made in March 2018. The Federal Department deemed it a controlled action in August 2018 and when further information is provided will assess it. The Species Impact Statement was peer reviewed by Total Earth Care who identified major shortcomings. Cumberland Ecology provided a response in January 2018. (Species list attached) The proposal includes the removal of 0.241 ha of ESBS.  The latest SEE seeks to diminish the importance of ESBS, but fails to report that the landholders have been negligent in in not protecting the ESBS as required under the  2004 Recovery Plan.  Had they, for instance, conducted an ecological burn and weed and rubbish removal it is highly likely there would be greater floristic diversity. See paper from volunteers of North Head Sanctuary Foundation on the importance of ecological burns and fencing and more on their website.  If this DA is approved it will reward poor environmental managers. Intensifying residential development adjacent the National Park is also likely to inhibit Parks in carrying out ecological burns of the neighbouring Jennifer Street ESBS.

On the 11th December 2002 NSW Cabinet endorsed the Southern Sydney Catchment Blueprint which on page 17 stated: “From 2003 no clearing of Endangered Ecological Communities”.  In 2003 James Woodford wrote about the removal of .15ha at Prince Henry. Also link to submission to the Review of the EPBC Act detailing issues with this clearing.

Submission for reference:

Lachlan Laurie Jennifer Street Submission 050419

Prince Henry Community Association OBJECTION to Amended DAs at 11 Jennifer Street, Little Bay – 20.3.19[29804] 

Lynda Newnam Submission 11 Jennifer Street 5th April 2019

On the 12th March 2019 the Land and Environment Court conducted a hearing for the 27 Jennifer Street Development on site.  There was no resolution and this will be dealt with in court at a later date.  This is another one to watch and question the appropriateness of the rezoning to residential.


Reece Discombe 100 years and 231 years of the Receveur Mass


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Sunday, 17th February 2019, marked 100 years since the birth of Reece Discombe, diver on the Laperouse Wrecks.  It was also the 231st anniversary of the death of Claude-Francois Joseph Louis Receveur.  There were two masses held for Receveur – the first at 8am and the second at 11am (details below)



Reece Discombe was born in Cambridge, New Zealand, on the 17th February 1919. The Cambridge Historical Society has provided more details in their February 2019 Newsletter. Russell Shelton, the author of “From Hudson Bay to Botany Bay” described Reece as the perfect man to be involved in diving the Laperouse Wrecks as he had “an affinity for salt water, his physical power and swimming ability, coupled with a natural mechanical aptitude with motors and metals …prepared him well for his involvement in the saga of Laperouse.  His interest in salvage diving led Reece to the New Hebrides in 1947.  The largest island “Espiritu Santo” had an enormous war surplus dump which he astutely realised could be used to supply the marketplace that had been starved for six years of newly manufactured machinery.  For fourteen years, he carried out salvage dives on wrecks around the New Hebrides.  He jokingly described himself “as having spent half of his life underwater”.  Reece had read much of the material available about Laperouse.  His curiosity resulted in the establishment of an expedition party in 1958.  The party left Vila for Vanikoro on the sixty foot launch, the “Don Quixote”.  From this trip, which was to be the first of many made between 1958 and 1964, Reece and his companions found many treasures including cast iron ballast blocks, lead ingots, brass wheels, cannons, iron rods, kegs of nails, buttons, hundreds of glass pieces, fragments of white porcelain and a number of anchors. He returned with teams of divers to the “Astrolabe” site many times. (Photos: top – Reece diving; above left: taken by Peter Stone, Oceans Enterprises; above right – Reece in Port Vila with map of Vanikoro, 2002)

In 1964, he discovered and explored the “Boussole”.  This resulted in the launch of three French sponsored expeditions to confirm the existence of the second wreck.  Reece’s perseverance in confirming the site of the “Astrolabe” and determining the location of the “Boussole” has contributed greatly to a fascinating part of maritime history. (Notes compiled by Reece Discombe and Diana New, 1993)

Reece donated a number of items to the Laperouse Museum, including the Altar Stone(photo left), Mill Stone, Brass Pulley Wheel, Lead ingots, Roll of Brass Wire, Brass Trumpet, Fragment of Astrolabe, Brass Shackle, Anchor, Flanged Brass Pipes, Brass Stanchion, Cannon

Reece died 2nd June 2007.

It was perfect weather for celebrations with early morning cyclists around the loop and sailors in Frenchman’s Bay.

The Receveur Mass organised by Lee Leo of St Andrews, Malabar, was held at 11am with about 210 followers in attendance. Father David Blowey OFM CONV was the Principal Celebrant. Father Blowey is the Provincial Delegate Order of Friars Minor Conventual, Greyfriars Australia.  Co-celebrating were Fr Laurie Cauchi from St Andrews, Fr Willis Melderea, Chaplain to the Francophone Catholic Community, Father Martin Mai OFM Conv and Fr. Leonard Testa OFM Conv.  Special guests in attendance included Mr Nicolas Croizer, French Consul-General, Federal MP, Hon. Matt Thistlethwaite, and Councillors Danny Said, Carlos da Rocha and Noel Da Souza.  The Sydney Seaside Lions provided the sausage sizzle and Friends of the Laperouse Museum refreshments.


As advertised this continuous annual event occurred  on 17th February, the actual anniversary of the Conventual Franciscan friar’s death in 1788. Mass was celebrated AT 8AM in the ancient traditional Latin rite used by the two priests of the Laperouse Expedition at Botany Bay in early 1788.

Father Eric Ladner SSPX said the Mass on the verandah of the Laperouse Museum and preached the occasional sermon on the inception of the Mass in Australia by the priests of the Laperouse Expedition.. The Mass was followed by a procession of priest and congregation chanting the In Paradisum to the grave for final prayers for the dead and the chanting of the Salve Regina. The grave on which a wreath had been placed was aspersed with holy water by Father Ladner. The congregation of some 130 people included 6 Sisters of St. Pius X.