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Have you ever heard of a place called wee jasper?

Quoting Wikipedia: Wee Jasper is a village of about 80 people in the Goodradigbee valley at the western foot of the Brindabella Ranges . . . in the Yass Valley Shire. It is located 80 kilometres north-west of Canberra and 54 kilometres south-west of Yass. Yes, Wee Jasper really does exist and, partly to see it for ourselves and partly because it has some wonderful caves, we went there.

Wee Jasper General Store

Wee Jasper General Store is soon to re-open, we heard.

About five kilometres through Wee Jasper are Carey's Caves. A visit to the caves is an adventure in itself even without the magic of these beautiful caves. The tour guide/manager/owner (who knows?) is a character called Geoff, a man who speaks his mind and tends to upset a few people. Most of his customers love him though, and he certainly gives value for money.

Cave Entrance

The less-than-inspiring entrance belied the beauty that was to be revealed in an underground Aladdin's Cave.

Our tour was due to commence at 1:30 pm but at two o'clock there was no sign of the guide or the party that was underground with him. We knew they were there, people don't park their cars miles from anywhere and walk home in 40° heat, do they? I was already making plans for what to do if they hadn't surfaced in another 15 minutes, reasoning that a cave guide would never leave customers in that heat unless something had gone wrong. But, at that point I had not met Geoff who soon appeared with the noon party almost an hour after they were due out.

Geoff bid his party farewell and came to sit and chat with the eight of us in our party. Three of the eight were young boys and there was one geriatric but we won't go there. Geoff explained his rules to us. The primary one was that we were all responsible for own stupidity! That put us in our places, didn't it? The second was, I think, mainly for the kids; we were not to touch the walls of the cave. Hmm, the geriatric's balance problems were somewhat exacerbated by the low light levels and uneven floor in some places. If it came to a choice between steadying himself against a wall or falling flat, Geoff could stick his rule.

Eventually, almost an hour late, we finally entered the cave system and . . . Wow!

Party in Cave

The lighting in the caves was just sufficient to enable photography without a flash. In actual fact, the
photo makes it appear much brighter than it actually was. That's Geoff with the beard, holding forth.

Party in Cave

Another picture from Carey's Cave. Geoff is holding a torch and pointing with his other hand.

The most romantic origin of the name 'Wee Jasper' comes from folklore and is attributed to an early resident, McBean, an old Scot, one of the earliest settlers. McBean, so the story goes, arrived home one day with some "wee (Scottish for small) Jasper (a type of gemstone found in the area)" in his pocket, found in some obscure stream in the hills. True? Who knows but it's as likely a scenario as any.


Goulburn is a regional city in the Southern Tablelands of New South Wales. It is located approximately 90 kilometres north-east of Canberra. Goulburn is Australia's first inland city. Whoopee! Goulburn has a population of approximately 22,500 people (January 2014) and many historic buildings. It is also home to the Big Merino, the world's largest concrete sheep. Double whoopee!

Concrete Merino

Pam standing in front of the Big Merino, the world's largest concrete sheep.

We visited this attempt to solve the third world's hunger problems on a day trip organised by the Tour Director. Of course, there are two sides to every ram ...

Merino's Bum

Pam refused to pose in this photo. Too sheepish?

Moving right along ...

After the Big Merino we visited Saint Saviour's Anglican Cathedral; from the ridiculous to the sublime, you might say. I found the Cathedral spectacularly beautiful; it is the Cathedral for the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn. The building was designed by famous architect, Edmund T. Blackett, and was commenced in 1874. The plans included a bell tower with a spire on top. The tower was not added for another 114 years, as late as 1988 in fact, and 12 bells were subsequently installed to give St. Saviour's the only 12-bell country peal in the southern hemisphere. Oh, why do they do that? Is it really relevant? Is the remaining population of the southern hemisphere desperately eager to have its own 12-bell country peal? What is a 'country peal', anyway?

The sign outside St Saviour's Cathedral gives a lot of detail about the church and ends with the words and is an active place of worship and an inspiration to the needy. Hmm, I'd like to hear how this beautiful and very expensive pile of sandstone inspires the needy.

St Saviours Cathedral

Saint Saviour's Anglican Cathedral in Goulburn

St Saviours interior

The aisle of the cathedral was fitted with thick, red carpet. You didn't make a sound when you walked.

St Saviours pulpit

The ornate pulpit. Note the crucifix above it? There was outrage when it was put there. Anglicans don't have the
Christ figure on their crosses; this was far too Catholic for many ... but it's still there.

If you'd like to hear about a real doozy of a shit-fight in a cathedral, Goulburn had one. It all began when the original St. Saviour's Church was pulled down so the new Cathedral could be built on that site. A church hall was built close by with the materials from the demolished church. The old church had contained a plaque erected by one Comte (read Count) Francis Robert Louis Rossi to commemorate the lives of his parents. When the old church was pulled down the plaque was moved to the church hall.

Count Rossi was always very generous to the Anglican church and maybe he believed this gave him certain privileges. However, the Bishop disagreed and there was no love lost between the two. When Rossi applied to have the plaque moved from the church hall to the new Cathedral, the Bishop refused! Rossi was outraged and, ignoring the Bishop's wishes, took the plaque from the church hall and erected it in the Cathedral. Subsequently the Bishop removed it from the Cathedral and put it back in the church hall. Rossi was having none of this. Reclaiming the plaque he barricaded himself in the Cathedral and re-installed the plaque. The Bishop, unable to gain access to his Cathedral, was naturally more than a little peeved. Rossi's supporters fed him with a straw through the keyhole in the door and passed slices of bread under the door. Eventually a large number of police became involved; they gained access to the Cathedral and removed Rossi by force, dumping him unceremoniously outside the Cathedral grounds. There are photographs of Rossi lying in the road outside the fence watched by a small crowd of sightseers.

Rossi in the gutter

1887 - Rossi on the ground having been expelled forcibly from the (still towerless) Cathedral.
Copyright: State Library of N.S.W.

What happened next? Well, the Bishop removed the plaque, of course, and legal action followed. In 1891, amid scenes of great scandal and public excitement, he again occupied the Cathedral, this time with a group of men. Stubborn bastard, wasn't he? And the plaque at the centre of all this nonsense ...

Rossi's plaque

That plaque. Inoffensive enough. Note that Rossi's father had been the Principal Superintendent of Police in N.S.W.
Guess where I photographed this contentious plaque? Yes, hanging in the Cathedral! Rossi, long dead, has won.

I expect there was much more to the business than I'm aware of, but the above seems to be the gist of it.

Next we visited Saints Peter and Paul's Old Cathedral which is almost within a stone's throw of Saint Saviour's and very much the poor relation. This church had previously shared the honour of being the Bishop's Seat of the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn with St. Christopher's Church in Canberra until St Christopher's was extended to twice its size. The plans for the enlarged Canberra church included a bell tower, Blessed Sacrament Chapel, large sacristies and a crypt. The extensions were consecrated by Archbishop Cahill and the extended St Christopher's became the cathedral church of the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, demoting St Peter and St Paul's Church to the status of Old Cathedral.

Wen we visited, the tower of St Peter and Paul's church was encased in scaffolding. A steeple is under construction though from the state of some of the walls inside the church I wonder at their priorities.


A new spire under construction. The stonework of the church purports to be green.

Peeling Paint

The condition inside this Catholic 'Old Cathedral' was very different to that of the pristine Anglican Cathedral

Okay, enough of churches, let's move on to something else. I know, what about a brewery? By a coincidence, the Tour Director had the day's itinerary terminating at the Old Goulburn Brewery. But let's move on to Page 183 first.