TOPICS: From sands of time

PETER Lovett had nearly forgotten what he and his friends found in the 1960s, until he opened the paper.
Nanjing Night Net

Back then, Mr Lovett was a teenager. He and some mates, as mates do, had parties in the Nobbys dunes. They lit fires.

‘‘We’d go up on Nobbys Beach and cook weenies,’’ he said.

‘‘Then one night we came across a large plaque.’’

It was fixed to a block that felt like sandstone, and it was inscribed.

‘‘The writing was about Macquarie Pier, and something about a governor.’’

The friends planned to heave the block out the front of the Nobbys pavilion and leave it there, but it was too heavy. So it stayed in the dunes to be reclaimed by the sand.

As luck would have it, investigators are in the process of using radar to peer beneath the ground for foundations of the pier.

They’re especially keen to find the foundation stone that Governor Macquarie laid in 1818. That’s why Mr Lovett rang us.

One man is very interested.

The first thing you should know about Gionni Di Gravio is that if he ever finds the foundation stone, he won’t be surprised if it’s in someone’s garden.

‘‘If it shows up in someone’s backyard, then great,’’ the Coal River Working Party chairman told Topics.

‘‘If anyone remembers hauling it home as a souvenir, I’ve got archaeologists ready to dig. Now’s the time to say something.’’

If there’s one thing we’re bad at in Newcastle (besides transport, parking, retail, air quality and civilised public debate) it’s preserving our artefacts.

In the 1970s for instance, Newcastle City Council pulled hundreds of gravestones from Christ Church Cathedral park and used them as landscaping rocks at Blackbutt Reserve.

Mr Di Gravio has heard whispers of plaques lodged deep within the Nobbys breakwall, and the 1817 foundation stone of Christ Church Cathedral was salvaged by workers following the 1989 earthquake.

We’ve put Mr Di Gravio in touch with Mr Lovett. It might lead to nothing, but it could be a step towards finding the stone.

Magpies feel the heat

A READER reports the first magpie swoop of spring. Except it’s winter.

The angry seasonal messenger clattered into our correspondent’s helmet yesterday as he pedalled the cycle track behind Hunter Stadium. He’s OK, folks.

‘‘We’re in mid-August,’’ says our reader.

‘‘Earliest I can remember it happening.’’

A scan of Herald files backs him up. A swoop was documented on August 30, 2011 but they are rarely a factor until September.

Warmest July on record. Funnel webs waking early from hibernation (shudder). Can we talk about climate change yet?

Speaking of extremes, while fire tore through parts of the Hunter, the thermometer at Col Maybury’s place in Kurri yesterday morning read minus 3 degrees.

‘‘But I am prepared to bet it’s the last,’’ Col says.

‘‘Frost, I mean.’’

A ditty for them all

WE asked for songs for politicians, and one reader dedicated Joe Dolce’s Shaddap You Face to the Opposition Leader, then reconsidered.

‘‘Perhaps I’m doing him a favour and it should be exactly the opposite,’’ she said.

‘‘Must find a song that conveys Go for it, Tone, spruik away.’’

Phil Mahoney put some thought into this. Carter Edwards, a 2HD presenter, composed a ditty a few years back that went: ‘‘It don’t matter who you vote for, they’re gonna get you’’.

‘‘That’s for all of them,’’ Phil says.

Duty chaplain Father George Mainprize with Christ Church Cathedral’s foundation stone under glass. Picture: Phil Hearne

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