Ambassador traces Queanbeyan roots

QUEANBEYAN Australia Day Ambassador Thomas Faunce's connection to the town is one steeped in family history.

Mr Faunce is the direct descendant of the town's first police magistrate Captain Alured Tasker Faunce who arrived in 1837.

As well as keeping the peace and enforcing justice, Alured Tasker also had a penchant for cricket and was integral to the introduction of the sport to the Queanbeyan/Canberra region.

"There was a family story that he'd died playing cricket in Queanbeyan," Mr Faunce said.

"In 1856, when he was only in his forties, he was fielding and it looks to me that he had a heart attack.

"He had been having left sided crushing chest pain and that's a pretty classic symptom. He actually died on the cricket field."

The field where Alured Tasker died is just stone's throw away from where Mr Faunce's son Blake, 9 now plays for the Queanbeyan District Cricket club's under 11s division one team.

Blake, a diehard Richmond fan, also plays Aussie Rules for the Queanbeyan Tigers Club.

"As a result of my son starting to play sport I've re-established connections that the family had had to Queanbeyan. It's like any sort of friendship or community you have to sort of revitalise it, so that's what I've been doing," he said.

"We've been spending a lot of time going over there and meeting people."

Mr Faunce said he's noticed a real sense of community, an authentic feeling about Queanbeyan.

"I think Canberra's a very sort of planned and organised place. It has a lot of attractive features and we love it, it's a nice place," he said.

"But, Queanbeyan also has a beautiful environment and it seems to have arisen more organically out of the nature of the community.

"It just grew spontaneously out of people aggregating together. Of course people might say there's a certain amount of chaos in there but there's also a certain amount of plasticity and genuine feel about the place."

Community will be a central theme in Mr Faunce's speech at the Australia Day celebrations. Since linking back to Queanbeyan, the ANU professor said he hopes to use his research in artificial photosynthesis to benefit the town.

"Since we've sort of reconnected with Queanbeyan, you feel part of the trajectory of that community," he said.

"So in some ways I feel my interest in artificial photosynthesis as a renewable energy connects with Queanbeyan, I'm not sure where that's going to go.

"I'm adding a voice, a collection of expertise and my area is artificial photosynthesis. I see that as part of Queanbeyan's journey, it's a community I feel closely associated with."

The Queanbeyan Australia Day celebrations will be held at Queanbeyan Town Park on Sunday, January 26 from 5pm.

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