ACT News

Tim the Yowie Man digs deeper into the myths of Broulee

This column's recent expose on the myths and legends of Broulee ("Secrets of Broulee", January 2) resulted in a bulging mailbag, with many readers reminiscing about the days Broulee Island, now connected to the mainland, actually lived up to its name.

Ashe of Fisher admits he has "fond memories as a child of racing back from the island before being separated by the tide in the mid-1980s", adding, "it's such a beautiful place, I now take my kids back there."

The Leech family waded to Broulee Island in 1983.
The Leech family waded to Broulee Island in 1983. Photo: John Leech

While the search for a clear photo of the island completely surrounded by the sea continues, John Leech dug up a treasured family photo of the narrow channel which flowed between Broulee Beach and the "island", taken in July1983.

"I think we had crossed on dry land earlier to walk around the island, and found we had to paddle to get back," recalls Leech, whose prized family snap features his late sister Mary Leech, his wife Diana and her late mother Luce Ventrillon, and his late mother Elizabeth.

Reidsdale's fairy tree.
Reidsdale's fairy tree.  Photo: Chris Woodland

Meanwhile, a number of readers including Jeff Jones of Wanniassa pointed out that the island once sported several buildings, including an inn which, according to Richard Fisher, author of Broulee Bay Folklore, Myth and Legend website, was "built by Captain William Oldrey on the high ground pretty well nearest to Mossy Point during 1840-41."

The low shingled, white-painted weatherboard bungalow was built from American redwood and leased by Bernard McCauley in 1842 who named it the Erin-Go-Bragh (Ireland Forever).

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"It was later disassembled and rebuilt in Moruya, as "Merlyn House", but the local council demolished it in the 1980s to make way for new buildings," says Fisher.

Meanwhile, Broulee's "Pipi Tree", which sadly succumbed to wild weather in the 1970s continues to live on in the memory of several readers, including John Lee of Kambah and Meryl Hunter of Murrumbateman.

John Skinner Prout's 1843 painting of Broulee Island, featuring the Erin-Go-Bragh Inn.
John Skinner Prout's 1843 painting of Broulee Island, featuring the Erin-Go-Bragh Inn. Photo: National Library of Australia. Ref: 2027164

So enamoured was Hunter by the tree, once a much-loved beach marker for both surfers and fishers, that she designed and installed a stained glass window featuring the gnarly old banksia in her family's Broulee Holiday house in the 1990s.

"The window is based on a sketch I did when the tree was still standing and executed by my husband," she says.

Clue: This column has walked these boards a lot in recent months.
Clue: This column has walked these boards a lot in recent months. Photo: Deb Cameron

MAILBAG

Massive Monitors

Many adventurous readers have submitted photos of their summer encounters around our region with large lace monitors (Varanus varius). The only one to rival the two-metre-long lizard photographed by "Brick" from Hawker (Summer sightings, January 23) canberratimes.com.au/act-news/canberra-life/tim-the-yowie-man-summer-sightings-from-canberra-times-readers-20160118-gm807a is this beauty spotted in the bush by Chris Blunt of Macarthur near the 63-metre Granite Falls in Morton National Park, north of Canberra.

Broulee's "Pipi tree" was painted by Meryl Hunter and the sketch was made into a stained-glass window.
Broulee's "Pipi tree" was painted by Meryl Hunter and the sketch was made into a stained-glass window. Photo: Meryl Hunter

Did You Know? The longest lace monitors recorded in Australia are around 2.1 metres in length, well short of the crocodile monitors (Varanus salvadorii) found in New Guinea, which are thought to be among the longest lizards in the world, growing up to 2.5 metres in length.

Enchanted trunks

Further to this column's recent concern about the reported demise of the magical fairy house at the bottom of a spotted gum near Potato Point (Where on the south coast, January 30 ), canberratimes.com.au/act-news/canberra-life/tim-the-yowie-man-takes-in-the-australian-national-botanic-gardens-20160124-gmd91b earlier this week Liz Stergio of Macgregor snapped this photo, which has clearly shows the fairy tree has been resurrected.

Where in Canberra last week.
Where in Canberra last week.  Photo: Chris Blunt

"I am guessing the fairies have been keeping busy," reports Stergio, adding "the new renovations have the tree looking better than ever."

Meanwhile, Chris Woodland reports that our region's favourite fairy tree, located near Reidsdale (between Braidwood and Araluen) has also undergone a recent makeover, partly due to a termite infestation.

The Fairy Tree at Potato Point.
The Fairy Tree at Potato Point.  Photo: Liz Stergio

"The furnishings and knick-knacks used to be inside the large hollow of the tree, concealed by strips of bark and natural bush timber, making it difficult to notice by the casual passerby," explains WoodlandHe says the trinkets are now mainly on the outside of the tree as an old termite nest inside is greedily taking over the internal space.

Keen naturalist Denis Wilson of Wyndham recently spotted this koala-come-drop bear during a recent day trip exploring the old growth forests near Mallacoota.

Simulacra Corner – can you see Blinky?
Simulacra Corner – can you see Blinky? Photo: Denis Wilson

"Focus on the dark bit, and imagine that as the muzzle," explains Wilson. He says then look a little to the left, where you'll see an eye.

Wilson's chance sighting I think bears (yes, pun intended) an uncanny resemblance to Blinky Bill, the popular children's fictional character created by author and illustrator Dorothy Wall in 1933.

A lace monitor near Granite Falls
A lace monitor near Granite Falls  Photo: Chris Blunt

WHERE IN CANBERRA?

Clue: This column has walked these boards a lot in recent months.

Degree of difficulty: Easy – Medium

An 1985 Australia Post stamp featuring Blinky Bill, designed by Peter Leuver.
An 1985 Australia Post stamp featuring Blinky Bill, designed by Peter Leuver.  Photo: Australia Post

Last week: Congratulations to Eric and Corinne Sellers of Queanbeyan East who were first to correctly identify last week's photo (inset), as the 25-metre tall "Touching Lightly" tower created by Warren Langley at the Canberra Glassworks in Kingston. "The glass tower, which symbolises the heritage of Canberra's oldest public building [it was Canberra's original power house], shimmers during the day and glows with blue lights at night," say the dynamic duo, who just beat a surge of other correct entrants, including Rita Pelle of Queanbeyan, Sam Worsnop of Harrison and Gail Boate of Gowrie, to the prize.

How to enter: Email your guess along with your name and address to timtheyowieman@bigpond.com. The first email sent after 10am, Saturday February 13, 2016 with the correct answer wins a double pass to Dendy cinemas.

CONTACT TIM: Email: timtheyowieman@bigpond.com or Twitter: @TimYowie or write c/- The Canberra Times, 9 Pirie St, Fyshwick. You can see a selection of past columns here