ACT News

Private Capital

Hoot, Giggle hitting town

The kids will be happy to know that Jimmy Giggle and Hoot the Owl are on their way to Canberra. The mums might be a bit disappointed to know Giggle, aka James Rees, is getting married.

Since their show for preschoolers, Giggle and Hoot had its debut on ABC1 in 2010 and started on ABC2 last year, Giggle and Hoot have become household names.

And 25-year-old Rees has been the subject of some slightly disturbing Facebook pages called names such as ''I Could Teach Jimmy Giggle a Thing or Two :)'' and ''Who has the hots for Jimmy Giggle?''

He takes it all in his stride.

''It's pretty funny,'' he said. ''There are some silly Facebook pages but it's all tongue in cheek, it's a good laugh.

''But, yeah, I'll be at a signing at a shopping centre or whatever and there'll be lots of kids and mums and dads lining up, and there's sure to be one mum who pushes her kids out of the way to get a photo.''


Rees says he is recognised in the most ''random places''. ''I got noticed going into a restaurant once. They had a bouncer out the front because they had a nightclub upstairs and the guy's like, 'you're Jimmy Giggle?! No way!'.''

Rees says he is getting married to his fiance Tori this year. ''Probably later in the year. We've got a few places pencilled in but we've just got to make some decisions.''

He has no plans to give up the Jimmy Giggle gig any time soon.

''It's too much fun at the moment,'' he said.

''These live shows have opened up a whole new skills set. The kids are great and I get to travel about.

''I'm in no rush to move on. I think I'll ride the wave as long as I can.''

Giggle and Hoot and Friends will be at the Canberra Theatre Centre on January 23 at 4pm and January 24 at 10am and noon. Hootabelle, Bananas in Pyjamas and LazyTown characters are also part of the show. Bookings at 6275 2700 or

Labour of love as lights fade on Christmas spectacular

If you've still got a scraggly looking Christmas tree in the loungeroom, spare a thought for the residents of Bissenberger Crescent in Kambah who put on one of the best-loved Christmas lights displays in Canberra.

They have tens of thousands of lights to store away until next Christmas.

Bricklayer Phil Jensen and his wife Jennifer, at No. 47, have been turning their home into a veritable Christmas wonderland since 1993. Phil and a team of volunteers start putting up the lights in October. Pulling them down is a little easier. ''It takes three men exactly three days,'' he said, adding they ''did break the 100,000 mark'' for the number of lights they put up this Christmas.

Phil managed to raise about $3000 in donations from visitors to the house for the Cancer Support Group, ACT Eden Monaro's Own. And, yes, he will be back next year.

''I just love it, I just love doing it,'' he said. ''It's so social when you see kids looking for the toys in the trees and everything else.''

Other neighbours have joined in with their own displays, including the Biginells at No. 51 who feature a miniature village in their display.

Maryann and Nigel and their son Ben, who have cafes in Kambah and at the Australian National University, sold coffee and gelato for the crowds, the displays so popular that the ACT government had to close the road and direct traffic. Maryann told us they sold more than 500 ice-creams on one of the nights. They've also raised an estimated $3000 for Canteen (the counting is still going - as is the taking down of lights).

Call of the wild pays off for filmmaking pair

A documentary featuring one of Canberra's public artworks - bush pack-nil tenure - has been selected for the 2013 Flickerfest International Short Film Festival in Sydney.

The bronze sculpture, by Amanda Stuart, sits in City Walk between Garema Place and Petrie Plaza, a pack of seven bronze dogs that ''appear to be running down City Walk in the direction of the Civic carousel''.

Filmmakers Sami-Jo Adelman and Richard Mockler made the 22-minute documentary, Wild Things, as students, with their own money.

They began the project in 2010 after meeting Stuart and learning of the contentious relationship between wild dogs and rural communities, a dynamic that inspires her art.

Mockler said they made many trips to Canberra to film the making of bush pack-nil tenure , right to its unveiling in 2011.

The filmmakers also travelled to Bombala and Delegate, where they sought out images of the carcasses of wild dogs strung in trees in a ''macabre bush tradition''.

"Wild Things is about the clash of the wild with the domestic and how we cope when our lifestyles are challenged by our environment and others that share our world," Mockler said.

Flickerfest started on Friday at Bondi Beach. Wild Things will be screened on January 20, the last day of the festival. Tickets can be purchased through the website

Suburb's favoured dog dies

A little history of the 2003 bushfires has been lost with the recent death of Lara, the much-loved dog of the Davidson family of Rivett.

The Davidsons were among the hundreds in Canberra who lost their homes in the January 18 firestorm in 2003.

In its aftermath, in the midst of the ruins of Darwinia Terrace, a then teenaged Steve Davidson spraypainted a message of hope on their garage door, one of the few things in their block standing.

The message read: ''Lara's family is OK! Xmas lights back up 1st December 2003''. Lara was well-known and well-loved in the neighbourhood (as were the Davidson's Christmas light displays.)

Bob Davidson said Lara was 14 years old, almost making the 10th anniversary of the fires on Friday. She'll be missed.

Best-selling author wows audience

The author of the blockbuster Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert, right, appeared at a sold-out Canberra Times ANU Literary Event on Thursday night.

More than 300 people attended the event at the National Library of Australia where Gilbert stayed well after her scheduled time to sign books, talk to fans and be in photographs.

The audience also included family members of her husband, Jose Nunes, who live in Canberra.