The Majura Treehouse soon after completion in 2011. Photo: Pele Cannon
One of this column's longest-running mysteries has finally been solved. Since images of the knockout Mount Majura Treehouse were first splashed on these pages (December 8, 2012), I've received considerable correspondence from readers marvelling at its ingenuity; but no one has been able to reveal who built it.
But that changed earlier this week when an email popped into my inbox from Pele Cannon, who confessed to handcrafting the secret structure, ''with some university friends over a period of eight to 12 months in late 2010 and early 2011''.
In her missive, Cannon describes the back-to-basics design. ''We didn't use any nails - it was all supported by forked branches we found - and all the timber was fallen timber.''
Creators at their now dismantled Mt Majura Tree House in June 2011. Photo: Pele Cannon
The construction of the covert cubby, on the northern slopes of the mountain, wasn't without incident. Cannon recalls ''a really strange occurrence''.
''We got up there one morning, and someone had sawed a huge tree trunk in half that we had dragged over to try and use as a ramp. They would have had to use a chainsaw to saw it, but nothing else was touched - it was really bizarre! But we ended up using the piece they'd cut to make the seat.''
Unfortunately, for anyone wanting to admire Cannon's creation, the treehouse has been dismantled. ''I've been away overseas for a while, and only got a chance to hike up and check it out a few months ago - and there's not a skerrick left,'' laments Cannon, who adds, ''I did think there were a few people who had certain ideas about what is 'natural' that may have been offended by it''. Although disappointed, Cannon isn't going to lose sleep over its demise, ''we put a lot of energy into it, but oh well - c'est la vie.''
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So are there plans to rebuild the treehouse to its former glory? ''We're all finished uni now, and dispersed a bit, so nothing grand on the cards at the moment, but who knows…,'' Cannon cagily concludes.
Watch this space.
Matthew Higgins at Old Mulligan. Photo: Courtesy of Matthew Higgins
Not all treehouses in our nature reserves are man-made. Check-out this striking scribbly gum (Eucalyptus rossii) at Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve (above).
According to Matthew Higgins, of Ainslie, ''It was almost completely killed by fire many years ago but a small surviving section has grown over the old hollow trunk and sent up its own branches, keeping the tree alive''.
The tree is a favourite for Matthew and for the local wildlife. ''I once found a possum curled up inside the hollow trunk, and echidnas welcome the harbour afforded by the hollow base (note that you can see right through the base),'' says Matthew, who featured the tree in his 2006 documentary Echidnarama, which has screened at a number of short-film festivals including the national CSIRO Scinema festival.
Burra?s door to nowhere. Photo: Graeme Barrow
What: A special spotlight at night event on Mount Majura Nature Reserve, to be hosted by the Conservation Council ACT Region, in conjunction with The Friends of Mount Majura and Canberra Bushwalking Club as part of the Canberra and Region Heritage Festival.
When: Wednesday, April 16, 5.30pm-7.30pm. (Yes, it's midweek, but also in school holidays).
Toucan rock. Photo: Bindi Vanzella
Expect: Sadly no treehouses, but you'll be treated to a guided stroll through the nature reserve as it changes from a bright and colourful woodland into a mysterious and dusky world.
Don't forget: A good torch, sturdy, covered shoes and warm layers of clothing.
Tim's Tip: Spotlighting events in Canberra regularly book-out so reserve your spots ASAP at conservationcouncil.org.au/events or phone 6229 3200.
While recently driving along the Old Hume Highway south of Yass, Bindi Vanzella, of Greening Australia, noticed this toucan not far from Jugiong Hill, near Cooneys Creek. It's on the eastern side of the new highway route among a stand of kurrajong trees and on private land.
I hope Woo O'Reilly, of Giralang, who reckons she ''rarely sees the resemblance in any of the photos in simulacra corner,'' can see likeness to the South American bird. Come on Woo, it doesn't take that much imagination, does it?
Knocking on heaven's door
After some serious snooping we've finally solved the mystery of the door to nowhere at St Paul's Anglican Church at Burra, which recently puzzled many in this column's mystery photo competition (March 8).
''The vestry at the back of our church is falling down, and the door was sourced from our dismantling,'' confesses the Reverend James Wood, who adds: ''We also made a temporary path from the car park to the church, and I erected the old door at the start of the path - as a bit of a joke.'' The good reverend admits he ''was half expecting someone to take it down, but parishioners don't seem to mind it … it has caused a few giggles from passers-by also''.
Email: email@example.com or Twitter: @TimYowie or write to me c/o The Canberra Times 9 Pirie Street, Fyshwick. A selection of past columns is available at: canberratimes.com.au/travel/blog/yowie-man