We’ve all seen the teddies nailed to trees on the side of the road between Queanbeyan and Bungendore and the ever-growing pile of Pooh Bears at that infamous hairpin bend on Clyde Mountain. However, there are a number of other roadside curiosities on the busy stretch of the Kings Highway between Bungendore and the top of the Clyde.
Some are mysterious, some obscure but once you pass each one, you know you are that little bit closer to reaching the coast. Here are my top seven (with distances measured from Bungendore).
Kewpie Doll (Village Emporium & Antiques, 32 Malbon St, Bungendore)
You know you are definitely coast-bound once you catch a glimpse of Pansy, the six-metre-tall kewpie doll which towers above the Bungendore’s antique and knick-knack shop.
Pansy was one of 12 giant kewpie dolls that twirled their way around Stadium Australia during the closing ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and is the closest object Bungendore has to a ‘‘big thing’’.
Although for many years Pansy has taken pride of place at the front of the antique store, she has a tendency to occasional retreat from the limelight and sometimes you might have to look in a slightly different direction to find her.
That said, a six-metre-high doll is hard to miss.
Her owner, one of the vendors at Village Emporium and Antiques, is very attached to Pansy and reveals the kewpie doll “absolutely loves living in Bungendore and enjoys chatting to all her visitors”.
While she isn’t for sale, your Akubra-clad columnist is reliably informed that “if you showed up with, let’s say $50,000, you too could develop a long and rewarding relationship with Pansy”.
Best carry tie-downs for your roof rack just in case.
That giraffe (28 km)
The giraffe lurking in scrub on private property first came to the attention of this column earlier this year, and spotting it has become a popular activity for bored passengers heading to the coast this summer.
“Blink and you’ll miss it,” reports Gillian Mitchell of Kaleen who recently caught a fleeting glimpse of the long-necked landmark after carefully following this column’s directions.
The out-of-place giraffe is located on the eastern side of the highway just after the Manar Creek Bridge. Oh, and if you do see it and you’re left wondering why it seems motionless, that’s because it’s not the real deal – rather a (very) life-like sculpture.
Warri Rest Area (35km)
If you can’t wait to arrive at the beach to splash some cold water on your face (or like the aging yowie mobile need some H2O for your boiling radiator!) stop at this rest area and take a stroll down to the Shoalhaven River.
This shady river bank is also a popular (and free) campground.
“We have camped there many times as a destination short of the madness of the South Coast,” reports Richard Carne of Evatt, “Other family members frequently stay in their palatial caravan and we go to share the fire and wine from our humble lodgings of a tent.”
Occasionally, vibrant art work adorns the trees which, according to Carne, are attached “without obvious or damaging fasteners or ties at heights unlikely to be reached by the callous-minded”.
When giant insect arbor art appeared in the trees a few years back, Carne recalls he “felt the excitement of a child searching for other creatures hidden on the bark and branches,” adding “it should be a 'must do' rest spot for weekend return traffic with weary children”.
Note: there’s no potable water so bring your own or boil the river water.
Birthday Rock (38km)
A perennial favourite on the Kings Highway for little (and big!) kids is to discover the latest message emblazoned on this conspicuous roadside rock. Will it be marking someone’s 50th? Perhaps a wedding anniversary? Or maybe even a heartfelt declaration of love?
“We were driving back from the coast the other day and musing on how many layers of paint must be on it,” reports Fiona May. “It has been being painted for at least three decades and probably many more.”
I wonder who wrote the very first message on the rock, and what it said? Someone must know.
Oh, and it appears someone discovered it was my birthday this week.
Striking sculpture (49.5 km)
Since this giant ‘jaw-like’ contraption first appeared in the front paddock of Mona Farm a few months ago, its purpose has puzzled many motorists.
“Any idea what this is?” asks Dave Gray who passes it regularly on his weekly commute from Batemans Bay to Queanbeyan.
Meanwhile, an anonymous Braidwood resident wonders, “Is it some strange shrine to the gods, or some sort of alien probe?”
Far from being an out-of-this-world stairway to the heavens, it’s actually Dancing Man, a stone and concrete sculpture crafted by international artist Peter Lundberg.
Did You Know? Mona Farm is home to an extensive contemporary sculpture collection, including one of the largest displays of Lundberg sculptures in Australia.
Jurassic Ferns (68.5 km to River Forest Road, then 7km to the ferns)
Ok, so this landmark isn’t right on the highway but the less than 10-minute detour to Penance Grove, a hidden stand of giant tree ferns, is more than worth it.
A 250-metre boardwalk (first 50 metres is wheelchair friendly) loops around from the car park and takes you right past some of the Jurassic-like giant tree ferns which Lisa Bray of Scullin reports are“absolutely stunning”.
If you look closely, you will also notice a significant number of stumps– the result of vandalism in 1986 when someone lopped the top off dozens of ferns, loaded them up in a truck and vanished without trace. Terrible.
Shutterbugs will also enjoy the other distinctive flora here, including the plumwood trees - some of which are up to four metres wide and are thought to be thousands of years old - as well as the photogenic vibrant red Monga waratahs (Telopea mongaensis) which grow along the Mongarlowe River.
Note: Penance Grove is located in Monga National Park and is accessible to 2WD except after heavy rain.
Wondrous Waterwheel (68.5 km)
Just prior to the turn-off to Monga National Park, if you look to your left in the paddock and up the hill a bit you will notice an old waterwheel, one of the few remnants of an old logging town once located here.
“In summer, thousands of Canberrans drive past this site, most oblivious to its significance,” reports history buff Ray Scarlett. “During its logging heyday early last century, about a dozen sawmills operated at this site, processing the large cedar logs dragged out of the surrounding forest.”
The waterwheel, located on private property, was built in 1907 and was reconstructed using the original gear-wheels and shaft in 1986 and could turn a blade at 600 rpm.
On one of her regular walks along Merimbula’s Middle Beach, Kerryn Wood spotted this ‘‘sand shark’’.
“It’s probably the result of someone’s left-over campfire,” suspects Kerryn, referring to the curious black band on the shark’s body. The nickname of her chance find was an obvious choice for Kerryn who confesses to being “a massive fan of all B-grade shark and octopus movies –like Sharknado and Sharktopus”.
“There’s even one called Sand Sharks which in my opinion is one of the funniest,” she reveals. “If you can handle the genre, I highly recommend it”.
Spotted: No bull!
You see some strange behaviour on our roads, especially during the silly season, but this photo sent in by Dave Hohnke of Gungahlin will take some beating.
While driving with his son Trent along Mirrabei Drive in Gungahlin last week, Hohnke noticed what appeared to be “a very large dog” crammed into the back of the car in front.
“However, on closer inspection we both realised it wasn’t a dog at all, but a heifer,” muses Hohnke.
“We thought no one would believe what we were witnessing, so Trent started taking photos from the passenger seat,” reports Hohnke.
“Surely a cow squeezed in the back of your car would make a mess,” suggests Hohnke who would love to know why it was in “a car driven by an elderly lady in her 70s” in the first place.
Was she delivering her daughter’s dowry? Or perhaps she was heading off for summer holidays with her pet cow for company? The mind boggles.
Where in the South Coast?
Cryptic Clue: This fisherman wouldn’t sue God, would he?
Degree of difficulty: Easy
Congratulations to Peter Needham of Broulee who just beat Bruce Ware of Tuross Head and Stephen Roxburgh of Weston as the first reader to correctly identify last week’s photo as the century-old brick silo which stands sentinel in the Neil Davis Reserve, on the corner of the Princes Highway and Coila Creek Road at Coila (14km south of Moruya).
“It may be missed by a lot of people as the display 400 metres back on the Moruya side of Coila Creek Road would attract more attention,” reports Peter Tozer of Kaleen, referring to the pink-coloured light aircraft parked on its nose and a mannequin clad in just a bikini, at the Coila service station.
Due to their size and unique appearance, silos are iconic parts of our rural landscape. On the South Coast, a pair of silo relics has been turned into a modern home at Bodalla, while near Berry you can enjoy country cuisine at Silos Restaurant which is partially housed in two 80-year-old grain silos.
How to enter: Email your guess along with your name and address to firstname.lastname@example.org. The first email sent after 10am, Saturday January 5, 2019 will win a double pass to Dendy - The Home of Quality Cinema.