Hot on the heels of this column's close encounter with a letterbox doubling as a purple people eater (Head West, June 6), I've been besieged with other wacky letterboxes, sent in by readers near and far. Notably, none of these photos arrived in my own letterbox, all via email. I hope the current demise in snail mail doesn't result in a corresponding demise in the number of quirky letterboxes, the sight of which can often brighten up a long drive in the country. Here are my favourite five to land in my inbox this week:
1. Creative chopper
Juha Turunen, of Queanbeyan, spotted this Bell Huey helicopter letterbox near Araluen. Given it's chained to the brick fence I don't think it's likely to fly away any time soon.
2. Leggy letterbox
This somewhat cheeky letterbox was spotted by Colin Campbell while driving through Goulburn. I don't know about you but I'm not sure those work boots are a good match for the colourful knickers.
3. Daring Dalek
When Pat Gallagher, of Macgregor, was planning a recent road trip to northern NSW, he made sure this Dalek near Armidale was on his route. "I'd heard about it, so definitely wanted to photograph it," explains Gallagher, a self-confessed Dr Who fan. The postie was nowhere to be seen while Gallagher was snapping away so he can't advise whether the Dalek launches into a repetitive tirade of "exterminate, exterminate, exterminate" when a letter is delivered.
4. Time traveller
Still on the Dr Who theme, Rachel O'Reilly, of The Rock near Wagga Wagga, designed this wooden mini TARDIS and then "asked a bloke from the local Men's Shed" to build it. Unlike the real TARDIS, O'Reilly's isn't bigger on the inside than it appears on the outside, "but it does have hinges at the top so the back panel opens all the way with a latch to lock". Oh, and it comes complete with even a solar-powered light on top.
5. Cute critters
While searching for "geocaches", Thomas Schulze, of Kambah, noticed these two animal-themed letterboxes down a country lane near the ACT. While we've all heard the saying "Hearing it straight from the horse's mouth", the owners of Yarramalong appear to get their communications straight from the, ahem, other end of the horse.
How one photo can change your life
Regular readers of this column would be familiar with Stuart Harris' discovery of a new species of peacock spider in the wilds of Namadgi National Park.
Back in 2008, the affable amateur naturalist posted a photo online of a colourful spider he photographed while walking along the popular Booroomba Rocks track, just south of Tharwa. By chance, spider expert Dr Jurgen Otto noticed the photo and immediately contacted Harris with news that the spider might be unknown to science. The only way to know for certain was for Harris to return to Namadgi and try to find a live specimen. Incredibly, Harris was successful in an epic three-year "needle-in-a-haystack" mission and the new spider was scientifically described and named Maratus harrisi in his honour.
The story of Harris' remarkable quest subsequently caught the attention of talented filmmaker Simon Cunich, and now Canberra's poster boy for citizen science can add "film star" to his steadily expanding CV.
A 30-minute "docu-mystery", directed by Cunich and appropriately titled Maratus, is set to feature in the upcoming Stronger than Fiction documentary festival at Palace Electric Cinemas in New Acton. The world premiere of Maratus, at noon on Sunday, August 2, will be introduced by Cunich and followed by a Q&A with cast and crew, including Harris, Dr Otto and the film's composer, Kristin Rule. For more details (including the film's trailer) and tickets: strongerthanfictiondocs.com.
It's 21 years since the Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis) – a living fossil from the Jurassic era – was discovered by David Noble in a canyon near the Blue Mountains. After an extensive propagation program, many green thumbs (and just as many not-so-green thumbs) throughout Australia now have Wollemis growing in their own gardens.
While the National Arboretum Canberra has a whole forest of the ancient pines thriving under the care of trained horticulturists, the bubbly barked relic isn't the easiest tree to grow, so to celebrate the 21st anniversary of their discovery, this column wants to hunt down our region's tallest Wollemi growing in a Canberra garden.
Mrs Yowie and I received a Wollemi as a gift for our wedding nine years ago and as a result of indecision on where to plant it, our prized pine has virtually bonsaied in a pot. It measures in at a somewhat diminutive 1.2 metres. I'm sure most of you can beat that. Send in a photo of your Wollemi, along with its height, to the address at the end of today's column and I'll publish a selection in coming weeks.
Don't miss: The 21st anniversary of the discovery of the Wollemi pine is also being celebrated with special events as part of ACT Tree Week, including "The past, present and future of Wollemia nobilis", a half-day seminar on Thursday, July 21 (9am-1pm) featuring discoverer David Noble and hosted by the Friends of the Arboretum. Noble will also be the guest of honour on Monday, July 20 (4pm-5pm), when a tree ring from a fallen Wollemi pine in the secret canyon where he first found them, will be presented to the Arboretum. Get your tickets for both events before they sell out at arboretumcanberra.org.au.
Where in Canberra?
Last week: Congratulations to Garie Greenwood, of Hall, who was first to correctly identify last week's photo, sent in by Chris Blunt, as the "village snake" on the corner of Gladstone and Victoria streets in Hall. Greenwood just beat a barrage of correct entries from other villagers who'd gathered at the Daughters of Hall (previously the Hall General Store) for morning coffee and, of course, to read their favourite newspaper.
It turns out that the wooden red-bellied black snake is well travelled. Trudy Mansfield reports that a couple of years ago "it hitched a ride with the Fulton family all the way from Collingwood, Victoria". On arrival in Hall, "it was a temporary resident outside the General Store until it was painted and permanently secured at its current location by local identity Bob Richardson".
Some readers submitted guesses based purely on the clue "beware of the time machine". They included Florian Benz, of Stirling, who suspected the clue related to Dr Emmett "Brown", the time traveller from the science-fiction comedy adventure film Back to the Future (which celebrated the 30th anniversary of its release this week) and guessed the snake may have been located in "Brown" Street, Yarralumla. The clue, however, related to Hall's full-sized replica TARDIS (a good match for the Dr Who-themed letterboxes featured in this column), which takes pride of place in the front yard of Shaun and Tanya O'Conner in Hall's main street.
How to enter: Email your guess along with your name and address to email@example.com. The first email sent after 10am, Saturday, July 11, with the correct answer wins a double pass to Dendy cinemas.