The mystery as to the identity of the large fish which jumped out of Lake Burley Griffin near the Canberra Yacht Club and ate a seagull skimming across the surface of the water (Burley Monster, November 19) may have been solved.
''The Burley Monster is most likely to be a Murray cod, of which there are many large ones living in the lake,'' claims Nick Rusanov, of Isabella Plains.
''Not only do large cod eat yabbies, smaller fish and insects but they also they love feasting on birds.''
Nick, a seasoned fishermen of local waterways, cites a recent fishing trip to Yarrawonga on the Murray River as further evidence in support of his theory.
''All the other guys in the group were using yabbies and worms and didn't catch anything, apart from the odd carp or two, but my mate, Mick, who used a small dead bird he'd found as bait, reeled in a 40kg, 1.2m-long monster cod.''
In fact, the prized catch was so big that Mick didn't want to lift it up ''as he was worried he'd get covered in fish slime'', so he had to rely upon another mate, Ivan, to pose for the photo.
According to Nick, it seems that in the past, some local fishermen have taken advantage of the Murray cod's taste for birds, to try to reel in record catches. Nick remembers holiday fishing trips to Burrinjuck Dam (near Yass) with his family in the 1980s.
''I recall going into a number of local pubs on the main street of Yass and saw some really old black and white photos pinned upon the pub walls showing huge Murray cod - some were the length of a man, and probably weighed many hundreds of pounds,'' Nick says.
''Some old locals told us that the preferred bait for these monster fish were parrots - the more brightly coloured the bird, the better.''
While I certainly hope that the practice of using live birds as bait are long gone (and it's illegal), does anyone know the whereabouts of the monster cod photos that were once on display in a Yass pub?
DID YOU KNOW?
In the year 2000 there were a number of sightings of the ''Burley Beast'', including one by Emma Hodge and her mother Mary who were walking their dog, Remul, around the lake early one morning.
They say they saw an eel-like creature gliding on the surface. It was about 2m long. This led some to speculate that the lake could be home to our very own Loch Ness monster.
POLLY WANTS A CHRISTMAS TREE?
It's sneaking up on us again - yes, believe it or not there are only three weeks to go until the fat man slips down the chimney for another year.
Regular readers of these pages may recall the close encounter I had with ''Keng the Christmas Tree Man'' about time last year - while searching his Bywong farm for the perfect tree for Mrs the Yowie Man, I stumbled upon the eccentric tree grower pruning his crop, somewhat unconventionally, with a samurai sword.
Earlier this week, I headed back out to Keng's farm to find an equally as impressive tree as last year's - the American relatives are here again and a freshly cut tree is a prerequisite. Rather than wielding a sword, this time I was arrived to the sight of Keng powering up a chainsaw under one of the larger trees on his farm.
Keng revealed that he supplies Parliament House with its tree each year and in a Christmas-spirited gesture, he donates the cost of the tree to charity.
''Each year we choose a different charity to donate the proceeds for the Parliament House tree to and this year we chose Wildcare Queanbeyan because of the great work they undertake to rescue and take care of wildlife in the Canberra region,'' Keng says.
I'll dip my hat to that.
Now all I need to do is climb up into the roof and find the box of decorations. I hope the mice haven't got into it ...
Keng's Christmas Tree Farm: 242 Shingle Hill Way, Bywong (about 20 minutes north of Civic).
For directions: www.christmastreekeng.com.au
Trees: $48 each (no EFTPOS) and stands are $30 (green) and $45 (red). Open 9am-5pm weekends, and 10am-6pm weekdays.
Keng's tip: To keep your tree fresh, cut into the base of the trunk and keep the water level in your stand above the fresh cuts. If the water level falls below these cuts, a seal of sap will form, preventing the tree from absorbing water. If this happens make another cut.
AIR RAID SHELTERS
This column's recent expose on the air raid shelter at Calthorpes' House (November 19) prompted a number of readers to write in with other stories of air raid shelters in Canberra and further afield.
Lindy Ross reports that she is the proud owner of what she ''has always been told is an air-raid shelter'' in her family home in Pialligo.
''It's underground and built adjacent to the original house and reached by a flight of stairs,'' Lindy says.
''It functions nowadays in a rather more interesting role as our wine cellar!''
Meanwhile, Timothy Walsh, of Garran, reports on another non-emergency use for air raid shelters. ''I think the Calthorpes' House air raid shelter you refer to was based on the British 'Anderson Shelter'. This was named after the British minister responsible for such things at the start of WWII. My mother, a student nurse in England at the time, recalls that they were a favourite spot for courting couples but were pretty useless as bomb shelters.''
Although no one has yet written in with accounts of the flour bomb drills in Canberra during World War II, Marie Coleman vividly recalls chomping down on corks during air raid drills while at school in Michelago.
''The Monaro Highway was the border line for militarily required blacking out of house and business windows - all the way from there to the coast a black out zone for 100 miles. Road name signs and even the names of stations on the railway line were removed to make it harder for any possible invading forces to locate their positions on maps. We had regular air raid drills, and were issued at the commencement of each drill with corks on which we were taught to bite should a bomb land and cause us to accidentally bite our tongues in shock.''
Marie also reports that slit zigzag-style trenches were dug in the school playground and although she has no photos of the Michelago trenches she did point me in the direction of a number of remarkable photographs held by the Australian War Memorial of slit trenches in the grounds of Parliament House.
Meanwhile, last week's column caused Marjorie Curtis, of Kaleen, to reminisce about when she first visited Australia's cherry capital about 35 years ago.
''On heading back to Canberra, I was enchanted to see a sign pointing to the right, that said 'Young Retirement Village'. I spent most of the time driving back to Canberra, wondering just how young you would have to be to qualify to be admitted to the Young Retirement Village? I never found out. Sadly.''
For a full program of events at the big festival, including details on the street parade and cherry pip spitting competition (odds are shortening for 13-year-old Nick Boland to defend his junior title!), check out www.visityoung.com.au or (02)63823394.