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29/06 - The Hard Kept Secret

Tim checks out one of the mystery monuments at Majors Creek.

Tim checks out one of the mystery monuments at Majors Creek. Photo: Dave Moore


It's a cairn you'd expect to see atop a prominent mountain peak, not hidden among the mullock heaps at an abandoned mine site near Majors Creek. Measuring more than two metres tall and, despite the lack of any obvious binding material such as concrete, it appears quite stable.

But it's not the only man-made tower here. I soon stumble upon several other stone structures, not as tall as the first, but still emerging out of the mine waste like a cluster of mini skyscrapers. Although there are no warning signs, nor fences, the site is pock-marked with holes so I proceed with caution - it wouldn't be much fun ending up down the bottom of an old mining shaft.

I was first alerted of these odd structures by Jim (no surname provided) from Jerrabomberra who ''while recently poking around [mmm … no wonder he didn't want to provide his full name] the back country of Majors Creek discovered some interesting artworks in an abandoned minefield.''

More of the mysterious Majors Creek stone monuments.There are also a number of smaller stalagmite structures that, according to Jerra Jim, ''may be the work of a copy-cat artist''.

While unlikely to be the work of a seasoned sculptor, a considerable effort has gone into creating the obelisks and some of the rocks, particularly those at the base would be quite heavy and need lifting into place by more than one person. In the late afternoon light, the profile of one of the medium sized towers appears to be in the shape of a warrior's face.

After an hour exploring this mini monument valley I head over to the nearby Majors Creek Pub - surely someone at the local watering hole will know the origins of the strange sculptures?

The University of Canberra's futuro.

It's too chilly to sit on the outside wooden verandah and peer down the creek where thousands of gold miners once toiled, so instead I wander into the bar and share a beer with the swarm of bar flies who have settled in for the afternoon around the open fire.

Despite my best efforts (including showing them the photos I'd just taken and offering them a beer), none of the schooner clutching locals provides me with any leads. None, whatsoever.

Most respond with a short ''haven't seen it before'', or ''look the other way''. Even the friendly bartender shakes her head in bewilderment. They either genuinely have no idea, which is surprising as the site is less than two kilometres from the bar, or it's a long-standing secret and none of them want to spill the beans.

One of the mysterious stone structures at Majors Creek.

I suspect that the out-of-place obelisks are more than likely the work of a bunch of bored kids, or perhaps a budding artist who has just been waiting for their work to be exposed.

Who knows, it may even be the work of Jerra Jim sending me on a wild goose chase.

Someone must know.


A friendly rock face

Many readers have responded to this column's recent expose on the heady days of skiing on the Brindabellas (Warming to Snow, June 15) with their own stories of adventure in the ACT high country.

The Knopke's giant bottle tree. Photo: Philip Knopke

''I have on occasion, on crystal clear mornings after a big dump, enjoyed driving to Corin Forest, walked up to Smokers Flat on the Square Rock track, strapped on skis and done a few circuits of the little treeless plain,'' Klaus Hueneke of Palmerston reveals.

''Ten inches [25 centimetres] of snow is enough, and once a track is made each circuit get easier,'' reports the seasoned cross country skier, who usually finishes his solo ACT skiing adventures ''by boiling the billy The Knopke?s giant bottle tree.and reclining against a snow gum'' to top up his tan.

''It's not quite the same as the banks of the Snowy River under the Main Range but it's only an hour away,'' Hueneke says.

I wonder if Hueneke has ever encountered this rocky guardian during his occasional ski excursions along the Square Rock track.

''Although I've walked that track several times, I only recently spotted the face,'' says Simon Williams of Yarralumla, who adds, ''I think it's only just become visible because of recent back burning along the track.''

Can you see it? The more I look at the face, the more I see - it even has nostrils.


The recent focus on our region's most significant trees (Timeless Trees, May 18) prompted Philip Knopke of Kaleen to reminisce about the giant bottle tree that once took pride of place at Rhodesleigh, his family's property near Kingaroy in Queensland. ''People would travel from far afield just to picnic under its branches,'' Knopke recalls, adding ''the magnificent giant had a girth of over nine metres at its thickest point.'' Unfortunately a freak storm felled the much-loved tree in August 1921.


Following its sudden disappearance, speculation on the University of Canberra campus has been rife that their beloved spaceship that featured in this column last year (Beam me up, UC, September 7) has been pilfered by inter-galactic raiders. However fear not, I'm Rock Face near Square Rock.reliably informed by my campus confidantes that far from being stolen by a race of rogue aliens, the futuristic 1960s domed structure, which until recently was parked outside the university's central Hub, has in fact been shipped off for restoration work.


Email: [email protected] or Twitter: @TimYowie or write to me c/o The Canberra Times, 9 Pirie Street, Fyshwick.


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