A personal diary about life in a country town, Bungendore NSW Australia

  25 March 2004
Left: you spot the bright coloured ones first. Above: Then you notice another, then another. Soon, instead of scanning the roadsides for kangaroos, you're bear spotting.
Bear Spotting

In a Country Diary entry about recent roadside tree clearing I bemoaned the loss of a stuffed koala bear that had been gaffa taped to a high tree branch on the Kings Highway between Queanbeyan and Bungendore. It had been there for years,  gradually becoming as weather beaten and organic as it's surroundings. I've also written about the graffiti and road signs that surge into our attention as we flash past and then fade, or get cleaned away.

When you drive that road at least six days a week it becomes its own entertainment. Weather conditions, fog, frost, summer storms and seasonal changes all make the twenty minutes between the two towns a continuing delight. (We've been driving into Canberra for eight and a half years and it's still the best part of my day. Or maybe coming home is.)
Even with the jockeying for pole position coming up the Bungendore Hill and all the cursing when a slow gravel truck or an aging tray back ute with workman's tools, laying camouflage clouds of diesel makes you...  minutes late, you realise that for the drivers of the hundreds of other cars and trucks, the daily each way journey is probably the same source of entertainment.

Then came the bears. Just a couple at first, wired to branches high enough, and thin enough to think a ladder was involved. Joh who works with me at the agency and also lives in Bungendore, started to count. He reckoned on at least a dozen based on a passenger's count (because it's a busy section and you have to watch the road if driving). I stopped the next day and took these pictures.

Yesterday, I noticed an red compact sedan parked off the road edge near the main group of them. The driver and passenger in the car were acting strangely (I thought), not like there was a breakdown. A door opened and closed as if waiting for us to pass, and in my rearview mirror I then saw someone get out.

Today, I didn't see any of those bears.

Now that you have the basic details, perhaps you'd like to offer a possible scenario? Was this a teddy bear's picnic that is now over and they've all gone home? A whimsical event set up for some child? Did someone take exception to these nursery creatures wired to a branch finding them a violation of childhood memories and remove them? Will they appear again?

(Oh, yes they'll appear again. There are twenty kilometers of roadside myths and entertainment to perpetuate, and there must be hundreds of cute furry animals discarded each day from family homes. Like ours. As our children have grown and left home they've hardly noticed their toys move from bedroom to plastic garbage bag in the shed, and waiting a decent interval, they will never notice the move to the tip.

Maybe I should get some wire, a ladder, perhaps a balaclava mask and in the dark of one of these warm autumn evenings test some of those theories. Would that be more like recycling?)

In a touching tableau, certain to alarm 'the kiddies', a pink snake threatens a blue bear. "Look out, he's coming to get you!" "Oh no".

  Fred Harden 2003 <thinktag> After a few days, these entries are added to the Archive Menu

Bungendore Country Diary by Fred Harden