You don't need me to tell you it's been hot lately. While this column has featured a number of ways to cool off during this summer's seemingly endless heatwaves, from wonderful waterholes along the Murrumbidgee to secret spots on the South Coast, one reader has taken matters into her own hands and built a hay bale pool.
Yes, I'm sure you've all heard of straw houses, but a swimming pool?
Gallen also had to keep an eye out for Chuck Norris, her pet rabbit who "'has an insatiable appetite, and started to eat the pool while we swam in it''...
''We saw a post on Facebook some time ago of some crazy kids who had built a hay bale pool, and we thought it'd be a good idea," says Chanel Gallen.
It didn't take the innovative twentysomething Gallen long to convince the rest of her family, who due to farming and family commitments were unable to escape to the coast, to endorse her novel concept.
''It took just two people [dad and my sister's boyfriend] less than an hour to build - from stacking the hay to securing the tarp with rope," says Gallen, who adds, ''It then took two hours to fill with water."
However, it wasn't all plain sailing and Gallen has a word of warning for other aspiring DIY hay bale pool makers - ''the hay can be spiky and can pierce the tarp - we had to get some heavy duty tape to plug the holes." Gallen also had to keep an eye out for Chuck Norris, her pet rabbit who ''has an insatiable appetite, and started to eat the pool while we swam in it''.
According to Gallen, the best time to be in the pool is in the late afternoon ''when the temperature of the water heats up and is just perfect".
''It was a great way to watch the sun set over the hills with a glass of champagne," she boasts.
Unfortunately, Gallen's ingenious pool had to be dismantled earlier this week because it started to get ''a bit mouldy." However, it hasn't been a waste - the hay bale pool is totally recyclable. ''We let the water out on the paddock, which the grass desperately needed, and the hay has gone to our pet cow Moo who lives in the front paddock," explains Gallen.
As for the tarp? Well, in the midst of our second major heatwave within a month, Gallen says her next venture is a pool in the back of a ute. ''Some friends have put a tarp in the back of the Hilux and filled it with water - apparently it makes a great pool."
Have you got a novel way to beat the heat? If it can rival a hay bale pool, let me know.
Other ways to cool off:
Check-out my Top 5 SUMMER escapes near Canberra here
Correspondence continues to flow in with nominations for your favourite south coast bridges (Good ol' rattlers, December 28). ''You can't beat the New Buildings Bridge over the Towamba River [west of Eden]," says Lynne Cousins of Hughes, who adds, ''it was only recently renovated with steel pylons but the upper part of the bridge is still timber." Cousins also reports that the bridge reminds her husband ''of the old Commonwealth Avenue bridge across the Molonglo, pre Lake Burley Griffin''.
Meanwhile, it seems that Peter Lindeman, of O'Connor, has similar tastes in bridges to Hollywood superstar Angelina Jolie, who will be filming a scene for her World War II film Unbroken at the iconic bridge between Bermagui and Narooma on February 11. My Bermagui confidants tell me the scene will feature a 1940s car and truck passing over the bridge.
About five years ago Lindeman found an old postcard of the distinctively humped bridge at a collectors swap meet in Sydney. Although the colour has deteriorated somewhat, ''it's quite old and includes an early motor car in the bottom right corner," writes Lindeman.
I wonder if Jolie has seen the postcard.
Finally, a word of warning for wooden bridge aficionados from Philip Spradbery, whose interest lies in what lurks beneath the bridges. ''In many cases there are thousands of nests of a native paper wasp which goes under the splendid name of Ropalidia plebeiana," explains Spradbery, who adds, ''my old Professor O.W. Richards from Imperial College, London University, named this species when he was apparently in his socialist stage of life.
''There's no problem looking at these wasps under the bridges but, like with any social insect, don't get too close or go poking them with a stick - or a finger," warns Spradbery, who cites the Nelligen Creek Bridge as a prime site for the wasp.
As to Wallaga Lake Bridge, ''while I'm not familiar with that bridge there's a good chance wasps are under most south coast bridges," he says.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter: @TimYowie or write c/o The Canberra Times, 9 Pirie Street, Fyshwick. A selection of past columns is available at canberratimes.com.au/travel/blog/yowie-man.