30 April 2022

Belconnen Owl turns 10 and local post office marks the occasion

| James Coleman
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Owl post mark

The new postmark celebrates 10 years of Bruce Armstrong’s Owl. Photo: Australia Post.

Belconnen’s iconic Owl sculpture is celebrating its 10th anniversary and the local post office is literally ‘marking’ the occasion.

From 12 May, items mailed from the Westfield Belconnen post office will receive a postmark depicting Bruce Armstrong’s eight-metre-tall bird.

It comes after staff successfully lobbied Australia Post to produce the one-off inked rubber stamp to show exactly where mail entered the postal system.

Belconnen owl statue.

The Belconnen Owl. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

Post manager Bradley Stanhope says the idea for the Belco-centric postmark occurred to the team in January.

“Post offices around Australia can request special postmarks from the head office in Melbourne at any time,” he says.

The team also considered Lake Ginninderra and Bert Flugelman’s Tumbling Cubes, before settling on Bruce Armstrong’s Owl “because it’s more of an icon”.

“It’s the most appropriate thing for Belconnen.”

Two post office staff

Postal Manager Bradley Stanhope and Senior Postal Services Officer Megh Bhetwal. Photo Australia Post.

The application was approved and the task of coming up with a 2D likeness was handed over to the Melbourne design team. Bradley says they nailed it.

“We love it – the Owl translated so well to being on a stamp,” he says.

“Some of them don’t always translate well to being on a postmark, but ours fits into the circle perfectly, with ‘Ngunnawal Country’ on the left and ‘Belconnen ACT 2617’ on the right.”

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Bradley says that when the news was broken on social media, the reaction from the public was “fantastic”.

“They’re all saying they’ll have to come in and get their letters marked with it. I expected people to like it, but I didn’t think a postmark with the Belconnen Owl would get quite that much attention.”

The postmark stamp is in their hands already, but Brad says they won’t start using it until 12 May. But even then, not all letters will receive the special treatment. It will be interchanged randomly with the standard postmark, while customers can also specifically request it.

The postmark at Parliament House. Photo: Australia Post.

Westfield Belconnen joins two other post offices in Canberra with their own unique postmark. The office at Parliament House depicts the national building, while Kingston depicts the Kingston Foreshore.

As with these other instances, Bradley says there are people around Australia who collect these unique postmarks.

“You can post us a letter, addressed to Westfield Belconnen Post Office, including a return envelope inside. We’ll stamp this and send it back to you.”

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The sculpture itself, made from a blend of cast composite, steel and hardwood and located on the corner of Belconnen and Benjamin Way, was commissioned by the ACT Government in 2011 to honour the ‘powerful owl’, Ninox strenua, the largest owl species in Australia.

It has often been ridiculed for its phallic shape, but it remains a tourist attraction along with Canberra’s other ‘big things’, including Watson’s Big Galahs, Acton’s Big Bogong Moths, and the Mint’s Big Coins in Deakin.

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So the post office thought it was most appropriate put the hardwood owl in a rubber, because it reached a certain birthday?
Glad that the Melbourne team nailed it

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