Travellers to the coast over the long weekend will have noticed a conspicuous absence.
The new sign for Pooh Bear’s Corner on Clyde Mountain is already back at the Narooma Men’s Shed for repairs after it was found pelted with what appears to be shotgun bullets earlier this month.
It’s only been in place since late September last year, following a weeks-long makeover commissioned by the Eurobodalla Shire Council (ESC).
Volunteers from the Men’s Shed painstakingly took the original sign apart and restored each component, while local artist Rose Gauslaa added a Disney-style Winnie-The-Pooh digging a paw into a pot of ‘Huney’ on one side and a painting of his forest home on the other.
It didn’t take long for the community to show love to the new sign, with many new stuffed toys popping up at the site over the past four months.
However, ESC mayor Matthew Hatcher says the sign was removed about 10 days ago following a report of damage.
“Someone who drove past sent me a photo saying that it was damaged,” he says.
“Two days later, the Narooma Men’s Shed had taken it down for repairs.”
Mathew wouldn’t “confirm or deny” the cause of the damage, but David Tricket from the Narooma Men’s Shed has no doubts.
“Someone’s gone past and shot it.”
David says the metal backing is severely pockmarked in places and Pooh has had “his nose blown off more or less”.
“We were worried about spray paint or something like that, but we never considered it would be shot at.”
Graffiti is the most common form of vandalism at the site, but the sign and stuffed toys in the small cave behind it have also been sprinkled with fuel and torched a number of times over the years.
David says the volunteers are getting on with replacing the sign’s plastic sheeting and patching the timber, but they’re clearly gutted.
“It’s disappointing,” he says.
“Up until last week, it hadn’t been touched. Loads of people coming past have put bears and all sorts of stuffed animals in the little cave behind it, and somebody had even tied Christmas tinsel around the signposts. It put our shed in the ups in general.
“You want to break a finger or something on whoever did it, but it’s one of those things – no good crying over spilt milk.”
The matter has yet to be reported to the police because David isn’t confident anything will be done.
“I considered it, but a lot of signs on these sorts of country roads have shot marks in them, so I don’t think the police will be very interested in another one.”
A laser-engraving machine will take some of the time-consuming work out of the repair, and Rose is already hard at work restoring the artwork. David expects the sign to be reinstalled at the site next week.