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Childhood memories of Pooh’s Corner inspire Canberra filmmaker

Zoe Cartwright10 June 2022
Pooh Bear's Corner.

Young and old alike watch out for Pooh Bear’s Corner on the Clyde Mountain. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Not-so-fond memories of the carsickness that accompanied holiday trips to the coast have inspired Canberra filmmaker Matthew J Thompson’s newest documentary.

As a child, Matthew regularly made the trip from Canberra to Ulladulla with his family and there was one high point on the nauseous trip over the Clyde Mountain – Pooh Bear’s Corner.

“I’d always get really car sick so I found seeing Pooh’s Corner really comforting,” he said.

“It connects people who live hours apart, and now people who remember it from their childhood take their own kids there to say hi to Pooh or pop a toy down.

“I think it’s wonderful.”

The 24-year-old began to make films in high school and has kept up the hobby as an adult, with some success.

His works have been recognised at the Lights! Canberra! Action! film festival, and his short film Where Credit’s Due made it to the finals at the Cannes World Film Festival.

 On set directing 'Where Credit's Due' with Director of Photography Joachim Ellenrieder and actor Zane Menegazzo

On set directing ‘Where Credit’s Due’ with Director of Photography Joachim Ellenrieder and actor Zane Menegazzo. Photo: Supplied.

The investigation into Pooh Bear’s Corner is his first foray into documentary territory however, and has brought a different set of challenges.

“It’s a bit more effort in reaching out to people, the scope of people we’ve interviewed was huge,” Matthew said.

“With a fictional narrative you know how the final product will look from the start, but any new bit of information can completely change a documentary.

“The story writes itself though, it’s been there for decades.”

Matthew said there were plenty of rumours to chase down about the origin and purpose of Pooh’s Corner, and he hoped that even those most familiar with the spot would learn something new from his film.


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“I’ve spoken to the family who put up the sign originally,” he said.

“There are a fascinating number of theories that it started as a cave dug out and filled with explosives to stop enemy forces making their way to Canberra in WWII.

“I also want to talk about adversity – Pooh Bear’s Corner has seen landslides, vandalism and catastrophic bushfires.

“It has a legacy, a shared sense of community. I’m shocked by how much I know about it now, and I’m excited to learn more.

“There are a few surprises I’ll keep for the film’s release as well.”

Rieley James (Actor) and Matthew J. Thompson at Lights! Canberra! Action! 2022 accepting the Top 12 Selection from Marisa Martin (Lights! Canberra! Action! Director)

Riley James (actor) and Matthew J Thompson at Lights! Canberra! Action! 2022 accepting the Top 12 Selection from Marisa Martin (Lights! Canberra! Action! director). Photo: Supplied.

Matthew said he’s hoping to finish the documentary before the end of the year, and will then begin the process of finding a festival to launch it at.

He hopes a local festival will pick it up, but if not there will be a later release online.

He’s still open to fresh information about Pooh Bear’s Corner. If you have any stories, photos or hot tips get in touch with him at [email protected]

What's Your Opinion?

5 Responses to Childhood memories of Pooh’s Corner inspire Canberra filmmaker

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Linda Linda 7:55 am 20 Jun 22

I remember it before it was Poo Bear’s corner however it still served as a marker of some sort for our nauseating drive down the Clyde. My mother would tell us how it was a hole made in WW2 for a bomb to blow up the road to block the Japanese should they ever get as far as the south coast. Assuming this is factual, I’m sure you’ll have this in your documentary.

Jeff ALLEN Jeff ALLEN 9:44 pm 16 Jun 22

regarding: ““There are a fascinating number of theories that it started as a cave dug out and filled with explosives to stop enemy forces making their way to Canberra in WWII.”
That’s the second time I have heard that theory.
The first time was when my mum told me the same thing when, as an inquisitive child, I needed an answer to “What was it before they put Teddy bears in there?”
That would have been in the mid nineteen fifties when the coast trip from Canberra took 5+ hours, required two car-ferry crossings, and “The Clyde” was dirt!

Thanks for the article. I wait with bated breath for the documentary.

Sophia Sophia 11:01 am 11 Jun 22

My fondest memories of Pooh bear cubby hole was coming back from Canberra and seeing this and feeling happy that we are heading home. Sometimes we pulled up and check it out, drop a toy off or clean the rubbish around it. To me is was a symbol of joy and happiness as a child because once you see this all your worries go away. I took my kids there and always made sure we sat in the left side of the bus so we could see it and think to ourselves what a wonderful time and we are nearly home. I love seeing more toys there’s and now and than you still see people’s checking Pooh’s corner out. Good times.

Shirley Edwards Shirley Edwards 9:32 am 11 Jun 22

great news ,will you include why the tunnel was made and how it was done so long ago.

George Cook George Cook 11:36 am 10 Jun 22

The Canberra Times used to run some local history articles some years ago (guessing about 25 years) and one I’ve always remembered was a fairly detailed article on Pooh’s Corner. Essentially, the holes in the banking were for explosives to block the road in the event of a Japanese landing. The toilet for the military camp was at the top of the escarpment above the corner, so it became “Poo Corner”.

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