Community News

Spiritual Matters by Rev Chris Sparks

By George! – That’s Amazing! 

It was an awesome sight! Not having travelled the Federal Highway to Canberra since the start of the Covid era, I was thrilled to see a vast expanse of water in Lake George.
To those unfamiliar with this endorheic lake – a term applied to a lake that has no outflow of water to a river or ocean – this was an exceptional sight.
Following heavy rainfall through 2021, and the first half of 2022, the shallow lake situated 40km northeast of Canberra, is now a full body of water again after recent dry weather left it barren and almost lifeless. So it was great to be able to tell the Year 6 students from Grafton Primary School, (a fantastic group of kids – with great teachers) that they were seeing something very special – even if their capacity to absorb the fact was somewhat dulled by their long night of travel!
Aside from the presence of water covering the lake-bed, some interesting and fascinating historical myths shroud the lake. It’s been said that as water appears, then disappears again, there are cross-continental hydrological tunnels linking the lake with countries such as China, New Zealand and even Siberia. But these far-fetched theories are simply nonsense. The water simply evaporates under the hot sun.
Then there’s the myth that the bodies of five naval cadets from the Duntroon Officer Training Academy who drowned in a boating accident in 1956 were never recovered. Police records indicate that all five bodies were in fact recovered, months later, when water levels dropped.
Then in 1866, the NSW Road Guide warned travellers “to be careful of a large water monster that occasionally surfaces for air”. It also speaks of gigantic, towering mountains surrounding the lake when in reality, a small range of hills on the western side rises to a height of little more than 300 feet above the bed of the lake. A local identity, ‘The Yowie Man’ suggests that given this level of exaggeration in the Road Guide, the so-called water monster was probably just a large duck!
Myths have also been woven around supposed sightings of UFO’s – with no credible corroborating evidence. But the story of a ghostly hitch-hiker is perhaps the most colourful myth surrounding the lake. It’s said that a girl in white stops cars on the Federal Highway and asks for a lift to her grandmother’s house in Queanbeyan. When she arrives, the grandmother says that a girl drowned in the lake many years ago – and at that point, the little hitch-hiker disappears. That little girl was Brenda Lynch who drowned in Lake George on January 12, 1958. Despite this, we can be sure that the hitch-hiker story is almost certainly an urban legend.
From time immemorial, people have loved stories – and loved embellishing tiny facts until they grow into the most improbable myths.
Some people like to claim that the bible is a collection of such myths. However, historical research and extensive corroborating evidence has time and time again shown the biblical records to be proven beyond doubt. We can therefore read the bible with confidence, knowing that what we glean is not only factual, but reveals a consistent pattern of advice and instruction that, if adopted and followed, not only advances, but enhances contemporary life – as God intended it to be.
Myth and legend – though fanciful and attractive in its own way – has little to do with real life which is focussed on the will and purpose of God and embedded in the life and teachings of the historical Jesus!