Canberra Centenary Walk - Stage 5

After our 32 km walk the previous month, Stage 5 from Frith Street in O’Connor to Stromlo Forest Park, on a cool morning, looked a lot easier. This was a great walk starting at Black Mountain, Aranda grasslands, the National Arboretum, the Lindsay Prior Arboretum and then winding down past  Scrivener Dam along the Molonglo River finishing in the new suburbs of Molonglo. The walk took about 4 hours to cover just over 22km.

The starting point at Black Mountain

The starting point at Black Mountain

The walk through Black Mountain has options, but these tracks aren’t clearly marked and so you can  get a little confused with the right way (ie not climbing up Black Mountain) which required a little bit of back tracking for us right at the beginning of the walk.

The walk through Black Mountain reserve was lovely especially as it was my first time walking through that side of the reserve as we headed down to the Aranda Grasslands.

According to the TAMS website Black Mountain is the most diverse of Canberra’s nature parks with 100 species of birds, 500 species of plants and 5,000 species of insects.

We spotted some wildlife in the Black Mountain nature reserve.

We spotted some wildlife in the Black Mountain nature reserve.

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The walk takes you on a loop around Little Black Mountain, which has you magically walking in the bush when you are right in the middle of the city! The bush scenery was incredible beautiful and the sounds of the birds really did make you forget that you were only a few kilometres away from Civic.

White cockatoos dwarfed by the tower, but they made up for it with their screeching.

White cockatoos dwarfed by the tower, but they made up for it with their screeching.

The walk also took you along the Old Weetangera Road.

The walk also took you along the Old Weetangera Road.

Going under Caswell Drive the Trail takes you through the Aranda grasslands. This was a pleasant walk even though the track wasn’t defined that well.  There were a large number of kangaroos in this area. One big male in particular wasn’t too keen to let us though however he relented after a short ‘stand-off’.

The big roo kept a very close eye on us as we ventured through his ‘patch’!

The big roo kept a very close eye on us as we ventured through his ‘patch’!

The Friends of the Aranda Bushland (FoAB) are doing a great job in this area. The FoAB is a park care group interested in conserving and promoting their natural bushland environment, and adjoining bushland areas.

The Aranda Bushland is a 100 ha reserve of eucalypt forest and woodland on the southern slopes of Aranda Hill, the north side being the suburb Aranda.

A map of the grasslands courtesy of the Friends website.

A map of the grasslands courtesy of the Friends website.

Very dry water course ... the heavy rains later in the month would have replenished some of the waterways.

Very dry water course … the heavy rains later in the month would have replenished some of the waterways.

Good work by the Friends of the Aranda Bushland with these young plantings

Good work by the Friends of the Aranda Bushland with these young plantings

A reflective view back towards Black Mountain

A reflective view back towards Black Mountain

The cork oak forest at the arboretum

The cork oak forest at the arboretum

Information on the forest from the TAMS website:

The cork oak plantation was listed on the Register of the National Estate in 1981 and on the ACT Sites of Significance Register.

Cork oak has a special place in Canberra’s tree history. Commercial cork was formerly an essential component of life jackets, fishing nets and insulation equipment as well as its traditional role as corks in bottles. Cork oaks were planted around early district properties and corks dangling from the brims of the hats of jackaroos and swagmen typify the outback Australian.

Cork oak is essentially fire tolerant. Quercus suber produces little litter in plantations and the bark provides excellent heat protection to the trunk and the foliage is relatively inflammable.

Walter Burley Griffin recognised potential of cork oak for Canberra’s dry climate and, in 1916, sent a supply of acorns to Yarralumla Nursery for trial by Charles Weston. These were sourced from the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne and planted in October 1917 at ‘(Green Hills Area) Cork Oak Reserve’. WB Griffin was also the source for acorns collected in 1917 “by Mrs Orme Masson of the University of Melbourne as a contribution to the cork oak plantation” and from trees in the Public Gardens.

The magnificent cork oaks.

The magnificent cork oaks.

Nice place to wander through.

Nice place to wander through.

And the Arboretum – with the visitor centre and pavilion in the background

And the Arboretum – with the visitor centre and pavilion in the background

We had a brief stop at the visitor centre and then back down towards the Lindsay Pryor arboretum which is under the control of the National Capital Authority.

Located on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, this 30 hectare site was originally planted by Professor Pryor from 1954 to 1957. The impetus for the planting was a request from the then Governor General, Sir William Slim, for an improved northerly view from Government House.

The Arboretum had been damaged in bushfires and much of it was in poor condition with the effects of extended drought clearly evident.

As a joint Commonwealth and ACT Government initiative, the site was gazetted in June 2001 as the Lindsay Pryor National Arboretum. It commemorates the contribution to the nation of the late Emeritus Professor Lindsay Pryor AO (1915 – 1998), an eminent Australian forest scientist, botanist and landscape architect. For more information please click here.

We took our rest break here in the shaded picnic area overlooking the dam. The scaffolding shows that the work on the dam’s gates is nearing completion

New accommodation being built at the National Zoo and Aquarium

New accommodation being built at the National Zoo and Aquarium

After a winding walk along the Molonglo River, with the Governor General’s residence and then the Australian Defence College on our left, we can see the development of the new Molonglo Valley suburbs – with large earthmoving machinery getting things ready for the essential services for the valley’s future residents.

The new suburbs and future suburbs of the Molonglo Valley

The new suburbs and future suburbs of the Molonglo Valley

Walking adjacent to Cotter Road we walk past the North Weston pond and the now built suburbs of Coombs and Wright – new roads, new houses, and new landscaping taking shape

Things get a bit tricky here as the trail signage points us along Eucumbene Drive – we eventually realise this is stage 6 heading south.  We can see our end-point and decide to walk past the ACT Bushfire Memorial which is a solemn reminder of the devastating events of 2003.

The ACT Bushfire memorial

The ACT Bushfire memorial

We arrive at Stromlo Forest Park after about a four hour walk. This stage has everything – the bush walk, a visit to a national tourist attraction and a walk through some of the newest urban areas in the city.

We are now 96km into the trail now, two more stages to go!

End of stage 5 of our walk at Stromlo Forest Park

End of stage 5 of our walk at Stromlo Forest Park