Sunday 8 August 2010 – Garran

Dac had had a late night and wasn’t up, so I chose one of the walks he’d expressed a lack of interest in. The Garran walk basically circumnavigates the hospital – The Canberra Hospital, as it is known, or TCH. Tch, tch. It used to be Woden Valley Hospital until they blew up the real Canberra Hospital.

This walk is one of the few Canberra Community Walks that goes back over the same ground: the others are circles. Marked in purple is my variation to the route: I only duplicated 0.55km instead of 0.90.

Map of Garran walk

Map of Garran walk

As instructed by the leaflet, I parked at the shops, and set off down Gilmore Crescent. Pretty soon I had to stop and take some photos.

Clockwise: sign, pirate flag, wattle, boxy house

Sights in the early part of the walk

Above we have, clockwise:

  • the first distance marker on the route (distance markers are shown on the map);
  • a house with a pirate flag (my purple arrow isn’t as bright as it should be);
  • wattle, out! and
  • a box.

I was pleased with these sights, and I was pleased with myself as I trotted along. My right leg has a knee made of chromium and titanium, and my left leg has gone numb along the sciatic nerve and doesn’t respond well to requests to move. If I think very hard while I’m walking, I can just about avoid hobbling. Walking evenly hurts less at the time and also afterwards. I got in some reasonable practice before I got too tired.

In 1976, when I returned to Canberra after four years away, I lived in Wright Place, a Garran street which no longer exists. After walking downhill to the underpass on Gilmore Crescent, then uphill past the start of the large estate of townhouses which have replaced the university flats where I used to live, then downhill past more of the townhouses towards Garran Primary School and the hospital, I reached the spot where Wright Place used to be, and took my next photo.

Sights around the hospital

Sights around the hospital

Clockwise, again:

  • approximately where my 1976 abode was, at 7 Wright Place Garran;
  • bird sculptures (storks? brolgas?) above the main entrance of TCH;
  • the excellent Pain Management Unit; and
  • one of the signs around the hospital – the printing seems to have melted, so that the sign now appears to be in kanji.

Late addition: I now have a photo of the ANU flats at Garran. It can also be seen on Flickr. It was taken by Martin aka canberra house on 7 November 2007 in Parliament House, Canberra and is copyright. I am grateful to Martin for permission to reproduce his photo in my blog.

I sat down in the hospital grounds and had a little rest at just about the 1.15km distance marker. Blurry photos were deleted. The map was consulted. I wasn’t at all sure I was going to make it around the hospital. My next turn was downhill onto Bateson Road, where I didn’t know if building works would allow me to get through to Kitchener Street.

I decided not to go downhill, only to struggle uphill again through the hospital grounds. It was terribly quiet in there and I wasn’t happy thinking about the people shut up inside, so I struck out along Palmer Street – and when I say “struck out”, by this time, I was trudging.

Palmer Street started to dip so I fished the map out again and decided to risk a digression along Dennis Street, looking for a laneway to Gilmore Crescent that I’d spotted on the outward journey.

Sights in the side streets

Sights in the side streets

Left to right, top to bottom:

  • one of many magpies along the way (soon they’ll be dive-bombing everyone);
  • a house with election posters – I couldn’t get close enough to see what they were, but they look like GetUp! colours to me;
  • a sudden open space with lichen-covered boulders (L) and trees (R); and
  • also a seat, where I was joined by a bold (and, despite appearances, two-legged) magpie, who sang in my ear. 🙂

The top edge of the open space was the lane through to Gilmore Crescent. I stayed on the sunny side of the street, and got back to the carpark about an hour after I’d left. The brochure describes the walk as “a 3.5km loop, mainly flat with moderate gradients”, taking approximately 35 minutes at a moderate pace. I probably knocked a kilometre off the distance. Evidently a moderate pace is still a way off for me.

Above the Garran shops there was a sculpture I hadn’t seen before, so I staggered up to it. I was too tired for the access ramp – it was quicker to use the stairs! Here’s what I found:

Panorama (downwards) of the sculpture Tree of Knowledge

Panorama (downwards) of the sculpture Tree of Knowledge

While I was admiring the literate possums, and the metal books that looked like paper, and wondering why there wasn’t a plaque, a man walked past saying, “I think John Stanhope’s been here”. Many Canberrans are cranky about our Chief Minister’s provision of public art; I’m not one of them.

The Tree of Knowledge from four different angles

The Tree of Knowledge from four different angles

When I got home and looked on the web for information about the sculpture, I found out (from the website of John Stanhope, Chief Minister) that it was pretty new:

New artwork completes Garran shops revamp
Released 25/06/2010
“The 2.3m bronze sculpture, Tree of Knowledge, by well-known sculptor Peter Latona, comprises a twisted and precariously balanced stack of books, featuring lines of poetry by Mary Gilmore, on a base carved out of local stone. The stack of books makes reference to the streets of the suburb, many of which are named after Australian writers. “

Close-up of the open book in The Tree of Knowledge

Close-up of the open book in The Tree of Knowledge

It was news to me that Garran was a writer-themed suburb, and that Gilmore Crescent was named after Dame Mary Gilmore. Live and learn! Tonight (Monday 9 August) I’ve learnt that it takes much longer to blog the walk than to walk it.

[The original photos are at Garran walk – a set on Flickr]

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8 Responses to Sunday 8 August 2010 – Garran

  1. albertine says:

    Just lovely. I’m so pleased to hear that you are out and about – and to such good effect. I, too, love public art. Isn’t it weird how critical people can be of it? A pity I can’t upload ‘comment pictures’ – I may have to send you my maggies at Moggill by some other means, not to mention going out and taking a photo of our controversial sculpture outside the parish church. (You will probably recognise it from when you were here.)

    • valkyrie1 says:

      You could put the maggies at Moggill on your blog, or on Facebook. (Where’s Moggill?) I don’t remember the sculpture outside the church, but would love to see it. My current favourite is on the median strip on Yarra Glen, just off the big roundabout at Melrose Drive – two yellow vanes that zap about in the wind. They’re like ballet legs. Can’t imagine how I’d get a photo of them, as I’m always the driver, but I’ll see what can be done.

      • valkyrie1 says:

        Phil Price
        Dinornis maximus, 2008
        Kinetic sculpture
        Median strip Yarra Glen Drive
        Dinornis maximus is a prominent 11-metre tall wind-activated kinetic sculpture. The artwork forms a striking gateway on the northern edge of Woden Town Centre. The sculpture uses fully-sealed rolling bearing systems designed for longevity and environmental resilience to create ‘a wind powered ballet in the sky’. In describing his artworks New Zealand artist Phil Price says he seeks a ‘combination of movement that provides a flow and a dance’.

        Avalook at

  2. albertine says:

    ooh yes: life is so much quicker than art – Sterne says something the same in ‘Tristram Shandy’. Shandy works out that he is writing slower than he lives, and has taken a whole chapter just setting the scene for his own birth – thus he will inevitably fall further and further behind.

  3. albertine says:

    I’ve just tried to play ‘identify the writer’ on your map of Garran – could only do ‘Dennis’ – whom i take to be CJ Dennis – ‘Songs of a Sentimental Bloke’. Maybe it’s all a myth. (a suburban myth)

    • valkyrie1 says:

      🙂 Neigh, it’s a truth. I checked out the ACT govt page about Garran street names – – and just about all the streets are named after obscure C19 literary chaps, many of whom also seem to have been headmasters.

      We are tricked by having Brent Place for Miles Franklin (“Brent of Bin Bin”), and Curlewis (married name) Crescent for Ethel Turner. In another case, the street name is someone’s pseudonym. Not very consistent!

      There’s also some doubling up. Richardson Street stands for both Arnold Richardson, agriculturalist and Henry Handel Richardson, novelist, apparently.

      You were right about CJ Dennis. Furphy is there, too. And apparently Henry Savery was the author of the first novel written and published in Australia, ‘The Hermit in Van Diemen’s Land’.

      The suburb was gazetted in the 60s, but there’s one modern writer represented: Marian Eldridge, who died in 1997. Her crescent is in the big new townhouse development which went over the top of Wright Place.

      It’d be quite a fun job, picking street names.

  4. Neens says:

    Great walk blogs , Valster. Makes me almost nostalgic. (Almost. :)) My grandmother lived on Curlewis Cres. Who knew that her street was named after Seven Little Australians chick, Ethel Turner (Curlewis).

    • valkyrie1 says:

      Neens! Thanks for reading. I understand about “almost nostalgic” but really, this is a great place. I loved it before I started finding out more about it, and now I’m getting worse. 🙂 Come and see us one time when you’re up.

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