We missed a walk the weekend before last because of heavy rain – a happy reason to have to stay at home. It was seriously heavy rain, with winds that blew trees down, otherwise it wouldn’t have been a sufficient excuse. I have two ridiculous waterproof ponchos just waiting to cover us on a moderately rainy walk.
I was worried that this weekend would be hot, so I told Dac we’d walk on Sunday morning early. When he didn’t appear till lunchtime, I wasn’t sure whether to go by myself or wait. He must have had inside knowledge about the weather forecast: it changed from 24ish to 17ish. The sky was grey and lowering. Nevertheless, towards three o’clock, we set off for the Pines Walk in Kambah, Canberra’s biggest suburb.
This is a short, flat walk, which is what I felt I needed. On the way, we came down Athllon Drive and turned right into Drakeford Drive (top righthand corner) and drove past hundreds of metres of building work which proved to be the construction of a new school – the P-10 School for Kambah – beside the two schools shown above. Kambah High School was closed at the end of 2007, and Urambi Primary is closing at the end of 2010, casualties of the school closure program I’ve mentioned before.
I had a few rebellious thoughts about the wisdom of combining little kids and teenagers, and about the inordinate number of four-wheel drives that would be parading past the front of the new school every morning and afternoon. (There’s a primary school up the hill from me, and you take your life in your hands turning out of my street at school times. Driving uphill is simply not an option then: the four-wheel drives take up more than half the width of the street.)
I had my usual trouble finding the start of the walk. The brochure mentioned Kambah Woolshed and Kambah Homestead as places of interest. We found the woolshed (top left-hand corner of the map, barbecue symbol) and a nearby, unexplained nissan hut. These buildings were not on the route of the walk. (Current investigations reveal that the homestead was demolished in 1981, but not why.)
Eventually we found the place of the blue dot, and set off. It was another district park, like Yerrabi Pond and Point Hut Pond, with amazing facilities:
Adventure playground, picnic area, public toilets, barbeque. The adventure playground is a challenge to children and has been designed to meet the needs of toddlers, juniors and teenagers. Of particular interest are the treehouse, junior and senior flying foxes, a “tarzan swing” and “space net”.
Kambah District Park, ACT Department of Territory and Municipal Services
…not to mention a set of miniature climbing walls. My niece and nephew are now 11 and (nearly) 9, and I’ve hunted for activities for them, all the school holidays they’ve visited me. I’ve never come across a mention of these wonderful parks during my online searches. I knew about the facilities at Weston Park because they were built when my daughter was small, and I happened to read about the dam-making facilities at Tidbinbilla, but we happened on the new facilities at the Cotter by accident and now I’m learning, via the walks, that district parks are out there waiting for us.
We set off down a narrow concrete path which appeared to be where the Community Walk sign was pointing. Many of the subsequent signs were missing – I saw a total of three on the walk, and eight are marked on the map – which meant I was lost pretty much immediately. Dac found the way, as usual. The park was criss-crossed by paths, ranging from little footpaths like the one we started out on to thoroughfares marked for sharing between bikes and walkers.
My first question was, “Why the Pines walk?” It wasn’t till we reached the third side of the first triangle that I was answered.
I’m no botanist but I think these are Casuarina pines. There were a couple of swathes of them in the park. It was a very well-treed area, and full of birds. We seemed to be pursued by a swallow early in the walk – it was buzzing us and flying circles round us. Would have been nice to have a photo, but I’m never quick enough. (Same problem meant I failed to capture Dac descending the slippery dip above.)
Despite the cool temperature and the grey clouds, the park was receiving plenty of use. Assorted birthday parties were taking place on the picnic tables, and people were cycling and walking around. Hardly any dogs, though:
After about a kilometre we sat down for a while. It happened that we’d reached Kambah 2 District Playing fields (top RHS of map). A bunch of magpies looked as if they were coming over to see us, but they changed their minds:
Mount Taylor looms above my house, but this is a totally different view of it. The Pearce side doesn’t have nearly as many trees as this.
On the way back to the car, we walked through the middle of the adventure playground and couldn’t miss this:
Better to have such a sign than no playground.
It was weird to find such a big park hiding beside a major road I’ve used many times. In fact, the minor road into the area leads to Mique’s house, so I’ve often driven past two sides of the park, never knowing it was there. How nice that there are still surprises after 42 years in Canberra!