Dac wasn’t up for a walk so I chose one of the nearby plain-sounding ones: Weston, a 2.3km loop, mainly flat with two incline sections.
The incline sections were (sensibly) at the beginning; even so, I could have done with a push. The day was “cool” – 20° forecast, and 18 when I set out. I say “cool” out of certainty that the weather forecasts call that sort of temperature warm at other times of the year. I always call it warm, so I was pleased, staggering along, that bloody great thunder clouds were forming overhead. From time to time a chilly wind whipped around, and I enjoyed that too.
Contrary to my long-held belief, Weston isn’t named after Thomas Charles Weston, the horticulturist responsible for the afforestation of Canberra. Weston Park is named after him. The suburb of Weston, and the district of Weston Creek:
…is named after George Edward Weston, a former officer of the East India Company, who arrived in Australia in 1825 and was granted land in the Weston Creek area in 1841.
Streets in Weston are named after artists.
I only saw one dog on my walk – before I’d even got to the starting point, actually, as I parked in the Cooleman Court carpark and walked over to Mirinjani. The dog was a lollopy golden labrador going along the bike path under Namatjira Drive, so I hung over the overpass and beamed down at it. Its owner beamed back, which means I should have been quicker off the mark: he definitely would have let me take a photo.
As I traversed the loop, I only heard one other dog, and I saw very few people. All out Christmas shopping, I suppose. Despite the Twilight Zone effect of the quiet, I didn’t feel lost at any point: all the distance marker signs on the walk were there, pointing the way.
When I’d gasped my way to the top of the first incline (the corner of Conder Street) I stopped under a shady gum tree and took photos of all the mountains that were visible. Quite a few. Finding out what they are will take a while, but I now have an old edition of Canberra bushwalks which names hills and mountains.
Conder Street was another incline, so I panted up, arriving at the flatness of McInnes Street with relief. There I noticed numerous government (or perhaps ex-government) houses. Like Holder, Weston is relatively subdued when it comes to modernisation. Built in 1969 and settled in 1970, it retains the 70s look.
This is not a flash area, whatever the people I was with in Sydney on 18 January 2003 want to believe. That was the day of the disastrous bushfires that took out most of Duffy, another Weston Creek suburb, and killed four people.
“Oh, it’s only Canberra – who cares?” was one comment, along with rumblings about rich bastards who choose to live near pine forests. I believe there are precious few rich bastards in this district of ordinary working people and retirees, about 16 km from the centre of town.
When I heard that Mount Stromlo had burned, I wept about the fires. The observatory gleaming out from the deep green pine forest on the hill had always symbolised Canberra to me. I remember it vividly from my first visit here, in 1957 when I was seven years old. We visited the observatory and looked through a telescope. Later in life, I realised that the telescopes were housed in gracious federation-style buildings. They’d been there nearly a century, and they were all but wiped out in a day.
Next came a downhill run on a generous bike path. The surrounding grass hadn’t seen a mower for a while, in these strange weather circumstances. (Regular rain, I mean!) I waited for the onslaught of hayfever but, if I had it, I couldn’t distinguish it from my routine breathlessness. (Unlike the other evening at the Danish Christmas church service, where I was seated beside a vase full of lovely white flowers and suddenly found my eye and nostril on that side streaming. In the 1950s we laughed at people who said they had hayfever. Allergies were for the weak!)
The former primary school, now community rooms, was in the middle of renovations, and there seemed to be roadwork as well. An ex-govvie nearby was getting an enormous extension, doubling the size of the house – even so, I don’t think they were rich bastards. Indebted bastards, more likely.
I apologise for breaking my vow not to take pictures of birds any more. Above is a green weedy drain (which, a week before, would have been running a banker) which disappears under Weston Oval. A sulphur-crested cockatoo swooped down for a drink as I walked by.
During the walk, I passed two couples out for a run, and a pair of cyclists, and that was about it. I rested on both the seats marked on the map. One of them was beside a skatepark, but I looked at the antique scout hall instead. The street is called Scout Place, and the nearby bike path followed by the walk features this sign:
Flood waters may rise after heavy rain
Parents should see that children
do not use this area on rainy days
I’ve been home just over an hour, and the thunder and lightning and rain has begun!