Sunday 6 February 2011 – Old Tuggeranong Road

Everyone in the ACT knows where the vestiges of Tuggeranong Railway Station are. Everyone has found them really easily – except me. Armed with instructions seen on the web such as “just outside of the Old Tuggeranong Road Pine Forest”, “access off Monaro Hwy and a walk up through the pine forest will get you there”, we set off at 9am.

I did find the recommended parking place, near a paintball site. The weather was mercifully cool…

23 degrees

23 degrees Celsius

…or we wouldn’t have been attempting a walk, but the heavens chose the moment of our arrival to open. Fortunately I had two trusty hooded waterproof ponchos with me – a heavy one in the boot, and a light one in my handbag. They’re both khaki, not as cheery as the blue waterproof ponchos of Århus,  but they did the job.

The Old Tuggeranong Road is closed except to local traffic, and everything’s fenced, so I looked around anxiously for a way forward. There seemed no alternative but to walk through a deliberately broken segment of fence, stepping over the wire (fencing and barbed) that had been forced to the ground. It was nerveracking picking our way through long grass, round in a little circle and through another fence (legitimately, this time) but we soon found our way back to the road.

A pile of cut and disintegrating tree trunks by the side of the road

By the side of the Old Tuggeranong Road

Shortly afterwards, we eschewed a left turn onto a gravel road through the pine forest, and kept walking up the steep hill in front of us. We later passed the gated and fenced end of a road similar to the one we didn’t take. At the time, I was relieved: I wouldn’t have liked to go a long way, only to find we had to turn around and come back. The area was very hilly.

A stretch of the Old Tuggeranong Road

You can't tell how steep it is from this!

The pine forest was on our left. (The photo above, however, was taken on the way back, with the pine forest on our right.) Once we got a reasonable distance from the highway, it was pretty quiet. Occasionally I heard strange screechings from the native trees on our right, and was excited to catch a few glimpses of yellow-tailed black cockatoos. I believe they’re seen in some parts of Canberra but the last one I saw was in the Morton National Park, when I was staying at Bundanoon in the early 80s.

Yellow-tailed black cockatoo by Neville Cayley

Illustration by Neville Cayley (1886 - 1950), from the Australian National Botanic Gardens website

We walked what seemed to me a very long way up the Old Tuggeranong Road, stopping approximately every 20 metres so I could try to catch my breath. We saw no sign of the railway track. We did however see some lovely views…

Four different views from the Old Tuggeranong Road

Four of the views we saw

…and were interested in the amount of water flowing audibly down the side of the road.

Roadside with rainwater flowing down

Babbling brook in a gutter

It stopped raining after about 15 minutes and we rolled up the raincoats and stowed them away – far too hot to wear unless there’s rain!

A small waterfall flows down to the road

A small waterfall flows down to the road

Dac was doubtful about finding a railway line up the bloody great hill we were climbing. Having read about the steep grades on the Bombala line:

After reaching the top of the long 1-in-40 grade at the old Tuggeranong siding, the line sweeps around the beautiful Melrose Valley where kangaroos are often seen.

Australian Railway Historical Society (ACT)

I was pretty sure we were heading in the right direction, but I was the one who insisted on turning back when the road finally started going downhill. If we’d gone down at that stage, I couldn’t see how I was going to get back up. If we had gone down and turned right, however, we would have found Tuggeranong Station.

View from the highest point we reached on the road

View from the highest point we reached on the road

The hill towards the right, expanded:

Rocky outcrop. Detail from the photo above

Rocky outcrop

This looks familiar, but I don’t think it’s the rocky outcrop we saw on the Gordon walk: I think it’s a different one, near Tidbinbilla.

We heard wrens and crows along the way…

Superb fairy wrens (male and female); Australian raven

Superb fairy wrens; Australian raven

Illustrations by Neville Cayley (1886 – 1950), from the Australian National Botanic Gardens website

…but the upshot was that we walked a very long way up what was, for me, a very big hill and did not find the railway line.

Shows snow drifts around the Tuggeranong railway siding, the adjacent house, the farm buildings near the railway tracks and in the surrounding paddocks.

Tuggeranong railway siding - National Library of Australia

Reproduced with permisson

A Mr Geoff Main who has relevant photos on Flickr comments:

“This disused railway siding has a link to the past which has long interested me. I’d been meaning to find it for a while so I set off this morning and found it without difficulty. It stands on a section of line between Queanbeyan and Cooma which is now closed.

“Australia’s first official war correspondent, Charles Edwin Woodrow Bean, used to disembark here after travelling from Sydney, then walk the couple of miles or so to the Tuggeranong Homestead. It was during this time (from 1919 onwards) that he and his team were writing The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914–1918 at the homestead.

I don’t know what his source is for this claim, but his photos are worth a look, as is Todd Milton’s big page of photos of the Bombala Line between Hume (a nearby siding his pictures alerted me to) and Cooma.

Dac suggested looking on Google Earth when we got home, and I did: found the railway line but not the station. Later research revealed a fairly precise location. We’ll have to go again!

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2 Responses to Sunday 6 February 2011 – Old Tuggeranong Road

  1. dac says:

    Even though it was wet, it was still warm, and wet+warm = humid, so it was quite uncomfortable. Thankfully there was a significant breeze, so that cooled us down considerably as we puffed and panted up the steep road. We went up the top of the hill in an anticlockwise direction from the Paintball place, because it was a paved road. The track going up, through the forest, in a clockwise direction, was just a dirt path, and looked dangerous / less enticing. As it turned out, the ‘paved’ road was mostly loose gravel on top of sandstone.

    Having subsequently seen the photos of the ‘old train station’, I was in fits of laughter about how uninteresting it would have been to get there, and look at the raised bank, some rusty tracks, and a pile of rusty metal …

    The unaccustomed amount of physical exercise walking up and down that steep road, resulted in a slightly sprained knee, an injury which made life on Monday quite uncomfortable (“oh no, my knee is permanently damaged!”) but after a good sleep it was fine on Tuesday (I still took the day off to give it a proper rest).

  2. valkyrie1 says:

    > I was in fits of laughter about how uninteresting it
    > would have been to get there

    I disagree!

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