Jill is here from Royal Leamington Spa, staying with Annabel, so the three of us set off at 9.30 am on the Canberra Community Walk through Kaleen. The day was reasonably cool and cloudy.
I chose Kaleen because it’s time to start doing the northside walks, and because I wanted to have a squiz at my old house. The walk is a flat 2.5 km loop.
We set off across parkland near the oval. Jill was beset by memories of walking (with 15-month-old Kate in her pusher) from my house to the shops in the terrible hot, dry summer of 1981. This green area with its bridge over the stormwater channel was nothing but a dusty gully then. Kaleen has improved a great deal: the trees have grown.
I didn’t walk anywhere in Kaleen when I lived there – not once! I hardly dared go outside. On one side was a man who announced out of the blue that a threesome with me and his wife would be nice. I don’t know what she thought about it, but the idea didn’t appeal to me. He used to offer to come over and chop my singing friends with an axe. I was still at the age when I thought I had to be polite to everyone, which rather hampered me in dealing with these outrages. My neighbours spent most of their time outside, so I used to hang my washing out in the dead of night to avoid encountering them.
As to the other side: one day, some friends and I were having afternoon tea – a post-baptismal celebration for Geoff and Marie’s boys, as it happened. We were gazing out over the neighbouring driveway, as one did from my dining table. The man next door came out with his children and got into the car. The woman next door came out and lay down on the driveway, presumably to stop him from going out, and he ran over her feet.
Not long afterwards, that family moved out and a brothel moved in. The brothel was less of a problem. All the cars coming and going wore all the lawn away at the front of that house: that was all.
I lived in Kaleen from Easter 1978 to August 1985 and I don’t miss it a bit. I was interested to see, however, that my carport was still standing and that some of my government trees (planted by Dad) had survived and flourished. We made a special diversion from the official route to establish these facts.
On the brochure we are told that the streets in Kaleen are named after rivers, and indeed all the streets we walked along were. Oakover Circuit, for example, is named after “a Western Australian river which flows from east of the Throssell Ranges to join the De Grey River at Warrawagine”! (See ACT Planning and Land Authority’s place name search.)
Annabel and Jill slow-marched behind me, picking up litter along the way – very public-spirited, I thought! Jill was surprised at the absence of bins; apart from some stray cardboard Garage Sale signs, which were popped into a recycling bin in someone’s front yard, the rubbish had to be carried all the way back to the shops.
Most of the houses we passed were in their original late-70s condition. The sole exception appears above. Friendly people were sitting out the front, so I felt a bit guilty looking critically at their renovation.
As we walked around Maribyrnong (“Victorian river; flows about 185km south from the Great Dividing Range near Mt Macedon to junction with the Yarra River in Melbourne”) Avenue we came to a bridge over the stormwater channel, and this is what we saw:
Horsies! Kaleen is definitely a more pleasant place than it used to be. Note cut-off Black Mountain Tower in the middle of the top (most distant) shot. I’ve been surprised and interested to see how often it’s visible on the walks. I could almost develop a sense of direction using it as a reference point – but I mustn’t get carried away!
Soon we arrived back at Kaleen shops, which now boast unheard-of luxuries such as a petrol station (with the first bins we came to) and an Italian restaurant (open on Sunday morning). We sat down to cuppas and met a few more of the inhabitants.
Not having written their names down straight away, I’ve forgotten them, but the dog on the left was part border collie (Jill has two border collies at home) and the dog on the right was a Swedish type of golden retriever.
It was nice to go for a walk with old friends, and it was kind (and patient) of them to go at my speed!