Sunday 27 February 2011 – Kaleen

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.

Map of the Canberra Community Walk in Kaleen, with added lines showing where we actually walked

Purple line marks the digression past my old house; purple circles mark the distance marker signs I noticed

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.

Two dogs of the same age, although the black one looks older than the white one

Seen on Daintree Avenue

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.

My first house (1978 - 1985)

My first house (1978 - 1985)

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.)

A passing dog on Ellenborough Street

A passing dog on Ellenborough Street

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.

A modern Canberra house

Another box for my collection

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:

Three shots of a pair of horses being ridden beside the stormwater channel

How civilised!

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.

A black part-border-collie and a white golden retriever seen at the Kaleen shops

Seen at the Kaleen shops

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!

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9 Responses to Sunday 27 February 2011 – Kaleen

  1. albertine says:

    It was a very nice walk. When I was a student in Canberra all those years ago, and had very little sense of direction, I believed that I would be OK wherever I went as long as I could see the (old) TV masts on Black Mountain: dotted red lights rising up into the night sky, telling me where to go to get home.

    • valkyrie1 says:

      I was fond of those masts too. Driving back from Newcastle, I was always happy to see them, the first sign of Canberra and a return home.

      Black Mountain Tower was controversial even before it was built, but I reckon it’s also a pleasing sight.

  2. Marc says:

    How lovely to see the Olde Hoame once more. The trees might have grown, but the lawn hasn’t. I was not aware that G… intended to shoot your singing friends. Thank goodness he was busy running over Loo…. instead. Who knows what he may have wished to do to your piano duet companions? So now Kaleen boasts horse riders… What does an Italian restaurant offer on a Sunday morning?

    • valkyrie1 says:

      Let’s call them A and B, ‘cos Bill and Joan’s their name!

      Lawns have been pretty bad in the drought. The current owners (or renters) have put down tanbark to limit the watering. I’m impressed with that, and with the elaborate balustrade to stop people walking out the front door and falling off the edge!

      It was not G… but the bloke on the other side who ran over his wife. Gawdnose what was going on at G…’s place – fortunately his driveway was on the far side of his house, and as I never went outside except to bolt over to my car and drive off, I didn’t see.

      As a co-perpetrator in Marche Militaire I’m pretty sure you were included in the axe threat. Sorry I didn’t warn you!

      The Italian restaurant was offering breakfast, but we’d had ours. We settled for a cuppa.

  3. Jill Barker says:

    It was a good cuppa, though the ambience left something to be desired.

  4. Jackie says:

    It was nice to come across your blog and hear your stories of then and now. I am currently doing an art project on a street in Kaleen and am particularly interested in what you termed government trees, I would love to know some more information about the types of plants and trees in the area.

    • valkyrie1 says:

      Jackie, thank you for your kind comment.

      The government trees I referred to were the free trees and shrubs issued to everyone who bought a new house back in the 70s – and earlier, but I don’t know when the scheme ended (if it did). There was a government nursery at Yarralumla and you went over with evidence of your house purchase and they gave you something like 10 trees and 40 shrubs. I believe they were all natives, but I could be wrong.

      There’s a book called Street trees in Canberra by Audrey H. Edwards which is said to list the original Canberra tree plantings by suburb, street by street – but I don’t know if it would list suburbs as “recent” as Kaleen. You’ll find some tree information on the Territory and Municipal Services website – see for instance .

      All the best with your art project!

      • Thankyou so much for responding, I know this was a post from recent history! Your information is exactly what I am looking for, I suspected their had been such a program but had not yet managed to uncover what I was looking for. You are wonderful. If your around on the 21st of February you are welcome to come to the opening of my exhibition called The Neighbourhood Project at Belconnen Art Centre. With Thanks,Jackie. Date: Fri, 17 Jan 2014 06:29:59 +0000 To:

      • valkyrie1 says:

        I’ve noted down the date of the opening but I’ll have to see how I go. Had a quick squiz at your blog and I really liked your work.

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