Saturday 5 March 2011 – Palmerston

Jill (aka Albertine) and Andrew were still in town, staying with Annabel. After a week of remarkably cool weather, and with weekend forecasts in the low 20s, I could see that a walk was going to be possible. Jill agreed to go with me so I picked her up at 9.30 and we found our way to Palmerston. I chose this walk because

  1. it’s northside and I thought I’d run out of southside walks (wrong – I still have Chapman), and
  2. I believed we’d have a glimpse of water: Gungahlin Pond appears in the corner of the map (wrong again: it couldn’t be seen from the walk).

We didn’t see water, but we had compensatory adventures.

Canberra Community Walk at Palmerston

The first half of the walk took place on two walking paths which cut green swathes through the suburb. We started behind the shops along a pleasant, low-lying path surrounded by casuarina pines. There was an unlined water channel down the middle, with an occasional culvert.

This unlined channel led me off on all sorts of tangents when I came to write the walk up. I wanted to find out more about the planning and building of Palmerston, but there’s very little online, perhaps because it all happened 20 years ago. I gathered somewhere along the line that planners started preferring unlined channels over stormwater drains in the 1980s. Good on ’em!

Wondering about watercourses led me to the very active Gungahlin Community Council and the plans for a wetland park for Gungahlin Town Centre. I’m thrilled about urban wetlands, as aforementioned. 43 years in Canberra, one of them working on the NCDC Review,  and it has taken these walks (and the drought of the last decade) to open my eyes to the beneficence that is water management.

Houses were close to both the paths, and it was here that I discovered who put the palm in Palmerston:

Some people have planted palm trees

Palmerston palms

Actually, Jill later established via Annabel’s book about street names that Palmerston was named after George Thomas Palmer (1784-1854):

One of the first three landholders in the Gungahlin district; his settlement was originally known as ‘Palmerville’*  and later referred to as ‘Ginninderra’.

ACTPLA Name Search (also subsequent name explications)

*What a blessing that name didn’t last!

Annabel pointed out that we’d been very close to Ginninderra Village (renamed Gold Creek Village in 1990) which would have been a nice place to take Jill afterwards, if I’d realised – but we’ll come to that afterwards.

The first dog we met on the path was a border collie. Jill has border collies at home, so she stopped to talk to it properly.

Border 1

What a pretty dog!

Border 2

Shortly after that we came across two berserk little dogs running around loose.

Two Maltese-Shih Tzu crosses who had escaped from their home


We hastened away lest they follow us up to the road. The green and pleasant part of the walk ended soon afterwards. It was good to see the walking paths  getting plenty of use: there were even staircases and ramps down to them from higher parts of the suburb. Everyone we passed said hello.

The bit where we should have been able to see Gungahlin Pond turned out to be the least appealing part of the walk. Gundaroo Drive is a busy, noisy road and we were glad to turn off, although our approach had been cheered by this:

Signpost with a misprint

Gundaroo Drive Drive

Waste not, want not! Signs needn’t be scrapped just because someone forgot (or wasn’t told) that the street type would appear in superscript!

Gundaroo Drive, a through-road, is not named after mountains, unlike other streets in Palmerston. It:

[c]ommemorates the name of an existing road associated with the area since the days of early settlement; Gundaroo is an Aboriginal word meaning ‘blue crane’.

There was a bus stop with a seat on Gundaroo Drive, and I should have sat down there for a while, because that was just over halfway. The walk was 3.4 km, mainly flat with moderate gradients. The turnoff to Nudurr Drive marked the 2 km point, and I was about to run out of steam.

Nudurr Drive is another through-road – or will be when it’s finished, so its name is not mountainous, but the:

Ngunnawal word meaning ‘red ochre’; significant to the Gungahlin area where the Ngunnawal tribe quarried for the ochre.

One of the Palmerston palms comes from this part of the walk, possibly along Grampians Street (named for a range of mountains in western Victoria covering 640 square [kilo]metres; 1166 metres in height). We also found patriots:

Flagpole flying yellow flag with green kangaroo

Palmerston patriots

Hot, sweaty and sore, I started to whine a bit at this stage so, when we turned into Kosciuszko Avenue and found another bus stop seat, we sat on it, even though we were almost in sight of the end of the walk.

Kosciuszko Avenue, in case you hadn’t guessed, is named after Mount Kosciuszko:

Highest mountain in Australia; located in the Australian Alps, NSW; 2227.96 metres in height; originally spelt Kosciusko, however was officially changed to include the ‘z’ by the NSW Government on 18 April 1997; subsequently, the street in Palmerston was changed on 25 July 1997; the mountain is named after Tadeusz Kosciuszko, Polish statesman and freedom fighter.

I was interested to read about the spelling reform – my memory had it the wrong way round – and its subsequent adoption in Palmerston. This led to my finding out that Palmerston was gazetted in 1991, a much older suburb than I’d realised.

We hadn’t been sitting at the bus stop for more than a minute when one of the berserk little runaway dogs appeared. Jill caught it and restrained it, using the handle of her bag as a leash. While she read out the phone number on its collar, I dialled. When the call went through to the dog pound (must have been TAMS’s Domestic Animal Services – I couldn’t hear much of what they said, what with wind and weather and traffic noise) I was mildly unhappy, and when I was asked for my name I was even more so.

“Why do you need that?”

“So the owners can ring you back.”

“Oh. OK.”

“And if they’re not home, I’ll ring you back.”

The chap at the pound was very efficient and was able to tell us, after Jill conveyed the dog’s registration number, that we were dealing with a Maltese-Shih Tzu cross.

We decided to press on, me clutching my mobile which would buzz when someone rang. Jill, leading the dog, was bowed over in what seemed to me an agonizing posture because the handle of her bag was quite short. We were both pleased when I thought of substituting the strap from my bumbag.

Jill holding Mitchy the Maltese-Shih Tzu cross on an improvised leash

Jill to the rescue

Jill heroically carried my stuff as well as her own. I was left with just my phone, which rang soon afterwards. It was the dog owner, so we were able to tell her to meet us at the Palmerston shops, the end of our walk.

Red car with alert terrier in driver's seat

Where have you been?

The lost dog’s name turned out to be Mitch. He was reunited with his sister Bibi (above) and we had a bit of a chortle (completely unjustified on my part, since I am always lost) over Jill’s correct assumption that the dog who knew its way home was the female.

Not knowing about our proximity to Gold Creek Village, which has an am-a-a-a-a-zing teashop, I took us to Gungahlin Town Centre for a cuppa.

View of Hibberson Street West

Gungahlin Town Centre by Liamorama

By Liamorama (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Jill liked the green-roofed building on the right because its awnings made it look like a proper Australian town. We had our cuppa at the box over the road, however.

As we were waiting for an opportunity to drive out into the mad Saturday morning traffic of Hibberson Street, a truck sailed by with two Great Danes on the back. Naturally we gave chase. It took a while to catch up with them. Jill leaned out of the car window  “shooting” like a character in The Untouchables! Here’s a collage of the results:

Four photos, gradually getting closer, of a ute carrying two Great Danes (one black, one white)

The Great Dane chase

A very successful morning from a dog-viewing point of view.


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4 Responses to Saturday 5 March 2011 – Palmerston

  1. dac says:

    640 square KILOmetres.

    pls fix.

  2. Jill Barker says:

    Hilarious – I am laughing aloud. Your deadpan narrative is just wonderful. And I love the picture of Jill-as-lunatic in the maroon hat and orange top. How I wish there was one of Jill doubled over.

    • valkyrie1 says:

      I was worried about the hat. Apart from anything else, it is my hat, too maroon and too big. My paint software claims to allow easy colour replacement, so I spent quite some time trying to make the hat match your linen trousers. I failed. If you would prefer a collage with the doggo in one corner and your smile in the other, just say the word.

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