Sunday 1 May 2011 – Belconnen Town Centre

A short walk where there was so much construction in progress, and so few of the Community Walk signs still standing, that we lost the path at one point.

Canberra Community Walk: Belconnen Town Centre

I can’t see on the map where we actually went. Never mind. The instructions say to start at the Belconnen Health Centre, which is all very well.  For one thing, it no longer seems to exist. For another, where to park? I decided on a street which doesn’t actually appear on this map: a cul-de-sac off Swanson Court, beside Belconnen Library. I used to park there when the PCUG had rooms nearby.

As soon as we got out of the car, we saw a Walk sign, the .35km one I think, so we left that initial bit of the walk for the way home and pressed on. Almost immediately we were embroiled in construction work. Territory and Municipal Services says that work on the Belconnen Town Centre Upgrade Project was completed and opened to the public on 13 November 2010. There’s definitely work still going on!

By the time we’d gone 500 metres, we were off the map. The path was surrounded by tall construction fences, and when we reached the road (possibly Emu Bank, but I’m not sure) we weren’t where we were supposed to be. Major construction work to our left at that stage appeared to be a new, enormous skateboard park.

Further investigation reveals that it’s the renovation of an existing enormous 20-year-old skateboard park known as Belco. Its iconic feature, the Keyhole Bowl, is going to be preserved. A June 2011 opening is currently predicted.

Unfortunately I hadn’t got into photo-taking mode at this early stage of the walk. I’ve since searched high and low for public domain photos, before or after, but found none. The Canberra Skateboarding Association has a page with some nice shots of the once and future Belco.

We carried on, and found ourselves between Ginninderra College and a small square of water which I now know to be the Eastern Valley Way Inlet. There were two distressing aspects to it:

  1. we had to go down a big flight of stairs, and
  2. the inlet contained a significant amount of rubbish.

Turns out I’m not the only one who’s unimpressed:

“Generally, the area is unattractive to look at and unpleasant to use.”

– Eastern Valley Way Inlet Project | Final Sketch Plan Report p9
(large PDF accessible via TAMS page on the Eastern Valley Way Inlet Design Study)

I had a good squiz at the plan for improvements and liked what I saw. I was particularly pleased to read that wetlands were proposed among the refurbishments of Stage 2. The TAMS page concludes, “Stage 2 works are dependent on ACT Government funding”.

Something else I picked up from the plan was that the inlet is edged with “Mugga” stone – presumably quarried at Mount Mugga Mugga.  Reading up on this, I learn that there’s still an active commercial quarry excavating Mugga Mugga porphyry, “a lava flow. It is blue or mauve grey in a mass. The rock is veined with calcite, light green epidote, and deep red hematite.” How nice!

Reflections of an infrastructure innocent: I find something really pleasing in the thought of local stone being used locally. Of course it would have been in the early days. St John’s, Reid (1845) and St Ninian’s, Lyneham (1873) are made of stone quarried on Black Mountain.

Recently I was at a concert at the War Memorial where I thought I heard architect Peter Tonkin say that Wamboin marble was used around the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier (1993). Further investigation suggests that what he actually said was “Wombeyan marble”. Wombeyan is closer to Sydney than to here, but it’s in our general direction. Almost-local marble – how romantic!

After crossing the bridge we reached the lakeside promenade which, littered with cigarette butts and fast food containers, is used by lots of walkers, cyclists, and dog owners.

First Belconnen dog and proud owner

I don’t usually include the owners in the photos, but this one was so nice! I hope she won’t mind if she ever sees her picture here.

Black swan on Lake Ginninderra

This swan can be seen making its way across the lake in the featured image at the top of the page.

"Running Lights"

And here (with coots in the foreground) is the sculpture which was glimpsed in the doggo photo above. Explication follows.

Transcription follows

"Running Lights" plaque

Running Lights

Thylacine Art Projects, 2006

[ACT Government Crest]

Running Lights is a series of brightly-coloured columns that respond to Lake Ginninderra and its environment. They chime and sway, and in the evening they shine across the water.

The traditional owners of this land, the Ngunnawal People, referred to Ginninderra Creek, which feeds the lake, as ‘Ginin-ginin-derry’, meaning sparkling or throwing out little rays of light.

Launched on 10 November 2006 by Jon Stanhope MLA Chief Minister of the ACT and Minister for the Arts

While we were there, the sculpture stayed quite still and silent, but I’d like to see it swaying and shining. It’s one of many pieces of public art controversially opened by our now former Chief Minister. We were in the area a week or two too early to see the latest (and last) of his pieces, the giant Powerful Owl at the intersection of Belconnen Way and Benjamin Way. (Informative ABC article here and amusing RiotACT article here. Each has a photo.)

Clouds reflected in Lake Ginninderra

Reflections in Lake Ginninderra

Something to calm us all down! And more doggos:

Promenading by Lake Ginninderra

When we left the lakeside and returned to Emu Bank, we found a large Arts Centre surrounded by public art…

Dac, sculpture (see plaque transcription)

Dac with "Dancers on a Lakefront"

…and construction works.

Plaque: Dancers on a Lakefront

Konstantin Dimopoulos

Born 1954

[ACT Government Crest]

Dancers on a Lakefront 2010

High performance composite rods

The artwork draws inspiration from the native reeds and rushes that stretch along the perimeter of Lame Ginninderra. At night the rods appear to glow, drawing the eye to the arts centre and lakeshore promenade.

Launched on 5 August 2010 by Jon Stanhope MLA Chief Minister and Minister for the Arts and Heritage

Another sculpture that shines by night!

As we crossed the road into Benjamin Way, our ears were assaulted by doof-doof cars – you know, the ones that shake with the volume of bass being pumped out by the stereo system.

Before we get to the last bit of the walk, Margaret Timpson Park, I should mention that the area of Belconnen dates from 1968. According to the trusty ACTPLA name search, the name is taken from a land grant made in the area in 1837 to the explorer Captain Charles Sturt (who knew he was a local?) and the streets are named after Lord Mayors and Mayors.

I’ve been thinking about Canberra street names and how obscure they often seem to be. When streets are named after people, they’re the people considered memorable at the time the suburb  in question was gazetted, I suppose. They’re often not exactly household names. No one can be commemorated till they’ve been dead a year. Name an eligible mayor, go on!

Here’s a transcription of a plaque we saw in the park:

Margaret Timpson AM
Member of Canberra BPW Club & National President
The Australian Federation of Business & Professional Women (BPW Australia) 1987-1990
In recognition of her contribution to the organisation
and her efforts to raise the status of women

One hopes she liked palm trees…

Park entrance

…because they’re well in evidence in her park. According to the TAMS page, “A unique planting of six advanced Canary Island date palms (Phoenix canariensis), a tree not commonly planted in Canberra, marks the centre of the park…” Of course, I want to know why this unique planting was made!

Dac with cubes

Here’s Dac  with the sculpture Tumbling Cubes by Bert Flugelman at the entrance to the park. Flugelman is also responsible for Cones at the National Gallery and (I find to my consternation, because I love his stainless steel work) the Bruce Hall fountain (aka the eggbeaters).

Dac couldn’t have looked so relaxed if he’d known there was a little boy following him around. You can just see his arm and leg behind Dac’s left knee.

Close-up

TAMS page again: “The park is planted with mixed exotic and native trees and shrubs … The planting includes large groups of English elms (Ulmus procera), London planes (Platanus x acerifolia) and river oaks (Casuarina cunninghamiana) …”

Not palm trees

Casuarina on the right; I don’t know which the others are, but they looked pretty in their autumn colours.

I will say no more

The man on the left was as keen to get into the photo as the little boy had been earlier.

Up the stairs we went and back to the car. Only one Canberra Community Walk still to go.

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4 Responses to Sunday 1 May 2011 – Belconnen Town Centre

  1. dac says:

    I knew that little guy was around, in and amongst the sculpture, his parents had been calling him, fruitlessly, for quite a while, as I waited for you to take the photo, those polished metal panels were very very warm, more like if the day was 37C not 18-20C.

    The rubbish in the lake next to Ginninderra College was ghastly — as was the dead flat oily expanse of muck filled water in that end of the lake. I’m sure those ducks weren’t too impressed with the water quality, it was nowhere near as clean as that other Belconnen water-site we walked around (Yerambi?).
    Not a walk I would care to repeat.

  2. albertine says:

    You can recognise London plane trees by their lovely leopard-patterned bark. Splodgy grey and white, a little like some gum trees. I don’t think any of those in the picture are plane trees.
    Elms – really? How excellent. Elms like the elms that have all died out in the UK from Dutch elm disease? (My usual exaggeration – some young ones do spring up, but I believe that they generally die off at about seven years old.)

    • valkyrie1 says:

      If they’re not plane trees, they must be elms. And yes, Ulmus procera is the elm you would have if you didn’t have Dutch elm disease.

      There’s a really big elm down in Westbourne Woods. Once in autumn I was walking there and turned a corner and the path was golden with its leaves. They are beautiful trees.

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