Saturday 10 September 2011 – Mount Taylor

Dac suggested a walk round the bottom of Mount Taylor. Instead of starting where we have started before, namely Waldock Street in Pearce, he thought we could try an entrance on the Kambah side, off Sulford Drive. We set off confidently but the first place I stopped at (because it looked like a parking area) led to an impenetrable fence. As we were driving off, people arrived and approached the gate with a key. I think it was a horse agistment place.

Driving along, not knowing where to stop, was a little nerveracking. I thought we might run out of road before we found a way onto the mountain. A pity I didn’t think to look online for a map of the Mount Taylor Nature Reserve. Territory & Municipal Services provides a PDF which shows among other things paths, access points, and heights.

Eventually I saw a bunch of cars parked on the opposite side of the road and we crossed over and joined them. There was a gate, with a gap beside it that was obviously meant for walkers to sidle through. I feared I wouldn’t fit, but I got through – just.

Kangaroos in the distance

Although I have lived at the foot of Mount Taylor since August 1985, I didn’t know much about it except that it was steep. I’ve been to the top once, a very long time ago. Failed to get beyond the track at the base on the next attempt. A couple of times I’ve walked around that track. The last time, I had a bad fall, which I tried not to think about as we set off.

Mount Taylor’s listing in the Australian Heritage Database states that, with Mount Tuggeranong, it’s the second highest hill in Canberra, at 855m above sea level. It’s also described as “the most prominent landmark in southern Canberra”. From the same source:

Much of the reserve has been degraded by past land management practices, but […] significant remnants survive, and important regeneration, both active and passive, is taking place.

There’s a lively Mount Taylor ParkCare Group but they regularly encounter problems, many caused by humans. Here are some excerpts from their contribution to a volunteer newsletter (The Scribbly Gum Spring 2010), interspersed with my comments:

There used to be 4 echidnas on Mount Taylor, but we have not seen them for years – one had been thrown over the underpass near Weston.

One day when Helen and I had been here only a couple of years and were still struggling with the enormous “lawn” ourselves, we were outside having conniptions because we couldn’t get the lawnmower to start. We were stopped in our tracks – and enormously cheered – when an echidna stumped by. It continued purposefully across our front yard, across next door’s, down the hill to the next block, and out of sight. Perhaps it was going to Melrose High to check out the discarded lunches.

I think of myself as a pacifist, but when I’m forced to contemplate people who enjoy causing pain and death, I want to do them severe damage. I descend instantly to their level. At the very least, I’d like to stick them all on a desert island to tear each other apart. I worry that I’d have to go with them because of my violent reaction to them. 😦

There has been systematic rock rolling on Mount Taylor to remove scorpions, lizards and other animals; we never find the culprits. There has been frequent fence cutting over the last year, often for access by small motorbikes and mountain bikes.

Systematic rock rolling, FFS!

I hear motorbikes on the mountain all the time. Night after night they’re up there, screaming around. I don’t recall hearing them early in the week, but from Thursday to Saturday nights I hear them.

Mount Taylor is probably the most walked mountain in the south side of Canberra, with hundreds of people present every week, especially on weekends. We need to protect the access because the numbers are increasing steadily and the tracks require constant control and maintenance.

And perhaps I need to phone the police when I hear the motorbikes.

From the “recreational signage”:

It is believed that the name ‘Mount Taylor’ commemorates James Taylor who squatted in the area in the 1820s. He was the son-in-law of Colonel George Johnston, reportedly the first person ashore when the First Fleet landed, and who later became lieutenant-governor and arrested Governor Bligh.

So… Taylor was related to someone quite famous!

The first part of our walk went straight up. I have nothing against hills in principle, it’s just that I lose my breath straight away and can’t catch it again without stopping for ridiculous lengths of time. Meanwhile we passed (and were passed by) many dog owners, so I was able to take breathers, and photos of the dogs, and hand out my cards. This time, I warned the owners not to expect excellent portraiture!

The first and last of the dogs we saw on Mount Taylor

The first dog  appears again – on the right – in the second photo. She has the same collar as Teesy the Great Dane, Helen and Chloe’s dog! These are beagles, I believe. The last dog (my guess: labrador) was quite a long way away, but we chatted to one of its people. He wasn’t its owner, but a visitor from London who was walking his hosts’ dog while attempting to take photos with an old wide-lens camera. The look of it reminded me of my first camera, in 1962.

Back to the first part of the walk: I soon despaired of puffing and panting, and asked a couple of passers-by if there was ever going to be a flat bit to walk on. “Yes,” they said, “in about 100 metres.” It seemed a long 100 metres to me, but we appreciated the views when we got up to the flat path.

You could even see Lake Tuggeranong!

More dogs! Pretty black and white ones. The malamute makes the border collie look small.


And here’s Batman:

What an excellent name for a dog!

We turned off onto a narrow path, between a drainage ditch and a slope leading to a wire fence, and teetered along past a bit of Torrens. On the way back to the car, I came the closest I’ve come in a while to falling over, and the consequences would have been dire. After giving a card to the owner of Geoffrey (following photo), I’d turned to walk on when she said “You dropped something”. I swung around, saw my bundle of cards on the ground, started to reach down for it, and lost my balance. I don’t know exactly what happened next but I managed to stay upright, to the relief of all concerned.


Geoffrey with a G, she said. I was reminded that Jeoffry is a cat’s name.

Walking on unpaved surfaces is obviously still an issue for me, but it is nice to get away from footpaths sometimes!

This entry was posted in Local and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Saturday 10 September 2011 – Mount Taylor

  1. Antoinette Lautenbach says:

    Mt Taylor always had a problem with recreation visitors in the weekend. I walked there a lot, mostly early mornings, and kept a wary eye on the odd parked van or car I would see in the picnic area. Sometimes there would be a sleeper in them and signs of a rough night. Once there was an abandoned whiskey bottle, half full, on a picnic table. I poured out the remainder of the whiskey on the ground – just in case children found it. Seemed a terrible waste. 🙂

    • valkyrie1 says:

      Yes. 🙂 You mean the picnic tables near the end of Waldock Street? I’ve never been there without seeing weirdos. (Presumably they say the same thing about me.) On the Kambah side, it’s not so secluded, and the paths were thronging with runners and dog walkers.

  2. dac says:

    Was surprised by the amount of activity we encountered. The steepness of the road->mountain track is pretty severe in anyone’s language, it eased of nicely once we got to the fork in the path. When I saw you teetering about after you dropped your cards, I felt sure you were going to go ‘base over apex’, which would have been a Bad Scene, since that little 2 metre hillock/dyke/whatever we were standing on, is full of rocks and stones. Scary business, going for walks with you; when I say ‘gashing opportunities’, it’s not just in jest.

    I kinda missed this weeks walk (since you were so guilty about it, I just had a good time playing my game), now that you’ve found that PDF full of NEW Canberra Walks, I guess we’ll have some more definite trips rather than made-up-on-the-spot ones.

    • valkyrie1 says:

      On Friday night, thinking I’d be OK to walk on Saturday, I actually made a little list:

      • Fire memorial at Weston Creek
      • Tuggeranong Railway Siding via different entrance
      • Modernist houses of Red Hill and Deakin
      • Last of the ANU sculptures
      • Stirling Park

      and then there’s the PDF!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s