Day Four: Horse Park Drive to Watson Shops
31 March 2015
At 7.30 am we have to wait for a break in the traffic from the Gungahlin suburbs before running across the road to where the trail resumes. The beginning of this section is marked on the map as a temporary alignment (because of the major road construction where Horse Park Drive becomes Majura Parkway and meets the Federal Highway). On our left is a very high embankment, part of the road construction; on the right are paddocks with horses and cattle. The track is stony and uneven, muddy in places and overgrown with thistles and weeds, blackberries, and briars laden with rosehips. The traffic noise drowns out any birdsong.
Soon we pass through a tunnel under the Federal Highway and begin the gentle climb on a gravel road to the base of Mount Majura. Grasslands give way to heath plants, especially little white andyellow daisies. The early sunlight picks up the pink mottling on the gum leaves. The bare trunks of the yellow box are pinkish-yellow and grey after shedding while other specimens are still wrapped in charcoal spirals of bark. We pass stands of dark green black wattles and callitris pines. The woodland is now full of the warbling of magpies and the darting flight of rosellas. Dense forests of yellow box march up the steep gullies on the mountainside in vertical wavering lines as in a Fred Williams painting.
At the highest point on this part of the trail (we don’t take the variant that climbs to the top of Mount Majura) we have unusual (to us, who haven’t seen these landmarks from this angle before) views of Black Mountain, the Australian Institute of Sport and Belconnen. And then, much sooner than we expected, we meet the track that descends from the mountainside to Watson, where we have parked a car. We have been walking for only an hour.
There’s nothing else to do than drive to Carlo’s at the Watson shops and join all the parents treating their children to bacon and egg croissants before delivering them (the children) to the primary school across the road. We have to wait a little while for our coffee because Carlo’s is so popular at this time of the morning, but it’s worth it. The coffee is very good.