11 March 2015
Guest dog: Samson .
We start near Ginninderra College and head for John Knight Memorial Park skirting the south-eastern shore of Lake Ginninderra. It’s a tranquil park of sculptures, playgrounds, barbecue areas, bird hides in the reeds, swans, ducks and moorhens on the lake, a little Japanese bridge, a waterfall, and woods of silver birches, casuarinas and gums.
Leaving the park, the trail winds under Ginninderra Drive, up and over the bridge, where we are overtaken by a peloton of lycra-clad pensioners. We proceed north along the lakeside, passing a walker shouting into her mobile (perhaps to be heard over the piping of the rosellas and galahs ), a young man on a monowheel bike, a grandmother pushing a baby in a pram and, on the lake, a small flotilla of canoes. On the eastern side of this arm of the lake the new suburb of Lawson will be built. To the south rise Mount Painter and Black Mountain topped with its cigar-shaped tower. The trail is verged by banks of wildflowers and plantations of pines and poplars, and the odd willow tree (the good kind). Friarbirds and magpies whistle and trill their sweet, complex songs.
From here the trail skirts William Slim Drive. The birdsong is now completely drowned out by traffic noise until an underpass leads to the western side of the road and along Ginninderra creek toward Percival Hill. The suburb of Giralang continues on the eastern side of the road. On our side the grassy verge spreads out to open grassland with stands of poplars and pines in the distance. We are now walking through Ginninderra Creek Parkland that will lie between Giralang and the future new suburbs of North Belconnen.
We reach an underpass under the Barton Highway, which is decorated with an interesting example of graffiti – a stylised transformer brandishing a wide-mouthed gun – perhaps inspired by some computer game? On the other side of the underpass there is no Centenary Trail sign directing us across the bridge that leads onto the highway and towards Gold Creek Village, so it’s lucky we know where we are.
Gold Creek is basically a tourist centre with two shopping squares of specialty boutiques, art and craft workshops, a nursery, a function centre called The Abbey, a dinosaur museum, a reptile zoo, and Cockington Green, a ‘typical’ English village in miniature rather incongruously situated on a farming property established in the mid-1800’s. At the northern end of the village there is a lot of development going on, which could be motel accommodation for tourists, or possibly more shops. There is a Macdonalds and a new service station. We speculate that it is in fact the town hub for the suburb of Nicholls, but we aren’t sure.
From here we continue on the eastern side of the Barton Highway, crossing Clarrie Hermes Drive at the traffic lights controlling the heavy flow of commuter vehicles heading for the city centre from the north and the west. We discuss how the controversial proposed light rail might relieve this pressure on the roads, if it ever arrives in reality. Meanwhile, a bit further on, we are reminded that it wasn’t always like this, as we pass the remains of a wheelwright and blacksmith’s shop established here in the 1860’s and worked by the pioneers Harry and Agnes Curran from the 1890’s.
The turnoff the highway to Hall Village is doubly welcome, because it means both escape from the traffic on the highway and that we are practically at our destination. We walk on the western side of the road, along a wide grassy verge with a deep trench beside the road and fields. We disturb a family of white-winged choughs which fly up into a pine tree to continue their squabbling and chaffing. A blue kangaroo observes us from a distance. We look back in the direction of the city centre. We can’t see the city itself, just the line of telegraph poles, wires looping across ancient parkland towards the blue ranges far in the distance.
The quiet road takes us across Hall Creek into Victoria Street, the main street of a tiny village in which the weatherboard bungalows with their little front gardens and picket fences, the old post office, the mechanic’s shop, even The Gum Nut Coffee Shop, retain the atmosphere of timespast. Noticeboards outside the post office tell the story of this historic town and its pioneers, dating (in European settlement terms) from early in the 19th century. Behind a picket fence is an old blue Police call box.
We finish the morning with a coffee at the Gum Nut Coffee Shop.