This Adventurous Age

Adventures travelling and working around Australia.


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2015 Travels May 6

WEDNESDAY MAY 6     CANBERRA

This morning, the antenna man finally turned up. He came into Bus, fiddled about a bit, and got a great picture. I suspected the usually tech-savvy other half may not have had the controls set for digital TV. But no-one said anything, and – on further inspection – the man did find something wrongly wired outside, on the antenna. He rectified this. When the new antenna was installed, in 2013, the work was done by John and a mate and that is when the wrong wiring must have happened. Mind you, it all worked perfectly well through our 2013 trip….Anyway, all fixed, we were told, at a cost of $110, which seemed quite reasonable.

Now we were free to play tourists,  after an early lunch.

I had looked online for information about dog parks in the ACT and found that the place seemed quite well endowed with places dogs could play off leash, and also places where they could swim. Too cold for that, now, though.

We drove to one of the special dog parks, at Forde. This was not a very large area, but was securely fenced, with water bowls, agility equipment, and even some tennis balls lying around. Not very hygienic, that! We tried to get Couey working over the agility equipment, with varying success. She definitely liked going through pipes – and running along the top of same; ditto walls. But she could not be persuaded to jump the set jumps, even though they were all lower than she jumps at home in order to short cut through the garden. Anyway, we all had fun. She encountered a couple of other dogs there, too, with no dramas – always good to see.

After that we were in the mood for something panoramic. The obvious candidate, the Telstra Tower, is contained in the Black Mountain Nature Reserve, where dogs are not permitted at all. So we did not try to revisit that- had been up there in 1998.

Instead, drove to the top of Mt Ainslie to look at the view from there, across Lake Burley Griffin, to Parliament House.

In line: Australian War Memorial, Anzac Parade, Lake Burley Griffin, Parliament House

Across to the eastern end of the Lake, we could see the reclaimed area and the lakefront apartments where the family was living in 2013.

From Mt Ainslie: central Canberra, looking towards Scrivener Dam

We walked around the pathways that were up there and read the information boards.

Telstra Tower on Black Mountain

We set out, then, to drive around the Lake, towards the western end first. Back in 1998, we cycled around the Lake, which took us most of a very hot day. Formal bike paths did not go all the way round and we did some riding on roads. Today, the driving was easy, on multi-laned roads, though the Driver didn’t get to look around too much, in the traffic.

Visited the Scrivener Dam at the western end of the Lake. This dam wall across the Molonglo River created Lake Burley Griffin, and controls its levels. It was named for an early surveyor of the Canberra area. I was surprised to find that the dam wall was not completed until the 1960’s. Had assumed it was created at the same time as Canberra was commenced.

The Molonglo is not a big river – seems more like a creek to me. Like a number of the water courses in the area, it is lined with weeping willows, planted by well-intentioned early settlers. It makes for picturesque scenery but is not great, environmentally.

Molonglo River valley

Not far from the dam wall was the Government House Lookout, with its views uphill to Yarralumla, the official residence of the Governor General of Australia.

Yarralumla House

Again, I found new information: that Yarralumla was not purpose built, but was originally a private residence of major pastoral families of the district. The original pastoral property was a large one. Walter Burley Griffin, the designer of Canberra, had included in his plans a grand vice-regal residence, but – as with quite a bit of his original plans – a cheaper option prevailed.

From the Lookout, we could look towards the valley of the Molonglo and see the large former woolshed of the original farm.

Looking across to the grand old woolshed

By this time, the afternoon was getting on and we decided not to continue round the Lake, but to head back to Bus to avoid the late afternoon traffic build up. The GPS took us round the back of Black Mountain, on Caswell Drive, a way we hadn’t been before. Saw yet another traffic rear-ender accident.

John re-glued the wardrobe door back together. I had to help him get the strap clamp round the outside edges of the door.

Tea was steak, with green peppercorn sauce, and vegies.

A decision was made that our next destination would be Cowra – a place we hadn’t previously stayed at long enough to see its attractions.


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1998 Travels June 30

TUESDAY 30 JUNE     COOKTOWN

We had a touring day – another fine, sunny day.

Took a picnic lunch and drove to Keatings Lagoon, beside the main road, between the town and the Annan River. Purpose – bird watching. Took a short road from the main road to the carpark, then walked the 800metre track, via the bird hide, to its end at a picnic point.

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Keatings Lagoon from inside the bird hide

We made slow progress, stopping to look at birds in the bush, through the binoculars, pointing them out to each other, and slowly seeing how close we could get, to identify same.

At one point, whilst doing this, we were rushed at by a snake – maybe a metre long, thin, with a browny top and lime yellow belly. It stopped short of us – mind you, we skipped back pretty fast – then it waited by the track as we walked quickly past, as far from it as the vegetation would allow. Hoped it might prefer us to speed away, rather than try to inch past! It was a pretty aggressive message and we got a fright. Another life lesson – it is best to lower binoculars from eyes, when advancing upon a bird, and pay some attention to the ground level as well as the treetops.

At the Lagoon, we saw Jacana birds, amongst others. These birds have huge feet and can walk on slightly submerged lily leaves, and the like – giving them the appearance of walking on water. Hence, they are also called Jesus birds. Overall, there was not the populations of water birds here that I had expected.

Back to Truck and our next stop – at Black Mountain. Crossed back over that single lane bridge over the Annan, on the way.

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The Annan River and Mt Cook – looking downstrean from the bridge

At Black Mountain, we looked at the information boards, but did not go scrambling up amongst the boulders. The mountain consists of large, loose, jumbled, granite boulders; a type of algae growing on their surface makes them look black. As there is no soil or similar between the rocks, it looks a bit like some giant hands have dumped them there. I found it an eerily unpleasant place and can see why the legends of lost people and the like have grown up. Apparently, there are big hollows, caves and passages amongst the jumbled boulders that might account for some of the strange noises that have been heard here, and maybe the missing people also. I didn’t like it at all!

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Black Mountain

06-30-1998 06 Black Mt explanation.jpg

We drove on to the “little” Annan River, which is simply that river, but in a smaller form, where the road crosses it, some 30kms from Cooktown. I wanted to come here to look at the falls, upstream from the bridge, and the gorge, downstream. This was a pleasant place, with a  few potentially good bush camp spots. We had our lunch there and walked to both features. The gorge is a very narrow little chasm through the rock.

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Falls on the Little Annan River

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The gorge on the Little Annan River – and the road bridge

Between the Little Annan and Black Mountain is where the Bloomfield Track route emerges onto the main road. A little way along this road – here the Helenvale Road – is the Lions Den Hotel. This hotel dates from the Palmer River gold rush days, and is a “must do” for travellers on the Bloomfield Track – and for other travellers in these parts. We each had a beer – expensive at $6.60 for us both – but we can now say we’ve had a drink at the iconic Lions Den Hotel!

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The iconic Lions Den Hotel

We saw a big, thick, slaty coloured python (we think) sunbaking by the side of the road near the Lions Den.

It has been very much a wildlife day, today. This morning, I got a real fright when I went to open the back door of Truck. That recessed handle area is an attractive hidey place for all sorts of undesirables, it seems – in this instance, one nasty looking spider that did not like being disturbed! Got to remember to be careful in the future, and look first before going to open door.

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Back in Cooktown, I had another film processed – from the “instant” camera – because the shop here seems to do such a good job. Having had some batches of photos processed rather unsatisfactorily, I am a bit fussy these days. The business is for sale for $130,000, as the owner wants to retire. That seems a lot to me, for a place where the trade has got to be very seasonal, but he says his profit is about $50,000 a year.

I bought some meat for tea and a few other grocery items.

Tea was camp-made hamburgers.

The wind that was around earlier in the day dropped in the afternoon. There were many flying ant type bugs around the camp, so many that we sat out in darkness after tea, as they were everywhere and the light brought them in. Seems the wind serves some purpose – what a choice: a noisy gale that threatens to bring down trees, or a plague of bugs!


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1998 Travels March 9

MONDAY 9 MARCH     QUEANBEYAN

The day was warmer and still with some wind.

John wanted to do a tour of the Australian Institute of Sport that started at 11.30, so we left the park in good time to drive back into Canberra again and back out north again – not too far from where we were yesterday. I am already finding the little map I bought is invaluable. There was more traffic to negotiate today, being a weekday. We got fuel in Queanbeyan, on the way through – 74 cpl.

The guide for our tour was a wrestler, in the 75kg class. Thought the tour was good value at $8 each. Here too the pool was closed and drained because of the diahorrea spread through pools. There was maintenance work being done on it. I suppose this must be a setback for the swimmers who usually train here – wonder if they have been sent away? The tour went until 1pm, with us walking all over the establishment. It is a very big complex; superb training facilities for such a wide variety of sports.

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At the Australian Institute of Sport

After that, since we were on this side of town, decided to go up Black Mountain and visit the Telstra Tower that is such a landmark over Canberra. Admission to this cost $3 each. I battled my dislike of heights in order to see the great views – 360 degrees, all over Canberra. I even made it out onto the outside platform, in order to take photos. Could clearly identify all the major landmarks, clustered along  both sides of the central Lake Burley Griffin. Inside again, bought a postcard to send to K, emphasizing the fact that I had been up so high!

03-09-1998 02 from Telstra tower Canberra Lake Burley Griffin & Capital side.jpg

From the Telstra Tower: Civic area to left, Capital area to right, and linking bridge

On the way down Black Mountain, stopped to take a photo of the Telstra Tower, but found that the angle did not really show the true height of the structure.

03-09-1998 06 Telstra Towe on Black Mtr.jpg

The Telstra Tower, from the road down Black Mountain

Canberra was purpose built, in the early part of the 20th century, to be the capital of the newly federated Australia. Before selection for this purpose, the area had been a prosperous sheep grazing location. Jealousy and competition between Sydney and Melbourne meant that the new capital had to be distant from both, although the Federal Parliament was based in Melbourne until the new Parliament House was ready to occupy, in 1927.

A world wide design competition was held for the design of the new town, won by the Griffins husband and wife team; the central lake formed by the damming of the Molonglo River, is named for him. The design placed the centre of government – Capital – on one side of the Lake, and the commercial centre – Civic – opposite it on the other side. The photo above shows the road bridge that joins the two. The designers were into geometric shapes – circles around Capital, hexagons around Civic; the triangle that radiates out from Capital Hill and takes in the War memorial area. Very striking on paper – but still a bugger to navigate around!

03-09-1998 04 west end Lake Burley Griffin, Yarralumla, Scrivener Dam.jpg

The western end of Lake Burley Griffin; parts of Canberra are surrounded by pine plantations

Back at the van, had a very late lunch of rolls.

John did much to-ing and fro-ing to the phone box, trying to make contact with his daughter and with friend H. Eventually he got onto each of them and made catching up arrangements for this coming week.

I had BBQ chops for tea and decided to cook these on the electric BBQ provided by the park. It took forever to cook the chops and cost us $4 in coins to run the thing for long enough to do so. We decided that this is not the way of the future! I cooked stir fry vegies at the van to go with the chops.

The night was chilly again.