Thursday, 1 January 2015

December ... year end

It was difficult to believe that December had arrived. It seemed like only yesterday that we were celebrating Christmas but here we were with Christmas just a few weeks away. Astrid was "extremely excited" (her words) about Christmas this year. She is now aware of all the presents she can expect to materialise as well as lots of lovely food. It also means that she can help cooking quite a few of the offerings - a task that she thoroughly enjoys.

I didn't go to the gym on the 3rd as I had a pathology test at Woden at 9:15am which was right in the middle of my normal PT session so Wednesday ended up as a non walking day and Thursday was not much better.

Trevor and I were delighted to Have Michael, one of our walking companions from last years Coast to Coast, visit us from the 8th to 10th of the month. Because Michael was going to be with us for such a short visit we had Astrid on Monday rather than her normal Tuesday and she went out to the airport with Trevor to greet Michael and welcome him to Canberra.

After Astrid ate her dinner we took her home and Michael to Duffy to meet Chimu and Inti, the resident alpacas.

Trevor dropped Michael and I off on Darwinia Terrace, in Chapman, at the bottom of the zigzag path that leads up to Cooleman Ridge. The views from the Ridge across the city and from the other side across to the ranges is excellent and worth the walk. As the track winds around the Ridge the views are ever changing. We climbed up to the Cooleman Ridge trig point which has expansive views across both the urban areas and the farmland, river and ranges to the south west. As we wound our way back and forth across the ridge we encountered a range of geological features as well as butterflies and birds.

On reaching Mt Arawang I took Michael up to its trig point. This has great views over the Woden Valley, at least the bit not obscured by Mt Taylor, towards the city, down the Tuggeranong Valley and across to the ranges. We arrived at the summit a little before sunset and, unfortunately, could not stay as we were going out to dinner. I took Michael across the Mt Arawang saddle and down the stepped track to the bridge leading across the drain and then through the horse paddock. I had arranged to meet Trevor at the bus stop on Kambah Pool Road and he was waiting for us when we arrived.

From our table at Indian Affair, where we had dinner, we could see the gloriously coloured sky as the sun set and then threw up its best.

On the Tuesday (9th) we headed down the Tuggeranong Valley towards Tharwa. We stopped in at Lanyon Homestead and walked around its yards looking at the buildings that have been preserved.

From Lanyon we went to the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. I was surprised at the lack of kangaroos but, then, they may have been anticipating a hot day and had retired to the shade. Smart animals. We did finally see a few roos just before we left the park. There are quite a few good walks in the Reserve however time did not permit us to undertake any of them.

Our next stop was the Tidbinbilla Tracking Station.

Astronaut Michael
We grabbed lunch in the Tracking Station cafe before heading into the heart of Canberra and the National Botanical Gardens at the foot of Black Mountain. There are guided walking tours at 11 and 2 o'clock each day and each one is different as it is up to the volunteer guide where they take the party. We got to the gardens just ahead of 2 o'clock and joined one other person on the afternoon tour. Here are some photos of what we saw.

Michael (centre left) and Trevor to the right looking at a specimen in the National Botanical Gardens
Another lizard
More lizards or were they water dragons?
From the Gardens we headed for Parliament House. It was nice and quiet as both Houses had risen for the year before the weekend. It gave us easy passage through the public areas and into the chambers.

Aspen Island and the Carillon was our next stop. We arrived to the sound of bells playing and watched a gathering crowd of  young people, obviously off to their formals after the obligatory photos, parade in their finery.

The view across the lake from Aspen Island with the High Court on the left and the National Library on the right
Michael in front of the Carillon
Michael on Aspen Island. Don't you like the wriggly seat?

We drove up Anzac Parade towards the War Memorial however, as it was after 5pm, it was shut so we continued on and went up to the summit of Mt Ainslie. This provides views over the city centre, towards the airport and Queanbeyan and Gungahlin. A bit of a different perspective.

It was time for a short break and a drink. Manuka seemed an ideal destination and we sat at a pavement table and watched the world go by.

Tonights hike was on Mt Taylor. Trevor dropped Michael and I at the Colquhoun Street entrance to the reserve. We were greeted by a group of kangaroos who were grazing just outside the reserve gate. I had promised Michael that he would see kangaroos and the Mt Taylor roos did not disappoint. They kept on popping up as we did our walk.

I had hoped that there would be a nice sunset but a band of cloud had come in to the west resulting in almost no colour at all. A pity. Still, it was a nice evening and there was plenty to see both on the way up and down the mountain. It was quite dark by the time we were descending and the lights of Tuggeranong put on a great display. There were also a number of houses decked out with their Christmas lights which really stood out.

Trevor had dinner ready for us just after we reached home.

Michael was flying out just after midday on Wednesday 10th so Trevor took Michael to Red Hill Lookout and then the Telstra Tower on Black Mountain to finish off his Canberra tour before taking him to the airport. 

We really enjoyed showing off our lovely city and the surrounding environs.

A group of kangaroos on Mt Taylor ... completely unconcerned about my passage

I was out at the AIS on the weekend of 13 & 14 December I managed to do a bit of the remaining part of the Canberra Centenary Trail on the Saturday walking from the AIS towards Black Mountain. Once I reached a part of the trail I had already done I returned to the AIS via a different route. I Still have the section(s) from Gold Creek to the AIS to do to complete the whole of the CCT. I can then write it up an details the issues I see with the trail as it currently is set up.

Michael, just to prove that we have some wonderful sunsets ... this was taken on 14 December

The grass in some of the reserves is so long that it is difficult to see the kangaroos lounging and feeding in it
 Here is a series of sunset shots that I took from the top of Mt Taylor on the evening of 18 December.

Mt Taylor is well used by walkers and runners. Many bring their dos up the mountain although I sometimes think that it is the dog bringing the human up. One of the regular climbers brings up a supply of water for the dogs each day and there is a dish attached to the seat at the summit for the dogs.

A pair of girls with a dog on top of Mt Taylor. The water dish can be near the seat.
Coming down Mt Taylor on the eastern side I walked towards the north and was surprised to see a large roo making his way out of the reserve through one of the entrance points. He seemed unperturbed by my appearance and continued on his way at a very leisurely pace.

There is a formal car park on the northern side of  the Mt Taylor reserve however very few people use it. It is out of the way and inconvenient as it is not near any of the popular tracks leading up the mountain. On the other hand, there is an informal parking area on Sulwood Drive at the top of Mannheim Street. There are times when I have seen 30 or more cars parked on this strip of dirt.

Cars parked in the informal Mt Taylor car park
When I got around to THE car park ...

Not a car in sight
I walk to and past Kambah Village quite a lot. It is our local small shopping centre. Out the front, facing the intersection of Drakeford Drive and Boddington/Marconi Crescents, is a sign announcing the centre and some sheep. There used to be six sheep but one disappeared one night so now there are only five.

The sheep get decorated each Christmas and, more recently, at Easter too. Here is what was left of the 2014 Christmas effort after high winds and rain.

... and here is Astrid admiring one of the sheep

On Sunday 21st the Barnett Christmas Gathering was held at my sister Sue's place. I'll do a separate post on this event. After cleaning up and putting everything back where it came from Trevor and I headed out for a walk. We headed up Phillips Lane away from the highway. At the top of Phillips Lane I turned on to Olivers and continued until I reached the highway, which I crossed and then followed Doyles Lane until I reached the sealed section, otherwise known as civilisation, at which point I turned around and retraced my steps. Both Phillips and Doyles Lanes were quiet but the same cannot be said for Olivers which had a constant stream of traffic both ways. All up it was a pleasant 6km walk.

Trees shading Phillips Lane

On the Saturday after Christmas my son Michael and I climbed Mt Tennent. This peak rises just behind the Namadgi National Park visitors centre. From the carpark to the summit is an elevation difference of 770m and tht does not take into account the dips along the way which resulted in an additional 99m of climb.

Much of the route to the top is tree lined obscuring the view of the surrounding countryside. There are spots along the way that afford views. Cypress Pine Lookout was one such spot.

The recent rain is evident from the greenness of the valley seen from Cypress Pine Lookout
One of the spots where rocks just flowed down the mountainside
Near the top there were areas of grasslands with stands of spindly trees
Firespotting tower on the summit of Mt Tennent

The other tower on top of Mt Tennent
There were some great views from the summit

Michael heading down the mountain

Mt Tennent is easily viewed from Mt Taylor as it rises in a direct line behind the Tuggeranong Town Centre.

Lately I have encountered quite a few people, generally in pairs, up the top of Mt Arawang. It is generally a peaceful spot and it does have great views.

A couple perched on a rock on top of Mt Arawang with the setting sun turning the dry grass a lovely golden shade
The sunsets can be stunning, too. On top of that it is a much easier climb than Mt Taylor.

And a sunset from the 30th from the foot of Mt Taylor:

I have only see a few kangaroos hopping over the fences around Mt Taylor. I was lucky to have my camera out and readying to take a shot when a large roo decided to go over the nearby fence.

After four months of missing at least one of my walking/hiking targets I had decided to do my very best to finish the year off with all targets met in December. this was not easy with a poor start to the month in part due to falling off a Swiss ball and landing on a coffee table and hurting bits of the body. I was please to make all the targets by the close of the month.

During the month I reached 8 million steps for the year. Gosh, that seems so many that it is hard to imagine.

December statistics

Distance: 342km (daily average: 11.04km)
Elevation gain: 6362m (daily average: 205m)
Steps: 809007 (Daily average: 26097)

I will do a separate post with the full 2014 statistics and some reflections on the year.

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