Our holiday in Canberra
We had a short holiday in Australia’s national capital Canberra earlier this year. It had been many years – over 30 – since our last visit. Consequently there was quite a deal of anticipation in reacquainting ourselves with this beautiful city. One of the main attractions this time around was to visit the floral display at Floriade 2007. I’ve written extensively about this festival of flowers here.
The National Botanic Gardens in Canberra are well set out and beautifully maintained. Although some sections are a little hilly, the paths are very easy to negotiate and are extremely wheel-chair friendly, which makes it very easy for the rest of us. The tranquil setting on the slopes of Black Mountain is a great place to relax, watch the birds, study the flowers or just take time out from a busy life.
Our holiday in New South Wales
While staying with our son in Artarmon, North Sydney, he led us on a long walk from his home to Middle Harbour. This was a walk of some 3-4 kilometres and it is mostly all downhill on the way to the harbour. This meant mostly uphill on the way back. We did it in just short of four hours. My son thought we’d take longer; he does it in two hours but then he is used to the hills around here. He and his wife do a lot of walking around this district.
It took us through some nearby suburbs along a walking and cycling trail through this part of the city. The path kept us away from busy roads and streets, sometimes passing under very busy streets and motorways.
At one point the track dropped quickly to the creek and here we followed Flat Rock Creek until it emerged from the gully into Middle Harbour. It was very peaceful following the creek, with dense vegetation on all sides. It was hard to believe we were about an hour’s walk to Sydney Harbour Bridge. It was so peaceful along that creek you could not imagine being in the heart of Australia’s largest city.
Near Middle Harbour one of the local roads passes high over the creek bed. The magnificent bridge over the creek is very inspiring and a wonderful subject for the camera.
During my recent holiday in Robe in the south east region of South Australia I did quite a bit of walking. I find walking to be the best way to investigate an area, as well as lending itself to extra photo opportunities.
One day I decided to go on an extended walk through some of the nearby bushland. My immediate target was the lookout called Beacon Hill. This slight hill overlooks the whole town and gives extensive views to the east and south over nearby farming areas as well as Long Beach to the north. It took me about an hour of solid walking to get to the top from the cottage we were renting. It was easy going along a road leading to the top.
The view from the top was not as good as I had hoped because of the overcast conditions. I had not only untaken the walk for the exercise but also to go birding. I also hoped to get some photos of birds not normally seen here at home. The walk was good exercise taking over three hours, but the birding was quiet and the photos disappointing. This is just a good excuse to return another day.
After leaving the lookout on Beacon Hill I followed a well marked bush track east through some dense bushland. The vegetation was beautiful but the birding was quiet. I eventually made my way out to the main road and followed this back to Pub Lake.
Yesterday I wrote about the visit we made to the St Kilda playground and picnic area north of Adelaide. After lunch in the picnic area we drove the short distance to the start of the Mangrove Boardwalk.
This has been open now for almost 20 years but this was our first visit. It will not be our last visit. Over the years we had heard many positive comments about this special walk. It certainly lived up to our expectations.
The walk is completely wheel-chair friendly, something that is not too common at tourist attractions in Australia, though this is improving. While no-one in our family has any need of a wheelchair, I am always conscious of my wife’s needs for a clear path. She has problems with her feet and needs a good clear path to follow if she is to fully enjoy the walks we attempt.
The relatively new Interpretive Centre at the start of the boardwalk is well set out, informative and easy to read and includes hands on interactive activities which children would enjoy.
Along the path and boardwalk there are plenty of interpretive signs to help visitors understand the vital part this mangrove forest plays in maintaining our marine environment. What surprised me was the fact that dolphins often visit this area. The birdlife was also very interesting, especially on the adjacent tidal flats of Barker Inlet. For more on the birdlife of this area go to my birding blog.
The photo below shows some of the birds seen.
The opening of a new section of the Lavender Federation Trail was an event that didn’t come to my attention until I read about it this week in our local paper, The Murray Valley Standard. This is of particular interest to me because a part of the trail goes past about 500 metres north of our home. I walked about 20km of this trail in my preparations for trekking the Himalayas in January of this year. (To read about my adventures trekking in Nepal, go to the Archives section on the right and then scroll down to the January 2006 entries.)
This walking trail is called the Lavender trail after Terry Lavender, founder of the South Australian Recreation Trails Incorporated (SARTI). Terry was instrumental in forging the establishment of many walking trails throughout South Australia. His untiring efforts are being continued by many who have grasped his vision of a countryside criss-crossed with walking trails.
The section from here in Murray Bridge to Mount Beevor was opened in 2002. The second stage from there to Tungkillo was opened in 2004. The latest section to Springton was opened recently by Terry Lavender’s widow, Ann. This brings the total length of the trail to 105 kilometres. The current secretary of SARTI estimates it would take four days of comfortable walking to complete the walk. Eventually, it is hoped that this walk will reach as far as Clare in the mid-north of South Australia. The fourth stage from Springton to Truro is in the planning stage.
For more information about the Lavender Federation Trail click here.