Sometimes I want a lazy weekend. Sometimes the thought of getting in the car then heading off on a long, arduous hike up a faraway mountain is definitely in the too hard basket. It’s only human right? I am sure even Liesel Jones in her prime needed a weekend off. So not being an Olympic athlete myself, it seems pretty reasonable to take it easy every now and then.
That being said, it’s hard to beat the feeling of a good sweat in the fresh air. The mental health benefits alone make it worth dragging myself out of the house for. As I have previously mentioned, I am lucky enough to live in the wonderful Molonglo Valley which means on lazy weekends I don’t have to go far to immerse myself in the fresh air and open spaces Canberra is famous for.
Today I am going to share with you my recent adventure up Mt Arawang. Where is that, you might ask. Surely it can’t be in Canberra if you have never heard of it? Just like the fabulous Mt Painter in Belconnen, Mt Arawang is hidden in plain sight, just another of Canberra’s natural landmarks you’ll likely never have thought twice about. Part of the Cooleman Ridge Nature Reserve which reaches from behind Chapman in Weston Creek down to Kambah in Tuggeranong, this peak is 765m above sea level and offers stunning 360 degree views of Canberra.
My walk commenced from Kanther St in Chapman where there is off-street parking available and a helpful noticeboard with current information about the nature park. From this point there are a few different trails you can choose from, a walking track and an equestrian track. There is also the wonderful Cooleman Ridge Nature Trail, details of this can be found in a self-guide brochure available at the information board. The Nature Trail follows an easy track along the ridge and points out 16 featured spots along the way.
I chose to take the Nature Trail, using the helpful posts to keep on track. Following the western side of Cooleman Ridge, there are stunning views of the Bridabellas and surrounding farmland. There are signs advising you to keep a look out for cattle on the track as local farmers use the area to graze and we did meet a number of lovely moo cows along the way who were enjoying breakfast in the morning sun.
The Nature Trail turns left to lead away from the ridgeline and up to the top of Cooleman Trig. I decided to continue straight along the ridge track and towards Mt Arawang. After meeting some more cows, and a few horse riders, the track reached a junction and I headed off along the track signposted ‘Arawang Saddle’.
Just before the narrow mountain track commenced, there was a lovely vantage point from atop some rocks which boasted fabulous views over Weston Creek and all the way to Black Mountain. Time for a quick rest before setting off for the top!
The mountain trail starts from the west side of the peak and winds up through heavier bushland with scrubby trees lining the path. There are man-made steps to battle but as this was the only real incline of the day, I still had plenty of strength left to conquer them.
Suddenly the trees open up and the struggle was all worth it. I was greeted by beautiful views on all sides, reaching from the Brindabella Ranges to Telstra Tower to Tuggeranong Lake and beyond.
Once again I was blown away by how only a few hours ago I was struggling with a bad case of Sunday blues and now here I was atop a mountain, breathing in the fresh air and thankful at the ease of being able to enjoy such wonderful views.
After a good while spent enjoying the sunshine and chatting to a fellow adventure enthusiast who had just reached the top shortly after me with his two lovely pups, it was time to descend. There was a rocky trail heading down the front (north side) of the mountain which I decided to take. It was steep and a bit slippery but a lot quicker than the track up, mostly because it literally was just a straight line to the bottom! Over a little bridge and I was back into the suburbs of Chapman and my well trained chauffeur was there waiting patiently for us on Namatjira Drive.
Mt Arawang is truly another hidden gem of Canberra. One of those peaks that only the lucky are aware of. Mt Ainslie & Mt Taylor, surely the most popular of Canberras mountains, are so well known and often busy with locals keeping fit or just enjoying a stroll that it’s actually quite refreshing to explore one of the less travelled mountain tracks.
I may have started the day not wanting to leave the house, but believe me when I say, I was incredibly glad that I did.
Walking distance: just over 5km
Walking time: approx. 2 hours (lots of time spent exploring and appreciating)
Walking grade: Easy (a short, sharp climb to the top of Mt Arawang however other than that it was a glorious stroll)
How to get there:
Starting from Kanther St in Chapman. There is parking available and easy to follow signboards pointing out the start of the different tracks. I am lucky enough to have a willing chauffeur who enjoys hearing about my adventures however not partaking in them. He collected us from Namatjira Drive in Chapman.