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Take a hike: to the National Arboretum!

By Fiona Grimmer 3 March 2016 27

As I’ve recently moved to the lovely Molonglo Valley I thought I’d profile a local walk this week. With so much development already completed and much more planned for Denman Prospect and beyond, Molonglo Valley is fast becoming one of the most sought-after locations in Canberra. I hope readers will find this walk just as easily accessible as I did.

One of my favourite things about living in this beautiful area is the many picturesque walks right on my doorstop. Another of the great things about Molonglo Valley, is its close proximity to the National Arboretum – one of my absolute favourite places in Canberra. The National Arboretum was created after the area was destroyed in the tragic bushfires of January 2003. The site has been planted on since 2005 and includes a number of ceremonial trees planted by visiting heads of government and ambassadors. It was officially opened in February 2013 and there are now 44,000 trees from over 100 countries growing across the huge 250-hectare (618 acre) site, making it one of the world’s largest living collections of rare, endangered and significant trees.

My journey to the Arboretum starts from the north-east corner of Coombs where Harold White Avenue trails off to a gravel road leading down towards the Molonglo River. There are a couple of bridges in the area crossing the river into the pine forest, however the bridge at the end of Harold White Ave is my preferred route as it’s river crossing is quite pretty and conveniently it leads directly on to the Bicentennial National Trail.

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In the pine forest that separates the quiet suburbs from the Arboretum there are many tracks to follow. They criss-cross one another, meet up and often merge into one track, as long as you continue heading in a north-east direction you’ll end up at the border of the Arboretum grounds. It’s a fairly easy walk through the pines with no real hills to speak of (don’t worry, that part comes later!)

Once you emerge from the forest, and after following a dirt track for a few kilometres, you’ll come to the Arboretum border. This is marked by fencing and a signpost directing you either up Boundary Rd or along Totara Rd. Take the low road and it follow along into the heart of the Arboretum.

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When you come to a fork in this road, keep left – here comes the hill part I warned about earlier. Forest Drive leads all the way up and around to the peak of Dairy Farmers Hill. I’m not going to sugar coat it – it’s long and steep but I can assure you it’s well worth the effort. You can also drive the same road, so make sure you keep an eye out for cars. While you may have to endure strange looks from the people inside their comfortable, air-conditioned cars, I think a view always looks 100 times better if you’ve had to sweat a little and earn it.

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At the top, there are a number of platforms which give you incredible views far and wide across Canberra and beyond. Right at the peak of the hill is a striking metal sculpture created by Richard Moffatt in 2007. Made from mostly abandoned farm machinery, Nest III shows an Australian wedge-tailed eagle perched atop his nest, looking out across the stunning horizon. I am a little jealous of his home, he has one of the best views in Canberra.

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Quick facts:

Walking distance: 6.5km

Walking time: approx. 1.5 hrs

Walking grade: Easy but with a big finish – save some strength!

How to get there:

Once on Cotter Road in Coombs take a turn down Harold White Ave and follow it all the way to the end. You can park in the gravel area and make your way down towards the river crossing from there.

What’s Your opinion?


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27 Responses to
Take a hike: to the National Arboretum!
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rubaiyat 11:28 am 06 Mar 16

dungfungus said :

wildturkeycanoe said :

Maya123 said :

wildturkeycanoe said :

Amazing that something so nice can be made from the remnants of a disastrous event.

MERC600 said :

Well I regret I would be one of those “people inside their comfortable, air-conditioned cars”.
I wish I could walk it but. ( I wonder if I can get onto this Medical Marijuana trial thing ?? )
Anyway the wedge tail sculpture is certainly a beauty, and I would hope he has managed to receive many orders from this display.
The view from the top is a million dollars worth, and the bacon ‘n egg wrap at the cafe was very very nice.

Well, you are incorrect, it is a $70 million view, which will continue to keep costing more and more as tax payers fork out hundreds of thousands for maintenance, new watering infrastructure and the wages for the dozen full time employees looking after it. The gift that keeps on taking.

Yes, why do we need arboretums, parks, botanical gardens; lets get rid of them all. They cost money. So do the nature parks, kids playgrounds, sculptures, etc. Some people, even many people, might appreciate and enjoy them, but why should the tax payer have to pay for this? Hang on, that’s us…we might actually enjoy them.
No, bar humbug, get rid of them all and save the taxpayer some money.

We have bountiful National Parks in Australia and we are fortunate to have one right at our doorstep. They don’t need the same expensive water resources nor the crew of 12 men per 250 hectares for maintenance. The view from Mount Coree is much better and you don’t have to pay for parking. If you need a playground there is a new one on the shores of LBG. If you need coffee, there’s bound to be one within walking distance of your house. If you want to see sculptures and artworks, we have many galleries for this pastime. Spending millions to bring bits and pieces of these together is simply another gimmicky waste of our rates to try and make Canberra a “big boy now”.
BTW, my stunning view was blocked to the north by a hill with a big tower and to the east by another big hill. Not worth the $2 per hour parking fee.

It should be noted that all the National Parks in an around the ACT have definitive names while our “National Arboretum” is just that.
It’s begging to be called something else like “St Jon’s Woods”.

Make it the National Car Park that we NEED, and be done with it. All the autonomous cars need somewhere to go and Park Assist themselves.

Canberrans will able to look up from their City offices and see the hundreds of thousands of cars glinting in the sunlight covering the slopes of what used to be the useless Arboretum and know that all is right with the world once more. 😉

dungfungus 8:40 am 06 Mar 16

wildturkeycanoe said :

Maya123 said :

wildturkeycanoe said :

Amazing that something so nice can be made from the remnants of a disastrous event.

MERC600 said :

Well I regret I would be one of those “people inside their comfortable, air-conditioned cars”.
I wish I could walk it but. ( I wonder if I can get onto this Medical Marijuana trial thing ?? )
Anyway the wedge tail sculpture is certainly a beauty, and I would hope he has managed to receive many orders from this display.
The view from the top is a million dollars worth, and the bacon ‘n egg wrap at the cafe was very very nice.

Well, you are incorrect, it is a $70 million view, which will continue to keep costing more and more as tax payers fork out hundreds of thousands for maintenance, new watering infrastructure and the wages for the dozen full time employees looking after it. The gift that keeps on taking.

Yes, why do we need arboretums, parks, botanical gardens; lets get rid of them all. They cost money. So do the nature parks, kids playgrounds, sculptures, etc. Some people, even many people, might appreciate and enjoy them, but why should the tax payer have to pay for this? Hang on, that’s us…we might actually enjoy them.
No, bar humbug, get rid of them all and save the taxpayer some money.

We have bountiful National Parks in Australia and we are fortunate to have one right at our doorstep. They don’t need the same expensive water resources nor the crew of 12 men per 250 hectares for maintenance. The view from Mount Coree is much better and you don’t have to pay for parking. If you need a playground there is a new one on the shores of LBG. If you need coffee, there’s bound to be one within walking distance of your house. If you want to see sculptures and artworks, we have many galleries for this pastime. Spending millions to bring bits and pieces of these together is simply another gimmicky waste of our rates to try and make Canberra a “big boy now”.
BTW, my stunning view was blocked to the north by a hill with a big tower and to the east by another big hill. Not worth the $2 per hour parking fee.

It should be noted that all the National Parks in an around the ACT have definitive names while our “National Arboretum” is just that.
It’s begging to be called something else like “St Jon’s Woods”.

dungfungus 6:53 pm 05 Mar 16

Charlotte Harper said :

Hi, haven’t suppressed it, just didn’t get to the bottom of the to-moderate pile by end of shift yesterday. Note to self: must work faster.

Understood.
Note to me: must be more patient.

Roksteddy 4:59 pm 05 Mar 16

I haven’t checked in here for a while but just popped in to see if the usual suspects are criticising anything that brings enjoyment to others. No surprises.

I’m glad you enjoyed your walk, Fiona. Although you should have saved your parking fee and saved up for a 4wd to get up Mt Coree. It would have cost more in fuel though. Oh, wait, you didn’t pay for parking. Ignore my irrelevant comment.

If only we had that firebreak in the north west of Canberra, all those homes in Duffy would have been safe. Because Duffy is in…. oh, nevermind. Just another statement that has nothing to do with your original post about going for a pleasant walk.

No_Nose 4:30 pm 05 Mar 16

Charlotte Harper said :

Hi, haven’t suppressed it, just didn’t get to the bottom of the to-moderate pile by end of shift yesterday. Note to self: must work faster.

We could just go back to the days of no moderation…they were fun! (most of the time!)

dungfungus 12:04 pm 05 Mar 16

dungfungus said :

blandone said :

wildturkeycanoe said :

Amazing that something so nice can be made from the remnants of a disastrous event.

MERC600 said :

Well I regret I would be one of those “people inside their comfortable, air-conditioned cars”.
I wish I could walk it but. ( I wonder if I can get onto this Medical Marijuana trial thing ?? )
Anyway the wedge tail sculpture is certainly a beauty, and I would hope he has managed to receive many orders from this display.
The view from the top is a million dollars worth, and the bacon ‘n egg wrap at the cafe was very very nice.

Well, you are incorrect, it is a $70 million view, which will continue to keep costing more and more as tax payers fork out hundreds of thousands for maintenance, new watering infrastructure and the wages for the dozen full time employees looking after it. The gift that keeps on taking.

And worth every cent. Hopefully I’m still around in 30odd years to see it in it’s full glory.

There will be only a few smoking stumps and lots of ashes by then if they don’t build a fire-break.

Attn moderators
Why have you suppressed this? It is a valid statement and it might interest you to know that Canberra did have a very large area of land north west of the city leased from NSW about 50 years ago specifically to create a fire-break. No one seems to know what happened to the arrangement but if it was still in place the 2003 bushfire could have been stopped.

    Charlotte Harper 3:29 pm 05 Mar 16

    Hi, haven’t suppressed it, just didn’t get to the bottom of the to-moderate pile by end of shift yesterday. Note to self: must work faster.

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