We’re incredibly lucky to have so many good walks within Canberra. My favourite trek of these is Mt Painter. It’s nestled behind (in front of?) Cook and if you’ve driven down William Hovell Drive you’ve likely driven right past it.
There are many entrances to Mt Painter, some more obvious than others. Like most of the walks nestled in suburbia, the entrances are usually a bit hidden. For me, it’s usually a matter of driving along slowly until you spot one, and go from there!
Mt Painter is dog friendly, which is great – not all of Canberra’s Nature Reserves are (the TAMS website has handy pdfs of all the nature reserves, which stipulate what you can and can’t do, and also illustrate all the entrances).
On entrance from Bussell St, there are some clearly formed tracks but it can be a bit confusing about whether you’re supposed to head left, right, or up. From that entrance, I’d recommend heading up or left (both options are available, and both will get you to the top!).
There are two steepish parts to Mt Painter – one’s just before/after a humungous water tank on your way up. Once you’ve past that, you’re at the first lookout. You get great views of Telstra Tower, and the valley down to the Cotter and up to the ranges. If you head up in early morning or late afternoon, you also get the most incredible sunlight. As you can see, we simply had the perfect afternoon – my favourite Canberra combination of green and yellow grasses, blue-bottomed clouds and bright yellow sunset light.
From there, the dirt/foliage path turns into one of fairly well held bitumen (ie you’re much less likely to stack it than other paths I’ve been on). You pass through a gate (literally through – it doesn’t open!) and up a small rise, before heading down the first part of the mountain.
Once you’re at the bottom of that part – you guessed it – you head up again. It’s the second fairly steep section, where the bitumen is complemented with stones (some a little loose – be careful!). I regularly see people run the Mt Painter route, but I am not one of them.
If the views from the lookout are good, the views from the summit are great. You can see Lake Burley Griffin, down past the Tuggeranong Valley (and spot infamous Mt Tennent on a good day), Telstra Tower/Black Mountain, Belconnen and beyond, and the stunning valleys and mountains to the west which just get lit up by a rising or setting sun.
Past the summit, you can head down a bit further to where there’s another seat from which to enjoy the views. However, there, and surrounding, are some large boulders and it’s hard to resist the temptation to check out the views from those.
Telstra Tower is normally looking pretty snazzy as a photo feature, but it was aided by the huge moon (I think tonight’s – Sunday’s – moon was the biggest) on Saturday.
We stayed for sunset (which was great – but it was all great) but Mt Painter is also hugely exposed, so you get a lot of wind. The May winds are biting (as is the weather generally!) so rug up if you’re heading up there.
It’s an easier walk down than it is up (unless you are taking photos while walking and therefore stumbling a little). I didn’t take my trust Garmin heart rate monitor to check exactly how long it took, but my stopping and starting for photos meant our journey was about an hour. If you didn’t have a camera, it’s probably a 15-20 minute walk up from Bussell St and a 10-15 minute walk back down. That said, even without a camera, it’s hard not to take a few minutes to stop and admire the spectacular views (which I’ve enjoyed most times I’ve been up, at all different times of year).
Date: 5 May 2012
Attendees: T1 and Boyfriend and two whippets
Worthwhile factor: Highly worthwhile
Want more? Map of Mt Painter, thanks to TAMS