The Yerrabi Walking Track is within the ACT, but, like some of the best walks, far from Canberra. It’s past Tuggeranong, past Tharwa, past Naas Road, and halfway down Boboyan Road (not to be confused with Old Boboyan Road). Oh, and Boboyan Road is a dirt road. It’s probably shorter to say that the Track is on the way to Adaminaby. It is also advisable to tell your walking companion – and the person in the driver’s seat – how far the car ride will be before you set off so you don’t have to have any awkward conversations along the lines of ‘so just how far is this?’ an hour into the journey…
One of the many things to love about Canberra is that if you want to climb a decent hill and immerse yourself in nature, you’re at most only a few suburbs away from doing that. One of the many things to love about Canberra in summer is that you can do this in the hours after you finish work, thanks to glorious daylight savings.
My love of Mt Painter is well known. I try to spend a lot of time there, and spend probably even more time telling people about how magical it and its views are.
With that in mind, I think it’s safe to say I’m having an affair.
If you’ve ever sat in somebody’s backyard in Banks or Conder, or have looked up when you’ve been travelling to or beyond Tharwa, there’s a chance you’ve probably seen a trig at the top of what looks like a nicely formed mountain. I’d spent a fair bit of time gazing at it from various positions a few hundred metres below, and after finally confirming it was ‘Big Monks’, knew it was a challenge I had to undertake.
There are so many good bushwalks to do in and around the ACT. It took me a few years to realise this, and a few more years to get an appreciation of just how great they are. A great half day walk (even a quarter day walk!) is Booroomba Rocks. It’s nestled just on the other side of Mt Tennent in Namadgi National Park, and provides some extraordinary views of the ACT.
Mt Tennent is a bastard*. There’s no other way to put it. The first time I braved it was August 2011, and on finishing it I made the promise myself to never, ever do it again. That was until I got my new Heart Rate Monitor, which piqued my curiosity – if Mt Tennent is such a hard slog, how many calories does it burn? Of course, the only way to find out was by doing it again. And that’s how, exactly six months later, I found myself back on Mt Tennent, and cursing it.
It was Australia Day, and, having some idea of the huge amount of calories I was going to consume in the afternoon, I decided that it would be worth my while to try to burn off a few beforehand. As one of walking God John Evans’ first recorded walks ever, Oakey Hill had stuck in my mind as an area I wanted to explore.
Oakey Hill is that hill you drive by just before (or after) Mt Taylor when you’re on the Tuggeranong Parkway, situated just on the edge of the suburb of Lyons. We parked at the entrance in Dennes Place and entered it from there.
The first thing we came across was horses! Oakey Hill has an equestrian trail on it, and the whippets were very curious about what these ‘big dogs’ were doing. There was an alternate route so we managed to avoid crossing paths.
It’s steady going on the track with only a very small ascent as you come around the side of Oakey Hill towards the Parkway and it’s easy
to do it quickly. Fortunately, the hill does live up to its name, as the trek towards the summit is a steep one. Before you reach it you encounter a proper road – indeed, you could probably just drive to the top of Oakey Hill if you were so inclined! – and then a 50m walk through a narrow dirt path to the trig.
What surprised me about Oakey Hill is that it’s actually got some really great views (not like Black Mountain!), particularly of Mt Taylor and Mt Tennent behind it, as well as views of the very recognisable Camels Hump up in the ranges of the Tidbinbilla Nature Park. Of course, it’s also got some great views of the Parkway and the surrounding suburbs, too!
It’s an easy walk back down but felt like a good use of 45 minutes (as opposed to the activities we had planned for the rest of the day!). If you’ve got visitors and you want to give them a view of Canberra without wearing them out for the rest of their stay, this track is a good one.
And finally, as a special treat to you, dear reader… I recently purchased a Heart Rate Monitor to get an accurate estimate of how embarrassingly slow I can be. But better yet, the HRM has a GPS, so it also records the track we took. You can also check out the elevation, the distance and my calories burned here.
Date: Thursday, 26 January
Worthwhile factor: Worthwhile, particularly because it’s one of the few nature parks where you can bring dogs