Canberra Centenary Trail – Section 1 (Mt Majura to Mt Ainslie)

18 Nov

I have a confession to make. I’ve never walked up Mt Ainslie. Ever. Okay, that’s a lie. I never had walked up Mt Ainslie. However, the Canberra Centenary Trail is a good motivator. On Sunday afternoon, I find myself taking part of an official Cententary Trail walkers-only detour between the two peaks of Majura and Ainslie.

We park one car at the top of Mt Ainslie and park the other near the horse paddocks at the back of Hackett/Watson. We head up our usual path, to the Mt Majura saddle (is that what it’s called? The bit before one would normally turn and head towards the trig).

Half way up at the big rock-y area

Half way up at the big rock-y area

Obligatory pic of Black Mountain tower

Obligatory pic of Black Mountain tower

It’s just past 3.30pm, and we stumble across the Friends of Mt Majura 10 year anniversary party, we’re they’re having cake with views toward the Canberra airport. Instead of turning left toward the trig, we turn right and head towards Mt Ainslie.

Looking down towards the airport

Looking down towards the airport

Turning right - an official Centenary Trail points the way

Turning right – an official Centenary Trail points the way

We walk a little lower than the ridge for a way, before the track turns and starts heading

down

down

down.

 

Path scenery - the path is much narrower than the path we take up to Majura, but still very stable / very few loose rocks

Path scenery – the path is much narrower than the path we take up to Majura, but still very stable / very few loose rocks

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Looking towards Mt Ainslie

Looking towards Mt Ainslie as we head down. Thankfully, it’s not too steep (… I’d feel differently if I was coming up!)

Flora and fauna

Flora and fauna

Sharp turns as the path heads down

Sharp turns as the path heads down

We essentially reach the bottom of Mt Majura… and almost join up to the path that follows entirely along the base of it. We reflect that we could have walked along the base from our starting position and got to the same point in much less time and effort (and followed the actual Centenary Trail, rather than the detour), but where’s the fun in that?

Reaching the bottom of Mt Majura

Reaching the bottom of Mt Majura

It’s a hot slog along the base, and Mt Ainslie looks very far away. Boyfriend takes some photos of me looking particularly cranky (there’s a lot of fly-swatting and a bit of huff and puff) but I’ll spare you my angry face.

It’s a very exposed part of the walk with very little shade; I’m glad we’re not walking any earlier in the day.

And on wae go

And on we go around the base of Mt Ainslie

When we get to the base of Mt Ainslie it’s a little confusing about which way we should go, and if we’re about to choose a path which is going to add time to our trip. The walk which appears to be around the base / heading toward the airport is the right way to go: eventually we come across another Centenary Trail sign which has a little more detail than the others.

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It diverts us off the base track and up the mountain.

This is a LOT steeper than it looks

This is a LOT steeper than it looks

It’s very steep to start with, but I’m placated knowing that it means we’re getting closer to the top. We meet just a handful of walkers coming the other way.

Two roads diverged... but the Centenary Trail sign told me to take the road less (?) travelled

Two roads diverged… but the Centenary Trail sign told me to take the road less (?) travelled

Eventually we come to a fork in the path – the path to the left takes us up to the bitumen road for cars, and the path to the right (helpfully pointed out to us by the Centenary Trail sign) takes us on an arguably safer route.

I’m impatient at the best of times, but I find this part of the walk incredibly frustrating. It’s a steady incline, but it just seems to go on and on. The thickness of the black trees and constantly being near the bitumen road makes it very difficult to know exactly where we are or how much further we have.

Soldier on

Soldier on

Forest of leafless trees

Forest of leafless trees

After what seems an age but is probably 10-15 minutes, the path and the curtain of trees stop. Stone steps end our journey.

I think this Centenary Trail sign is pointing in a slightly wrong direction...

I think this Centenary Trail sign is pointing in a slightly wrong direction…

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Yay!

Yay!

A Canberra 100 frame is placed in at bit of a strange spot at the top of the stairs. Great to walk through it as an official end to the walk, but it doesn’t frame a particularly interesting vista.

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A bull-ant nest is also located immediately underneath it. Cue quite a lot of shrieking and a great stamping dance as I successfully saved myself from getting bitten. (I have saved you from these images as well.)

Happy walkers!

Happy walkers!

Obligatory view from Mt Ainslie pic

Obligatory view from Mt Ainslie pic

Obligatory view from Mt Ainslie with Cooper and Boyfriend pic

Obligatory view from Mt Ainslie with Cooper and Boyfriend pic

Looking back towards Mt Majura

Looking back towards Mt Majura

WALK SNAPSHOT

Time required: I expect this to take us 3 hours, but it takes just 1 hour 45 minutes, including with plenty of stops and photos

Height: The saddle of Mt Majura is about 800m, and Mt Ainslie is 846m

Distance: Google Maps tells me it’s about 7.8 kilometres

Views: Some (not me) argue that Mt Ainslie has the best views in Canberra. They’re certainly pretty good, but I prefer Mt Painter.

Flora and fauna excitement level: We don’t see a lot of flowering plants or wildlife. There are a lot of butterflies, a few twittering birds (but it’s still a warm part of the day), a few bugs and lots of flies.

Effort expended: Medium. This isn’t a meandering walk, but there are plenty of periods of respite.

Quality of track: Medium-high. The track is well maintained (or, perhaps is its best quality in the lead up to the opening of the Centenary Trail). There are very few slippery areas. Signage could be a little clearer.

Value for effort: Medium. This is a good walk but it’s not the most interesting, and nor is it apparently the hardest walk up Mt Ainslie (by far). I’m very glad to have done it but I do not feel like I have been seriously missing out.

Date: 3.15pm-4.55pm, Sunday, 17 November

Cost: Free

Worthwhile factor: Worthwhile

Want more? The Canberra Centenary Trail website has some more detailed and easier to understand maps up which you can access here. The map which captures the walk we did is here.

 

7 Responses to “Canberra Centenary Trail – Section 1 (Mt Majura to Mt Ainslie)”

  1. Chris November 22, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

    Great photos from the centenary trail. Walk up One Tree Hill from Hall next – it has great views that you won’t have seen before.

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