Urambi Hills Nature Park

30 Sep

It’s easy to wax lyrical about Johnny Boy’s Walkabout Blog, and the man behind it: John Evans. John’s one of the fittest (and nicest) men I’ve ever met, is out and about conquering mountains most days of the week, and documents it all in detail to encourage others to get outside and breathe in the fresh air. All that, and he’s a huge supporter of this humble blog.

As you might suspect, John’s a tad fitter than this reporter, but (fortunately!) he’s keen to show the bush to just about anyone. Together with prolific Canberra tweeter Alison (chifley_alison) who runs Females (Ambling) Around Regional Canberra Mountains (FARCM – try saying that one out loud!), we agree on a public holiday, a 9am start time and some local Canberra hills – Urambi Hills, in fact.

We arrive dead on 9am with Cooper in tow, having cleared it with John that he is indeed allowed (on a leash) on this walk. This is a ‘you don’t have to book’ bushwalk and there are plenty of us, ranging in ages, backgrounds and fitness levels.

Off we go

We head from the car park on Learmoth and Athllon drives along a fire trail. There’s another trail which veers off, but we keep heading straight – John later admits this is a mistake, but soon enough we come across a fainter track which takes us straight up (and I mean up) to the saddle. While steep, the ground is grassy and solid, and it’s easy to get a reasonable pace going. There are also some pretty decent views of dear old Tuggeranong.

Heading up towards the saddle (bit between two peaks)

How’s that for fields of Salvation Jane (Patterson’s Curse)? The ACT is riddled with it – but I understand its flower produces rather delicious honey.

It’s really only a short walk to the saddle but it certainly qualifies as a heart starter. While we some of us catch our breath at the top, John takes the time to point out what we’re looking at. I’ve put together a bit of a crude and very simple creation of what John explains to us.

Cooper regally looks on while John explains what the rest of us are viewing

There are two options from here, each of them a short upwards stroll. To the south is TG (trig) 26, and to the north is a smaller but equally recognisable knoll with a very distinct tree. Of course we’re going both, with TG 26 the first quick target to bag.

I’ve actually done this bit of Urambi Hills before – but just when my love of bushwalking was really being established, and before this blog was even thought about.

Urambi Hills, June 2011

It’s a bit rocky but otherwise easy heading up to TG 26 and offers us a slightly different view of of the southern ranges, including Mt Tennent (see my review of that walk here).

Up we go

In fact, we’re able to capture a range of great views from this vantage point.

Looking towards Mt Taylor (?) and Black Mountain beyond

Tuggeranong’s use of red has always provided a stark contrast against the landscape – I like it!

Cooper’s ready for anything

In fact, Cooper looks quite good wearing Camels Hump as a hat!

Looking back over the ranges – John and I did Mt Coree together last year

With plenty of snaps, we retrace our steps back down to the saddle (some of us very gingerly – the track’s a little less solid for those of us who are heavy hoofed , and up to the northern knoll where we’re able to still get some lovely views on this cloudless day.

Looking back towards the TG 26 (the trig’s behind those trees)

This knoll’s got a pretty famous – albeit stark – tree, which stands out no matter what time of day.

The greatest expenditure of effort is over for the day. From here we’re ambling a little north, and a little west: back around the base of these two knolls along a footpad towards the Tuggeranong Stone Wall.

Down we go – surrounded by Salvation Jane

On our way we stop in the shade for some morning tea.

The jaunt to the Tuggeranong Stone Wall takes us along the Canberra Centenary Trail but not before we navigate past some rather elaborate rabbit warrens. A few fence and gate hops gets us to the wall which John explains was the boundary between the Lanyon and Yarralumla properties. There’s a substantial portion of it still standing steady. I have to admit, this sort of history in the ACT always surprises me.

Tuggeranong Stone Wall

With another fence and gate hop, we’re suddenly deposited back out of the bush and against main arterial roads, and we cross the Lake Tuggeranong wall as we head back to ours cars.

Just before we finish, John quickly darts to the side and uncovers a geocache – indeed, a number of our walkers today have been scouting them. (Don’t know what I’m talking about? Head here.) John was never one for geocaches until he learned that there were so many in the ACT, including one at every peak (which just means he has to go back to everywhere he’s been!). Geocaches seem like a great way to go on a bit of a treasure hunt on a weekend!

John shows us what a geocache might look like – and certainly what this one looks like!

And with that, it’s just a few metres til we’re back at our cars.

I have to say, walking with John exposes me to a different type of bushwalk. I’m very conservative and very happy to head back the way I’ve come, but I love that John’s always looking for the different view, the different vantage point – or indeed different adventure. One of the best things about walking with John is that he goes out of his way to explain where you’re walking, or what you’re walking past, or what might be in the distance. I rather wish I had a John Evans ‘app’ so I could point my phone at what I was looking at and he could explain it to me. Too often I’m wandering about and have to take notes to look things up when I get home!

As well as keeping really quite an extraordinary blog, John Evans is a member of the Canberra Bushwalking Club with which he regularly leads, and goes on, walks, including some twilight/after work short walks between 6.30pm and 8pm in the daylight saving months (starting this Sunday!).

And as for Urambi Hills? Well, it’s a pleasure. It’s easily navigable in the early evening for a quick walk up to the trig, but there’s plenty of ways – like our amble today – to expand the walk.

Like John says: get out there. Breathe the air.

See Canberra like you might never have seen it.

Date: Monday, 29 September 2014 (public holiday) – 9am-11.20am

Where: Urambi Hills, near Wanniassa

Cost: Free

Value for effort: High

Worthwhile factor: Very high

Want more? Check out John’s own recap of the walk (which includes a few pics of this author!) here.

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7 Responses to “Urambi Hills Nature Park”

  1. Johnny Boy September 30, 2014 at 11:38 pm #

    Tara – you’re a cac! Love your blog, love Cooper (and your man), love your love and promotion of all things Canberra. You and @chifley_alison are RED HOT.

  2. Gary Lum October 1, 2014 at 6:24 am #

    Good to see Cooper ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. CBR bound October 2, 2014 at 3:31 am #

    Great blog and great tips. I may see you on one of these one day soon. Would never have known about it but for this post. Thanks.

    • inthetaratory October 2, 2014 at 10:53 pm #

      I can’t ask for any more than that! Thank you so much – that’s wonderful feedback. I really hope to see you out and about and I’m stoked that my posts help bring ‘real’ Canberra to you!

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