Hunter Valley Walks: Abernethy & Kitchener

abernethy

  • Distance: 2-7 km
  • Time: 1 hour+
  • Summary: Two interesting walks that take you to abandoned coal mining sites with remaining equipment providing an insight into some of the history of mining in the area. Generally uneven terrain following trails through the bush

Start by driving to Abernethy (near Cessnock) and park at the end of Ferguson street just past the (impressive) Abernethy Hotel which must have been strategically built just there to cater for thirsty miners on their way home from work!

There are no signs for a walk or the abandoned site but just follow the trail that goes straight ahead. Go past the first turn-off to your left but take the second one. This is a trail that may be suitable for a 4 wheel drive but not after wet weather, and it looks to be frequented by trail bikes. Walking downwards you’ll soon spot the tall chimney, but first you will reach the old winding house for the Aberdare South Colliery which was in operation between 1913 and 1927. Half the roof is missing and it has been neglected, but the brickwork is still impressive and you get an impression of previous grandeur. Go to the right and follow a trail around and once it loops back you will get to the site of the old shaft which has been appropriately covered and cemented. Continue on to the chimney which looks to have a few cracks in it and may not be standing for many more years.

Then walk down towards the dam and walk around it with the dam on your left. It is quite idyllic with ducks swimming and lots of birds in the bush. On the other side you need to turn right and then walk back up to the main trail which is the first intersection you walked past on the way in. Turn right again and you’ll be back at the car (this walk is about 2km long)

abernethy with dam

Next, drive down to Kitchener which is sign posted from Ferguson street (left turn) – it is less than 4 km and will take you about 5 minutes. The Poppet head Reserve is fairly obvious with its restored Poppet head (i.e. winding tower above the mine shaft) dominating the park. This belonged to the Aberdare Central Colliery which was in operation between 1914-1961. The poppet head and the surrounding park with facilities were restored by local enthusiasts in the 1990s. With the poppet head at KItchener and the winding house and chimney at Abernethy you get a good feel for how a mine site was set up and operated in the last century. There is an excellent playground and barbecue facilities in the park and extensive coverage of the restoration project is displayed.

kitchener

There are two walking trails at the Poppet head Reserve; a short one (1.5km) around the adjoining dam, again teeming with ducks and birdlife, and a longer one (5km) that goes through the bushland.

Map of Abernethy walk and Map of short Poppet head walk

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Inverell Walks: Goonoowigall Reserve and Riverwalk

Inverell_boulder

  • Distance: 3-6 km / 4300-8600 steps
  • Time:   30 min – 2 hours
  • Summary:  Inverell is a lovely country town in North-western NSW. There is a nice pedestrian pathway along the riverfront which can be combined with town heritage walks. In addition, there are State conservation areas and bushland reserves nearby which offer more rugged bushwalks, one of which is described below.

For the town walk, it is easy to find parking by the Inverell Visitors centre. The pedestrian walk and river is right next to the centre and you can go in either direction and loop back through town or by crossing one of the bridges. The river is apparently home to platypus although they are of course notoriously difficult to spot being nocturnal and shy. The Visitors centre also have maps for both town walks and for bushwalks in the surrounding area.

 Inverell_riverwalk

The Goonoowigall bushland reserve is located only 5 km from Inverell town centre to the south on Tingha road. There is a parking area with picnic tables and maps of the area.

It is fairly hilly country with large granite boulders and ironbark and gum trees. There is abundant wildlife with over 100 species of birds, wallabies and numerous species of reptiles. A large lizard was spotted as well as numerous birds.

The signs from the parking lot relate to the short (2km) Nhunta Karra Kara track but as you start walking to your left you will find the track called Thunderbolt track (4km) – it is worth having a map from the Inverell Vistors centre so you don’t get lost! This track winds its way through the forest and then starts climbing quite steeply up to a look-out with good views back to Inverell.

Inverell_view

As you continue along the top there is a link-track to the Middle Creek walk in the valley below. 150 years ago this valley was mined by Chinese miners and remains of the settlements and mining activity can be seen on this walk. I stayed on the Thunderbolt track but did the short detour to Thunderbolts look-out (200m each way). This takes you to some spectacular balancing boulders and nice views over Middle Creek valley below.

Further down from the hills there is another link-track to the Middle Creek walk and I did go down here to reach “the Slot” (600m each way). The Slot is an area of wide rock slabs that once were the base for a dam. Water flowing here once operated a water –wheel that was used for the mining works and you can see some large iron spikes that held the water-wheel.

Inverell_slot

Back up on the Thunderbolt track it is a fairly flat walk through the bushland back to the parking area.

 

 

Maitland walk # 22: Wallalong

phascogale

  • Distance: 4.8 km / 6886 steps
  • Time: ~50 min
  • Summary: Wallalong is a quiet, rural community that is very intent on staying that way. Signs with “Keep Wallalong Rural” are posted everywhere and it certainly feels like you’re a long way away from the city. The walk can be done on wheels but with no footpaths it means walking/cycling etc alongside the road which is narrow at times.

Go to Morpeth, take a left across the river and then right onto Hinton road. Stay on this until after the river crossing, take first left up High Street towards Wallalong. Go left at Morpeth road and park at Bowthorne Reserve.

Walk back on Morpeth road and turn left up High Street. This takes you through the centre of Wallalong. Walk past the first right turn into Rosebank Drive and continue until you reach the second entrance. This is an 80km zone so walk carefully as there is not much room alongside the road, thankfully there is not much traffic. Go right and stay on Rosebank drive as it winds its way around the suburb.

This is a lovely quiet neighbourhood and also home to the Phascogale. The Phascogale is a little-known native animal that belongs to a group of marsupials called the “dasyurids” which also includes better-known species like the Tasmanian devil and the quolls. It is a threatened species and therefore cats are completely prohibited and dogs must be kept under control at all times in this area. The Phascogale is a shy creature and only venture out at night so unfortunately you’re unlikely to see one.

 

When you get back onto High street, turn left and walk back until you see Market street on your right. Walk down here to the T-junction and then left down Scott street. Take the first right down Morpeth View road and look for the path on your right which will take you to the back of the reserve. Walk across and back to your car. Map of Wallalong walk

wallalong

Canberra walk: Lake Burley Griffin

Canberra 1

  • Distance: 5km / 7143 steps
  • Time 1 hr+
  • Summary: Canberra is a great place to go walking with lots of well-maintained pathways and nice open spaces with good views. This walk is a perfect way to see many of the sights of Canberra and is ideal for wheels.

This walk starts at the public car park for Commonwealth park accessed from Albert street and Birannie drive.  This is near Commonwealth avenue bridge, which connects South Canberra with Capital Hill.

Go down to the path hugging the lake and walk to the left underneath the bridge.  There is a pathway all around the lake which is a total of 28km, however it can be divided into three loops and this walk is the middle or “central” loop.  Initially the path takes you past Commonwealth park and Nerang pool, an aquarium pond full of birdlife and surrounded by lovely flowers and shady trees.

Continue on and you’ll walk past a statue of R G Menzies, the longest serving prime minister of Australia with 18 years in total over two periods.  The stretch of path between Commonwealth Avenue bridge and Kings Avenue bridge is also called the RG Menzies walk and recognizes his role in establishing and developing Canberra as “ a worthy capital of Australia”.

Canberra 2

Just before you reach the bridge by Kings Avenue there’s a monument honouring the merchant navy on your left and then you’ll see a small island on your right.  This is Aspen Island and it is worth a detour.  Walk across the footbridge, named after John Gordon who was appointed the first Canberra carillonist.  The bell tower on the island was a gift to the people of Australia from the Government of the United Kingdom to celebrate 50 years of Federal Government in Canberra and was presented by Queen Elizabeth in 1970. With its 55 bells is it still in use and it is a lovely setting.

Canberra 3

Shortly thereafter you need to get up to the Kings Avenue bridge and walk across.  On the other side you’ll see a path leading off the bridge to your right and then walk towards the lake again. You’ll walk along the back of the National Art Gallery with its sculpture garden, including the Angel of the North statue.  This is a small replica of the giant original placed on a hillside outside Gateshead in Northern England, and this life-sized model was given to the museum by the British Government.

Canberra 4

Continue along the lake past various government buildings, including the High Court of Australia.  When you get to the Commonwealth Avenue bridge, follow the path onto the bridge, cross over to the other side and you’re back where you started.

Windsor: Riverwalk

windsor

  • Distance: 2 km/ 2850 steps
  • Time: 25 min
  • Summary: A nice short walk by the Hawkesbury river in the historic town of Windsor. Suitable for wheels.

Park by the Scout Hall in Johnson street.  Walk down to the river and you will see the paved pathway.  Go right and walk through the Howe park reserve until you run out of path.  You are now at the rugby union ground and you could extend the walk by looping around the field.  Walk back the way you came and continue on the path as it meanders along the river.  There is a nice, solidly built look-out but unfortunately the view of the river has now been mostly obscured by trees and foliage.

The path ends at the bridge (by Bridge street!).  Turn around and you can either just walk back the way you came, or, to explore a bit more of Windsor, take the first left up Baker street. This takes you past the Hawkesbury Regional Museum and up to the pedestrian mall on George street with a number of quirky shops and cafes.  Turn right and walk down George street until you get to Johnson street, turn right again, and shortly thereafter you will be back at the Scout Hall.

Windsor is the third-oldest place of British settlement on the Australian continent with settlement at the location first established around 1791. The local tourist office offers a map for a heritage walk for those that are interested in more detailed history of Windsor and its buildings.

Map of Windsor Riverwalk

Maitland walk #20: Tenambit

tenambit

  • Distance: 4.6km / 6629 steps
  • Time: ~ 50 min
  • Summary: A  nice walk through the suburb of Tenambit,
    both the older and newer parts. Quiet streets and beautiful jacaranda trees in
    bloom this time of year. Could be challenging with wheels in places due to lack
    of pavement.

Park by the Tenambit sports oval, just off Houston avenue.

Go left down Houston avenue and then left again down Jacob place. Go to the end and continue through the reserve along the golf course and you will get to Golf link road. Turn right up Tyrrells street, walk past Lena O’Brien park and Tenambit Community centre up to the t-section with Maize street. Turn left , walk past the shops and continue until you get to Chambers street on your right, just before going down the hill.

Go right, up to Thompson street and turn right again.  Walk along and Thompson street where you have some lovely views towards the mountains.  Thomson street turns into Collinson street and stay here until you get past Tenambit public school and turn left onto Edward street. Stay on Edward street and when it starts veering to the right it turns into Crofton avenue. Again, there are some lovely views across farmland towards the mountains.

Just down the hill, go left at Wirrah street and follow this until you reach Jenna drive. This is a newer subdivision with a fair bit of building going on, as well as still a few empty lots. Turn right and then left onto Laurie drive, and then right onto Riley James drive.  Follow this up the steep hill and around back to Jenna drive (right) and then turn left up Blackely avenue. This will take you through to Goldingham street, keep right and stay on this all the way back to Maize street and you will now see the Tenambit sports oval across the road.

Please see link for map of Tenambit walk

Lismore: Rocky Creek Dam walks

rocky creek dam_2

  • Distance: ~4km / 5714 steps
  • Time: 1 hour+
  • Summary: A collection of short walks that can be easily combined to experience different aspects of the rain forest reserve and the dam. Great set up with well maintained paths, boardwalks, bridges and signage.  We went in early afternoon and did not see any wildlife but at dusk or dawn you could be lucky and perhaps catch a glimpse of a platypus in the creek! Not suitable for wheels.

The Rocky Creek dam is located about 20km north of Lismore in Far North New South Wales. Follow signs to  the village of Dunoon, past impressive fields and fields of Macadamia trees, and then you will see Rocky Creek dam signposted.  There is ample parking.

There are a number of paths and we combined three of them to make it into about a 4km walk, covering most of the different areas within the reserve.  First we went down the hill towards the dam wall.  This is also a popular wedding spot and being a Saturday afternoon there was in fact a wedding ceremony happening as we walked past! Just before we got onto the dam wall we took a sharp left and walked up some steep steps to a playground and picnic area.

Walk across and to the right and you will see two paths.  We went onto the “platypus walk” to the right which quickly turns into a boardwalk, including a bridge across the creek. Being a bright sunny afternoon we did not see a platypus in the creek but it was covered in beautiful water lilies.  Once the boardwalk ends, the path continues through the forest and it is lovely and shady.  At the end you can either turn right and walk up to a look-out before going back on the dam wall or you can do what we did and walk onto the concrete dam spill way.

Across the spill way another path commences; the Cedar walk, which takes you through the forest and into areas of rainforest regeneration. Check out the Rocky creek dam information sheet at the Rous water reserve web page for more information on the extensive work that has been done within the reserve This walk does not have a bridge so you need to cross the creek by jumping across the rocks.  It is a steady climb back up to the picnic area where you started the platypus walk.

Retrace your steps down the stairs and this time head out on the dam wall.  This is apparently a favourite spot for water dragons and whip snakes to sunbake.  Once you have admired the view and the engineering ingenuity of the wall, head back up the hill to the parking lot.

rocky creek dam_1