Recently the National Arboretum of Canberra opened new walking tracks and these have already become very popular with walkers in Canberra.
The Arboretum has more than 48 000 trees in 100 forests, and has been under development since 2003.
We started at a midpoint along the track…..at the top of Dairy Farmer Hill….seen in the distance in this photo. The Village Centre is on the right, the Margaret Whitlam Pavilion on the left, and a grassy amphitheatre for concerts in the centre.
Standing at the top of Dairy Farmers Hill is a sculpture called Nest III, welded from discarded steel objects, mostly abandoned farm machinery found on farms around the region. The artist is Richard Moffatt.
While we were there a magpie was feeding her chick perched on the nest alongside that formidable looking eagle. Nice to see.
This is a view of three of the forests below our path, leading down to the Village Centre.
Here is the purple-leaved Smokebush. Jackie French, a well known gardener and writer in Canberra once said that the Smokebush in her garden was the most asked about plant in her extensive garden!
The Smokebush is a garden hybrid and is widely used in parks and gardens, particularly for colour contrast.
In spring, fruits begin to form, hidden amongst a network of fine fluffy stems, giving the effect of clouds of coral pink smoke, hence the name Smokebush. During November the ”smoke” will turn dark red, and the stems will loose their fluffiness as the tiny dark red fruits appear.
As we walk down the hill we come to the Saharan cypress, considered to be endangered, with only 230 naturally occurring trees known to exist. In the Sahara, nomads shelter under the trees and their herds eat fallen cones, which in turn leads to fewer cypress trees growing.
The guide with me was pleased to see cones appearing on one of the trees, a sure sign they have adapted to life in Canberra!
Just before we reach the Village Centre we come to a forest where the trees are commonly called Judas Trees, or European Red Bud. This species grows in the Middle East and southern Europe, in woodlands, on stony arid slopes, and along banks of rivers. Here they are surviving well on a sloping part of the hill.
There is a long standing belief that Judas Iscariot hanged himself on one of these trees, thus the name, but it could also have come from the French common name, Arbre de Judee, meaning the ”tree of Judea” referring to the hilly regions of the country where it is most common.
As we arrive at of the Village Centre, I took a photo of the beautiful stone walls with Acacias and grasses growing happily in the front. Very low maintenance!
There is an lookout right next to the Village Centre and these two beautiful trees were planted nearby.
I was not surprised to see they were the oldest Japanese black pines grown in Australia from imported seeds, and styled as Niwika, similar to Bonsai.
Meanwhile, on this sunny spring day, a family is already taking advantage of the grassy amphitheatre to fly a kite.
Another lovely green space in Canberra!