Next month the spotlight of the 2019 Canberra & Region Heritage Festival will shine brightly on Namadgi National Park. The theme for this year's festival is SPACE and with the park home to the former Orroral Valley and Honeysuckle Creek tracking stations, both of which played a pivotal role in 20th century space research and exploration, there are a range of events to celebrate.
For the photographer
While most of us are tucked up in bed and snuggled under the doona, renowned nightscape photographer Ari Rex can often be found roaming Namadgi National Park, camera and tripod in hand.
"Canberrans already know how beautiful the mountains are by day, but they are even more spectacular by night," says Ari who confesses to "spending more nights in Namadgi last winter than at home".
To celebrate the close connection that Namadgi has with space exploration and research, Ari is hosting three events during the festival.
From now until early July a selection of his stunning nightscapes are on display in the Namadgi Visitors Centre where he will be on-hand on April 13 (11am-12.30pm, free entry) to answer any questions about his techniques and photographs.
If you fancy trying some night photography, on May 3 (6pm-9pm) Ari is hosting a workshop for beginners and intermediates ($135pp) in which he will reveal tips on how to best capture breathtaking images of the Milky Way. You might also want to ask him about the novel way he keeps warm during those sub-zero frosty nights in Namadgi. The answer may surprise you.
Ari's third event (free entry) at this year's festival is by far his most audacious. On May 4, in conjunction with the ACT Parks and Conservation Service, the sundown shutterbug is attempting to set a world record for the greatest number of people photographing the Milky Way. Due to the logistics of accessing the relatively remote location in the Orroral Valley, numbers have been capped, but according to Ari "that should be more than enough to set the record".
Did You Know? According to Ari, Namadgi's inland location and height above sea level cause its dry climate to be an ideal place for photographing the Milky Way and getting sharp, pinpoint images of the stars.
Bookings essential: Ph: 6207 2900 or act.gov.au/heritagefestival
For the bushwalker
If you thought last week's 8km huff-and-puff trek up the steep management track to Namadgi's former Geodetic Dome (Beam Me Up, March 16) was a bit too strenuous to dust off your hiking boots, then you might prefer Jenny Horsfield's afternoon (1pm–5pm) stroll along the Orroral Valley on the same day (April 27).
In this gentle family-friendly walk (4km each way) from the Orroral Campground, Jenny, an enthusiastic and extraordinarily knowledgeable historian, will share her vast knowledge on the European pioneering days of the valley as well as the remarkable space history of NASA's former Orroral Valley Tracking Station (used mainly for tracking satellites). Includes afternoon tea (gold coin donation) at the historic Orroral Homestead.
Did You Know? The first director of Orroral Valley Tracking Station was Tom Reid, the late husband of long-time ACT senator Margaret Reid.
Bookings essential: Ph: 6231 4535 or act.gov.au/heritagefestival
For the art aficionado
Each year, Craft ACT in conjunction with the ACT Parks and Conservation Service manage an artists-in-residence program where artists from a range of fields can apply to bunk down for a couple of weeks at Namadgi's Ready-Cut Cottage in the Gudgenby Valley, and to be inspired by their surroundings.
Not surprisingly, all five artists selected this year have responded in art form to the upcoming 50th anniversary of the moon landing and on April 13 (10am-2pm, free entry) they will be at the cottage as part of an Open Day to talk collectively about their time at Namadgi, and what work they have been making during their residencies.
As part of the open day, each artist will also be running a workshop. I'm especially intrigued by the session to be jointly run by jeweller Sabine Pagan and silversmith Rohan Nicols in which the duo say "participants will have the opportunity to produce a handcrafted replica of the Orbit pendant (identity dog tags) worn by space crafters Pagan and Nicol on their epic 2019 re-enactment of the Apollo mission on its 50th anniversary". I can't wait to see the final products.
Did You Know? The former Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station received and relayed to the world the first TV images of astronaut Neil Armstrong setting foot on the moon in July 1969. While the dish has been long dismantled, you can still visit the site and it's outdoor display, near the end of Apollo Road in Namadgi National Park.
Bookings essential: Ph: 6262 9333 or act.gov.au/heritagefestival
Mailbag: Clyde Craziness
While cyclists might be wisely steering clear of the Clyde Mountain (Downhill Daredevils, March 2), it appears some show-off skateboarders are using the treacherous mountain pass as a race track.
"Last time I drove to Batemans Bay, I saw an idiot on the Clyde mountain zooming down on a skateboard," Thomas Schulze says. "He was doing about 60km/h".
You'd think that would be crazy enough, however Schulze reports "there was also a ute driving about four metres behind - filming him. It looked like a recipe for disaster to me!"
The Clyde isn't the only place where skateboarders flout the road rules in the pursuit of online notoriety. A few years back I passed a group of about 30 skateboarders competing in an illegal race down the hairpins of the Wee Jasper Road above its junction with Mountain Creek Road.
"As we aren't supposed to race on the roads, we keep the location of our races undercover until the last possible moment," one skater explained to me. "The lack of traffic, camphor of the corners and gradient all make this road great for racing."
I can see the attraction if the road is officially closed to traffic for such an event, but given they usually race on a road that is open to (unsuspecting) traffic, it's downright dangerous for all.
Further to this column's recent foray into flushing out readers' birthdays that match their postcodes (It's all in a name, March 2), Warren Müller of Kambah reports his wife. "Janelle has her birthday on the 29th of February – less common than the usual birthday – and we have lived for many years in Kambah (with postcode) 2902."
"She has noticed many times she is duplicating '2902' on forms but we can hardly say it has enriched or diminished her quality of life," muses Warren. "Statistically, as Kambah is a big suburb, it is highly likely there are several other people in Kambah with February 29 birthdays".
Contact Tim: Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter: @TimYowie or write c/- The Canberra Times, 9 Pirie St, Fyshwick.
Where in Canberra (from a balloon)?
Clue: Floating map of Oz?
Degree of difficulty: Easy
Congratulations to James Kuta of Crestwood as the first reader to correctly identify last week's photo as a view from a balloon of the ACT Legislative Assembly building at Civic Square. James just beat a number of readers, including Amanda Nott of Curtin, Conrad Burden of Braddon and Jas Hugonnet of Hughes, to the prize. Meanwhile Rohan Goyne of Evatt could even see his office window in the photo from when he worked in the building from 1999-2008 as a chief of staff to Simon Corbell MLA .
Regular readers may recall that Peter Lambert of Campbell submitted a pre-10am entry in this quiz a couple of weeks ago to allow him to get a good night's sleep before the first day's competition at the Masters Cross Country Skiing World Cup in Beitostølen in Norway. While the timing of his entry meant his entry was invalid, Lambert's extra sleep did pay rich dividends, with the Australian team beating Great Britain in the "Cross Country Skiing Ashes". Well done Peter and team. Let's hope our cricketers can replicate your success against the English later this year.
How to enter: Email your guess along with your name and address to email@example.com. The first email sent after 10am, Saturday March 23, 2019 will win a double pass to Dendy - The Home of Quality Cinema.