With the weather warming up, many Canberrans will soon be planning annual pilgrimages to the south coast for some much-needed salt-water therapy.
There's a good chance that many who head down the Clyde will also explore some of the coastline on foot - whether a barefoot beachcomb or a short stroll through a national park.
However, if one Canberran has his way, more adventurous hikers might soon be trekking along the coast, well beyond our favourite holiday haunts for weeks at a time. Yes, weeks.
Keen Canberra bushwalker David Briese is championing a "great walk" that stretches from Bundeena on the southern outskirts of Sydney all the way to the Victorian border. That's more than 660 kilometres and spanning almost 400 beaches. An epic walk in anyone's books.
"It has the potential to be one of the world's most spectacular coastal walks," asserts David, who has stepped-out along many of Australia's, and indeed the world's, great multi-day hikes.
However, unlike some of Australia's well-trodden multi-day hikes such as the Heysen Trail in South Australia, David points out that "rather than a purpose-built track, this is a walk connecting a number of existing trails, including the Royal National Park Coast Track, Aboriginal heritage tracks like the Bingie Dreaming track near Tuross Head and the ever popular Light to Light near Eden".
"From long stretches of sand to secluded tree-fringed coves, coastal lakes and rivers, sea cliffs, native forest, heathland and abundant wildlife, this walk screams diversity," boasts David, who believes, "the biggest drawcard of the proposed south coast walk is the constantly changing landscape.
"What's more, due to the number of towns and villages dotted along the coast, you don't have to rough it in tents, rather you can also bunk down in B&Bs almost the whole way."
After taking a redundancy as a research scientist, David recently completed the entire walk with his wife Pennie.
"We set off, not really knowing if it was going to be feasible, but it was and what a wonderful experience; a combination of fishing and forestry tracks, existing walking tracks and lots and lots of beach walking," he says.
Since documenting the walk on his blog, a steady tide of local and international walkers have attempted the entire walk. David recalls the response of an American couple, "who had walked all over the world" and on completing "the great south walk" lauded it as "one of the best walks they'd ever done".
"They were especially impressed by the birds and the whales," says David, who also reports a couple in their early 20s covered the entire distance in just 20 days.
"That's over 30km/day with no rest days," David says. "I'm not sure what they looked at." Indeed.
While these young walkers obviously saw it as an "achievement walk", David believes one of the advantages of the walk is that it can be tackled in a series of stages over time, thereby attracting groups and families.
So what's to stop the walk being promoted now? Well, according to David, there are a three key obstacles, that with a bit of work, can be overcome.
Firstly, there are some missing links of track, but they total less than 10km (mainly in Mimosa National Park, near Tathra), which out of 660km is a tiny percentage of the distance.
Secondly, as the south coast is punctuated by more than 30 river mouths or lakes, in most cases this means long hikes inland to find a river crossing to continue the walk. Think, for example, about Moruya, where there is no easy crossing of the river at the coast - walking into town to cross the bridge adds 16km to the overall distance to the walk.
"We used air mattresses to cross many of the crossings, but that wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea," David says.
"We also got lifts in oyster punts, hire boats and even a surf rescue boat in exchange for a small donation."
David believes a simple formalising of some of these arrangements with local businesses in a booklet or online guide "where you can call ahead and arrange a transfer across the river" will solve the problem.
However, arguably David's biggest hurdle is for a range of councils to jointly market the walk in its entirety.
"The walk will provide benefits to local communities such as walker and luggage transport, accommodation options, plus activities like kayaking and Indigenous heritage tours," David says.
"So it's a win-win for all."
So what if the councils and the NSW government do give it the green light? A walk of such length needs a name, doesn't it?
"The word 'great' has been flogged to death with walks all around the world, and besides, Trump killed the word," David says. "So I'm in search of a catchy name."
What would you call this proposed walk? The Whale Way? The 400 Beaches Walk? Perhaps its name should link to the ancient Indigenous history along the way, such as the Yuin Country Coastal Walk.
Proposed route: Starts at Bundeena in the Royal National Park and finishes in Mallacoota just across the Victorian border. More: greatsouthcoastwalk.net
David's tip: Walk in a southerly direction, that way you aren't looking into the sun the whole way and also by the time you reach the more challenging section of the walk through the Nadgee Wilderness near the Victorian border, you'll be fit and ready to tackle it.
Top five: David's favourite spots along the walk:
- Sandstone cliffs of Royal National Park
- Green paddocks leading to basalt cliff-studded coastline near Kiama
- Remarkable geology of Murramarang National Park
- Pinnacles Beach, just south of Merimbula - a beautiful north facing sweep of sand that "seems to go on forever".
- Merrica River very peaceful remote wilderness south of Disaster Bay.
Who is pilfering our street signs?
While Barbara Mecham, of Melba, can't explain why the names of several streets in Canberra's older suburbs are displayed on the kerb and not on posts (Suburban Secret, August 24) she can reveal why some streets names in some relatively newer suburbs only appear on the kerb.
"The reason the name of the street is displayed on the kerb means that it's a popular sign which disappears regularly if on a post," Barbara reports.
"There is a Love Street in Flynn where the street sign has gone missing many times over the years even after the sign being displayed at a greater height than most street signs.
"The street now simply has "Love St" written on the kerb."
Like your Akubra-clad columnist, Barbara wonders if there are other "popular" streets signs in Canberra that regularly go "missing"? Due to car racing rivalry leading to sign pilfering, I'm aware that "Holden Place" in Flynn and "Ford Place" in Gordon have also been stencilled on the kerb. There must be others.
The practice of engraving street names on the kerb in some older suburbs enabled adventurous kids to navigate the drains of the inner north.
Tracey Jay reports that as a child her partner Terry, "knew the outlay of the drain system within their suburb as they used to look out the drain holes to read the street signs on the gutter to get their bearings, all this unbeknown to Terry's parents."
I don't know about you, but the only creatures I see poking their heads out of street drains these days are feral cats.
Oh, and for the record, this column does not encourage such behaviour, which can of course be very dangerous, especially in an unexpected rain or burst water main event.
Still on street furnishings, John Wilson of Kambah reports that the old-school silent cop on the corner of Flinders Way and La Perouse Street in Red Hill "is almost submerged by successive new layers of bitumen". Heck, perhaps someone should give it a snorkel.
WHERE IN CANBERRA?
Cryptic Clue: A misnomer
Degree of difficulty: Easy-medium
Last week: Congratulations to David Evans, of Fadden, who was the first reader to correctly identify last week's photo, sent in by Thomas Schulze, of Kambah, as "a bird sculpture overlooking Lake Tuggeranong at the northern end of Tuggeranong Town Park a few hundred metres up from the college".
How to enter: Email your guess along with your name and address to email@example.com. The first email sent after 10am Saturday, October 12, 2019 will win a double pass to Dendy - The Home of Quality Cinema.
While recently clambering up the Gibraltar Rocks walking track at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, Jonathan Miller, of Curtin, noticed this Grass tree (Xanthorrhoea australis) doing its best impersonation of a swan. For the record, for the remainder of daylight saving time, Tidbinbilla is open until 8pm each night. This means there's plenty of time to visit the park's wetland sanctuary to spy on some real swans and other bird life, as well as platypuses.