Prompted by the photographs of a range of different trig points adorning the top of Mt Kosciuszko over the last century (Spotted, June 20), several curious readers including Julia Ross of Watson want to know "just how many trig points there are here in the ACT". "And what's more, are they all metal quadripods like the one atop Mt Majura?" she asks.
While you'd think the obvious go-to place for any Canberra trig facts and figures would be Jeff Brown, Surveyor-General of the ACT, there is one other local who is more obsessed by the number of these fixed survey points in the ACT than anyone in Jeff's team.
Meet Lauren Ogden of Belconnen, who, several years ago, while searching for novel ways to improve her leg strength, "started walking up Canberra's hills".
While conquering a few suburban peaks, Lauren began to notice "weird triangular-type pods at the top of hills".
"I had no idea what they were, I just thought they were to mark high points around the ACT," she recalls.
After discovering that there were more than 100 of these trig points dotted around the ACT, before long Lauren was on a mission to trek to every single one.
"It was probably a bit of needing to finish a list, and it became an addiction," confesses Lauren.
"I started off with all the easy urban ones and then bushwalking legend, John Evans of the Canberra Bushwalking Club, helped out by leading walks to some of the more remote ones," explains Lauren, whose unusual quest took her many parts of the ACT that she "wouldn't have gone to otherwise".
So back to Julia's question of just how many trigs are there in the ACT? "Well, it all depends which list you use," says Lauren. "Each list I found was slightly different, some included those on the NSW border and others seemed to be missing some of the trigs."
Frustrated by the lack of a comprehensive lists, but hell-bent to get to every ACT trig point, Lauren started her own list and between December 2014 and November 2017 successfully snapped a selfie at every one of the 104 trigs.
That's 104 weekend adventures that lured Lauren (and many of her friends, most willing) to just about every high points in our territory.
One of Lauren's most memorable trig hunts was a summer walk to Mt Gingera in the Brindabellas when she was forced to brave a hailstorm. "We were so soaked, we just kept going, but it wasn't as bad as Mt Kelly [in Namadgi] when we got caught in a lightning storm and had to hide out in some rocks for a couple of hours." Heck.
Lauren's quest was also physical demanding, and at times she sustained "more than few scratches". "You haven't really gone bushwalking if you don't come home with a litre less blood," she laughs.
Along the way, Lauren faced several challenges accessing trigs. In fact, it wasn't until she was about a quarter of the way through her list that she realised some trigs were on private land and required permission to access. "Thankfully, most landowners were very obliging," she reports.
Lauren even received a military escort to three trigs [Plains, Greenwood, and Glade] perched atop hills in firing ranges on land managed by the Department of Defence. "I felt like I cheated those ones as the soldiers drove me right up to each one," she recalls. "I guess it was better than getting shot at." Indeed.
So with 104 trigs under her belt, does Lauren have any favourites?
"With those tremendous granite slabs near the summit, my number one is Mt Gudgenby [in Namadgi]," says Lauren, who "just loves boulder scrambling and climbing through caves in Namadgi's granite outcrops".
Mt Kelly is her number two, "not because it is as enjoyable a walk as Gudgenby but because it's just so damn satisfying to make it there". Anyone who has attempted to walk to Mt Kelly will sympathise with Lauren, when she declares, "Mt Kelly is a once only, never again type of thing, of two days rummaging through some of the thickest scrub I've ever experienced".
"By the end of the second day we were covered from head to toe with so many scratches and bruises it looked like we all had measles," she says.
Apart from Mt Kelly, one of the hardest trigs to reach was the Mt McKeahnie trig. "Sitting on top of a large boulder with no obvious foot or hand holds, it's impossible to reach without ropes and climbing skills," explains Lauren. "Rumour has it that whoever constructed the trig made a ladder up there and then kicked it away."
During her three-year quest, Lauren observed many different ways to mark trig points. "Many are marked with the quadripod metal structures or other metal poles, others like Orroral are marked with concrete pillars and others like Uriarra were just completely missing.
While Lauren is unaware of any others trig hunters who have attended all 104 in the ACT, she admits "there is an increasing number of people out there walking to trigs, they're just not as obsessive as me".
According to Jeff Brown, the Surveyor-General of the ACT, none of the current ACT Government survey staff have visited all of the ACT trigs. "This is partly due to the fact that the beaconed trigs are more often observed 'to' rather than being occupied to observe 'from'", he explains.
Keen to keep fit, most weekends Lauren can still be found walking Canberra's hills and has already returned to many of the 104 trigs on "more than one occasion". Her photos have also assisted the Surveyor-General's department is their trig maintenance program.
The column's search for 'ghost signs' within the ACT borders (Ghost Writing, May 16) continues unabated, and is so far without success.
However, while there appears to be dearth of the ghost signs in the ACT due to the 'rule' that "the sign needs to be at least 50 years old", it's a different story across the border where there are several in Goulburn.
Andrew Nex points out "there's a sign dating back to the 1940s on the corner of Ross Place and Montague Street in Goulburn advertising the 'Goulburn Labour Exchange'. Meanwhile, my favourite Goulburn example adorns the brick wall of a historic building on Grafton Street (near the corner with Cove St) advertising Bushells Tea. Melanie Spall also has a soft spot for the same sign. "I've lived in Brisbane for 26 years, but whenever I go home this is one of the first things I look for," she says.
Your akubra-clad columnists recalls that on drives to Sydney, right up until the early 1980s, these painted Bushells (and Lan Choo tea) advertisements were prolific, but apart from the Goulburn one, the only other I can still find on that route is faded, virtually beyond recognition, in Moss Vale. Are there others in our region in better condition?
Von Harrington was surprised to recently find the handiwork of a Satin Bower bird in his Flynn backyard. "I don't even back onto a nature reserve or any parkland so I think finding this bower is pretty special," he reports. "A bright blue feather and a LEGO block have been added to the collection last weekend, I have no idea where they were stolen from."
While Satin Bower birds are relatively uncommon in Belconnen there are other parts of Canberra, including Weston Creek and the northern suburbs of Tuggeranong, where they are more prevalent. If you've got a photo of one proudly standing in its bower, I'd love to see it.
WHERE IN CANBERRA?
Clue: Ten years late
Degree of difficulty: Medium
Last week: Dawn Donnelly of Calwell was first to correctly identify last week's photo as a fading sign in Ross Road, Queanbeyan. Dawn just beat Conrad van Hest of Holder, Jenny Wardrobe of Gordon and Tony Barbara of Queanbeyan to this week's bragging rights. "The building was a removalist warehouse for years," explains Carmel Wroe.
How to enter: Email your guess along with your name and suburb to email@example.com. The first email sent after 10am, Saturday July 11, 2020, wins bragging rights. Tickets to Dendy Cinemas will once again be given as a prize when the cinemas reopen.
John Moulis of Pearce has solved the mystery of the giant-sized front page of the July 28, 1980 edition of The Canberra Times that is displayed on the back window of the Mawson (Southlands) Newsagency (Where in Canberra, May 30).
A self-confessed "historian and avid reader of newspapers", John reports "that particular front page won an international award [Tasman Award for technical production and excellence of composition] for newspaper layout".
"The front page was blown up into this display which was on show in the Mort St foyer of the old Canberra Times building and was part of the CT exhibit at the 1981 Royal Canberra Show", reveals John. "After the show, it was put on display in the window of the newsagency where it has remained since."
I wonder if there are there any other windows in Canberra that have had the same display for almost 40 years?