A glorious sunny day for our first Centenary Trail walk for Canberra first responder families on Saturday. Our group of seven gathered for the walk, as part of our Fortem activities to improve connection and mental fitness for first responders and their families. We aimed to walk about 12km of Section 2 of the Centenary Trail, through the Goorooyarroo Nature Reserve and Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve, to end in Forde.
During a meet and greet in the car park, instant connections were formed by playing the ‘seven degrees of separation in Canberra’ game and by discussing the weather. Perhaps a customary conversation starter for small talk, but an important discussion before heading out on a walk that would take a few hours in unknown terrain. OK, it wasn’t that unknown (we were never that far from a road and suburbia could often be glimpsed in the distance) but who wants to be caught out on a chilly peak without a scarf, or worse, carrying your puffer jacket when sweltering down a long dirt road! Suitably attired for a mild day of 18 degrees and sunshine, off we set.
Within a short distance of hitting the trail, it felt very much like an ‘I’m going on an adventure’ moment. With hills in the background, mud puddles to jump and an excitement in the air, we could have almost been in ‘The Shire’ except for the sounds of the highway nearby and the concrete underpass we traversed.
The farming landscape soon transitioned as we limbo’d through a gate and discovered a sizeable, stone strewn hill ahead of us. Reassured that the Centenary Trail website states, ‘The trail is designed for low intensity use by all walkers’ we strode ahead, not letting a challenge, or the threat of bad knees, get to us at the very start of our walk. The view from the top was worth it, as we looked across to cloud covered Canberra, most residents probably enjoying their first caffeinated beverage of the day, whilst we relied on cardio and determination for our source of energy.
Birdsong, dancing eucalypts and cool breeze filled the air as we descended, a reminder that just being in nature was a lift to the senses, an additional benefit to the increased heart rates and released endorphins. (You can watch the videos on InstaStory to feel the ambience). Being able to walk at a chattable pace also meant that conversations were possible, with the finding of common interests and sharing of books read or local cafes visited, adding to the enjoyment of a long Saturday morning walk.
After entering the nature reserve (via way of a complicated looking gate that was actually more simple and less electrified than it first appeared) we found our stride, with the faster paced walkers in the group leading us slower paced walkers without fear of getting too far ahead or too far behind. Other walkers and riders appeared, with shared hellos and good mornings as they passed. A few odd wallabies and birds were our companions, though no wombats to be seen, despite a few of us wishing it possible.
There was a discussion as to whether animal droppings were perhaps of the wombat variety, but the expert knowledge required to identify an animal by its droppings was not high on the list of skills in our group. Later we were informed that wombat poo is, in fact, cube shaped, so we learnt something new about wombats, even if we didn’t get to spot one.
As we stopped for a snack (and an energy boosting snake lolly or two), a check of the distance we had covered revealed a pleasant surprise that we were about halfway. Any nervousness about having the ability to walk the 12 km distance, gave way to a quiet reassurance that is was doable. We had fairly easily covered the first half of our walk, with conversation, scenery, animal spotting and few short breaks making the distance a fleeting concern.
The bigger concern playing on several minds was the proximity of bathroom facilities! Lucky for us we came across a ‘wool shed’ potentially used for visiting school groups, with clean amenities. The break was also a chance to check the distance tracker again. Only a couple of kilometres to go! With the decision to go to a local café in Forde for coffee at the end of the walk, our renewed energy saw the last part of the trail fly by. Even finishing with a steep hill didn’t slow us down!
Over a well earned coffee and brownie or muffin, plans were made to meet at the next Centenary Trail walking group in October. A draw card for many of our participants is knowing that we can explore other parts of the trail with the support and safety of being in a group. With sore feet and complaining knees, the general consensus was to stick to around the 12km distance (as opposed to tackling the full 20+km of the much longer segments). The route and directions will be determined before then and communicated to those registered for the activity (register via the form on the Fortem Calendar). If you would like to join, we would love to meet you, so please find more information and register here.
Fortem activities are designed to support the mental fitness of our first responder families. Find out Who We Support and share this story to help us reach them.