This review focuses on a walk around Yerrabi Pond, in the northwestern part of Canberra.
When a capital city for Australia was being selected back in the early 1900s one of the key selection criteria was the availability of a year round water supply. The resultant border for the Australian Capital Territory (a significant part of which is taken up by the city of Canberra) was carefully selected and follows numerous ridges and hilltops to bring a sufficient water catchment area within the control of the then Commonwealth Government.
On the ground, and in particular where the city stands today, there were a few uninspiring looking creeks – a far cry from what we have today. While the city’s water supply is sourced from a number of dams within the Territory the city to-day boasts four significant lakes and quite a few smaller ponds and suchlike. All of these are artificial and ornamental, established to enhance the look of the city and the lives of its inhabitants.
The largest of the artificial lakes is Lake Burley Griffin in City centre area. To the south of the City centre is Lake Tuggeranong and to the north are Lake Ginninderra and Yerrabi Pond. The later three of these provide focal points for what are referred to the Town centres of Tuggeranong, Belconnen and Gungahlin, respectively.
Yerribi Pond – I am not sure why it is called a pond rather than a lake – is the smallest and the most recent of the four lakes, having been created in 1999. The first, Lake Burley Griffin was opened in 1963. The youthfulness and relative smallness of Yerrabi Pond does not detract from its allure as a wonderful location for a pleasant and peaceful walk.
The Pond is surrounded by a flat tarmac shared pedestrian/cycle path making for an easy four kilometres walk or ride though approximately one kilometre can be lopped of this distance by traversing a small island in the lake cutting off the, admittedly less interesting, eastern section of the Pond.
Alternatively, a couple of kilometres can be added to the walk by taking a signed detour, further eastwards, into smaller parks in the neighbouring suburb of Forde. While I occasionally do the extended walk I do it more so for the exercise rather than the visual magnificence of the added kilometres.
As the Pond walk is a circular one you can start it or finish it anywhere you like. I typically park on the southern side of the lake, where the pin is located on the Google image below. If you are availing of public transport to get here then you would commence your walk at the south western corner of the Pond, a short distance from the tram (from the City) and bus stops in the centre of Gungahlin.
Should you decide to do this walk or visit the Pond on a Saturday morning you may be sharing the path and limited facilities with upwards of 300 runners who partake of the weekly Gungahlin Parkrun which starts at 8.00 am. Personally I would avoid the area between 7.30 am and 9.00 am on a Saturday morning were I seeking peace and solitude. Speaking of facilities, public toilets can be found near the main playground/BBQ areas where additional parking (actually the main carpark) can also be found.
My most recent walk around the Pond was on a bright, though chilly, late autumn morning – one of those wonderful mornings just made for walking.
While a satisfying and agreeable walk at any time of the year I find it particularly so in autumn and in spring when the flora, a mix of native eucalypts and introduced species, is at its most colourful.
Animal-wise the lake abounds with ducks, particularly on the busier southern side (I wonder why!), with a few black swans, herons, cormorants, purple swamphens and dusky moorhens also to be sighted. I should point out that the white pelicans depicted on the left in the last image in the sequence below are a permanent feature by the northern edge of the Pond, being as artificial as the Pond itself.
The Pond area is especially popular with people exercising or enjoying their morning constitutional and parents or other minders bringing out their brood to enjoy one of the city’s best, if not the best, playground area incorporating a large flying fox, skate bowl and basketball court for the older kids and a sizeable play area with its colourful pirate ship more suited to toddlers. An adjacent BBQ area with picnic tables provides an opportunity for guardians to cook and eat while keeping an eye on their clutch in the playground. Notwithstanding the dearth of people in my pictures below (and their poor quality), the playground and picnic areas in the southwestern part of the park can be very busy, especially at weekends and on public holidays.
For me, the outstanding feature along the walk around the Pond is a striking collection of street art to be found on both sides of the fifteen or so columns supporting the roadway at the western spillway side of the pond. While I am an aficionado of street art (not wanton illegal graffiti of no artistic merit!) and think about 75% plus of the pieces here are excellent, given the sheer volume of work on show – hundreds of individual pieces – I would be surprised if anyone could not find something to their liking. Below are a few of the pieces I particularly enjoyed on my most recent visit, noting that given the nature of this gallery the items on display are constantly changing.
By way of note, Canberra is rather blessed in terms of street art and has a wonderful programme in place whereby almost thirty locations (including this one) have been designated ‘Legal Graffiti Practice Sites’. These are generally local Government areas like underpasses and toilet blocks, typically out of sight from residential property. A full listing of current locations can be found at – https://www.tccs.act.gov.au/city-living/public_areas/graffiti/legal-graffiti-practice-sites.
These sites are in addition to designated mural sites where specific permission is required to paint and the work is generally commissioned. In my opinion, Canberra’s best, and most accessible, mural site is in Tocumwal Lane, off Bunda Street, in the city centre. See my separate review – Graffiti Art in the City.
Finally, on the southern side of the Pond you will come across what is rather generously referred to as a shopping area. Apart from a couple of hairdressers and a few other human and dog pampering outlets, which I have rarely seen anyone frequent, there is a Korean and an Italian restaurant here. I have not yet dined in the Korean restaurant so cannot comment on it. The Italian restaurant, Da Nunzio Caffe Bar Ristorante, (closed on Mondays and Tuesdays) offers good meals but more importantly does a good coffee and, for the more indulgent visitor, cake at all hours. What better way to end your enjoyable stroll around the pond?
This is my last CANBERRA – GUNGAHLIN, HALL AND THE NORTHERN ACT review.
For other Canberra reviews click HERE.