Anyone who has read by blog In The Taratory knows I am a keen bushwalker, so I was really excited to formally open the Oaks Estate river corridor walking trail on 20 December. Formalising this environmentally and culturally significant track was a key recommendation in the Oaks Estate Master Plan and it’s great to see it realised.
After the launch, it was fun to go on a guided walk with local resident Karen Williams.The walking track is largely flat and the river is home to water dragons and platypuses. You’re welcome to take your dog down to the track. Check it out – the parking is at the end of River Street.
Here’s my speech:
I acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land we are meeting on, the Ngunnawal people. I acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region.
I would like to thank Tina Brown for such a generous Welcome to Country and great introduction to the significance of this area.
I am delighted to be here today representing the ACT Government to open 2.4 kilometres of new recreational walking trail, which gives visitors the opportunity to safely access the area’s heritage sites.
This year is the 180th anniversary of the building of ‘The Oaks’ property downstream from here. In 1836, after Europeans first entered this area in 1822, Robert Campbell from ‘Duntroon’ built the first substantial stone house in the Queanbeyan district. There are stories about this property on signs at Gillespie Park and along the river.
But of course well before then for 20,000 years the Aboriginal people inhabited the area and those stories are also revealed on the walk. I thank Tina Brown for highlighting this connection to Country.
Canberra is well known for its great walking and cycling trails and the new trail here at Oaks Estate is no exception. It is a great opportunity for visitors to get out, be active and enjoy our beautiful outdoors in a stunning setting.
This trail is one of the suggestions from the 2014 Oaks Estate Masterplan and I acknowledge the work done by the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate and thank the community for their participation in the Master Plan and in providing input in finalising the alignment of the trail.
As many of you are aware, an informal trail had developed in this area which was highly popular among residents and visitors for walking, fishing and other recreational activities.
By providing a formal trail we are ensuring residents can continue to use the area for recreational activities without putting the natural environment at risk. Community input on the alignment has helped to ensure the trail is sustainable in terms of its route, usage and management into the future.
The trail connects Gillespie Park to points of interest including the junction of the Molonglo and Queanbeyan Rivers which we can see just to our left, the original Queanbeyan Railway Bridge and historic river crossing points.
The trail gives people an opportunity to immerse themselves in the natural environment and of course get some exercise at the same time.
The upgrade has delivered a range of safety and access improvements to the trail. These included improvements to the existing entrance at William Street, new stone steps leading to the Queanbeyan River and new timber steps for better access along the return trail, to the Osage Orange trees.
New seating and picnic settings have been installed to provide opportunities for walkers to take in the great views.
New interpretive signage has also been installed along the trail for users to learn about the area’s interesting cultural heritage, local sites and the natural environment.
The trail upgrade is part of a range of improvements being delivered to Oaks Estate including the new toilet block in Gillespie Park which will be completed in January 2017 and the increased QCity Transit bus services rolled out in July 2016 to allow residents to connect between Woden and the City via Queanbeyan more frequently.
In addition to thanking the community, I would also like to thank the team who designed the trail Harris Hobbs Landscapes, Screenmakers who looked after the signage and the trail builders, the team from Makin’ Trax.
I am very pleased to declare the Oaks Estate river corridor walking trail officially open and invite you to go on a guided walk of a section of the trail following the formalities. The walk will be led by local resident Karen Williams, author of Oaks Estate No Man’s Land published in 1997 and a great contributor to the new signage.