“C’mon kids, get dressed we’re going for a walk!”
“Where?” asked Junade as he looked up at Ruth from his iPad.
“We’re going on a walk!”
Ruth and I knew where we were going but the kids didn’t, so in his usual ‘try my luck’ mode, Junade started to seek out the tech to stuff in his pockets and bring with him.
“No!” my grunt trailed across the living room. He knew exactly what I meant. He has come to understand my low, short guttural sounds which I’m beginning to think are a language in their own right.
Junade began to amble down the stairs, shoulders slumped, face like thunder and placed his iPad in the basket, slowly trudging to the car.
Saffron on the other hand was just blinking uncontrollably. This was the language she’s developed over the years, being she is deeply introverted. This set of blinks symbolises her (WTF) disdain for our family bonding time ideas, especially if they involved some type of physical activity (walking or running).
Everyone strapped in. Ruth, bubbly and full of life, tried to distract the kids with a conversation, and I, still outside putting my trainers on, “Aren’t we walking there?” I hear my mouth leak, wasting four of my daily ration of words. “Are you serious?” replied Ruth, weaving it seamlessly into the conversation with the kids, without missing a beat. I was feeling optimistic because Ruth and I had gone for an 11 Km walk last week and I forgot that would be torture for Saffron and Junade.
We arrived and found a parking spot on Stockdill Drive, near the Lower Molonglo Sewerage Works. Junade’s face had loosened slightly and I could see he was beginning to look forward to the adventure ahead. We usually know when he is excited because the questions are endless and all care of his safety goes out of the window. He strolled in the middle of the road, daring a car to approach. We knew exactly what he was doing.
“OUT OF THE ROAD!” we bellowed, synchronised. Ruth, Saffron and I have grown accustomed to Junade’s daring acts and knew what he was thinking. He crossed and joined me on the dirt path barely wide enough to potter down.
We were greeted by three commanding boulders as we walked towards the entrance. Welcome to Ngunnawal Country – Shepherds Look Out the sign read. The crunch of gravel was soon replaced by curious sounds of different animals we have yet to experience and more familiar ones like the kookaburra almost tauntingly, with laughter, knowing how difficult our journey is going to be. Three hundred meters of rambling tarmac and gravel carried us to Shepherds Lookout. Once again we were welcomed by spectacular panoramic landscapes sprawling for miles as the Murrumbidgee River meandered through the valleys and to the left its confluence with the Molonglo. Ruth, Saffron and I reacquainted ourselves as Ruth tried to discuss the perilous path ahead. “No word of a lie, babe, the path in on a cliff edge so thin, we turned back last time we tried to go down here…” I was skeptical but Ruth was adamant the path was a knife edge. Having enjoyed the aerial view of the Murrumbidgee River, the surrounding hills and countryside from Shepherds Lookout, we tootled to the entrance of the descent.
Junade, who didn’t want anything to do with this trip, barged past us and started leading the pack. He found himself a rock and started talking about how he would battle a kangaroo if it attached us. Saffron was lagging behind and this felt too familiar. Her mask was on so we couldn’t really see her expressions, but the last time this happened, in Spain, Saffron didn’t talk to us for about two days. Imagine having a daughter that’s borderline mute, actively trying not to talk to you – how does that work?
Let the descent commence.
Junade bimbled ahead, kicking up dust from the compacted earth. About 80m from the viewing platform the train took on a downhill trek towards the Molonglo River. By the time we had caught up, he had found himself a small rock. Junade had convinced himself that if we were attacked by any kangaroos or any other creature, he wanted to be prepared. At this point I remembered to document our journey and began taking some pictures and videos hoping to capture some of the hilarity of us traversing the steep hill. Miss steps, trips, tree nuts falling on heads and tricky muddy crossings. But all I seemed to capture was how happy every one was. No one cared that it was a tough time down to the river.
We neared the section where Ruth, Saffron and Daniel turned back because it was “too close to the edge”, but this time it didn’t seem so scary. Honestly, we were having so mush fun “cracking the shits” (Australia’s fun and colourful language) that we past that section without even realising. Eventually we reached the banks of the Mongolo River. It was a beautiful scene shaded by tall trees. You could have a picnic and a swim if you were prepared but because this was a spontaneous walk, we had packed nothing. Also, it had been raining a lot the last week so the water had risen tremendously. The small foot bridge that would’ve taken us across into the Uriarra Crossing was completely enveloped with rushing water from the mountains. We took this as a sign to turn back but before that we made some family stone arrangement, skipped some stones and took some pictures. I guess it was a great thing that we turned back because we hadn’t taken any food or drink so I’m sure our bones would’ve been found several weeks later from starvation.
We have decided to go back and do the whole walk in the summer; We are curious about the other side. And this time we will be completely prepared.
Things to Bring
- Water or a filter to use the river water (bring water)
- Insect repellent – or joggers (my legs will thank me)
- Shoes with a lot of grip (Ruth)
- Caps and factor 50 sun screen
- Swimming gear (just in case)
We hope you enjoyed this instalment of The Jallohs in Oz
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