Sunday, January 10, 2016

Birrigai Rock Shelter

We headed out to Tidbinbilla - a nature reserve about 30km from town. It's a lovely drive there and the road winds past the Cotter River as well as the Deep Space Complex. We hadn't been for a while - the lady on the desk at the reserve, told us that our annual pass had expired in 2013 but every time we visit we find new things to explore or spot interesting native creatures.

This time hot on the heels of our less than successful trip to find Frank and Jack's Hut we decided to take our bikes. A lot of the trails in Tidbinbilla were opened in 2013 to allow for multiple use from both walkers and cyclists. It provoked some outrage amongst walkers, but really I see the intention just to open things up in the park and make them more 'family friendly' rather than try and compete with the designated mountain bike trails of nearby Mount Stromlo.

The ranger in the well appointed visitor centre recommended that we take a trip to Birrigai Rock Shelter - he could see I had two small kids in tow and he said apart from a 'short bit' it should be easy riding. It was actually pretty steep (for bikes) and quite rocky and as it turned out much more suitable as a walk rather than a ride. Still it was good fun.

The first part of the ride took us across open countryside - we spotted an emu hiding under a tree, and then along a dirt track where a whole mob of kangaroos firstly eyed us off and then skittishly hopped alongside and in front of us. Audrey (as usual) was leading our cycling expedition and there were a couple of moments where I worried that she might get knocked off her bike by flying kangaroos!

We made it to the base of the hill and then variously pushed/rode our bikes up to the rocks. Again, it would have been a better decision to go in cooler weather (today was probably in the low 30's) but the gum trees at least gave us some shelter from the heat.

The Birrigai Rocks themselves are excellent - a series of rocky outcrops and tors. Apparently Aboriginal camps have been found here dating back 21,000 years. There are a few small caves and the shade and escape from the sun which they provided, was exceptional - it was easy to imagine why aboriginal  hunters would have used them as a place to camp and sleep.

Going down was unsurprisingly much easier than going up. We scooted down a long dirt road and then back out through a grassy expanse. Again kangaroos bounced past us as we rode. We were glad to reach the car, tired but happy.

Afterwards we drove into the reserve and went to the excellently appointed playground (the kids love the flying fox there). I cooked us some sausages for lunch and we headed out to see some of the koalas that live in the park.

We were lucky as one was quite low down (almost at eye level) and we also saw a bettong hopping in the undergrowth. Audrey wanted to go on (she told us that she knew where we could see turtles - which she remembered seeing on a school trip) but I was a bit dubious as to whether she really knew/remembered the way and Eli was complaining of aching feet at this point so we headed back for an ice cream and then drove back home.

dodging the kangaroos

bikes in the bush!

sheltering from the sun

our beautiful boy

a large koala (their fluffy ears are so cute!)

No comments: