Bendora Arboretum and Bendora Hut
In the heat of a Canberra summer, the Bendora Aboretum offers a cool respite amongst pleasant surroundings. Only a relatively short walk, it is easily accessible and suitable for all. A pleasant location for our final ACT bushwalk of 2015.
Walk Rating: Level 1 - Easy. A pleasant 3.5 kilometre-round walk on a fire access trail that is only slightly undulating in spots. Once at the Bendora Hut, there is a well-defined walking track of about 600 metres that takes you through the actual aboretum (Image 1).
Directions: Drive to the Cotter and after travelling across the Cotter Bridge, continue for about 500 metres until you reach Brindabella Road on your right.Turn right onto Brindablella Road and travel about 6 kilometres to the end where you come to a T-intersection with Brindabella Road and Uriarra Road (Urriara Road to the right and Brindabella Road to the left).
Image 1 - The walking track that meandors through the shaded Bendora Aboretum
At this intersection turn left and continue on Brindabella Road to Piccadilly Circus, which is about 18 kilometres, of which only the first 8.5 kilometres are sealed. Beyond this, the road is dirt, but well maintained and generally suitable for two wheel drives. However, take note of the weather conditions and don't attempt the trip past Piccadilly Circus if it has been raining. Once at Piccadilly Circus, there is a three-way intersection. Take the Mt Franklin Road to the left and continue on for about another 6 kilometres and you will see a sign on the right side of the road, and on the left, a closed gate at Chalet Road, which is the starting point for the walk. There is a small area here for parking, but surpisingly small, given the apparent popularity of the walk destination according to other websites.
The Walk: After parking and getting our packs together, we stopped briefly at the information sign just outside the locked gate. The sign provides a good level of information about the walk, as well as other walking destinations in the area. It is worth noting that the distances described for other walks are the distances from the various locations that you first drive to. For example, one of the walk descriptors for Mt Franklin outlined a walking distance of 3.5 kilometres, which, after further examination of the information, was the distance from the actual Mt Franklin carpark. If you were not familiar with the area it would be easy to misinterpret and set off on what would be a much longer walk! (Image 2 and 3 the information sign and commencement of the walk)
Image 3 (above right) - The start of the walkat the locked gate and Image 4 (above) - The walking track to Bendora Arboretum
Image 2 (above) - Information sign and Image 3 (below) - the commencement of the walk.
After setting off, we quickly got into our hiking stride and treked along the fire access trail that leads to the aboretum. This track is cut into the side of a mountain, with heavily forrested eucalypts and a dense green undergrowth of bracken and other various ferns (Image 4 and 5). There is the occasional view to the surrounding mountains but only when there is a gap amongst the euaclypts (Image 6).
This is only a relatively short walk (1.75 kilomtres) so it wasn't long before we reached the edge of the Bendora Arboretum. You will know when you are there as you are greeted by the Bendora Hut (Image 7). The hut was built in the 1950s as a kitchen and lunch area for the aboretum workers and has been maintained since then and is in pretty good condition. It is a miracle that the hut (as well as the tree aboretum and immediate surrounds) survived the 2003 Canberra bushfires. But not only did it survive, it survived unscathed! There is a nearby information sign that provides images from years ago where the hut was snowed in (in Australian standards, Canadian readers!).
Image 6 - An example of the partial veiws where tree growth allows
Image 5 - Soft Tree Fern growing in one of the shaded gullies
We had a quick look through the hut and decided we would walk the trail before stopping for a cuppa. The trail is well signposted and you soon get in amongst the diverse range of trees that have been planted here. There are many species of trees and they are mainly native to Canada, America and Europe. There was a lot of literature in the Bendora Hut, which mapped out the aboretum according to tree species as well as a detailed description of the planting and growing processes.
The aboretum track is only about 600 metres in length but takes you through a relatively established forrest of trees. As mentioned at the start of the article, the area is shaded and a lot cooler than down lower in Canberra so a great spot if you're looking to cool off during the heat of summer (Images 7 and 8).
On the track, there is ample information signage that describes the various species of trees (Image 9). There is also a picnic table at the halfway point if you're looking for somewhere to stop other than the hut (Image 10). The picnic table is surrounded by tall, shady trees and the occassional Black Cockatoo will fly in amongst the pines.
Image 7 - The Bendora Hut
Image 7 (left) and Image 8 (right) provide an example of the shaded walking path amongst the beautiful array of pine trees
Image 9 (left) - information signs along the walking path provide a good level of information and Image 10 (right ) - the picnic table surrounded by the magnificence of the aboretum
After having completed a number of walks in 2015, I have to point out that as magnificent as the tree aboretum is, I noticed a definite lack of wildlife in, or anywhere in close proximity to, the aboretum. This is by no means a whinge, but an observation that I think supports literatue provided by the ACT Government on the impacts of pine trees on the Australian native landscape. They are simply not conducive to Australian flora and fauna and this aspect becomes very clear whilst walking through the aboretum. Having said that, this is a small pocket of trees in a very large Namadgi National Park and is well managed to ensure that it is a location that can be enjoyed for what it is.
Okay, back to the walk! After completing the track, we arrived back at Bendora Hut and stopped for a cuppa (Image 11). We signed the visitor book (I always like to read the many comments in visitor books) and had one last look through the hut. Unfortunately, the hut has been vandalised by grafitti, which must be enormously dissapointing for the many men and women who spend considerable time restoring and maintaining huts for other people's enjoyment. I'm not sure about our website readers, but when I go bushwalking, I'm not remotelly interested in 'who loves who forever', or what person 'was here' with whatever other imbeccile they managed to persuade to venture into a remote area of a National Park with the seemingly sole purpose of ruining a bush hut. Good one people (not) (Images 12 and 13)!
After packing our gear, we commenced the trek back.
Image 11 - Pleasant surroundings by Bendora Hut . Image 12 (below left) and Image 13 (below right) show the interior of the hut and the unfortunate damage caused through graffiti.
It was a pleasant walk back to the carpark and the native flowers had sprung to attention after a good dose of morning sun (Images 14 and 15). All in all, a pleasant walk and very suitable for families with children.