The focus of this walk is to bring alive some stories about Canberra through discovering and reading the landscape. To facilitate this process, I have started to collaborate with a colleague, Chris Mobbs, who has a background as an interpretation ranger in ACT National Parks. Chris has an expansive knowledge of local history and the environment. So far, we have had some wonderful conversations about some very interesting sites around the Canberra region.
As with my Auckland walk Finding the Ghosts of K Road, where historian Edward Bennett was my guide and knowledge custodian, in this project, Chris will be my subject matter expert and guide. A recent discussion focused on how to ‘see’ the landscape and the importance of being present and mindful.
When we take the time to breathe and look around we can create a context for place, a means to create stories. What I have noticed in the LTNS Fieldbook is the emphasis on taking time, being aware and present. This considered approach is very visible in Linda Carroli’s writing about field walking. For example, I was reading her Placeblog this morning and she used these two quotes which really resonated:
Yann Calberac proposes “the field is no longer where one extracts data, but almost [always] a place where one produces meaning”.
Francesco Careri’s work proposes “walking as an aesthetic tool capable of describing and modifying those metropolitan spaces that often have a nature still demanding comprehension, to be filled with meanings rather than designed and filled with things”.
One of the things Chris and I talked about was the ever-changing, ever emerging landscape around Canberra – reclaimed rubbish dumps, tree plantings, reclaimed buildings the stories that are hidden in these layers of time, waiting to be revealed. This conversation links beautifully into a comment Linda makes later in her post:
Both indicate the field as a site or territory which produces or contextualises some kind of tension between meaning and things. Perhaps that’s too literal an engagement with this triad – the tension itself is productive, shifting and potent with becoming…
I love this idea of potency or potentiality that is part of the process of becoming. It brings to mind how landscapes are living, dynamic environments that are in constant change, just like the city.
Chris and I have been specifically talking about Canberra’s inner north, which has some very interesting history and places for walking – including Mt Majura, Mt Ainslie and some of the old buildings close by, including the War Memorial.
This weekend I am planning to explore Mt Majura and start gathering some images. Next week I will catch up with Chris and start to think a bit more in detail about the walk.
Biography – Chris Mobbs
Chris Mobbs was an interpretation ranger with ACT Parks and Conservation Service from 1976 to 1984. During this period he developed an intimate knowledge of Canberra’s bushland through his work at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and the Canberra Nature Park reserves. He lives in north Canberra close to Mt Majura and enjoys riding to work along the base of Mt Ainslie.
About Canberra’s history and landscape
Jackie French, Let the Land Speak: A history of Australia – how the land created our nation (2013)
Adam Davis, Connecting with the Land (2013)
Matthew Higgins, Rugged Beyond Imagination: Stories from an Australian Mountain Region (2009)
Matthew Higgins, What lies beyond: knowing and writing about Canberra’s mountain hinterland, Writing the Australian Landscape, Natioanal Library of Australia (2013)
Lyle Gillespie, Canberra 1820-1913 (1991)
Chris Mobbs, Going, going, gone! Old ‘Socks’ camp at the base of Mt Ainslie Canberra Archeological Society
Other Canberra Writers