Exercise, and the Tuggeranong Railway Siding

Exercise in general

I swim at Erindale twice a week and at Civic with Sue N on Wednesdays. We go to the Hellenic Club in the city for morning tea with our other ex-Canberra Club swimming mates after that.

On Tuesday mornings, before the osteopath, I used to go out to Kambah for clogging. After this year's National Convention, held in Queanbeyan, I decided to stop. I've never been any good at it, I'm only getting worse, and the other cloggers are so tiny and flexible - it just makes me sad. At the convention, a Queensland clogging matriarch told me I did very well, and not to worry, I'd get there. The thing is, after nine years, I think it's pretty clear I won't.

So, in September, I gave up clogging and vowed to walk every Tuesday morning instead. Dac, who retired in July, promised to go with me, which he has done. More about our walks appears below.

On top of three swims and (preferably) two walks per week, in June I started seeing an exercise physiologist, in the hope that I could perhaps learn to be less breathless. I started out going twice a week, but that was pretty expensive. Also I got very stressed, having so many appointments. After a couple of months, I cut back to once a week.

I don't perceive any improvement whatsoever in my breathing, but I'm still going to the class because both Dac and Helen have remarked that I'm moving much better than I was. :-/

The sessions take the form of a warm-up (stretches), then a circuit of exercises for strengthening, cardio and balance. The exercises are just awful, and one is required to do them far beyond what is comfortable or even bearable. Another reason I keep going is that there is no way on earth I would be able to make myself do such exercises on my own.

There's already been a failure to make the tricky distinction between "hurt" and "harm": I was exhorted to lift weights above my head to strengthen my arms and upper body. I said I definitely couldn't - but then I always say that. :-/ The weight-lifting stirred up my right arm: torn rotator cuff. I believe it was torn in 1981, when I had the disastrous fall at work. My osteopath says it took a really long time to fix it before. We are now embarked on fixing it again.

Walking in particular

Dac picks walks by looking for interesting nearby shapes on Google Earth. This has led to discoveries including a park on the Kingston foreshore (Norgrove Park) that has been there since 2005 - I didn't know the Kingston Foreshore had been there that long! - and a walk in the Woden Cemetery, after he spotted a green circle on the map.

I pick walks for historical reasons, and so I have led us round some of the modernist houses of Deakin (based on a walking tour downloaded from the Canberra House website) and most recently (and least pleasantly) to Stirling Park, site of some of the first workers' cottages in Canberra, when the old Parliament House was being built in the 1920s. Promised sights of kangaroos and hares by a passing dog-walker, we were instead nearly carried off by the flies, and fled home after I swallowed one!

Tuggeranong Railway Siding

Once upon a time I used to blog all our walks (Weekend Walks) and my one or two readers may remember the sad story of our failure to find the Tuggeranong Railway Siding. That entry includes a historical photo from the National Library, and the following comment from Dac:

Having subsequently seen the photos of the 'old train station', I was in fits of laughter about how uninteresting it would have been to get there, and look at the raised bank, some rusty tracks, and a pile of rusty metal...

Dac had asked me several times in a row to decide where we would go for our walk, so one day I decided to push my luck. I'd found more - and perhaps better - directions to the siding, and I wanted to try them out.

I approach the walk by parking in Henry Melville Cres in Gilmore and crossing the Monaro Highway via the underpass. A short walk up a well defined path leads to a step-over fence leading to the tracks and an easy walking trail alongside the tracks south to the siding. (hour return).

- Someone on the Internet

I was surprised when Dac agreed to go. He was extremely dubious that such an underpass could exist, but we drove to Henry Melville Crescent in Gilmore, parked on the inhabited edge of a semicircular expanse of open space, walked up the middle, and there it was. As we set out, he said to me, "Of course you realise it's going to take you at least twice as long as it took that person". I suppose I had realised that - sort of.

There were some really scary bits early on, including having to climb over a wire fence using a stile that was much too high. If that was the step-over fence, it was for giants in seven-league boots. We made it, though, and then there we were, stumping along the railway line. At first I felt a bit anxious in case a train suddenly resumed travelling from Canberra to Cooma, but eventually the state of the track convinced me that we were unlikely to be mown down in our prime. Every third or fourth railway tie had disintegrated. Some had been replaced by metal ties, but mostly there were just crumbly bits left.

We went off the tracks occasionally, probably when the path beside them looked less steep, but mostly we plodded along. There were plenty of steep bits. Some trail-bike riders roared past, then back and forth for a while, but mostly it was quiet. And it was hot - very hot, considering it was early October.

Remember that I have extreme difficulty walking and breathing at the same time, so it was quite arduous and distressing, but we kept plodding along. An hour went by and there was no sign of the railway siding, but on we plodded. After an hour and a half, Dac said we really should stop, otherwise I might never make it back to the car. We were on a big curve of the track and I couldn't believe, after all that time, that the siding wasn't just around the next corner. I suggested we continue till we could see what was round there. If we still couldn't see the siding, I'd turn back.

When we rounded the corner, we weren't exactly smacked in the eye by the siding, but at least it was in sight. We'd reached the border with NSW, and there was a sign about that - nothing about the siding, although the "railway corridor" was mentioned. We kept going. We got there. I was so pleased!

Canberra Tracks sign near Tuggeranong Railway Siding - transcription in footnote

Border sign - transcription in footnote

And the siding was indeed just a "raised bank, some rusty tracks, and a pile of rusty metal", but they were interesting tracks covered in lichen...

Rail with lichen, at Tuggeranong Railway Siding

...and the piles of rusty metal included complicated switching devices.

siding2 (36K)

I was less pleased to see the graffiti that had been slathered along the raised bank. Graffiti on stormwater drains doesn't bother me, but on a hundred-year-old railway siding with historical significance I think it could be dispensed with.

Dac by the Tuggeranong Railway Siding

We sat on the siding; we looked at all the things; we took photos to prove we'd been there. Eventually the walk back to the car had to be faced. It wasn't good, but it was quicker going than coming. Our only adventure occurred when we noticed we were walking past a great mass of bees. They were just sitting on the ground. We didn't stick around! Managing to avoid the alleged step-through fence, we found ourselves back at a very hot car. Three hours had passed. We came home and slept for the rest of the day. :-/

Because the weather hadn't been at all summery up till then (and for a couple of months after that!) it hadn't occurred to me to wear sunscreen - indeed, I even forgot my hat, and ended up nicking Dac's, because I couldn't see in the glare. My souvenir from Tuggeranong Railway Siding was the worst case of sunburn I've had since I was a child. I was wearing a low-necked blouse and I was burnt scarlet, all the way round my neck in an asymmetric swoop. My skin was so sore I had trouble putting clothes on it for several days afterwards, and it's still "tanned". Hard to believe there are still people who seek out suntans!

I'm glad we finally made it, though. :-)

Footnote: Transcription of the sign

Marking the border - at the railway corridor

Following Federation in 1901, a new city with its own territory was proposed for the nation's capital. It was to be within New South Wales and not less than 100 miles (160 km) from Sydney. The borders of the Federal Capital Territory were also to incorporate a water catchment under the control of the Federal Government. After discussions with the New South Wales Government the area of the Australian Capital Territory, as it is known today, was selected.

The survey to map out the border began in 1910 and eventually needed three teams of surveyors. Led by Percy Sheaffe, Harry Mouat and Frederick (Freddy) Johnston, and under the supervision of the Director of Commonwealth Lands and Surveys, Charles Scrivener, the survey took five long and eventful years to complete.

This section of the border follows the line of the railway corridor. A condition of the NSW Government in surrendering land for the ACT was the retention of the railway within the State boundary. Surveyor Percy Sheaffe and his team marked this section of the border and reached the Tuggeranong Railway Siding at the junction with the Old Tuggeranong Road in December 1913.

Construction of the Queanbeyan to Cooma railway line was completed [in] 1889. To get the line from Queanbeyan into the Tuggeranong Valley over the Tralee Hills, the engineers had constructed numerous cuttings and embankments later known as the Horseshoe Bend.

During construction of the railway there were often personal disagreements between the railway workers and the local land holders. One property owner became utterly fed up with the continual encroachment on his land by the workers who were allegedly cutting tracks through his property and damaging fences. He placed a notice in the Queanbeyan Age:

To Railway Employees and Others

Whereas sundry trespasses are being committed on my land at Tuggeranong by unauthorised roads, well making and removal of fences, I hereby give notice that any person found trespassing on said land in the above or any other manner after the tenth instant will be prosecuted.

Edward Brennan
1st June 1885

(Queanbeyan Age 1st June 1885)

[Map caption:] Extract from the survey showing the territorial border along the railway easement at Tuggeranong from Percy Sheaffe, 1913.
[Map credit:] Credit: ACT/NSW Border Survey Original Field Books, ACT Government
[Sign credit:] ACT Government | National Trust | Canberra Tracks (See how far we've travelled) | Ngunnawal Country
Design: Big Island Graphics

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Page created 31 December 2013; last updated 09 January 2014