Reservoir Hill

Reservoir Hill is in the Canberra suburb of Lawson, where I live. It has quite a few features that make it worth a visit.

It has a trig point (more correctly known as a triangulation pillar). They were regarded as valuable to surveyors, providing reference points for measuring distance and direction, and assisting in the creation of maps. They can still be used for mapping and triangulation.

A trig point typically consists of a black disc on top of four metal legs or concrete pillar, resembling a navigation beacon. It is also accompanied by a metal disc, which is located directly below the centre point of the tripod or on top of the pillar itself.

Trig points are generally located at the top of hills or points of prominence in the landscape. Many provide unique views and challenges, with some being difficult to get to.

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The trig station silhouetted against the setting sun

This historic Reservoir Hill trig is easy to get to. It sits atop the hill in an area that has been reserved as parkland in the newish suburb. It is simply a matter of walking up the hill on a paved pathway that has been constructed as part of the parkland’s landscaping. Even better, it is possible to continue down and around the other side of the hill on the same pathway to your staring point, or to branch off and emerge at a different point.

Reservoir Hill trig station was part of the national network of triangulation pillars providing reference points for measuring distance and direction and assisting in the creation of maps.

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My own shadow on the path around the hill

The parkland is formally known as Lawson South Open Space. It is the habitat of the critically endangered Golden Sun Moth (GSM). I have discovered that a biologist and environmental consultant that I happen to know, Alison Rowell, has undertaken monitoring of the GSM and its habitat in this area during the very short lifespan of the adult GSM.

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A sign with information about the GSM life cycle

A fact sheet appended to a report by Alison tells the reader:

“The Golden Sun Moth is protected under Commonwealth legislation as a critically endangered species. It is a medium-sized moth that is active during the day. Its wing span is about 35 mm, and in flight the males appear dark brown or blackish, with a rapid wing beat. At rest the wings of the male appear dark bronzy brown with silvery lines. The female has forewings similar to the male, and also has bright orange-yellow hindwings that can be hidden or revealed by moving the forewings.

The larvae are present in the soil at all times, living underground for two or more years and feeding on the roots of particular grasses. Adults are only seen under suitable weather conditions during a few weeks in spring and early summer, when they emerge from the soil to mate and lay eggs. The reddish brown pupal case is left protruding from the soil after the adult emerges. During periods of warm sunny weather, the males fly low and rapidly over the grassland searching for the females, which sit in areas of short grass displaying their golden hind wings to attract the males. The females are not as easily seen as the males, as they tend to remain on the ground. Males usually turn back if they fly out of their habitat, but both males and females may rest on bare ground such as paths to bask in the sun.

The moth larvae live in the upper layer of the soil, and can be killed by disturbance or compaction of the soil, or any activity that damages the grasses on which they feed. This includes vehicle movements, chemical or fuel spills or changed drainage. Adults can be killed by trampling, vehicles or chemicals.”

Near the lower end of the path to the hilltop, there is a playground enjoyed by many neighbourhood children and their parents. Some elements of the playground are very useful for framing images of the hill. Others make interesting subjects in themselves because of their vibrant colours and angular shapes. Of course, images of your children or grandchildren enjoying the play equipment can also be captured.

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Sails at the playground

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Sunset behind the lone tree framed by a playground sail

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A grandchild enjoying the playground

As people make their way up the hill, they pass by four installed large rocks into which have been set the verses of Henry Lawson’s poem, Rain in the Mountains. You can read it here: Rain in the Mountains.

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Verse 3

Depending on the weather and time of day when I go for a walk, I can photograph images on and around the hill reflecting phrases in that poem. Misty cloud. Frowning mountains. Leaden grey sky. Night coming early. Rain passing. Golden afternoons.

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Frowning mountains

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Golden afternoon

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Night coming early

Towards the top of the hill is a lone tree which makes a great focal point for images against the changing cloudscapes and moods of the sky.

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Lone tree at sunset

At the very top of the hill is the historic trig station as well as recently installed features, pointing to the various high points in the surrounding landscape and providing artworks for contemplation.

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Pointing to Mt Rogers

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Artwork circles

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Sculptural seating

From the slopes of the hill you can see an historic building in the surrounding paddocks that have not yet been developed with townhouses and apartments. In the right late light, the building sits amongst golden glowing grasses. The building was part of Bells – the most powerful naval wireless base in the British empire and the largest naval or commercial station in the southern hemisphere.

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Bells in golden glowing grasses

Along the paths that go around the hill as well as up it, there are information boards providing knowledge regarding some of these things, such as the trig station.

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Sign about the trig station

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The trig station standing sentinel beneath a cloudscape

Take a walk on Reservoir Hill some time. I may see you there.

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