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Devil’s Seat at Rocky Knob

From a Canberra Times article:

Boyhood memories spark a rewarding rediscovery in Rocky Knob Park.

‘No this isn’t it, but it’s got to be here somewhere,” gasps Jim Powell as we clamber among the waist-high grass and proliferation of boulders of Narrabundah’s aptly-named Rocky Knob Park. It’s somewhat serendipitous that while our wannabe pollies are doing their last-minute pressing-the-flesh to secure a seat in the ACT Legislative Assembly, here I am rummaging around with a stranger in search of a seat of a different kind.

”If only finding this seat was as easy as kissing a few babies and making a few easy-to-break promises,” muses Jim as he crawls out of a hole between two boulders plucking blackberry thorns from his hand-woven beanie.

Jim has dragged me along in search of a naturally-occurring rock formation that resembles a throne which he ”vividly recalls from his childhood” and insists is referred to (well at least 30 years ago it was) by many of the nearby residents as the ”devil’s seat”.

The view over Kingston and beyond from the Devil's Seat.The view over Kingston and beyond from the Devil’s Seat. Photo: Tim the Yowie Man

After an hour traipsing all over Rocky Knob, huffing and puffing and peeling back shrubs ”that must have popped up in the last 30 years and concealed the seat’s location”, I suggest Jim abandon his hapless quest to rekindle his childhood memories. However, determined to find the seat, he demands we push on.

If you don’t live in Narrabundah you probably wouldn’t be aware of this park, but rocky thrones aside, it’s actually a place worth exploring even as an adult and features the odd park bench boasting extensive views over the inner south and beyond to the city and Black Mountain. The rocks scattered over the park were formed about 430 million years ago from a pyroclastic flow from a nearby volcano and officially listed on geological maps as the Narrabundah tors. Pulling burghs and wringing the water out of my sodden socks, I lament that Jim’s beloved ”devil’s seat” isn’t as easily identifiable.

Eventually Jim (I’d given up and was reading the paper on one of the aforementioned benches) finds his elusive seat on its eastern slopes hidden among clumps of long grass. To his hollers of ”come here Yowie Man, I’ve found it,” I scurry down the slopes.

The  cubby in the Carnegie St Park in Narrabundah.The cubby in the Carnegie St Park in Narrabundah.

With a bit of imagination, it does resemble a throne, well sort of (it’s at least got a seat, high back and two arm rests), however, I can’t quite imagine the governor-general luring QEII up to this rocky knoll on her next visit to Canberra with the prospect of placing her Majesty’s bot on this cold hard rock. In fact, it’s the sort of seat that’d give you haemorrhoids just by looking at it.

”It’s certainly not as big as I remember it,” confesses Jim who squeezes into the seat, regally places his hands on the arm rests and closes his eyes, no doubt daydreaming of his misspent youth playing cowboys and Indians.

”After playing war games, we used to take it in turns sitting in the seat to pick out our houses amongst the trees below or landmarks in Kingston and the city.”

Freddie Johnston's 112 Mile tree.Freddie Johnston’s 112 Mile tree.

As to the origins of the rock formation’s nick-name: 30 years is a long time and given the rock itself is about half the size as he remembers it, I conjour up enough courage and suggest that maybe it was just a name dreamt up by Jim and his mates.

But Jim shakes his head. He won’t have anything of it. He’s convinced it was widely known as the ”devil’s seat” and wonders if it still is.

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