10 June 2008 The House That Jack Built Photos
Map: Bungendore
Getting There

This walk was organised and led by me as a private walk:

Tuesday 10 June - The House That Jack Built - M/E,X. A wander from the Sutton Road through Kowen Forest to The House That Jack Built ruin. Return via different tracks in the forest. Around 15km and 400m total climb. Leader: John Evans – jevans@pcug.org.au, (h) 6288 7235. Transport: ~$5. Further details at http://jevans.pcug.org.au.

Mt Mavis was once again postponed due to the weather no doubt restricting the view. Second time - grrrrr. I'll get there yet.

Drive (via Oakes Estate if you want to see SoS M10) up the Sutton Road to the gate (marked Seven Mile Road) into the Kowen Forest. It's the second last turn in before the corner of the forest and two before Norton Road. Plenty of room for parking.


There are few who would understand this walk. Peter K does, because he warned me that The House That Jack Built is just a pile of rubble, so I wasn't expecting much. Louise N does, because she cycled there and sent me photos, so I knew not to expect much. However, a location named and marked like that on the 1:25000 topographic map deserves a visit. My good mate Max proved his worth by joining me on this little wander on a very damp morning.

We drove out through Oaks Estate and got close to Site of Significance in the ACT M10 - 'The Oaks' (see pic 1).

If one has to walk on forestry roads and tracks, at least today's showers and rain made them soft. In places they nearly looked pretty. In quite a number of sites, including in the middle of firebreaks, ACT Forests has left wonderful eucalypt specimens - they look great.

Away at 9.30am, a truly gentleman's hour to start a walk. The Sutton Road drive took care of a bit of the up to the escarpment, but we had to plod up a bit more, following the edge of the forest with the backs of Wamboin properties on our left. Showers all the walk. Reached Poppet Hill with its aerial at 10.30am (4.9km to here).

Next, S, a little E, and a bit S again to the three map markings for The House That Jack Built (see pic 2). Not exciting, but I wonder why these buildings were built and torn down? This leg 2.5km in 35mins.

Well, a day later Peter B from ACT Forests kindly provided: "We have no record of anyone living in the house but apparently it was a government dwelling during the era of plantation establishment in the early 1900’s. Phil Munnings (forestry overseer) sold the house for $25 in the early 1980’s, but most of the property was destroyed soon after for undetermined reasons. It was not a heritage site on the ACT Heritage Register. Its main use in recent decades was simply as a landmark to get your bearing when travelling in the pine forest. Sorry I have no other info on the site."

And, on 18 Jan 09, I received an email from Phil Munnings, saying: "A friend recently told me my name had come up in a google search in a story of yours about the House that Jack Built at Kowen Forest. For what it's worth here's what I know about the house (slightly edited by me): It was built by Jack E who was a forestry worker, ganger and overseer at Kowen from the 20s through to the 60s. He ruled eastern ACT with an iron fist and a really weird local dialect. I was the Forester-in-Charge at Kowen in the mid to late 70s. Jack's legacy remained there then, with most of the workforce being descendents or relatives of his, typically born and raised in the house. The house was probably built in the 30s. It was a very basic 2 beddy cypress pine weatherboard with very simple facilities. By 1975 when I arrived it had been derelict for many years, used by the local lads for drinking sessions and who knows what. It wasn't pretty. By 1979 or 1980 it was starting to collapse. A local owner builder approached me for permission to salvage the timber from the house but by the time approval came  through from ACT Forests the house disappeared completely.”

We continued S, then W on Charcoal Kiln Road to the Forestry Depot site (see pic 3). No Forestry Depot (except several building footprints) but a large 'race track', no doubt for car rallies. Saw the sign to the picnic area, but didn't visit - this must be the one referenced here. A falcon or some such raptor circled. This leg 2.4km in 30mins.

Next, generally N-ish to the fire tower, then back to the car. Saw 3 young yellow-tailed black cockatoos. This leg 5.6km in 1hr 20mins. Arrived just as it started to pelt down.

It just had to be done. Thanks, Max.

Distance: 15.5km  Climb: 400m.  Time: 9.30am - 1.00pm (3.5hrs), with no stops.
Grading: M/E,X; E(7)

KMZ file for Google Earth/Maps: The House That Jack Built

Click on a thumbnail below to see the full sized picture
1 The Oaks - SoS in the ACT M10
2 The House That Jack Built - site 2
3 Forestry Depot