'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''.
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.
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.''
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.
Devils Seat: Located on the eastern slopes of Rocky Knob Park, Carnegie Crescent, Narrabundah.
Watch-out for: A knockout cubby house crafted from loose stones and branches in the park opposite Rocky Knob. It shows that not all kids spend their days glued to computers and video games.
Rock Hounds: The Narrabundah tors are part of the Mount Painter Volcanics and consist largely of a rock called dacitic ignimbrite which is characteristically exposed on rocky knolls and as boulders and tors, such as those in Narrabundah. The Mount Painter Volcanics outcrops in two belts: one belt extends from Coppins Crossing towards Narrabundah and Jerrabomberra Creek, while the other belt extends from Gooromon Ponds Creek towards Yass.
Did You Know? There are a number of other naturally-occurring seats in our region including:
- Hanging Rock, Tidbinbilla – a tree stump adjacent to the walking track has decayed in such a way that it resembles a toilet, complete with bowl, seat and cistern.
- Lounge Chair Rock, just south of Narooma’s main surf beach