Mark Butz
Trench Trail motif

After re-discovery of the World War I instructional trench system  in 2014 and its excavation in 2015, the Woodlands & Wetlands Trust and ACT Parks & Conservation Service began organised public trench tours.
Since that time, hundreds of visitors have been guided through the trench system site, with commentary about how the system came to be constructed, why it is built the way it is, how it was used for training, and the nature of trench warfare and bombing. 
The tours often start with a quick background session at the Jerrabomberra Wetlands office (also a chance for a drink of water and a confort stop), followed by a walk or shuttle to the trench system site. 
On site, the initial stages of the Trench Trail and its interpretive signs are used to illustrate the story. 
In recent times, the 'mock trench' has allowed visitors to gain a sense of the deep, narrow and sinuous form of a fire trench. 
The fire step allows taller visitors to understand they would be disadvantaged in a real trench, while using periscopes allows everyone to scan the field beyond the trench without appearing above the parapet. 
Other props allow visitors to feel the weight of the kind of bombs (grenades) used in training, and in the real thing, and to appreciate the skills and dangers involved in bomb-throwing.
Visitors are then guided along the line of a communication trench, with an explanation of the function and form of each layer in the sequence of trenches that makes up the system, and how each layer came into play during an attack.
At 'no man's land' the complex and dangerous system of saps and tunnels for listening, bombing, or laying explosives, is explained, along with the nature of  barbed wire emplacements. 
At the 'enemy trench' we can look back along the system to our starting point and appreciate the effort that went into preparing officers for trench warfare. 
We are reminded also of the human face and human cost of the War, and can pause to remember the soldiers who did not come home. 
Heritage Festival 2017 Michael Maconachie

Heritage Festival 2017 Michael Maconachie
Trench Tour during the Heritage Festival 2017
(Images: Michael Maconachie)

On-site Trench Tours can be booked when they are offered as part of the Canberra and Region Heritage Festival (around April each year).  Alternatively, tours for organised groups can be booked at other times by arrangement with the Woodlands & Wetlands Trust.   Proceeds from tours support the important work of the Trust.

The entry to the Trench Trail is about 600 metres walk from the reserve car park off Dairy Flat Road. 
The trail is in a nature reserve - no dogs are allowed.
The 350 metre loop trail is marked, and easy access is provided to the interpretive signs next to the Cycleway. 
However, most of its length currently has no formed pathway, requiring sensible footwear.
Please take care on uneven or muddy ground and near the river bank. 
Caution is required to avoid encounters with snakes. 
Please take a hat, sunscreen and personal water supply. 
There are no toilet facilities on the trench site. 

WW1 reenactment  Henry Moulds
World War I comes alive with members of the
National Military Reenactment Group on the
inaugural tour in 2016  - not a standard feature of tours
(Image: Henry Moulds)


Let a Tour be just the start - or do your 'homework' before a Tour - explore the full background to the Trench Trail and the 'Bombing Paddock' in

‘The best system of trenches in Australia’: World War I training site, Duntroon Trench Warfare and Bombing School,
Jerrabomberra Wetlands Nature Reserve, Canberra
by Mark Butz  

(ISBN 978-0-9945748-0-0 - Published 2017 by Learnscapes and the Woodlands and Wetlands Trust, Canberra)
All proceeds from the sale of this publication benefit the work of the Woodlands and Wetlands Trust

Read more about this book - Available for purchase from this page
Trench book cover


PO Box 128   

Top of page

Home page
© 2017-18  Mark Butz
Last update 17 January 2018