Paddys River mine area from the abandoned mine pits | New Cotter Dam over the razor wire | Murrumbidgee River downstream from Charlies Point
Saturday 1 March: Cotter Cave, Paddys River Mine and environs – M/R,W. Examine the abandoned caves, pits, tunnels and adits of the Paddys River Mine area. Wade up Paddys River in shin deep water. Climb Sugarloaf Hill. Less than 10km and 250m climb. Map: Cotter Dam. Limit: 8. Leader: John Evans –, 0417 436 877. Transport: ~$6 per person. Further details at

7 of us drove from Canberra to the Cotter Bend car park.

Further Information

Previous trips to the area on 28 Dec 13 and 19 Apr 08. See Paddys River Mine and Canberra Karst Region – Paddys River and London Bridge Cave Areas for papers on the mining and geology of the area.


Distance: 8.2km | Climb: 350m | Time: 7.50-10.35am; 10.45-11.35am; 12.10-12.40pm (4hrs 5mins), including 25 mins of breaks | Grading: S/M; M(9)

Track Maps

Track overview

Track 1

Track 2

Track 3


Photographs are available, where you can start a large sized slide show.

Google Earth

Download the Google Earth .kmz file here.

Track Notes

A grey old showery Canberra day forecast – quite a change after weeks of 30+°C temperatures, then some flooding rain – but we walk. However, light showers for the first hour, not enough even for a raincoat, then no more.

Parking at Cotter Bend, we picked up the concrete trail heading down to the bridge over the Cotter. Flakey phone reception down here, so it was the GPS pointing to the close-by geocache GC42KBN Cotter Corner. A temporary false lead, but once over the footbridge I retrieved it and logged it. Not to give too much away, we were planning to wade up Paddys River anyway.

Along the next part of the old concrete walking track, over the rock fall and up to the fire trail, which took us around to the bottom of the stone steps up to the Lookout and grilled Cotter Cave. There has been recent bulldozer activity, decommissioning the fire trail that climbs up the spur to the crest of the ridge.

We climbed up to the Cave and Lookout and I made time to find and log GC4W5AM Cotter Caves.

Next down to the Paddys River ford. Everyone was happy to ‘dive in’, so we waded up the river for a bit, then climbed the bank and headed to the entrance of Tunnel No. 3 which we’d found on Rob H’s walk of 28 Dec 13 (do check out the Paddys River Mine and Canberra Karst Region – Paddys River and London Bridge Cave Areas papers on the mining and geology of the area.)

After inspecting it and not falling in, we headed up to the crest of the ridge through wet, but heat-stressed mainly Grevillea shrubs. We met the map-marked fire trail which has been newly decommissioned by ripping the soil and having a few moguls built across it.

Continuing a little further S, we found a way down the gully to the mullock heap, filled-in adit and bit of rail track of the abandoned mine adit site. Dumb me missed looking for the geocache GCWAPH Copper Comeback, so I’ll have to come back yet again some time.

Back up on the crest the ripped fire trail took us N to the nose of the ridge. Here we went W down to the cave 1 entrance, then sidled along to cave 2 entrance, then via footpad back to the Lookout.

From here one sees a footpad going up the gully below, so we returned to the fire trail, picked up the footpad and brave me plunged into the blackberries guarding the hole/adit below the Lookout. The pad then took us up the far side of the gully to the bare abandoned mine pit area. Some lovely Grass Trees and a kinky toadstool.

Returned to a table near the cars and had morning tea.

The plan was then to climb Sugarloaf Hill, so we drove out Paddys River Rd to the Laurel Camp Rd turnoff. Many cars and the Pierces Creek Pine Forest area was closed due to a car rally.

So back to Cotter Avenue – nice to see the revamped area since the 2003 fires – and park at the end. The Honyong-Cotter Walking Track took us up to the top of the dam, with views to the enlarged area of water, the side saddle dams and the quarry. Down at the dam lookout, the signage informed us about ‘fluffy’ water! Back down to the cars.

We next drove back to Casuarina Sands and to the Charlies Point car park, a la 18 Feb 14. Lunch down at the seats on the decking, then a stroll down the ‘bidgee for a little way.

Return and home at a very mild mannered hour.


7 walkers – Mark C, Cynthia C, Lisa M, Stephen M, Sally P, Frankie W, me.