The orange cave above an Ettrema side creek

Tuesday 19 July: Headwaters of Ettrema – M/R/X. An exploration of the top of Ettrema, where this famous creek starts in a shallow gorge, and of the nearby areas of open rock slabs and pagodas. Interspersed with scrub, some of it likely to be thick. Start from the Nerriga-Nowra Road and head north. Entirely off track, probably 8 km with the main descent and ascent 150 metres. Rock-scrambling likely in the creek and through cliff-lines. The weather forecast for this area is better than for Canberra on Tuesday. Map: Nerriga. Leader: Linda G.  Transport: $80 per car; 1 hour 40 minute drive from Queanbeyan. Limit: 8.

7 of us met at Spotlight in Queanbeyan at 7.30am and drove to park on the side of the Nerriga-Nowra Road.


Distance: 8.7km | Climb: 150m | Time: 9.20am – 3.20pm (6hrs), including 40 mins of breaks | Grading: S/R; M(9+)


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


Waypoint and Track Files

Download the .gpx file. (Right click, Save Link As…, Save – if you want to use it.)
To use in Google Earth, do File, Open… and select Gps or All files as the File Type.

Track Notes

Once again this great walk leader pulls a rabbit out of the hat. What a fabulous trip! We all felt a little more exercised than the walk metrics indicate, perhaps it should be a M(9+++) grade walk.

An overcast day, but the showers held off. Quite muggy down in the still gorges and we were sweating at times. T-shirt and shorts weather, although the spiky Morton National Park scrub on the tops and the clumps of cutting grass type stuff in the creek lines required gaiters and tough skin.

From the cars we walked north through a little scrub and some rock runs to descend gently to Ettrema Creek. The easiest Ettrema entrance I’ve experienced 😉 , except we were well upstream of the gorges. We crossed the creek and walked downstream for a while, then climbed out the true right side.

Some more along the tops, passing a couple of cairns to the west of SH739. Then down the more gentle side into a joining creek for morning tea.

The contour lines on the map look quite innocuous in this area. They could do with a bit more closeness indicating small cliff lines. There was no way out, if we wanted out. At one stage, the choice of a crawl under a chock stone, or a swim in a typical Ettrema pool – I’m glad Linda chose the former. It was a lovely area. It took 45mins to cover the 650m from morning tea to the confluence with Ettrema Creek.

As the photo shows, some chose to cross Ettrema Creek via the log bridge, whilst others (including me) used more conventional means. We were now in the top of the map-marked Ettrema Gorge and we enjoyed it for 45mins as we made our way 1km downstream. Here an exit side creek presented itself, so we turned up it for lunch.

From here, the iron-lady’s plan was to return up the true left bank of Ettrema, using the tops, as we left lunch at 1.10pm. But there was one last surprise. A side creek had to be negotiated and, as we approached it, an orange cave attracted our attention on the other side. Again, the map seemingly needs a few more contour lines, as it was quite a wiggle and some rock scurrying to get down then up to the cave.

What a fantastic place, high above the creek. Check out the video and the photos – words are pretty useless.

An exit climb via a slot and we were back on the tops, tromping for home. Light scrub belts and rock runways, except for one area of very tight going. Party members congratulated the walk leader for finding it. Some early wattles in bloom, a harbinger of spring.

Huge thanks Linda. A ripper! Great party.

Track Map


Google Earth snip



7 walkers – Mark B, Peter C, Eric G, Linda G (leader), Kim H, David W, me.