Upper Cotter Falls

Saturday-Sunday  20-21 January: Upper Cotter River – M/M-R,ptX. A long drive to Yaouk and the end of Kennedys Road. Walk Yaouk Trail to Yaouk Gap, then off-track along the ACT border. Walk generally east to cross Porcupine Creek, then up over a crest near SH1518 and down to the Cotter River at the upper falls. Follow the river down to the lower falls and through Rolleys Flats to near SH1108. Turn west and gain Yaouk Trail to return to Yaouk Gap. A side trip NW along the border to the headwaters of Jacks Creek. Around 25km (7km on fire trail) and 800m climb. 6 geocaches. Map: Rendezvous Creek. Leader: John Evans 0417 436 877 john@johnevans.id.au . Limit: 8. Transport: ∼$25 per person.
Geocaches – GC5X2H3 It’s all about Sole, GC18WX5 Noonameena, GC22CDV Upper Cotter Falls, GC22CDX Lower Cotter Falls, GC1JK5A Lost German Tourist, GC4Z4M1 Bonus surprise

Further Information

I was last in this area 7-8 Jun 08 when I was a lot younger and the scrub less thick.


Distance: 25.5km | Climb: 1080m | Time: 1½ days | Grading: M/R; M(11+)


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

39ºC forecast for Canberra, so it was going to be a hot trip. We left at about 6.15am from my old folks home and drove through the southern border of the ACT. A wedge-tailed eagle at breakfast on the side of the road and a lyrebird scurrying out of our way. Around 3km further along, we pulled up to log GC5X2H3 It’s all about Sole. Turned right onto Yaouk Rd and drove NW till we hit Kennedys Rd. North along it, 4 gates, crossed Bung Harris Creek and parked at the turnoff to Rowleys Hut. Around 90km and 1hr 50mins drive.

Walking by 8.10am. Could have easily driven a further 1km up Yaouk Trail to good roadside parking. 3km in 40mins to Noonameena Hut at Yaouk Gap. This is a private, locked hut, but has a tank (for which we were grateful). Some distance away (not shown on the published map or .gpx file) one of our muggles found the final GZ of GC18WX5 Noonameena on her first caching foray!

Returning to Yaouk Gap, we then set off SE along the border, then steeply down through regrowth to cross Porcupine Creek and stop for morning tea. 780m in 35mins. The climb out of the creek to crest the ridge north of SH1518 was a little easier in places as there were a few runs of granite slabs. But over the other side, for the 120vm descent to the upper Cotter Falls was again slow and scrubby going. This leg 2.3km in 2hrs 46mins.

A long, frustrating 1 hour period followed as we searched for GC22CDV Upper Cotter Falls. I really should be drummed out of the geocaching community – once again caching without the spoiler photo. Lokipagan had it on her phone, but it took a big tumble into the river (better the phone than her) and, when retrieved, refused to work. We searched and searched and searched, to no joy. Even seeing the spoiler on return, it’s difficult to locate where the cache might be. Lunch. Pretty hot by now.

We left at 12.50pm, descended to the river and crossed to the true right side. 1.6km in 1hr 20mins down to the lower Cotter Falls, walking in the scrub (not as the track shows in the river). A find and log of GC22CDX Lower Cotter Falls, thanks to my fellow cachers Lokipagan, Marmaduke Rothschild and TikvaNZ. Not that much water in the river, so the falls were not as impressive as the photos on the geocaching site entries.

A most unpleasant leg followed, from lower Cotter Falls to the spot were we picked up water for the second time at the southern end of Rolleys Flats. Extremely hot, thick scrub until breaking onto the Flats, my summer adductor muscle cramps set in with a vengeance. 1hr 20mins for 1.7km.

At least bare knees got a spell from pushing through the scrub, but in damper places the flats were lumpy. But lovely views up to the Kelly Spur and, nearing the confluence of Porcupine Creek and the Cotter River, some beautiful camping areas (as long as one is at least 100m from the Cotter River, as the Bimberi Wilderness camping permit requires). Rather than camp on the flats, we decided to head for Yaouk Trail to give ourselves a head start in the morning, so we picked up water from the Cotter River and climbed the 70m to the road. A few hundred metres to the south we found a suitable area beside the road to camp. Got in at 5pm. At some stage during the afternoon we found the final GZ of GC1JK5A Lost German Tourist. It took 3 of us to remove the tin from its hide, we were so exhausted.

The march flies did not desist until dark, but at least the sun behind the hills gave some relief. My folding chair was again worth carrying. Cramps still. A mild night, first in sleeping bag liner then bag over me. Some thought the night a mite chilly.

Up at 5.45am. Cool and I needed my sleeping bag liner round my shoulders for breakfast, as I’d only brought an extra short-sleeved top. Away at 7.15am (should have been 7am). A 250vm, 3.9km walk up Yaouk Trail in 1hr 5mins. Various options were available and I trust everyone was happy with their choice. 2 returned to the cars, had a look at Rowleys Hut and drove home, 1 enjoyed some crosswords in the shade at Noonameena, a poke around Rowleys and waited for the remaining 3 to return.

Lokipagan, TikvaNZ and I chose to head NW up along the border. Not an easy choice on the hot day and knowing the scrub, but I wasn’t going to have to come back for this next cache too. I was pretty whacked and most grateful to Martin for taking the lead there and back, and for Robyn to also make the going in front of me. A 5.9km 3hr 25mins round trip with 270vm climb, scrubby most of the way and hot, hot all the way. We each used more than 2 litres of water. Our aim was GC4Z4M1 Bonus surprise, which I’d solved from photos of the item from previous trips. Still, the others came up with a similar solution and we spent some time looking in the wrong place (so if you download my track, don’t look there as the correct final GZ has been removed from the track!). Was this last cache deja vous of the first? Martin got in a Vodafone 1 bar text to the cache owner and I got in a Telstra 1 bar scratchy call. Robyn returned to the item to recount. A comedy, with calls dropping out and two caches named Bonus Surprise, but a gracious cache owner corrected our errors. No need – as we returned, Lokipagan called out that she’d made the find, so cache logged. Quite a slog back for me.

Gallons of water and some sugar at Noonameena Hut, reloaded our packs with overnight gear we’d dropped to make the side trip and a wander down Yaouk Trail to the car.

Thanks friends. A hot and mostly successful trip. Still cramping as I write, Will have to return to upper Cotter Falls (but not soon).

Track Maps

Track overview

Track 1

Track 2

Track 3



6 walkers – Melinda B, Roger E (Marmaduke Rothschild), Martin E (TikvaNZ), Robyn H (Lokipagan), VT, me.