Saturday 24 June: Tidbinbilla Skyline, northern section – M-L/R. Walk up the Camel Back Fire Trail from the Mountain Creek car park in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. Walk the crest of the Tidbinbilla Range following the Skyline route up through Johns Peak, SH1491 to Tidbinbilla Peak. I hear the route has been cleared, so it should be quick walking. Exit via the SE spur, slow and scrubby. Around 13km and 700m climb. If time, energy and inclination allow, a side trip to The Pimple, adding 5km and 200m climb. Map: Tidbinbilla. Leader: John Evans 0417 436 877 firstname.lastname@example.org . Transport: ∼$5 per person.
This was a little trip for me to have a look at the northern end of the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve’s ‘Skyline Track’, recently put in at the request of TNR rangers and including work done by Greening Australia and Conservation Volunteers Australia.
Distance: 13.8km | Climb: 900m | Time: 7.45am – 2.20pm (6hrs 35mins), including 40 mins of breaks | Grading: L/M-R; H(13)
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Waypoint and Track Files
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The whole day was worth it, just for the sight of the early morning sun glowing pink on the western hills as we drove out. Booroomba Rocks cliff and Gibraltar Peak were standouts.
The TNR gates were open at 7.30am, the party size increased by a trig bagger + friend, and we drove on to the Mountain Creek car park. Kitted up, walk briefing and we were away by 7.45am.
The first part of the Camel Back Fire Trail is particularly steep and conversation soon dwindled (mine at least). The lyrebirds were calling strongly. We made the 5.7km to the intersection with the northern end of the Skyline Track in 1hr 30mins. We passed another party of 2 heading for Camels Hump and were passed by Sean and Sophie who, we discovered later, were going our way.
The start of the Skyline Track is marked by a large stone cairn where it doubles back in along the crest of the Tidbinbilla Range. The old benched vehicle track into the burnt out radio tower is cleared of all wattle regrowth. A great cleared footpad, heavily marked by cairns and the odd tape, continues on through SH1322, climbing gently through the 1300m contour, then rising more steeply to the short and easy scramble up to Johns Peak. Huge views down the north arm of Burkes Creek to the wild Cotter River and up the other side to the Brindabellas. It took us 45mins to cover the 1.6km to morning tea on Johns Peak. We’d passed through S&S, then they through us as we had our break.
The newly cleared and marked footpad continued without fault through SH1491 to Tidbinbilla Peak. Even I couldn’t lose it. This leg 1km in 35mins. Cool when exposed to the westerly wind, so we only dallied for Lauren the trig bagger to dance on the trig and for S&S to snap a pic of us.
It was now 11am. A party animal (unnamed) was due back in town for a 4pm drink. Options were discussed and all affected parties agreed that we should stick together. I always reckon that splitting a party is the beginning of the possibility for disaster. Another (unnamed) walker has an aversion to bush ‘wacking’, so I though the planned descent via the Tidbinbilla Peak spur would be a great experience. Down at the cairn near SH1556, S&S also decided to join us for the descent.
The blue line on the track maps is our route, the red from 27 May 17. I may have done better for the first couple of hundred metres, but fell off the S side of the spur a bit. Our descent seemed a bit scrubbier than previously. 1hr 50mins for the 2.1km leg from Tidbinbilla Peak to the fire trail. We sat in the middle of the road for lunch.
Down near the link track to the car park, we decided to do a lap of the Cascade Track. A lot damper in among the branches of Mountain Creek. The cascade and big tree fern are always beautiful and a few in the party had not seen them. Some cool fungi on the way back.
I am really impressed by the newly cleared ‘Skyline Track’ footpad. I think it will encourage more walkers to come up onto the Tidbinbilla crest and also provide a bit of a safety catching feature for those who might stray over the west side. Well done TNR staff and volunteer workers!
So a good day was had by all and a couple of goals ticked off lists.
8 walkers – Julie H, Ming L, Stephen M, Lauren O, Lisa Q, Jasmine S, Kerstin W, me.