Looking back to the Orroral Ridge crest cliffs

Tuesday 29 May: The Ridge Northwest of Orroral Hill, Namadgi National Park – L/R. Starting from the Orroral Valley carpark, we’ll follow the walking track to the old Lunar Laser Observatory site, then head off-track for most of the day, in steep, scrubby, and rocky terrain. The route links up several attractive granite outcrops and slabs on the ridge to the northwest of Orroral Hill. There are a couple of steep rock scrambles and narrow squeezes between boulders. (We shall not visit the Orroral Hill summit on this trip.) Minimum distance: 14 km with 950 metres ascent. Map: Rendezvous Creek. Leader: Ian W. Transport: 97 km return. Limit: 8.
GC2042E Wonderland #3 – Eagle’s Eyrie, GC2042G Wonderland #4 – The Grandstand, GC20507 Wonderland #5 – Fairy House


Distance: 14.5km | Climb: 950m | Time: 7.45am – 4.30pm (8hrs 45mins), including 40 mins of breaks | Grading: L/R; H(14)


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


Waypoint and Track Files

Download the gpx file for this trip (if your browser does not automatically download the file, it will open the gpx file in a new window and you can then save it). To use in Google Earth, do File, Open… and select Gps or All files as the File Type.

Track Notes

We wandered up the old vehicle alignment, forming part of the Granite Tors Walking Track. Passed the junction where the new ridge track comes down to join the main track. We were to keep this new bit till our return. Around half way from this junction to the geodetic observatory we went bush.

We hand-railed a drainage line for a while, then headed WSW up towards the crest of the ridge running NW from Orroral Hill. Medium scrub and a few rock scrambles as we ascended – I think the scrub gets worse as I age. Not having the planned route with me, I was pleasantly surprised when we stopped for morning tea, only around 300m shy of the first geocache.

I’d given Ian the location of 3 caches that I was interested in some time before and he agreed to include them on this walk. But the first one didn’t work, and it was probably my fault. I didn’t examine the detail of GC2042E Wonderland #3 – Eagle’s Eyrie until the night before. Included in the download zipped gpx file was an additional waypoint R12042E Entrance to the Jumble, indicating to a top approach to the cache. In addition, the cache has 9 spoiler pics! So the correct approach is definitely required.

Puffing up to the crest without my glasses on and GPSr set to the final cache location, Ian had us down through a narrow, pack-passing slot taking us from one side of the crest to the other before we geocachers could protest:

Negotiating the slot

We ended up 36m from the cache, and probably 36m below it. A short, abortive attempt to scale the cliff.

Fabulous views to the Mavis Ridge in the SW over Rendezvous Creek, with threatening cloud:

View from under the crest cliffs to the 1520+ metre knoll

We continued NW under the granite cliffs and boulders for another couple of hundred metres, then sidled SW down through a drainage line and up towards the 1520+m knoll containing the next geocache:

Turning down from under the crest cliffs

Crossing a drainage line

We were approaching our goal from underneath, so had to do quite a loop round the base of the granite tors to find a way up. But we did, and found and logged GC2042G Wonderland #4 – The Grandstand. Certainly were grandstand views!:

View from geocache GC2042G Wonderland #4 – The Grandstand

View SW to the Mavis Ridge from geocache GC2042G Wonderland #4 – The Grandstand

The leg to the next cache was 1.2km and took 55mins. A little less scrub and more granite slabs. Another little circuit to get up for a quick find and log of GC20507 Wonderland #5 – Fairy House. Very breezy, so we found nearby shelter from the wind and light showers for lunch.

We next headed down and up over the Orroral Hill NW ridge crest to the rabbit-ear rocks, 900m in 50mins:

Slippery slabs in the showers back on the crest of the Orroral ridge

A great location:

The rabbit-ear rocks

Can you see someone up high?:

Where’s Robyn?

IamCoust picked up another cache.

We could see the dome of the geodetic observatory from the rabbit-ears. The 1.4km descent took 1hr 20mins, but the going seemed a little more open than the morning’s ascent (but probably due to the ‘down’ factor).

Great to have the geodetic observatory open, and there are further plans to re-open the upper floors:

The recently re-opened geodetic observatory

We then followed the new part of the Granite Tors Walking Track. It’s a lovely track along the crest, winding in and out of the granite tors. At last the walk lives up to its name – congrats to the initiators!:

Junction of new and old Granite Tors Walking Track

As always, Ian ‘the granite hunter’ leads a tough and excellent walk. Great day. The 2 caches had not been visited in nearly 3 years. And we’ll be back for the first one!

Track Map



Google Earth snip


A wonderful contribution from Matthew Higgins, local eco-historian and author. Check out this article for background on the geodetic observatory.


8 walkers – Melinda B, Roger E (Marmaduke Rothschild), Robyn H (lokipagan), Meredith H, Trevor L, Neil W (IamCoust), Ian W (leader), me (JohnnyBoyACT).