last updated 7Feb23

Walking the Tidbinbilla Range Skyline

The Tidbinbilla Range would be familiar to many Canberrans. From most parts of our city the prominent features are easily recognised as they cut the skyline. Camels Hump, Johns Peak, Tidbinbilla Peak and Mountain, and Mt Domain. From the central and southern suburbs, in particular, there are views to the serried western hills of the Bullen, Tidbinbilla and Brindabella Ranges. From northern suburbs, the uniform western slope of Tidbinbilla Mountain is prominent.

There are numerous walking trails in the valley of the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve (TNR) and it’s a perfect location to take visitors to mix with kangaroos and koalas. Tracks such as Gibraltar Peak, and the Cascade and Lyrebird walks provide visual delights and some exercise in the fresh air.

In addition, there is grand walking up on the ridge behind the valley. Recent work has been completed on some footpads, allowing slightly easier and safer walking. Foot traffic in other areas has somewhat formalised routes into vague footpads.

It is a wild and wonderful place to experience stunning views but needs to be treated with considerable respect. Wind, rain, cloud and snow, and low temperatures can create testing conditions. It is definitely not a place to be without suitable navigation experience and tools, and appropriate clothing and equipment.

TNR is open 7.30am – 6pm (8pm AEDT).

There are a number of access routes

Starting in the south, use Fishing Gap Road to climb from Fishing Gap car park on the Tidbinbilla Ring Road to Fishing Gap. From here there is a footpad route that ascends steeply in places to Mt Domain.

Midway north along the crest there is a very steep footpad route up the Snowy Corner spur. Going up, start at the Mountain Creek car park and use the Lyrebird Trail to access the bottom of the route. It climbs from around 900m to 1400m over a couple of kilometres. The ‘Snowy Corner’ cairn on the crest is around 1km south of the map-marked Snowy Corner feature. From here, you can turn south towards Mt Domain, or north towards Tidbinbilla Mountain and beyond.

The next access route is between the Camel Back Fire Trail and an area just south of Tidbinbilla Peak, near SH1556. As I understand it, the footpad has been taped, cairned and cleared not by TNR Rangers. The top of the footpad is reasonably easy to find as it descends the south-east spur. The bottom is at a broad area at the base of the spur. Let’s call it the Tidders Peak SE Exit.

The Camel Back Fire Trail starts (via a short link track) at the Mountain Creek car park. Steep in a couple of places, it provides easy walking up to the crest of the Range on an emergency vehicle accessible fire trail. Towards the top, there is a junction with an officially established footpad route which switches back and climbs to Johns Peak and beyond to Tidbinbilla Peak. Continuing north at the junction takes you to a footpad route to Camels Hump.

The Camel Back Fire Trail skirts the triangular shaped top to the east and continues on to Pierce Hill. It is renamed the Tidbinbilla Range Road, continues on through the map-marked Black Spring Mountain and down off the northern end of the Tidbinbilla Range into the Pierces Creek old pine forest area (accessible off Paddys River Road and Laurel Camp Road).

Want a picture?

TNR Skyline Access Routes

So what walks are available?

1 Camels Hump (there and back)

Use the Camel Back Fire Trail to walk up to the base of Camels Hump at the sign. Follow the footpad to climb to the cairn at the top. If you don’t appreciate the exposure around half way up the footpad, take a clearly defined ‘under route’ to skirt the rocky area. Huge views south along the Tidbinbilla Range crest from near the top.
Around 12km and 660 vertical metres climb.


Camels Hump Walk

Ask me for the gpx file.

Smoko views from Johns Peak to Camels Hump Sep 22

2 Mt Domain (there and back)

Use Fishing Gap Road to walk up to Fishing Gap. Use the footpad route to climb to the ridge containing SH1402, then climb again to Mt Domain. Continue a few tens of metres north from the cairn for open views.
Around 13km and 745 vertical metres climb.

Mt Domain Walk

Ask me for the gpx file.

Beautiful footpad at 1200m contour to Mt Domain Nov 22

3 Johns Peak (there and back)

Use the Camel Back Fire Trail to walk up to the signposted switchback footpad junction. The route starts on an overgrown access track to a burnt out communications tower. The footpad has been established with several official track markers and follows the crest of the Range. There is a very mild scramble up to Johns Peak with wonderful views back north towards Camels Hump and down the western fall of the range to the Cotter River.
Around 15km and 755 vertical metres climb.

Johns Peak Walk

Ask me for the gpx file.

Near the start of the scramble to Johns Peak Mar 22

4 Tidbinbilla Peak (round trip)

Walk to Johns Peak (3, above). If desired, a little distance and time can be saved by cutting the top corner. Continue along the route. The footpad is a little rockier and less used than to Johns Peak. Climb to Tidbinbilla Peak where you’ll find a burnt out timber trig and awesome views west to a feature known as The Pimple. Exit south on the footpad to an area of multiple cairns near SH1556. Pick up the start of the footpad exiting to the south-east and follow it down to join the Camel Back Fire Trail.
Around 12km and 829 vertical metres climb.

Tidbinbilla Peak Walk

Ask me for the gpx file.

‘Beyond here be dragons …’ – interesting signage at SH1491 and just after Johns Peak Sep 22

5 Tidbinbilla Mountain (there and back)

Use the steep climb route to Snowy Corner cairn. Continue north along the footpad, vague in places, on the crest. It climbs to Tidbinbilla Mountain from the south-east, then east. Note the position of the cairn marking the descent route, as you can’t see it from the flat top.
Around 8km and 760 vertical metres climb.

Tidbinbilla Mountain Walk

Ask me for the gpx file.

Tidbinbilla Mountain, Australian Capital Territory, Robert Mcleod, John Evans Nov 22 | photo Ian Wright

Additional Routes

6 Tidbinbilla Mountain to Tidbinbilla Peak (through walk)

There is a vague footpad route between Tidbinbilla Mountain and Tidbinbilla Peak. Use it to join the Tidbinbilla Mountain entry route to either the Tidbinbilla Peak SE Exit or, for a longer trip, exit via Tidbinbilla Peak, Johns Peak and the Camel Back FT.
Around 2km and 60 vertical metres descent.

Tidbinbilla Mountain to near Peak

Ask me for the gpx file.

Lovely going after the drop off from Tidbinbilla Mountain Nov 22

7 The Pimple (there and back)

Extend Tidbinbilla Mountain to Tidbinbilla Peak (6, above) with a visit to The Pimple. A vague footpad leaves from a turnoff cairn near SH1555. The final climb is a rock scramble. Incredible views.
Around 2km and 180 vertical metres climb.

The Pimple Walk

Ask me for the gpx file.

View back to The Pimple from SW of Tidbinbilla Peak Nov 22

8 Mt Domain to Snowy Corner (requires car shuttle)

Extend Mt Domain (2, above) to walk north along the crest to Snowy Corner cairn to descend (part 5, above). This is an off-track walking route, no footpad or other navigation aids.
Around 3km and 220 vertical metres climb for Snowy Corner cairn to Mt Domain
Around 3km and 160 vertical metres climb for Mt Domain to Snowy Corner cairn.

Mt Domain to Snowy Corner

Ask me for the gpx file.

My favourite spot on the Tidbinbilla Range crest Nov 22

Walkers on the shale knoll Dec 2022

9 Mt Domain to ‘Beat’s Cave’ (there and back)

Extend Mt Domain (2, above) to walk north along the Tidbinbilla Range for around 600m to where the crest begins to drop down into the major Cow Flat Creek/Ashbrook Creek saddle. Take the NW spur down to ‘Beat’s Cave’. Scrubby going, but a wonderful little cliff line.

‘Beat’s Cave’

Ask me for the gpx file.

Great work – muggle Ali finds Beat’s geocache at ‘Beat’s Cave’

Extended Routes (very difficult)

10 Walk the entire length of the Tidbinbilla Range skyline from Pierces Creek to Fishing Gap car park. The route could include Tidbinbilla Range Road through Black Spring Mountain, Pierce Hill, Camels Hump (via the north-east spur and exit via the southern footpad), Johns Peak, Tidbinbilla Peak, The Pimple, Tidbinbilla Mountain, Snowy Corner cairn, Mt Domain, Fishing Gap.

Tidbinbilla Range Traverse 29 March 2008 © DEPARTMENT OF LANDS PANORAMA AVENUE BATHURST 2795 Used with permission

Ask me for the gpx file.

A number of razor spurs rise from the Cotter River valley up the western fall of the Tidbinbilla Range to the crest.

11 Bendora Road to Camels Hump
12 SH1491 to Bendora Road

Bendora-Camels Hump-SH1491-Bendora 16 March 2013 © DEPARTMENT OF LANDS PANORAMA AVENUE BATHURST 2795 Used with permission

13 Hardy Range to Camels Hump

Hardy Range to Camels Hump 12 May 2009 © DEPARTMENT OF LANDS PANORAMA AVENUE BATHURST 2795 Used with permission

14 Bendora Road to Tidbinbilla Mountain

Bendora to Tidbinbilla Mountain 3 April 2007 © DEPARTMENT OF LANDS PANORAMA AVENUE BATHURST 2795 Used with permission

15 Fishing Gap to Black Springs (Cotter River)
16 Black Springs (Cotter River) to Mt Domain

Fishing Gap-Cotter River-Mt Domain 7 July 2007 © DEPARTMENT OF LANDS PANORAMA AVENUE BATHURST 2795 Used with permission

Ask me for the gpx files.

Razor spurs running down from Johns Peak and Camels Hump from The Pimple Nov 22

All map segments (unless otherwise noted) © BKK Enterprises Pty Ltd, Mona Vale NSW 2103 Used with permission.