Pierces trig, Camels Hump, Tidbinbilla Peak, TNR, exit cairns from Tidbinbilla Mountain
Tuesday 17 October: Tidders Traverse, TNR Skyline Track – L/R.The clearing of tracks at either end of the Tidbinbilla Range, and the thinning of the regrowth which sprang up post-2003, has made a full Tidbinbilla traverse at least hypothetically possible again, so let’s give it a go. Our aim will be to visit each of the major peaks in the range, namely Camel Back, Jons Peak, Tidbinbilla Peak, Tidbinbilla Mountain, and Mt Domain. If two cars are available, we’ll do a short shuffle between Mountain Creek and Fishing Gap car parks. This is a walk for those who relish a challenge, but you don’t need to be superhuman, or super fast (I’m not)- you’ll just need a willingness to maintain a steady pace through what will be a long day. We certainly won’t be home in time for afternoon tea! Distance: 23 km…ascent and descent, 1200 metres. Leader: Trevor L. Book by Sunday evening 15 October. Transport: ∼$10 per head.
The full Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve Skyline Track is a long and arduous trip. The northern end (from Mountain Creek car park via the Camel Back fire trail to Camels Hump, the crest of the ridge via Johns Peak to Tidbinbilla Peak) and the southern end (from Fishing Gap car park via Fishing Gap fire trail to Fishing Gap, then via SH1402 to Mt Domain) are relatively easy to follow. However, the middle section, from Tidbinbilla Peak to Tidbinbilla Mountain, then via Snowy Corner to Mt Domain, is currently not well marked and passes through strong regrowth. Signs have recently been placed and they should be heeded (see photo).
During daylight savings, TNR is open from 7.30am-8.00pm. By the time walkers drive in to either Mountain Creek car park or Fishing Gap car park, a car shuttle is organised and at the end of the day this process is reversed, only around 11 hours of walking time is available.
Only strong, cohesive and well-equipped (including a PLB and plenty of water) small parties should attempt this full walk, at least until further track marking and clearing is completed.
It is not a walk for other than ideal weather conditions. Know the emergency exits from Tidbinbilla Peak and Snowy Corner cairns.
Don’t be late and have to involve the late ranger in exiting the TNR gates after they are closed.
That said, it is a fabulous walk!
I last did a fuller traverse on 29 Mar 08 (when the regrowth was a lot less and I was a lot younger).
Distance: 21.4km | Climb: 1260m | Time: 7.45am – 6.35pm (10hrs 50mins), including 90 mins of breaks | Grading: L/R; VH(15)
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.)
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We were through the gates at 7.15am and drove to the Mountain Creek car park. Then popped a car over at Fishing Gap car park. We were all walking by 7.45am.
And what a cracking pace Trevor set. I was soon well-nigh exhausted, as he gave no quarter to dwellers in old folks homes. As we neared the turnoff to the crest, I hoped that he’d double back from there but, no, on we went to climb to Camels Hump. Well worth it for the huge views, particularly to the south along the Tidbinbilla Range. A quick break, for me to take some photos and pop off a Facebook progress post.
We descended and this time took the well-defined track in past the burnt out transmitter tower and along the crest to Johns Peak. Arriving at 10.15am, it was time for morning tea. Great views down Burkes Creek into the Cotter River.
We continued averaging around 2km/hr on the next leg from Johns Peak to Tidbinbilla Peak. The footpad route continues for this leg and our rate of progress indicated the relatively easy walking. Reached the Peak at 11am. Another progress post to Facebook.
The easy to follow footpad deteriorates 100m or so on from Tidbinbilla Peak, although the route is marked here and there with tapes and cairns. I waypointed most that we passed, as I may have an opportunity to further develop this route with additional marking. Wonderful views to The Pimple! We still maintained our ∼2km/hr and reached Tidbinbilla Mountain at 12.10pm. Lunch, camera work and a call home to my dear wife. Enormous views, including west to Ginini Falls and SW to Corin Dam.
A steep descent from Tidbinbilla Mountain and, in places, the route is hard to follow. Also, there are a couple of tapes around here that perhaps need repositioning. This leg contains a mixture of more difficult going and clear footpad as the Snowy Corner cairns are approached, but the overall pace slowed a little. We walked through the cairns at 1.25pm, the last chance to exit earlier from the crest.
The leg from the Snowy Corner cairns to Mt Domain was the most difficult. It includes a drop into the saddle from which Mountain Creek and Cow Flats Creek flow and, of course, a climb out. Very, very slow and scrubby around SH1431, but then the open area near the shale-y knolls where we had our first afternoon break. The first of four, as we were starting to weary. Great views west and east from here. Sections of the route are unmarked on this leg and, although short, pass through significant regrowth. The going requires much effort from the leader until tapes and the footpad are regained. Our progress dropped to around 1km/hr.
We reached the open area a few tens of metres north of the Mt Domain cairn at 4.15pm and took a third and well-deserved break. I rang a Ranger who knew we were doing this trip and estimated that we’d exit the TNR gates around 7.30pm.
We lost the footpad after the initial 100m descent from Mt Domain, so it is never easy. However, once back on the line, the footpad improved through SH1402. The route becomes a well-defined track for the final 300 vertical metre descent to Fishing Gap. Another short break.
Gaiters off and we walked down the Fishing Gap fire trail to the car park. Arrived at 6.35pm.
The best way to get the feel of this route and the fabulous views is to scan though the photos and watch the short video clips.
A classic trip. Huge thanks for putting it on Trevor. A strong party, thanks all.
These do not include our breaks and looking times from vantage points.
|Mountain Creek car park||Camels Hump||6.3||1hr 30mins|
|Camels Hump||Johns Peak||2.1||55mins|
|Johns Peak||Tidbinbilla Peak||1.0||30mins|
|Tidbinbilla Peak||Tidbinbilla Mountain||2.0||1hr 5mins|
|Tidbinbilla Mountain||Snowy Corner cairns||1.1||40mins|
|Snowy Corner cairns||Mt Domain||2.8||2hr 50mins|
|Mt Domain||Fishing Gap||2.4||1hr 20mins|
|Fishing Gap||Fishing Gap car park||3.7||40mins|
6 walkers – Mark B, Meredith H, Stephen M, Peter M, Trevor L (leader), me.
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