|22 June 2005
|Maps: Tidbinbilla 8627-2S Second Edition 1:25000
The weather forecast was for snow down to 800m, so there was a fair chance that the Tidbinbilla Ridge west of Canberra would have its first white dusting for the winter. And with our 2 weeks in the snow in Tasmania just a while away, I thought it might be a good opportunity for me to get a little familiar with the white stuff. So I contacted RB and, even though he was not 100%, he agreed to go walkabout with me. I didn't tell him till half way up the fire trail that, as well as his good company, he was acting as insurance for the first walk I've planned under these conditions! Drive from Canberra via Point Hut Crossing to the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. Then on to the trails car park.
This walk is number 3 in Graeme Barrow's Exploring Namadgi & Tidbinbilla: Day walks in Canberra's high country, reversed. We had a late start and an early finish. It was great to see a ladies walking group of 7 arrive at the car park just as we were setting off and 4 young guys came down the fire trail just after we'd finished. So we were not the only mad people in the Canberra hills this day.
The air was certainly crisp as we headed up the Camel Hump fire trail at 9.40am. Plenty of snow dusted the tops of the ridge, concentrating on the SE slopes. We reached the base of Camels Hump by 11am and spent 15 minutes gearing up, taking a few snaps and deciding what to do. The rain had turned to snow showers on the way up the fire trail and the visibility was quite restricted. So we decided to head for Tidbinbilla Peak.
Conditions were certainly different from the last time I'd been through here and I was glad that the ridge line walking set clear bounds for navigation. The snow increased as we climbed up towards Johns Peak and the combination of snow covered rocky terrain demanded caution.
I decided to tackle Johns Peak up the NW side this time, as previously I'd been caught a little on the NE side. With my dislike of heights, the poor visibility was a blessing at this time as, from memory and checking the close contour lines, the peak falls away somewhat. But it was an easy scramble to the top. We paused for 10 minutes for more photos, close features pretty in the snow and the background quickly fading into grey-white.
We pressed on towards Tidbinbilla Peak, a quick peek at the GPS telling us that we had 55 metres to go and then the white covered concrete base of the old trig point appeared at 12.35pm. Very different from last week! 10 minutes was more than enough for photos.
We wanted to get a little more shelter for a lunch spot, so headed to the little cairn at spot height 1556. One heads off SE down the spur from here, curving a little to the east to maintain the line of the spur and not drop down into the gullies. Once committed, it's just follow your nose down. I learned from my knowledgeable companion that what I'd been calling gum suckers are, in fact, broad leaf wattle regrowth. They were just as thick as last week and now, wet and cold. We hadn't bothered to put long/waterproof trousers on, so our legs were frozen numb as we bashed through them. A small clearing at 1pm gave us the opportunity for a 25 minute lunch.
We crashed on. I found it quite fun to get a roll up as we went down, grabbing hold of regrowth to check my speed and to break several falls. Ended up on my backside a few times, but only a couple of deeper holes covered by the snow trapped me. Alas, the snow thinned and was gone by the time we reached the fire trail just near the junction at GR718756 (GDA94) at 2.20pm.
A quick 10 minute stroll saw us down to the car park. There was proof that it was chilly - I took off my gaiters and out rolled several ice blocks, no doubt the result of snow and water running down my bare legs.
Distance: 11.7km Time: 9.40am - 2.40pm, with 1 hour of stops.
|1 Snowy trees at the base of Camels Hump
|2 Looking north from Johns Peak
|3 John on Tidbinbilla Peak