22 October 2005 Geodetic Observatory Site and Mt Orroral Photos
Map: Rendezvous Creek 8626-1S Second Edition 1:25000
Getting There

Having spent a year as a member of the Canberra Bushwalking Club and having several experienced members share their bushcraft with me, time came for me to put a little back in.  So I offered to lead a walk.  I was excited to have a total of 8 walkers for my first effort.  We came from all over Canberra, met at my home and two cars drove to the Orroral Tracking Station site car park.


Description:  Walk via the Granite Tops Walking Track to NmC 106 and have a look at the old geodetic observatory site overlooking the southern end of Orroral Valley.  Then cross country to explore the rocky Orroral Hill (on first edition maps called NmC 107 and old walkers insisting on calling it Mt Orroral), the ACT’s 15th highest named feature at 1609m.  To return, we’ll head via Spot Height 1447 to intersect the Nursery Swamp Walking Trail.  Down the track to Orroral Road and a final wander back up the valley along the Orroral Heritage Walking Trail to the cars.  Map: Rendezvous Creek 1:25000.  Leader: John Evans (h) 6288 7235 (e) jevans@pcug.org.au  Transport: $10.  More information at www.pcug.org.au/~jevans .

I'd recce-d the walk on 20 August 2005, and advertised that we'd walk, 'come rain, hail or shine'.  It did and we did!

We set off at 8.20am, up past the Walk Register where I signed in, then up the Granite Tops Walking Track to the geodetic observatory/lunar laser site, NMC106.  For the first and only time I was able to move from tail to head of the party and talk with each walker - after that I was both too puffed and focused on not making a fool of myself with navigation in the bush!  We reached our first objective at 9.30am.  The weather was quite warm and muggy for the time of the day; wildflowers disappointing after yesterday.  We stopped for 20 minutes.

Back down the track for a few metres and then we headed bush towards NMC107 (Mt Orroral).  Towards the top we copped a brief, but wet, shower and hail.  Just enough to wet us through; force most of us to don shells, then sweat from the inside; and wet the regenerating bush which we had to force through on and off for the next hour or so till it dried out.

We reached Mt Orroral at 10.50am and stopped for 30 minutes.  An awkward walk for timing regular morning tea and lunch breaks - we solved the issue by eating and drinking at every stop.  I was pleased here to be shown by Peter A how to get to the very top marker of Mt Orroral - through the little crawl from the NE side, up the guts and a little hands and knees effort (for me) to the concrete pipe marker.  3 of us made the climb, rewarded with great views especially the hills to the south and west and thunderstorms to the south east.

We headed south east to Spot Height 1447, reaching it at 12.10pm and stopping for 25 minutes.  Sloppier navigation that last time, today pulling up 37m away from the objective.

We continued SE between the unnamed creek gully down to Nursery Creek and the spur line and, fortunately, hit the Nursery Swamp track just near the saddle so we didn't have to cross any creek or major gully to get to it.  My silent 'thank you' prayer went up at 12.35pm when we reached the track - I didn't realise how wound up I was leading this group of CBC office holders and majorly old hand walkers!

An easy wander down the track to the car park (10 minute stop), across the road and up the Orroral Valley grasslands to the cars.  We were back by 2.50pm.

Ross A, Ailsa B, Gloria M, John K, Peter A, Cynthia B and Stan M were surprised/amused/horrified to learn that they'd earned frequent walking kilometers and other awards for walking with me.  Thanks folks for your company, advice, patience and for being gentle with your first time leader.

What lessons did I learn?  (1) Moving a group is slower than moving 1 or 2.  We took 6.5 hours this time; 5.25 on the recce.  Extra time needed to cater for a wider range of walking speeds and number/length of breaks.  (2) When announcing a break, give a time and stick to it fully (although no-one complained).  (3) Have a good tail person (I did).  (4) Don't take myself too seriously and enjoy myself.

Time:  8.20am - 2.50pm, with 1 hour 25 minutes of stops.  Distance: 12.2km  Climb: 800m.

1 Thunderstorm to the south of Mt Orroral
2 Panorama view to south and west from Mt Orroral
3 Crawl back through here from top of Mt Orroral