24 June 2006 The Pimple, Tidbinbilla Peak and Johns Peak Photos
Map: Tidbinbilla 8627-2S Second Edition 1:25000
Getting There

With 12th hour (later than 11th hour) changes to the participants, we ended up with 7 walkers.  I decided not to complicate issues by changing pickup arrangements on Friday, so 2 southern walkers had to drive north, then we headed off south again to Point Hut Crossing.  Drive to the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and up to the trails car park.


Description:  Saturday 24 June – The Pimple (M/M-R).  Viewed from many parts of Canberra, The Pimple is no more significant than its name as it peaks over the Tidbinbilla skyline.  Up close, it deserves a respectful squeeze and provides magnificent views north down the Cotter Valley, west to the Brindabellas and east to the close-by flanks of Tidbinbilla Peak and Camels Hump.  An early start can be arranged via friendly Rangers and we can be walking the Camel Back fire trail by 8am.  After a km or so we head bush through generous regrowth, up a convenient spur to a cairn marking Spot Height 1556.  A short arc to the south and west takes us to another cairn at Spot Height 1555 and we then head down to the NW, then up the back of The Pimple.  A little easy rock scrambling is required.  With a relative drop of 92m, you might well imagine that the views will be fabulous!  If time allows, return via Tidbinbilla Peak and Johns Peak.  Limit of 8.  About 12km and 700m total climb.  Map: Tidbinbilla 1:25000  Leader:  John Evans (h) 6288 7235 (e) jevans@pcug.org.au.  Transport: ~$5.  Further details at www.pcug.org.au/~jevans.

Additional Description:  You can get an idea of the country from the report of the Wednesday walk to the Pimple last year.  Magnificent views!  And a wander along the Tidbinbilla skyline.  Let's hope we can see more than on 22 June last year.  I have arranged early access to the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve - at 7.30am!  We need to be there on time, as the gates will be relocked behind us.  So if anyone is late, you'll have to jump the gate and be ferried down to the Trails car park, and that will delay us all.  I'm assuming it will be cccold, possibly snowing and very wet forcing our way through the regrowth.  Please bring appropriate clothing (plenty of warm layers, beanie, gloves, wet weather coat and trousers) and a hot drink for lunch.

Although not raining as we left Canberra, I was silently muttering about the low fog and cloud.  Yet as we drove N from Point Hut Crossing towards the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, Gibraltar Rocks broke through the fog in brilliant sunshine.  There was a line up of cars at the gate at 7.30am, our two and several containing members of the Canberra Ornithological Club who were to do a survey at the Lyrebird Walk area.  We drove through the gates (thanks to helpful TNR staff) and quickly to the trails car park.

We were kitted up and hit the Camel Back Fire Trail at 7.50am, signed the walk register, and were straight into the solid climb.  Excellent conditions - cool but clear and no snow on the peaks above.  The 1.9km of fire trail and climb was over in 30 minutes, with Alex (who had been here recently) pointing out the place to go bush (1.9km and 30mins to here).

We headed up the spur, the first portion of the climb through reasonably open vegetation.  The spur has been red taped on this lower section - I'm not sure that purists would appreciate it!  I was beginning to think that my wet regrowth warning was unwarranted, but we eventually hit the gum and wattle regrowth band.  It had growth a foot since my last wet visit and seemed twice as thick!  Unfortunately, as leader, I couldn't ask another walker to go first to knock the water off - no matter, as we were all thoroughly drenched and cold by the time we reached the top of the band, just shy of SH1556.  Reached the SH at 10am, just in time for morning tea (3.5km and 2hr 10 mins).  That makes it 1hr 40mins for the 1.6km up the spur.

We enjoyed the chance to change clothes and have a bite to eat and a hot drink, just to the E of the SH out of the wind and in the sun.  Fabulous views down onto the cloud and fog covering the nature reserve and on out to Canberra (pic 1).  A 20 minute break.

We pressed on down (and up and down and up and down) and around to SH1555, reaching it at 10.50am (4.4km and 3hrs).  Excellent view across to The Pimple and to Tidbinbilla Mountain.

Heading down towards the back of The Pimple, one of our party took a tumble.  Glasses were not broken and we trust the nose isn't either (later - it was).  We took an extended break and I was ready to turn the party round, but our brave patient recovered well and certainly was not shocked or trembling.  So we continued to the back of The Pimple, dropped our packs and 6 of us headed up the little rock scramble to the huge views (5.2km and 3hr 50mins).

For 15 minutes we took in the panorama.  White cliffs close by to the W (pic 3), the rugged valley of the Cotter River in front to the N and the razor ridges dropping from the Tidbinbilla skyline to the E.  A 10X zoom on the camera showed Woden over the S flank of Camels Hump (pic 2).  Obligatory group shots proved we were there.

We scooted back down and joined our companion for lunch for 20 minutes (5.5km and 4hrs 40mins).

We struck a reasonable pace on the trip back to SH1555, then to SH1556.  Our walking wounded member coped excellently (7km and 5hr 40mins).  Here a decision had to be made - no-one wanted to get sopping wet again, as the SE facing spur would be no dryer than in the morning.

So we headed N to Tidbinbilla Peak, the plan being to avoid the wet regrowth by exiting N through Johns Peak and onto the Camel Back Fire Trail just S of Camels Hump.  Only trouble was that it was 1.30pm and we hadn't completed half our planned distance.  So it was a matter of setting an appropriate pace to get us out before reserve closing time.

A brief stop at Tidbinbilla Peak, then we pressed on to Johns Peak (8.2km and 6hrs 30mins).  A thoughtful party member took a photo of John on Johns Peak.  A wedge-tailed eagle rode up on the air currents without a wing movement.

Coming down the N face of Johns Peak is not to be sneezed at.  To record it for future reference - the way switches from NW to NE as you climb down the rocky spine.  A slip would not be wise.

We topped SH1322, wandered past the old radio tower and were out at the fire trail by 3.10pm (9.5km and 7hrs 15mins).

All that remained was the 5.3km slog back to the cars.  We reached them at 4.25pm.

This was a most satisfying day!  We were extremely fortunate with the weather; breathtaking views; we managed a good workout over a round trip, so only got soaked once; and a top group of walking companions.  Awardees are hereby given official permission to amend their certificates from 12 to 15km.  Thanks so much to Margaret C, Rolf E, Alex K, Rene M, Lois P and Louise T.

Distance: 14.9km  Climb: 900m.  Time: 7.50am to 4.25pm (call it 8.5hrs), with 1 hr of breaks.

Click on a thumbnail below to see the full sized picture
1 Looking down to Canberra from the Tidbinbilla skyline
2 Woden over the S shoulder of Camels Hump from The Pimple
3 View to the NW of The Pimple