|Orroral Car Park to AAWT turnoff from Cotter Hut Road
|My GPS was not running on the walk in to Cotter Hut, so timings are from my notebook and approximate. But we headed off at 9.15am up the grasslands and through the roos. Millions of miniscule star shaped flowers carpeted some areas. See lesson 3 below re 'to sign or not to sign' - the leader's call. It's always interesting to see where one intersects the Cotter Hut Road - this time it was before James creek. On up through the wiggle and the steep pinch in absolutely amazing blue sky Spring weather to regroup and have a breather at the spot where the AAWT leaves the Cotter Hut Road.
|AAWT turnoff from Cotter Hut Road to Sawpit Creek
|The AAWT looks quite a picture, recovering well from the 2003 bushfire and with the promise of wildflowers to soon come. We reached the feeder creek to Sawpit Creek, which was flowing nicely, at 10.10am and stopped for a bite of morning tea. Pleasantly warm and I'd stripped down to my bottom layer.
|Sawpit Creek to Cotter Gap
|We crested the saddle near Cotter Gap at 11.50am after huffing up the track (I must get my pack weight down!) (see pic 1). By 12 noon we were down at the edge of the trees near Pond Creek and 3 of us had decided to take a quick detour to Split Rock rearing above us.
|Cotter Gap to Split Rock
|Leaving companions and large packs, the small party set of with a promise to wave from the top. A quick ascent in 35 mins, the usual way to the left of Split Rock when facing it. We had a good poke around - still an amazing place (see pic 2). Excellent views across to De Salis knobs, which I'll try soon. We then moved a little to the W along Cotter Rocks, to see what could be seen.
|Split Rock to Cotter Gap
|Not wishing to retrace our steps and under adventurous leadership, at 12.50pm we headed down to the NW through some good granite terraces, eventually coming out onto the AAWT about 500m to the W of where we'd left it to climb up. A quick jaunt back to the rest of the party and a quicker lunch.
|Cotter Gap to Pond Creek Flats
|At 12.50pm we left to head down the Pond Creek cut, Judy pointing out a house-sized granite block with a cave on the right of the track which had previously provided shelter from rain. The steep bits tested the knees. Again, plenty of water flowing in the creek which is crossed just before turning right into the Pond Creek camp site (if one is staying there). We enjoyed a 10 minutes break. Great views up to Cotter Rocks (see pic 3).
|Pond Creek Flats to Cotter Flats camp site
|Away at 2.45pm to continue along the AAWT. Coronet Peak was gradually revealed through the recovering trees to display its granite coronet. Cotter Hut at last came into view and we were down on Cotter Flats. One senile party member (me) practised crossing and re-crossing the Cotter River. Very pleasant to set up tents, fetch water and boil the billy. Dinner over, we admired a flawless (except for satellites and incessant planes going over) display of stars on the moonless evening. However, the cloudless sky meant a cold night and as soon as it was closer to 8 o'clock than 7 o'clock (like, 7.31), I retired. It was -1°C in Canberra, so a few degrees less where we were. My little bag did not cope too well.
|Cotter Flats camp site to Leave Cotter Hut Road
|Up at 6.30am, even heating the milk for my muesli. Nice when the sun hit the flats. All layers on when we left at 7.40am; all socks off as we crossed the Cotter River. Along the Cotter Hut Road to where the Mt Franklin fire trail joins it. I had the GPS running on day2 and 3.
|Leave Cotter Hut Road to 1300m contour
|We headed into the bush and began to climb through reasonably manageable scrub. The layers soon came off and the sweat began to run. A 220m climb to the 1300m contour. 10 mins for morning tea.
|1300m contour to Bimberi Peak
|By SH1374 the contour lines began to separate a little, which brought relief for a while. At 1600m we came across the end of an old vehicle track, marked on the first edition map. By around 1850m we broke out into the sub-alpine vegetation. Well grassed, but the Snowgums were sadly burned. We reached the trig point at the top at 11.35am. What magnificent views from the highest mountain in the ACT! The view to the E immediately drew my attention (see pic 7). Mt Gingera, Corin Dam, Mt McKeahnie and Dutchies Peak, De Salis knobs, Split Rock, looking down on Coronet Peak with Mt Orroral at the back (also see pic 5), Namadgi ridge to Mt Namadgi, Kelly Spur, Mt Burbidge, Mt Kelly (see pic 4), Mt Scabby, Yaouk and Yaouk Peak, Mt Murray, Mt Morgan and Half Moon Peak. To the SW there was snow on the mountains on the horizon; to the NW was the Cooleman Plain and the valley of the Goodradigbee River. Close at hand to the E was the burned Snowgum sub-alpine top of the mountain. I got a good 10X zoom to Thunder Bluff. 55 mins for lunch enjoying the astounding view from the top of the ACT.
|Bimberi Peak to SW of BP
|Judy had been here before and knew that there was an excellent vantage point to the SW. We wandered across to the granite-blocked edge through patches of snow and unburned Snowgums (see pic 6). Oldfields Hut and Pocket Hut were pointed out and there were sweeping views over the Currango Plain. To the S, Mt Murray, Mt Morgan and Half Moon Peak reared closer.
|SW of BP to Little Bimberi
|We tracked back E to pick up the spur heading SE from Bimberi. A convenient brumby track took us towards Little Bimberi. Down to a saddle with excellent sphagnum and up to the top area of Little Bimberi. I guess any hill will be an anticlimax after Bimberi, but Little Bibmeri certainly was. A flat-ish top with a few granite piles - hard to tell which was highest. Not much of a view. A 10 min break.
|Little Bimberi to meet Murray Gap Trail
|Next came a descent to the Murray Gay Trail (AAWT). Alan's keen eyes spotted a black snake resting in the afternoon sun. A 10 min break when we reached the fire trail.
|Meet Murray Gap Trail to junction with Yaouk Trail
|Non-descript walking down the fire trail, steep in parts. Some nice moist, unburned areas, probably around Little Bimberi Creek. We came to the junction with the Yaouk Trail at 3.25pm.
|Junction with Yaouk Trail to Cotter Hut
|The fire trail was flatter now. Great views across and up to Coronet Peak, particularly the S end. Finally to Cotter Hut, with ducks and roos in the 'mown' home paddock.
|Cotter Hut to Cotter Flats camp site
|Back to the Cotter River, Max and I took a little excursion in an attempt to find the yards marked on the 2nd edition map, but no joy. Bared our feet and crossed the river and so home. Saw a pig down on the flats. The usual evening routine, with a little red wine and port to share. A bit of high cloud developed and all signs were for a slightly less chilly night. To bed with a podcasted sermon followed by some good old rock 'n' roll on the MP3 player.
|Cotter Flats camp site to Pond Creek Flats
|A lazier start, as the call was to leave Coronet Peak for another day. Away by just after 8.30am and back along the AAWT to Pond Creek Flats. A 10 min break. Our trusty leader had ordered perfect walk out weather - a bit of high haze to keep the temperature moderated and, at times, a light breeze.
|Pond Creek Flats to Cotter Gap
|The trudge up the Pond Creek cut sorted us out, although packs were lighter than walking in. A 20 min break at the top as we regrouped. We were in no particular hurry.
|Cotter Gap to Sawpit Creek
|Very pleasant walking with the knees getting a testing on the steep down bits. A 5 min break at the creek. I mixed some electrolyte.
|Sawpit Creek to meet Cotter Hut Road
|A good 15 minute break when we met the Cotter Hut Road at 11.35am, but we decided to have lunch back at the cars.
|Meet Cotter Hut Road to Orroral Car Park
|This leg always seems long and dreary. We left the fire trail for the softer grasslands as soon as convenient. Back to the cars at 12.55pm. In true FBI fashion, we boiled the billy and enjoyed lunch.