21 Nov 2006 Mt Orroral and Orroral Ridge Photos
Map: Rendezvous Creek 8626-1S 1:25000
Getting There
This walk was organised and led by me as an irregular CBC Tuesday walk:
(Tuesday 21 November: Mt Orroral and Lunar Laser Rocks.  L/M-R,X. We'll use the Granite Tops Walking Track to enjoy the view from the geodetic observatory, then directly cross country to Mt Orroral.  After ascending to the top marker, we'll stroll around 2km NW along the Mt Orroral ridge to an obvious saddle.  There should be grand views to the granite landscape on either side.  Then NE through the bush to the cross the GTWT and up to the Lunar Laser Rocks.  From there, a mad scamper down to the car by the longest/shortest/easiest/most challenging route.  11.8km and 1000m total climb.  Limit of 8. Map: Rendezvous Creek 1:25000. Leader: John Evans – jevans@pcug.org.au; contact me by 6pm the previous Sunday to discuss options. Transport: ~$10. Further details at www.pcug.org.au/~jevans).

5 hardy souls left Canberra at 7am and drove to the Orroral Valley tracking station car park. An eagle feeding on road kill on the side of the road just over the top of Fitzs Hill.


In the week prior, the weather forecast changed from 25°C with possible afternoon showers to 34°C, high winds and a total fire ban. In the end, Canberra enjoyed(?) 36°C. So it was plenty of water, slow (I bunged my knee last Saturday) and steady over a shortened route.

Away by 8am and 1hr 5mins took us 3.9km along and 390m up the Granite Tops Walking Track to the old geodetic (aka lunar laser) observatory. 2 of the party had not previously enjoyed the view from here down over the Orroral Valley. A blue-sky day which was obviously going to get quite warm, but the breeze was pleasant. Took a 10 minute break to enjoy the scenery.

Gaiters on and a b-line for Mt Orroral. Pretty straight forward, but the day was heating up and it's always tricky finding the way up through the granite. My knee needed a few breaks. Reached the top at 10.30am (this leg 1.2km, a further 280m climb in 1hr 20mins). We enjoyed the view to the S and W as we replenished energy with morning tea, then scrambled to the top marker for spectacular 360° views (see pic 1). We spent a good 30mins there.

We then headed generally NW along the ridge. Very scrubby and slow in places, intermixed with plenty of granite. As we headed towards the saddle on the ridge, the back of the very prominent 'rabbit-ear' rocks came into view. By this stage we all knew that the full proposed route would not be possible, so there was unanimous agreement that we go and walk between the rabbit ears. It took us 40mins to move the 380m from Mt Orroral to the back of the rocks.

They were striking! Somewhat like the feature on Castle Hill, but many times their size. We clambered through the slot between them and enjoyed the massive granite from the NE perspective (see pic 2). The passage way even had a 'door' off its hinges! It's hard to get an idea of the size - I guess the slot between is around 3m high.

The left rock (looking at the pic) has a reflector of some sorts glued to the slightly upward facing surface - can you make it out in the photo? We guessed it might have had something to do with the lunar laser ranger and thought about who we might ask. Within 48hrs of posting this report, a web acquaintance (we've never met, but he's in Spain doing Christian work) who needs a Namadgi fix every now and again reported:

'1. The Lunar Laser Ranger used to check it's alignment by firing it's laser at a reflector bolted to the rock fairly high up. I assume it's sill there although the 2003 fires might have melted it. Another time I was camping with a friend in Orroral Valley and we walked up to the LLR in the afternoon. One of the guys up there invited us in for a look around and then invited us to drive(!) up the hill that night for a demo! He showed us the laser by shooting it, it was bright green and fired about four times per second, at this reflector on the boulder. It was pretty cool.

2. On a clear day you can actually see these tors from the road that goes past the showgrounds as it goes up the hill past the industrial area (can't for the life of me remember what this is called!!) towards Gungarlin. I used to ride my bike down this hill everyday to Uni and had a hunch that I was looking at these rocks which I confirmed one day with some binoculars.'

Thanks, Ralph.  Check out his photos here and here!

We moved on at 11.35am, down into the saddle then up the other side to find breeze and shade for lunch (25mins for 380m, so it was still scrubby with plenty of granite). The view back along the way we'd come was worth all the effort (see pic 3).

Lunch for 30mins, then a 1.4km leg with 300m drop to the NE, taking 1hr to get us back to the GTWT. We all agreed that the rabbit-ear rocks were a grand substitute for the Lunar Laser Rocks - they could wait for another day.

Back down the track, airless and hot, to an esky of chilled water in the car. A stop at the Tharwa store, where members of one gender enjoyed a chilled ale and the members of the other gender, an icecream. Certificates were awarded.

Thanks Alan, Jenny, Madeleine and Shirley. I think there was something new for each of us and it was worth the effort on a hot day.

Distance: 10.5km  Climb: 700m.  Time: 8am-2.20pm (call it 6.25hrs), with 1hr 20mins of breaks.

Click on a thumbnail below to see the full sized picture
1 View to Orroral Valley from top of Mt Orroral
2 Rabbit-ear rocks on Orroral Ridge
3 Looking back SE along the Orroral Ridge