5 December 2006 Camels Hump, Pierce Trig, Elsies Falls and Nil Desperandum Photos
Maps: Tidbinbilla 8627-2S 1:25000
Getting There
This walk was organised and led by me as an irregular CBC Tuesday walk:
(Tuesday 5 December: Camels Hump and Elsies Falls.  L/E-M. With an early access arranged to the Tidbinbilla Nature Resurve and a climb to nearly 1450m, it should be a bit cooler on the skyline west of Canberra.  An easy wander up the Camel Back fire trail, followed by a short scramble up to Camels Hump for spectacular views east and west.  Off Camels Hump to the north, then a plunge down 100m to the east to the site of Elsies Falls (I bet there won’t be any water flowing).  Back to the car via the fire trail.  13.7km and 900m total climb.  Limit of 8. Map: Tidbinbilla 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.).

Previous walk description: C Saturday 4 May 2002 (TU): Tidbinbilla N.R. L / M Elsies Falls. I've heard of a 1920s photograph of some Tidbinbilla pioneers standing in front of what are purported to be Elsies Falls but have not been able to turn up anyone who has looked for and found them. My previous attempt at getting there was thwarted by a lack of enthusiasm for a steep descent down a blackberry infested gully. This trip will approach the mapped location of the falls by a different (and hopefully more open) route. Mostly on tracks but includes a total climb of ~800m

A bit of info and regrading: A Tidbinbilla Ranger contact mentions - ' Re Elsies falls ... it's a bit of mystery for us here. Historical records indicate that it used to be visible from the Visitors Centre, but we've had difficulty finding [it] these last few years. I think with such different rainfall these days its not much of a 'falls'. Whilst searching for some rare vegetation last year, I happened upon a small cliff in a gully below Camels Hump which had a small trickle of water running over it .. and assumed this was Elsies falls. Easiest access was from the Jedbinbilla fire trail ... I think I'd have to show you on a map.' After speaking with the Ranger (who said the 'falls' she found were nearer to the Jedbinbilla fire trail than the marked map position), I re-planned the walk in OziExplorer to come in at the top and follow the drainage line all the way down.  That way, we won't miss it.  I also rang Terence U for advice - on his May 2002 trip, he did exactly the same thing.  Might also include a side trip to the burnt-out 'Nil Desperandum' (= 'Gilmores') site, if time and energy allow (+~2km).  So the day, at max, is 16.3km and 1000m total climb (regraded L/E-M-R, part X; H(13) to cover all possibilities!).

4 of us drove via Point Hut Crossing to the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, waved to the Ranger at the gates and headed for the Trails car park.


A brief description of the day is: boring, boring; excellent views; mutiny; sweaty and dusty; interesting; boring, hot and boring. A 29°C day in Canberra.

A boring, boring wander up the Camel Back fire trail to the base of Camels Hump (aka Camel Back) (5.7km and 440m climb in 1hr 25mins). Actually, the vegetation is recovering and the fire trail was quite pleasant in the early morning cool. A 5 minute camera break to get my new Canon 400D digital SLR camera into action - I took some dreadful shots and will have to learn how to drive it.

Up the short, sharp southern side of Camels Hump (0.2km and 90m climb in 9 minutes). Excellent views, particularly back to the close S (see pic 1), although the distance was smoke hazed out from fires in Victoria. A 20 minute break for more camera driving.

Mutiny, as it was suggested to wander on to Pierce Trig since one of the party hadn't yet enjoyed that location and we could see a ute there for a possible lift home. Down the northern face of Camels Hump, past a quickly slithering brown snake, along the fire trail and up the fence line to Pierce Trig (1.7km in 50mins). 10 minutes to enjoy the view, especially down and across to the Tidbinbilla Tracking Station and the dishes.

We returned to below Camels Hump and the top of Hurdle Creek (1.2km in 17mins).

It was a reasonably gentle down to begin with. The GPS took us to a most insignificant Elsies Falls. Not a hint of water in the dry drainage line. Perhaps misnamed and quite soon after we decided, as the gradient steepened and the scree slipped, the area was Elsie falls. Disturbed 4 Tawny Frogmouths from the ground. They flew into a nearby tree and Max commented that they are excellent subjects for binoculars and cameras - they just sit there whilst the humans get organised. A steep, slippery, slow, sweaty and dusty plunge continued down Hurdle Creek. We eventually got to a more falls-like area at some large white boulders (which can be seen from the Visitors Centre and Paddys River Road) - maybe the map marking is incorrect. Below them some nice tree ferns, but still no hint of water. A lyre bird. Eventually out onto the Jedbinbilla fire trail (1.8km and 240m drop in 1hr 45mins, so pretty slow).

0.9km in 15mins along a fire trail to Nil Desperandum (there was at last a pool of water in Hurdle Creek as the track crossed it) for a 25min lunch. Great views back up the way we'd come (see pic 2) and an interesting building (see pic 3).

A boring, hot and boring plod along the fire trails in the burnt out Block 60 Forest area, back up into the recovering native timber to rejoin the Camel Back fire trail. At the burnt pine forest/native timber boundary there was a gigantic block of granite, perhaps the Phantom's scull cave. 8km of plod in 2hr 10mins, with 350m climb and 90m drop.

Home brew and Coke homing devices were in operation, as we weren't near the Tharwa store. Called in at the Visitors Centre to say thankyou on the way out.

Another piece of walker wisdom on the day was that the leader has the right to go wherever they want to and the party members exercise their choice to join in or otherwise. So, I'd wanted to visit Elsies Falls and Nil Desperandum - and I have, with fine company. Certificate bearing Alan, Madeleine and Max can testify to the fact. Thanks folks.

Distance: 19.6km  Climb: 1000m.  Time: 7.45am - 3.15pm (7.5hrs), with 60mins of breaks.

Click on a thumbnail below to see the full sized picture
1 View S from Camels Hump
2 Elsies Falls and Hurdle Creek from Nil Desperandum
3 Nil Desperandum