6 January 2007 Square Rock, Orroral Valley Lookout, McKeahnie Trig and Smokers Trail Photos
Maps: Corin Dam 8626-1N Second Edition 1:25000
Getting There
This walk was organised and led by me as a private, spur-of-the-moment, after-Christmas, wedding and New Year visitors-leaving walk. If no-one responded to a late email, I'll was going alone. Planned to leave home at 6.30am. I picked up Max at 6.45am and we drove to Smokers Gap car park on the Corin Dam Road. A huge wild cat crossed the road near the car park. Canberra forecast 32°C.


Friends are excellent - although they cost! At the last moment Max was available, but he turned a wimpy wander (the purpose of which was to walk the link track between the Square Rock walking track and Smokers Trail and thus draw a joining line on my 'walks map') into a significant walk into new country. When we talked the previous night, he said he hadn't been to Square Rock or beyond, so I happily included a 'there and back' to McKeahnie Trig in my plan. Being a 'loop walker', he was not too happy with a 'there and back' and (easily) convinced me to add a little scrub and fire trail to convert the walk into a round.

I've walked some of the area before, on 12 Apr 04, 18 Aug 04, 4 Oct 04, 5 Jun 05 and 18 Jan 06.

The L/E-M-R grading might not be helpful, but it was really three walks rolled into one. The first part, to Square Rock and back to the Orroral Valley Lookout, was on E walking track. The second part a, from near OV Lookout to McKeahnie Trig, was through M scrub; the part 2b from McKeahnie Trig to the head of the Orroral Valley, through R scrub. Part 3, climbing Smokers Trail, then the link track, and return to Smokers Gap car park, was E fire trail and walking track. Hence the grading!

Part 1 - we left Smokers Gap car park at 7.20am. The walks register is 400m along the track and across the Corin Dam Road so, at this stage not planning to return to it, we didn't sign in. Very pleasant early morning walking on the track, recent rain and thunderstorms having encouraged some wild flower growth. Up the 2 excellent stone staircases. In places, the track was covered with a soft layer of forest litter (real stuff, not from Corkhill's at the tip for garden mulch). We reached Square Rock at 8.15am (4.1km and 55mins to here). We spent some time enjoying the view (see pic 1), particularly to the Brindabellas and Stockyard Spur to Mt Gingera, which we'd walked previously. After 15mins we headed back to the S turnoff to Orroral Valley Lookout. The 500m track in has certainly been improved since the last time I lost myself on it. Views down to Orroral Valley (see pic 2), more usually seen looking up from the S rather than down from the N (this leg 1.4km and 35mins including breaks).

Part 2a - we returned a couple of hundred metres back along the OR Lookout track, then struck off to the SW to pick up the ridge to McKeahnie Trig. Came upon an obvious aboriginal circle arrangement of rocks on a granite slab on the way down the ridge. A pull of 100m up to the trig (this leg 2.5km in 1hr15mins). We had a good squiz at the marvelously constructed cairn on top of the boulder, then headed to the S of the summit for views and morning tea. It was on this leg that the 'there and back' got converted into a 'loop' - the suggestion being to continue SE from the trig to the Orroral Valley, then back up Smokers Trail. I needed little persuading.

Part 2b -  We left at 10.20am on 112°M, heading for the 1400m contour round, then down the spur through medium scrub to SH1182. Views SW to Dutchies Peak and Mt McKeahnie (see pic 3). Across the dog proof fence (you had to look hard to see the rusted netting on the ground) and into the first clearing on the Orroral River (this leg 3.6km in 1hr 40mins with 480m drop). A bit of a cheat as we headed up the hill to hit Smokers Trail 600m N of the ford.

Part 3 - a 5.4km slog 320m up the Smokers Trail in 1hr 15mins took us to the start of the link track across Smokers Flat. We lay in the middle of it to eat lunch, 2 walkers kindly stepping round us so we didn't have to move. Away again at 1.35pm along the link track crossing the frost hollow of Smokers Flat, another group of 4 walkers where we joined the Square Rock track. Down to the car, passing another group of 4 walkers and signing in and out of the walk register (this leg 2.6km in 40mins).

A good little walk with an excellent extension. I was a bit weary at the end. Thanks Max, good training for Tasmania.

Distance: 19.5km  Climb: 850m.  Time: 7.20am-2.15pm (call it 7hrs), with 50mins of stops.

Click on a thumbnail below to see the full sized picture
1 View from Square Rock
2 Orroral Valley from Orroral Valley Lookout in the N
3 Dutchies Peak and Mt McKeahnie from descent from McKeahnie Trig