26 August 2008 Upper Coree Falls, Devils Peak and Mt Blundell Mines ... or, it's the pits Photos
Map: Cotter Dam 1:25000
Getting There

This walk was organised by Max S and led by me as an ad-hoc FBI Tuesday walk:

Devils Peak - 15 km, 500 m, Possibly Hard. Expect thick regrowth (wet?), rock scrambling, steep climb, but good views possible. Starting at Blundell’s Flat, along Pabral Rd, bush bash to Coree Creek Falls, scramble up to Devils Peak, across to Blue Range Rd, along Blue range to Mt Blundell looking for an old mine site and return to cars. Something for everyone. Map – Cotter Dam. Weather – Fine, sunny -1 to 16 in Canberra. Meet at Weston 8.00 am. Note – requires 4 walkers to be a sanctioned FBI walk.

6 of us met and drove via Uriarra Crossing to just past the end of the black top on Brindabella Road, then right down Curries Road and over Fastigata Creek and parked at the nearby intersection.


We parked at the intersection of Curries and Pabral Roads, as I was too chicken to drive further since my last experience in the area. I tried to sell it as a warm up/warm down, but that didn't wash. Away (on foot) up Pabral Road, past Blundells Flat on the right and Blundells Farm arboretum on the left - this area is Site of Significance in the ACT LC2 - although a little sadder than in its former glory. As it turned out, it would have been an easy drive in a further 1.7km to a large turning area on Pabral Road on the right, just before our exit fire trail (now made vehicle non-negotiable by huge bumps engineered into it).

We continued our tromp up Pabral Road with the top of the Mt Coree fire tower in view for a lot of the time, until the appointed turn off to go bush down to Coree Creek. A beautiful day, which ended up quite warm and a 1+ litre water walk. The descent to the creek was certainly more vegetated than last time (the first ever Tuesday Walk). However, some things never change and I repeated my error from this walk by propping at the small, upper Coree Falls. My companions knew that this was not our objective, but my insistence led us to wander upstream looking for the real thing, rather than downstream. My penalty is to put on a walk up Coree Creek at a later date, so that I don't miss them again. A small mutiny caused us to pause for morning tea.

Our next leg took us N to Devils Peak SE, a 300m climb through lots of bracken fern and directly into the sun. I was glad when that was over. Excellent views from this rocky, open area. Blue Ridge stretched on the E, with Mt Blundell at the S end (see pic 1). Coree Creek was below us and, in the distance, my favourite Tidbinbilla Ridge. The snowy tops of the S Brindabella Mt Gingera and Bimberi Peak could be seen. Close at hand, to the S, reared Mt Coree. A fabulous vista.

We popped down and up through the saddle to the named Devils Peak. No view, but another mutiny caused a further pause for lunch. Perfect lying in the sun out of the breeze - nearly hot and, even though early mornings are frosty and afternoon shadows are cool by 4pm, shades of Spring and Summer to come.

As Max had briefed me, an easier descent down the more open N facing slope of Devils Peak to meet Two Sticks Road. A pleasant tromp along soft fire trail through mainly unburnt forest. A right turn into Blue Range Road and we trended S.

The appointed place near the NSW-ACT border came for us to head SW down off the ridge-line fire trail to the first of the 'mines'. Equipped with spot on GRs courtesy of Doug F and Malcolm N, we found the first site. The accompanying description of 'adit with tree fern ~20m' was fine for micro location; the addition of 'b... big mullock heap' would have helped for macro location!! As per 29 Jul 08, Karen and Meredith with their adventurous spirits led me through the water inside the entrance and into the adit. Karen's torch assured us that the roof was solid and we must have gone at least 30m into the side of the hill before reaching the end. Rusting rails were still on the floor (see pic 2) and 'D.G. 1980' graffiti informed us that another had been here before. Three pits were also found in the area, with 'gossan' (Gossan is intensely oxidized, weathered or decomposed rock, usually the upper and exposed part of an ore deposit or mineral vein. In the classic gossan or iron cap all that remains is iron oxides and quartz often in the form of boxworks, quartz lined cavities retaining the shape of the dissolved ore minerals. In other cases quartz and iron oxides, limonite, goethite, and jarosite, exist as pseudomorphs replacing the pyrite and primary ore minerals. Frequently gossan appears as a red stain against the background rock and soil due to the abundance of oxidized iron and the gossan may be a topographic positive area due to the abundance of erosion resistant quartz and iron oxides. In the 19th and 20th centuries gossans were important guides to buried ore deposits used by prospectors in their quest for metal ores. An experienced prospector could read the clues in the structure of the gossans to determine the type of mineralization likely to be found below the iron cap.) indicators nearby. One was near a quartz seam. A 100m climb was required back up to Blue Range Road.

We continued S along the fire trail towards Mt Blundell to the next drop-off point. A carefully chosen 120m descent over 320m (that's fairly steep) to amuse my fellow walkers - thick scrub, mini-cliffs and scrambling, and general junk. Ignoring pleas to curve right, I continued to trend left until a correction was required near the objective. I was certainly doubting that we'd find this final 'mine', but there it was (see pic 3), exactly as Doug and Malcolm said it would be. However, it would be virtually impossible to find these sites with only the Sites of Significance in the ACT sketch map. This whole area is SoS in the ACT LC3 - Mt Blundell Area. The exit route would be the better one to follow, both in and out, good reader, if you're checking out the KMZ file via Google Earth.

Back on the ridge-line fire trail we headed towards Mt Blundell. I stuttered a little by taking a few steps along the SE trending fire trail, but recovered when party members began to object. A minor, overgrown fire trail took us to Mt Blundell and, from the insignificant summit (after a third mutinous, but thankfully short, arvo tea stop) S then SW steeply down to the NNP border (this way not marked on 1st or 2nd edn maps). A mogul/speed hump infested way took us down to cross Coree Creek - welcome water, it was a 1+ litre day - then steeply up (saving the best till last) to where I should have driven in to and parked. A warm-down tromp back to the cars.

Not a bad walk, excellently planned by Max and poorly executed by me in places. 'Something for everyone.' You wouldn't find the various 'mine' sites without the GRs - it's steep and close down there.

Thanks Brian, Karen, Madeleine, Meredith and Mike. I had a ball. And thanks again to Doug and Malcolm for directions.

Distance: 17.7km  Climb: 1100m.  Time: 8.40am - 4.20pm (call it 7.75hrs), with 50mins of stops. With a wimpy park and a few extra objectives, Max's plan was extended a little in distance and total climb.
Grading: L/R,X; H(14)

KMZ file for Google Earth/Maps: Coree Falls, Devils Peak and Mt Blundell Mines

Click on a thumbnail below to see the full sized picture
1 Blue Ridge to Mt Blundell over Coree Creek
2 Rusting rails in adit
3 Pit NW of Mt Blundell