9-10 January 2009 Leura Gap and Gallipoli Flats

Pictures, More Pictures

Maps: Corin Dam and Rendezvous Creek 1:25000
Getting There

This walk was organised and led by me as a CBC walk:

Friday-Saturday 9-10 January 2009 - Leura Gap and Gallipoli Flats - L/M,X. A circuit of the southern Brindabellas and the Cotter River. From Corin Dam, up Stockyard Spur to Mt Franklin Road. Wander south, visiting flats and gaps along the ACT-NSW border including off-track between Leura Gap and Rolling Ground Gap. See several ACT Sites of Significance along the way. Camp at Cotter Flats. Follow the Cotter River downstream via Lick Hole Road to Gallipoli Flats, then back to the car. Around 40km and 1550m total climb. Strenuous walking for a fit party. Route not fully known to leader. Maps: Corin Dam and Rendezvous Creek 1:25000. Limit of 6. Leader: John Evans – jevans@pcug.org.au, (h) 6288 7235. Transport: ~$7. Further details at http://jevans.pcug.org.au.

4 of us came together and drove via Point Hut Crossing and the Corin Dam Road to Corin Dam. I'd arranged to leave my car in the driveway of the Ranger's house for a little extra security, but it was too narrow. So parked in the car park.

Further Information

I have a camping permit for 6 happy campers for the Cotter Catchment area. I borrowed the CBC new PLB.

Route card:

Day 1 (24.5km): A heart-starter plod up Stockyard Spur, levelling out to join the Mt Franklin Rd (5.7km); visit Pryors Hut (0.9km); E down to Snowy Flat to gently tread this UC06 ACT SoS (0.5km); S to rejoin Mt Franklin Rd (visit Mt Gingera?) and wander further S than I've ever been to Blackfellows Gap (5.0); further S along Mt Franklin Fire Trail to the headwaters of Cribbs Creek (2.1km); SW up the hill to Rolling Ground Gap (0.6km); through the bush over knolls and down to saddles following the ACT-NSW border to Leura Gap, looking for border markers E73, H73, I73, J73 and 27Mile (2.5km); E back down to the Mt Franklin Fire Trail, hopefully following an old track marked on the 1st edn map and visible via Google Earth (1.4km); drop off the E side of the fire trail into the top of McKeahnie Creek to check out the Alpine Ash at UC12 ACT SoS (0.8km); down the Mt Franklin Fire Trail to the junction with Cotter Hut Rd (3.7km); down to Cotter Flats to camp overnight (1.3km).

Day 2 (15.5km): Down river to the bridge (2.0km); walk the Cotter Hut Rd with views down to the W onto Black Sallee Flat UC15 SoS and E up to Upper Cotter Geological Site UC18SoS (2.7km); continue N along Lick Hole Rd to Gallipoli Flats (3.6km); inspect the river gauge and flying fox; follow the left bank of the Corin Dam back to the car (7.2km). An alternative to this last leg is to exit via the Cotter Hut Road - in this case the walk could be run as a crossover.

Sites to be visited:

SoS UC8 Corin Dam Geological Site; Pryors Hut and arboretum; SoS UC6 Mt Gingera and Snowy Flats; (Mt Gingera?); SoS UC10 Blackfellows Gap Aboriginal Site; SoS UC11 Leura Gap and Rolling Ground Gap; Border Markers E73, H73, I73, J73, 27 Mile; SoS UC12 McKeahnie Creek Alpine Ash; SoS UC16 Cotter Flats and Oldfields Homestead Site; SoS UC15 Black Sallee Flat; SoS UC18 Upper Cotter Geological Site; Gallipoli Flats and flying fox.

Extract from P35 of the Namadgi National Park Draft Management Plan:

5.3 Prohibit camping in the middle Cotter Catchment and around the dams. Provide for regulated camping in the upper Cotter Catchment (the wilderness area) and limit numbers via a permit system (see Chapter 3: Zoning and Chatper 8: A place for community well being).
5.4 Where general public access is permitted (e.g. Bendora and Corin Dams), allow low-key day use such as picnicking, short walks and interpretation, within the vicinity of dam walls.

So it seems to me that the proposed route (camping with permit in the upper Cotter Catchment and a short walk to the Corin Dam wall) is acceptable.

Perhaps I should have asked before the event, but I asked via ActewAGL Customer Services and the reply from the Water Division was that there is no legal exclusion zone. One can walk the sides of Corin, Bendora and Cotter Dams.

Civil twilight: 9/1/09 and 10/1/09 = 0530-2051

Walk track a, track b, track c, track d

Day 1

Well nigh perfect weather (Canberra 10 - 24/26°C in between days of 35) for this mainly fire trail wander. Started up the pad to Stockyard Spur at 6.20am, so that had meant getting up at 3.45am. The tops had their head in clouds and the regrowth was wet so feet were soon damp, especially if boots were nearing the end of their life. I was puffing hard to keep up with my companions - my 60 years are starting to show and next time someone else can cart the 1kgm of red. But we joined the Stockyard Spur track in exactly 1hr, so that's not too bad with overnight packs. Lovely on the track through the mist - daisies (see here), orchids in the damp gums around SH1615 (see pic 1). We reached Pryors Hut at 8.30am (around 2hrs10mins). I took a little time to poke about the arboretum. The area was picture perfect (see here). Ran into Ray F and Mary H and young party, about to light a warming fire in the hut.

Headed a fraction further S along the Mt Franklin Road, then E down to the edge of Snowy Flats. The area was pretty as a picture in the mist, with an occasional attempt by the sun to break through (see pic 2). This area (Mt Gingera and Snowy Flats) is ACT Site of Significance UC6. I must come back here to have a good look at this beautiful place. We followed a branch of Snowy Flats Creek up to near the prominent U-bend in the Mt Franklin Road. Here the decision was whether to pop up Mt Gingera, but as its head was still in cloud, we decided to forego this side trip.

4.4km and 1hr5mins saw us at Blackfellows Gap, now 10.20am. It was lovely to see patches of unburnt ti-tree and ferns from the side of the road as we crossed drainage lines, but other areas were fire damaged. This was further S than I'd ever been in this area. Unique views from just NE of Blackfellows Gap down the E flanks of the Brindabellas to a tiny snippet of Cotter Flats and up the other side to Coronet Peak, Mt Namadgi (its head still in clouds), Mt Burbidge and the Kelly Spur (see here). Blackfellows Gap is not that exciting.

We tromped on S along the Mt Franklin fire trail for a further 2km to a point just before the significant U-bend at the 1400m contour and headed up to Rolling Ground Gap, reaching it at 11.20am. (5hrs to here, so it could be done as a 10-11hr return day trip.) This would have to be one of the most lovely Brindabella gaps that I've seen (see pic 3) - the other would be Dead Horse Gap (17-19 Mar 07). Soft green grasses and purple wild flowers rolling down from the gap, particularly W into NSW.

The next leg was 2.5km off-track along the ACT-NSW border to Leura Gap. There are a number of border markers (sites 61-65), constructed 1911-1913, on the S flank of the 1670m knoll, listed on the ACT Heritage Register, page 8. However, there are only 6 figure GRs (ADG66), which fix the location to a 100m radius area. And there must be some ferrous rock up there too, as the compass was swinging wildly in places. But we did find two markers, the first (see here) probably being site 62 (border marker H73). The second was equidistant from the locations of sites 63 and 64. We were down at Leura Gap by 12.50pm. This off-track leg is ACT Site of Significance UC11 Leura Gap and Rolling Ground Gap.

Leura Gap was another pretty site, marred a little by the pedestrian fence (to slow the brumbies coming into the ACT?) and E-W fire trail (see pic 4). Here a party member demanded lunch, which surprised me as we'd already had two morning teas.

The fire trail took us down, paralleling an arm of McKeahnie Creek, to rejoin the Mt Franklin fire trail. We looked down into the area generally identified as ACT Site of Significance UC12 McKeahnie Creek Alpine Ash and did, indeed, see stands of very tall, burnt and grey skeletal ash on the N side of the severe creek line.

The sun had long been out and this part of the Mt Franklin fire trail is a bit drier and dustier - more like the typically hated fire trail. Still, fabulous views to rocky Mt Burbidge poking up over the cut of Licking Hole Creek, with Mt Namadgi on one side and the Kelly Spur on the other (see here).

And so down to join the Cotter Hut Road, have a squiz at Cotter Hut to see if anyone was in residence, across the ford of the Cotter River and to set up camp. Arrived at 3.20pm.

Distance: 25.4km  Climb: 1000m.  Time: 6.20am - 3.20pm (9hrs), with 50mins of stops and lots of photo stops and a few breathers.
Grading: L/M,X; H(13)

An extra stroll

Even after setting up camp and having a cup of tea, the ants and flies were still busy. So I had a little extra stroll to the confluence of Licking Hole Creek and the Cotter River, then back down ACT Site of Significance UC16 Cotter Flats (and Oldfields Homestead site) (see here) to the N end of Cotter Flats and return.

Distance: 2.9km

Very pleasant pre-dinner nibbles of nuts, biscuits and cheese to go with a little Cabernet Merlot. We discovered during tea that the party only had two spondonicals, so some borrowing occurred. Quality chocolates to go with coffee. A full moon behind thin cloud. Being the elder statesman, I retired first at 9pm and slept very well. The morning, in fact, was quite mild, no doubt due to the cloud cover.

Day 2

Saturday dawned mild. Away by 7.50am, party members trying different crossing places over the Cotter River to the W side. We followed the river down to the bridge, at least missing one small loop of the Cotter Hut Road. Pond Creek joins the Cotter at the bridge. Then along the Cotter Hut Road with views over to ACT Site of Significance UC15 Black Sallee Flat (see here), looking much better than when I was last walking here on 3 Oct 05. A lovely orchid on the side of the road (see pic 5), just before our turnoff down Lick Hole Road.

Lick Hole Road was new for me, a pleasant enough fire trail sporting more orchids. Various styles again used at the ford through (or over - depends whether one is walking or driving) the Cotter River. The road is crossed by Cribbs Creek and Gingera Creek as they gurgle down to join the Cotter. Gallipoli Flats are not as grand as I had imagined (see pic 6) and we'd passed them before I checked the GPS. A side track leads down to the gauging station and flying fox on the river. The gauging station had some interesting bits of kit - a flow measuring device and water quality measuring equipment - do doubt ActewAGL feeds the data through Hydsys, the water management software developed by my brother-in-law. The flying fox platform had suffered a little in the fires (see here). I had a small wander around whilst the others were at morning tea - back to Gallipoli Flats and down to the river opposite the 13r cliffs.

Away again at 10.40am to wander the last of Lick Hole Road, not shown on the 2nd edn Corin Dam 1:25000 map, but visible on Google Earth. It took us 1.4km down to the top end of Corin Dam. An old log bridge was visible (see here), crossing the Cotter River. I wonder where the track over it goes?

We turned left (see pic 7) and began the walk back to the car. One member of the party commented that they'd found something worse than fire trail and that was dam scree (or is that damn scree?). 1.9km and 40mins later we stopped for lunch, having sometimes walked the scree and sometimes up in the bush. Steep in places.

Lunch to the car was about 3.5km in a straight line, but walking was 4.7km and took 2hrs30mins. The water level was higher than at our last time in this area on 22 Jan 08 and the crossing of Snowy Flats Creek entering the dam involved a substantial W then NE curve. We were well underwater on our previous crossing on 22 Jan 08. ActewAGL records had Corin Dam at 24.8% capacity on 22Jan08 and 44.9% on 7Jan09 (see here). We had a view across the dam to the construction quarry site (see here). The last 0.5km was very slow - 35mins - as we went up into the bush and contoured across the 1000m line. Still, it made one appreciate the Stockyard Spur footpad!

Distance: 16.5km  Climb: 200m.  Time: 7.50am - 2.50pm (8hrs), with 1hr of stops and lots of photo stops and a few breathers.
Grading: M/M-R,X; M(11)

The day 1 am scenery was pretty good. Day 2 covered the second last bit of the Cotter Rive I'd not done before. The cost was plenty of fire trail and dam scree and scrub.

Thanks Brendan, Karen and Mike for your company, patience and mixed nuts, cheeses and biscuits and quality chocolates.

Distance: 44.8km  Climb: 1200m.  Time: 2 days
Grading: L/M,X; H(13)

KMZ file for Google Earth/Maps: Leura Gap and Gallipoli Flats

Click on a thumbnail below to see the full sized picture
1 Misty gums on Stockyard Spur at SH1615
2 Snowy Flats
3 Rolling Ground Gap looking W
4 SH1698 above Leura Gap
5 Orchid on the side of Cotter Hut Road near the junction with Lick Hole Road
6 Gallipoli Flats
7 View N down Corin Dam