15 September 2009 Orroral Rocks - 3 walks - Lunar Laser Rocks, The Cloisters, European Sites Photos
Maps: Corin Dam and Rendezvous Creek 1:25000
Getting There

This walk was organised and led by me as an irregular CBC Tuesday walk:

Tuesday 15 September - Orroral Rocks - L/M-R,ptX - 3 walks from the Orroral tracking station car park. (1) Lunar Laser Rocks (2) The Cloisters from the East then South to the valley floor (3) European sites. Around 22km + 800m climb. Maps: Corin Dam and Rendezvous Creek 1:25000. Limit of 8. Leader: John Evans – jevans@pcug.org.au, (h) 6288 7235. Transport: $40 per car. Further details at http://jevans.pcug.org.au.

3 of us met at Kambah and drove to the Orroral Valley tracking station car park.

Further Information

(1) To the Geodetic Observatory via the Granite Tors Walking Track. Then NW back along the ridge top through the granite tors, including the Lunar Laser Rocks and a search for Haggis Rocks (rock climbing sites).

(2) Climb the Link Track towards Honeysuckle Creek, looking for and examining some interesting sites on the way. At about the 1220m contour, W through the bush to find The Cloisters. Visit The Belfry (both rock climbing sites). Then plunge S down the ridge to the valley floor.

(3) Visit and search for a number of European sites of interest.

 The 3 walks in combination rate as H(14). You could choose to do 1 or 2 or 3, then kick back when not wandering around (provided it's a nice day).

Walk track

Walk 1 - Lunar Laser Rocks

We used the Granite Tors Walking Track to get us quickly up to the Geodetic Observatory. The plaque on the nearby Nm C 106 marker reads: 'Harry Granger Surveyor National Mapping 25-6-28 21-6-77'. After taking in the view to the Orroral Valley below, we headed NW back along the ridge. Slow because of, initially, the regrowth, then soon the gigantic granite tors. From ACT Granite, the first recognisable area was Madness boulders. Some wonderfully large eucalypts through the rocks - some unburnt, others black shells of their former glory.

We approached Lunar Laser Rocks and went below the south tower (see pic 1). To get an idea of its height, see Eric standing under the angled tree trunk near the bottom right hand corner (see here). Climbing into the scrubby Courtyard, we entered the 'window' underneath the marvellous Balanced Boulder (see here) - impressive. On to the north tower (the Main Tor) (see here), then further N to see the Balanced Boulder sitting atop the mighty granite tors (see here). The view down to the Orroral Valley was excellent (see here). Here's a photo of the Lunar Laser Rocks taken later in the day from the valley floor, to give you an idea of the tors (see here).

On through a T-intersection slot, the W facing leg providing views to Mt Orroral and the N facing leg taking us eventually to Haggis Rocks (see here). (All these names given by rock climbers - see ACT Granite.)

We continued generally NW as the tors allowed us, the descent gradually easing until we met the Granite Tors Walking Track near the u-bend beside James Creek. By this stage I'd lost and found my glasses once but, as we wandered down the track and I pulled a hat from my pack, I lost them again. Back to the car for morning tea.

Distance: 7.8km

Walk 2 - The Cloisters

Another party was setting off from the car park, so I asked them where they were going. Doing the GTWT, I asked them to keep an eye out for my glasses.

Refreshed, we headed N along the old road to the various ancillary bits of the tracking station, then around the Orroral River swamp to cross the river via the wooden bridge carrying the Link Track. We visited W-G OR10. Mark had a torch and was able to travel through the perpendicular slot.

Following the Link Track, the fire trail heading towards Honeysuckle Creek, we found W-G OR19. A perfect match with the photograph and marked in a similar fashion to many other sites. Turning the corner, we trudged up the track, gaining over 200m in height. Did a quick walk around W-G OR20 on the way. At about the 1210m contour we headed W-ish up through the dry bush and gaining another 160m in height to The Cloisters.

Time for lunch at the top of this group of tors, with great views to the Orroral Valley from this side too.

The Belfry was in view a couple of hundred metres away so we trotted over, as not all of us had seen it. The photo (see here) is just of its top and with no scale it's hard to imagine its size. Drive up to the collimation tower car park from Honeysuckle Creek, wander down the footpad and have a look for yourself.

Following the footpad back from The Belfry to The Cloisters, we began our plunge of over 400m to the valley floor. The descent was through numerous staggering tors (see pic 2), in one place a rope provided the only way down.

We popped back over the bridge and headed for the AAWT which runs up the centre of the valley at this point.

Distance: 7.8km

Walk 3 - European Sites

The AAWT took us to W-G OR11 Rowleys Orroral Valley Hut site where we did a left turn up the track which takes the AAWT to join Cotter Hut Road. We were looking for W-G OR13 Stockyard site. A likely area took my fancy so we left the track to examine it. A fence was soon spotted and a few tens of metres further along it was the site (see pic 3). The first thing to attract our attention was a pile of lots of rusting tins, then the burnt posts, wire and wire netting lying about and the tall weeds. Found an old narrow necked (medicine?) bottle. A nice find, as I'd searched for this site a few times before.

The quickest way back was to about turn, which we did and headed back down the valley, over the boardwalk over James Creek, past some (plovers'?) eggs and back to the car.

There were my glasses, sitting on the car, found and returned by the other party. I popped back up to the bushwalking register, noted their name and number.

Distance: 4.9km

We called in at the Tharwa Store for a beer on the way home. Thank you very much Eric!

Thanks Mark B and Eric G. Excellent scrambling and site finding. A great combination of Spring walks.

Thank you very much to Bill and Linda P from South Australia, who found my glasses. I was able to ring and thank them - they'd just walked in after a flight home from Canberra.

Total Distance: 20.5km  Climb: 900m.  Time: 7.15am - 4.00pm (8hrs 45mis), with 45mins of stops.
Grading: L/M-R,ptX; H(14)

KMZ file for Google Earth/Maps: Orroral Rocks - 3 walks - Lunar Laser Rocks, The Cloisters, European Sites

Click on a thumbnail below to see the full sized picture
1 South block of Lunar Laser Rocks
2 The Cloisters
3 W-G OR13 Stockyard site