6 July 2010 Jacks Lookout

Maps: Tuggeranong and Tidbinbilla 1:25000

Getting There

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

Tuesday 6 July - Jacks Lookout - M/M,ptX. Sites of Significance near the Tidbinbilla Tracking Station. Approach over the Bullen Range from Kambah Pool. Around 13km and 550m climb. Maps: Tuggeranong and Tidbinbilla. Leader: John Evans - jevans@pcug.org.au, (h) 6288 7235. Transport: ~$2 per person.

10 of us met at Kambah and drove to the car park at the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex.

Further Information

I have permission from Michael S, the lessee. Ring him if we find anything. He owns across Discovery Drive to the Bullen Range NR, so we'll have a look for SoS PT09 John Owens Tidbinbilla homestead ruin and well too.

I had a look at Kambah Pool on Sunday afternoon - we'll not get across. So the new plan is to start from the Space Station car park, do the sites, wander NE across Larrys Creek, then into the Bullen Range Nature Reserve. Up and over to the Murrumbidgee River, then back up, S along the top and back down to the cars:

Proposed track Jacks Lookout


Access all primary pics here. All thumbnails in the walk report are active - click for a larger picture.


Actual track Jacks Lookout

It was raincoats on when we arrived and the forecast was for rain periods in the morning, clearing in the afternoon. However, the drizzle soon stopped and mid morning cleared to a lovely sunny day. It came over cloudy as we finished and drizzled again back in town. So we dared, we won and picked the eyes out of the day weather-wise.

We wandered S along Discovery Drive and carefully hopped a couple of fences when the GPS told us we should. With some judicious matching of poplars and the Tidbinbilla Range features from the 1980s photograph in the ACT Sites of Significance entry with reality, plus the waypoint in the GPS, we began our search for SoS PT9 Homestead Ruin and Well - Tidbinbilla (John Owens). A large party covers a search area quickly and we soon had the site, around 60m from the GR in the reference material which states (and was read in fine style by Cynthia):

The site is a levelled house platform with the remains of a stone hearth and fragments of hand-made brick. There are no structural above-ground remains. Fifty metres north of the house a well dug into a rock in a shallow gully has been lined with stone fragments quarried from a nearby outcrop. The hut site is the remains of the home of John Owen, a selector who took up land in the valley in 1865-66, possibly as a "dummy for Andrew Cunningham of 'Lanyon'".

The shallow gully and outcrop were easily identified, but I can't claim a find for the well.

1 SoS PT09 Homestead ruin and well - Tidbinbilla (John Owens) General vicinity of the well SoS PT9 Homestead ruin and well - Tidbinbilla (John Owens)

Back at the road, we wandered further SW along it to a convenient gate which allowed us entry to the N side of Discovery Drive. The next objective was SH737, which gave us fine views to the dishes and, once we'd reached the top, W to Jacks Lookout. Jenny did the reading for Jacks Lookout here. From the top we headed down to the W. The cattle were in excellent nick around the dam and inquisitively began to run towards us. I tried to hide behind the ladies, but this was not allowed and a flap of the arms caused them (the cattle, not the ladies) to retreat. Our next SoS was the Congwarra Yards and Hut - not the current ones, but old ones of post and rail construction. Alas (as the land owner had informed me), no joy. We spent some time looking, as the meanderings of the track shows.

Up around SH639 we did discover that it was unlikely that we'd be able to cross Paddys River. It was flowing and wide (and dams were full) - this Paddys River valley will be back to its 'pretty as a picture' green next Spring, no doubt. Three foxes across the other side of the river - perhaps an adult running with purpose along a pad, and perhaps the other two were cubs, as indicated by their gambolling course. Down along the river bank we headed along the 'anvil-head meander', looking for a place to cross. Applying the logic of an experienced party member, the front runners splashed through the river at an animal crossing and most of the rest followed. We puffed up the 64m to Jacks Lookout (SH664), admired the view and moved a few tens of metres N down and away from the breeze for morning tea.

The description of this area, SoS PT7 Jacks Lookout, which Jenny had read to us, includes:

The site illustrates several characteristics of the geomorphology of Paddys River. The northerly trend of the channel below the road bridge is interrupted by an outcrop of metamorphosed sedimentary rock enclosed in the Shannons Flat Adamellite. This outcrop is aligned northeast-southwest and the channel is deflected along this orientation for several hundred metres along the length of the outcrop. The channel describes a distinctive anvil-head meander around the margins of the outcrop before resuming its northerly trend. The sedimentary rocks are an example of a small raft of material that has not been assimilated by the intrusion of the adamellite. The ridge one kilometre to the east, parallel to Larrys Creek, is a longer example of this type of feature as also are Black Hill and Murrays Hill to the north.

The contact between the two rock types is exposed in the strean channel. On the valley slopes are outcrops of the adamellite forming large rounded boulders. Adjacent to the channel are narrow sandy flood terraces with shallow scars marking the level of former river channels.

After sustenance, we exited NW down to a gate, a couple of hundred metres along Paddys River Road, and recrossed the river via a concrete bridge.

Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex from the SE flank of SH737 2 Panorama Jacks Lookout and Paddys River from SH737 Jacks Lookout from the E Searching for SoS PT8 Congwarra Yards and Hut site E of Jacks Lookout Jacks Lookout from Flints Crossing

Or next leg took us NE. Max pointed out an interesting balancing boulder which we visited. From it, there were views to a huge vertical sided granite boulder (scoring an * on the map), which balanced an egg on top. We continued across the N edge of the Complex, skirting a monstrous bull and his lady friends.

Flints Crossing Balancing boulder NE of Jacks Lookout Balancing boulder NE of Jacks Lookout and view to Gibraltar Peak View to boulder marked on map Tidbinbilla Range from N of the Space Complex

We picked up the trail to the communication tower on the Bullen Range, Rob sorted out my navigation with the new fire trails, and we continued NNE over the Bullen Range. Reaching the edge of the tree line, Rob shared stories of seeing deer down in the open country between here and the river, but our chatter and disturbance of herds of kangaroo gave us little chance of spotting any. A significant distance, but easy walking across the open grasslands, took us past an old shearing shed site and down to the Murrumbidgee River at the point where the old telephone cable swings across it. 20 minutes or so for lunch.

Murrumbidgee River with old telephone cable at lunchtime Murrumbidgee River at lunchtime

Little to do but to return, talk of a coffee at the Moon Rock cafe was encouraging. A small detour to a knoll we'd seen on coming out of the trees in the Bullen Range Nature Reserve. A sharp little feature with a wonderful Kurragong tree on top and a drop away to the SE. It even had a survey mark.

Kurragong tree on knoll PR44 Knoll PR44 marker View SW from knoll PR44 to Bullen Range 3 Knoll PR44

Back up on top of the Bullen Range at a fire trail junction, we headed S along the new (post 2003 fires) fire trail until views of the dishes appeared on our right and Rob (king of this area - and many others) reckoned it was time to head down a spur for coffee.

Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex from new fire trail on Bullen Range

Coffee, icecream and little cakes we did enjoy.

A pleasant ramble. Many thanks for your searching, good humour and company - Chris R and Cynthia B, Ian S, Karen C, Max S, Philip G, Richard M and Rob and Jenny H.

Distance: 17.2km Climb: 750m. Time: 8.15am - 2.05pm (5hrs 50mins), with 30mins of stops.
Grading: L/E-M,ptX; M(11)

KMZ file for Google Earth/Maps: Description

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This page last updated 20Aug22