12 April 2011 Flat Rock Spur and Bendora Dam

Map: Tidbinbilla 1:25000

Getting There

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

Tuesday 12 April - Flat Rock Spur and Bendora Dam - L/E-M,ptX. Some more variety on the E flanks of the Tidbinbilla Range.From the Mt Franklin Rd, walk Chalet, Parrot and Wombat Roads to the top of Flat Rock Spur. Descend an unmarked fire trail to Bendora Dam and ground-truth some sites. Return the same way (which includes a 150m climb over 500m up the beginning of Flat Rock Spur). Wander along to visit Snow Gum Arboretum and Snow Gum Hill. Around 28km and 1300m climb. Map: Tidbinbilla. Leader: John Evans - jevans@pcug.org.au, (h) 6288 7235. Transport: ~$10 per person.

4 of us met at my place and we drove via Brindabella Rd to Piccadilly Circus, then along the Mt Franklin Rd to where the S end of Chalet Rd joins it at the gentle saddle area.

Further Information

Ground-truth for KHA:

01 Generator Shed/Diesel Tanks (Diesel generator provides power to ranger houses at Site 14) 892.
02 Bendora Barracks & Site Office (Barracks to the north and site office to the south (separated by diesel shed Site 515) dating from Bendora Dam construction period Late 1950s. Barracks demolished by ACTEW October 1997 as buildings were termite damaged beyond repair - photos in NNP photo) 891.
03 Bendora Picnic Area (Bendora picnic area. Toilet block dates from Forestry period (1970s?); late 1980s saw provision of BBQs and firewood as well as formalisation of carpark and associated landscaping. Further landscaping and major maintenance in 1994) 190.
04 Ranger House (Bendora) (Located at Bendora Dam, the brick house dates from the late 1960s or early 1970s, the weatherboard house dates from the dam construction period (c1960). Associated sheds include a garage/workshop, a fuel shed (both from 1960s or 1970s) and a machinery s) 191.
05 Boat Shed (New shed installed by ACTEW 1995 to house ACTEW and NNP boats) 893.
06 Bendora Dam (Includes double arch concrete dam wall and associated structures with reservoir top level of 776m ASL. Dam completed 1961, Bendora Gravity Main completed 1967 to supply water to Canberra. Climate/rainfall gauging station operated by ACTEW and establish) 192.
07 Gauging Station (Operated by ACTEW; established 6/6/1972) 700.
08 Communications Tower (Site or structure 'Telecom Receiver' as shown on CMA Tidbinbilla 1:25 000) 727.
09 Snow Gum Arboretum (Snowgum arboretum - 0.7ha at 1402m, established in 1941) 188.

Sunrise is at 6.25am and sunset at 5.44pm. So we'll meet at 6.30am.


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A damp morning in Canberra, with showers as we drove to our start point. A little windy and quite cool.

We enjoyed a misty tromp NE along Chalet Rd for 1.4km in 15mins to the intersection with Parrot Rd. Chalet Rd used to be the alignment of the Mt Franklin Rd but, as it was a little damp in places, a new alignment to the W of Bendora Hill was constructed. I'd planned to cut this corner and possibly also wander down through the bush from Parrot Rd to Wombat Rd, but the scrub was dripping wet. So it was a fire trail bash all day.

Turning S into Parrot Rd, we enjoyed a 3.6km gentle descent in 40mins to the intersection with Wombat Rd. The second half of this leg is particularly wonderful, Collins Creek looking a picture, filled with tree ferns. Many areas of the forest were not burned in 2003, or only received base of the trunk singes. Much of this area on the E flanks of the Brindabellas is described in the book Above the Cotter - a Driver's and Walker's Guide to the North Brindabellas by Ian Fraser and Margaret McJannett. It was published in 1991, but I've only recently discovered it. It's filled with wonderful descriptions of the flora and has inspired me to try to learn what all the trees and understory plants are. But I need someone to take me on some of these walks and show me what tree is what. How about it, someone?

We turned NE into Wombat Rd and trundled 1.3km in 15mins gently down it to the intersection with the unmarked-on-the-2nd-edn-map (but marked on 1st edn map) intersection with the fire trail running down Flat Rock Spur. 4.3km in 1hr later, dropping over 400 vertical metres down the E side of the Brindabellas, we arrived at Bendora Rd. There were some steep sections on the fire trail, difficult enough to negotiate going down, and not a thrilling proposition for ascent later in the day. Misty views all round, the Cotter River glistening far below us.

A road bash of 1.6km in 23mins had us at the Bendora Dam picnic area, arriving at 10.05am.

We spent 50mins in the area, me taking the opportunity to ground-truth some KHA locations and all of us the opportunity to have a poke about. Features were:

a set of log hauler wheels on the site of the Bendora Barracks and Site Office. They look suspiciously like the set that used to be beside Wombat Rd and I've got an enquiry in with NVC to confirm this. Some guys out in a truck wondering if it was too wet to do some spraying said the wheels were not there a year ago. Yes, the Ranger in charge of the area, Christian W, confirmed that the rear set of wheels are from Wombat Rd (the ones I saw on 21 Oct 06) and the front set from Parrot Rd. A great idea to place them here for more folk to appreciate. They may even be restored

had a chat with a couple of guys about to launch a boat. One of them has been doing fish research in the area since the 1980s

a wonderful new pit being constructed to give access to the water pipeline. Interesting to see that parts of it are held together with gaffer tape (grin)

tree ferns re-establishing in the Cotter River below the dam.

We discussed a few return journey options, thinking that the climb up Flat Rock Spur would be very time consuming but, as it turned out, it was probably easier panting up than slipping and sliding down.

Back out along Bendora Rd, we were at the bottom of Flat Rock Spur and ready to begin the climb out at 11.15am. By midday we'd broken the back of it, covering 1.6km in 45mins and climbing 350m. Great views to the W cliffs of Tidbinbilla Mountain. 12.30pm was lunchtime, very near the Communication Tower site I'd had a brief look for on the way down. I took the opportunity to wander up towards a knoll through the (very wet) bush - still nothing there.

However, a little research on returning revealed the possible story. KHA entry # 727 is described as "Site or structure 'Telecom Receiver' as shown on CMA Tidbinbilla 1:25 000". It appears on the 1st edn Tidbinbilla map, but not the 2nd edn, thus:

1st edn map 2nd edn map

So what seems to have happened is that the FRS fire trail has been realigned through the Telecom Receiver site. Perhaps the comms tower was in the middle of the new alignment. Anyway, it's no longer there and I'm sticking to that story as I can't find it!

After lunch it was just a gentle slog back up the roads. Collins Creek just as pretty on the way back up. The top of Little Collins Creek at the Parrot Rd/Chalet Rd intersection is also nice, with unburnt tea-tree in the area.

Back at the car by just after 2pm, we had just one more area to visit. A trip to Snow Gum Hill would give us a peak in the CBC 50 Peaks in 50 Weeks event. So we wandered along the border break, stopping at the 11 Mile marker and its blaze, then onto the Mt Franklin Road to Snow Gum arboretum. Showers, more wind and quite bitterly cold by now. I'd never been into the arboretum, so I tromped a little way in. So sad to see the carcasses of the once mighty trees. On up to Snow Gum Hill, with border marker D54 at the 'summit'.

We beat a hasty retreat, I found the Mt Franklin Rd 7½ Mile blaze near the car. We jumped in and turned the heater on full blast.

A damp, but excellent, day of hard and fast walking with a few things to see. Thanks Chris F, Russell H and Phillip S.

Distance: 30.8km Climb: 1000m. Time: 7.35am - 3.05pm (7hrs 30mins), including 10mins of breaks.
Grading: L/E-M,ptX; H(13)

KMZ file for Google Earth/Maps: Flat Rock Spur and Bendora Dam

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This page last updated 25Aug22