6 December 2011 Bulls Head via Pago Break

Maps: Cotter Dam and Tidbinbilla 1:25000

Getting There

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

Tuesday 6 December - Bulls Head via Pago Break - L/E-M,ptX. Climb the eastern flank of the Brindabellas via Pago Break as it cross-crosses Warks Rd and Old Mill Rd. The intended route disappears and reappears on the maps. Opportunities to visit Howells, Lees Creek and Pago weirs. Around 24km and 800m climb. Possibly all overgrown fire trail, but who knows. Maps: Cotter Dam and Tidbinbilla. Leader: John Evans - jevans@pcug.org.au, 0417 436 877, (h) 6288 7235. Transport: ~$6 per person.

3 of us met at my place and we picked up another. Thanks for driving Mark, most appreciated.

Further Information

This is an approved CBC walk.

Saw a new fire trail sign at the bottom of Pago Break on 11 Oct 11 and wondered how it joins the part of Pago Break known to me. Let's find out. Have seen some of the Pago Break crossings whilst searching for Pago weir. The Break looks a bit overgrown.


You can access all photographs here.


Track maps: thumbnails are active - click for a larger picture
Track overview Track 1 on 2nd edn map Track 1 on 1st edn Cotter Dam map Track 2 on 2nd edn map Track 2 on 1st edn Tidbinbilla map

Parking at the intersection of Warks Road and Yellow Rabbit Road, just before the locked gate, we sorted ourselves out and began walking at 7.10am. A very pleasant morning. We wandered along Warks Road, past the Lees Creek Camp site and down to the pretty shaded part alongside Lees Creek. I had a waypoint to check out a fire trail which could possibly provide a return route - it was mogul-ed and burnt pine tree logged. We were past Howells weir before I realised, Blundells Creek gurgling merrily along beside us after recent rain. We did stop and have a look at Lees Creek weir - a lovely noisy flow. A couple of hundred metres further on we reached the new Pago Break fire trail and turned left onto it at 8.10am.

Wide and well maintained, the fire trail began to rise gently as it paralleled the NNP boundary. It's shown on the 2nd edn Cotter Dam map, but not on the first and could have been made since the 2003 fires. I didn't take much notice of the contours when planning the trip, but soon did as we climbed 300m in less than 1km. Made us puff a bit and we shook out into age order. The fire trail climbs onto the bottom of the Bulls Head Range and we reached the crest and NNP entrance at around 8.40am, 1.5hrs and 6.5km into the day. A short leg of 0.6km including some very gentle down, got us to the big U-bend in Warks Road at the bottom of the Cotter Dam map. An old concrete tank on the side of the fire trail just after we entered NNP.

Here things were supposed to get interesting. The 1st edition Cotter Dam map indicates Pago Break taking a separate line between the two legs of Warks Road, but an examination at the corner showed only very scrubby bush. So, being too early for morning tea and not having 1st edition maps with me, all we could do was to set off up Warks Road. Again the 1st edn Tidbinbilla map shows the line of Pago Break crisscrossing Warks Road. Nothing could be seen at any of the crossing points (which I had as waypoints). New Chums Road where it joins Warks Road confused me for a while - it's marked on the 1st edn map, but not on the 2nd. Even on the 1st edn Tidbinbilla map, Pago Break is subsumed by Warks Rd and Old Mill Rd for 1.2km.

We arrived at the intersection of Warks Road and Old Mills Road at 9.15am. Still too early for morning tea, the lads agreed to go on to Pago weir for a break, so we took the upper trail of Old Mill Road.

The upper section of Pago Break leaves Old Mill Rd at a brand new (since I've last been there) yellow gate. Familiar territory, as I've been through here searching for Pago weir. Up the Break, we turned in along the overgrown access track to the weir. We took 10 minutes for morning tea.

Fresh to go again, we left at 9.50pm, headed back to the Break, turned right up the hill through SH1316, then along to just S of SH1337, where the 1st edn map had a track up the broad spur to Bulls Head. No track but very pleasant, open, grassed forest for the few hundred metres up to the top. We arrived at 10.30am, so 3hrs 20mins and 12.3km to get here.

We had a poke about the trig marker, gazed at the comms tower and wind generator, but it was too early for lunch.

Heading off (after I got my bearings), we headed along the clearway under the power lines. I soon realised we were heading in the opposite direction to that desired and this was confirmed when we soon arrived at the Mt Franklin Rd at Bulls Head. The big logs and the wide verge separate the driving view - I'd never realised till now that you can see the towers, along this clearway, from Bulls Head. We thought we'd wander back down Bendora Road. I remembered something about a fire trail in the area on the 1st edn Tidbinbilla map and when we saw a vague trail into the bush off the top of Bendora Rd, we took it. It soon petered out, but pleasant walking for a few hundred metres till we arrived at a bend in Bendora Rd and there was the top of Pago Break heading off, a well made fire trail. However, this top section of Pago Break, from Bendora Rd to Old Mill Rd, is not marked on the 2nd edn Tidbinbilla map. Confusing, isn't it? Have a look at the map fragments and you'll see what I mean.

An uneventful wander down the top of Pago Break, Old Mill Rd and Warks Rd to just near the first huge U-bend in Warks Rd. I'd been scanning the bush at each spot where the old Pago Break was supposed to cross Warks Rd and at last thought I saw a discernable clearing through the tree line off to the side of Warks Rd. It was midday, so we sat at the side of the huge bend and had lunch. Roger had a 1st edn map with him and examining it again prompted me to wander a few tens of metres up from the corner to check out the clearing in the tree line. Definitely a vestigial mature tree clearing - looks like I'll have to go back sometime.

After lunch, along to the NNP border, then headed N down the main spine of Bulls Head Range on a good/new fire trail. A fraction less steep (and therefore a bit longer) than the pinch up lower Pago Break. Missed a map-marked fire trail heading more directly to Lees Creek Camp and ended up trundling along a veritable highway as it turned and turned again on its way down to Lees Creek Camp. A bare spur not recovering well from the 2003 fires was visible. Back along Warks Rd to the car.

A useful ramble. Thanks for your company John I'O, Mark B and Roger E.

Distance: 24.5km Climb: 850m. Time: 7.10am - 1.30pm (6hrs 20mins), with 35mins of breaks.
Grading: L/E-M,ptX; H(13)

KMZ file for Google Earth/Maps: Pago Break

PS. With hours sitting around in hospital pouring over the 1st edn digital maps a thought struck me - what if there never was a middle section of Pago Break and what I thought was was the power lines (and clearing) running to Bulls Head and Bendora Dam!!

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This page last updated 29Aug22