4 February 2012 Orroral to Bimberi Peak

Maps: Rendezvous Creek and Corin Dam 1:25000

Getting There

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

Saturday 4 February - Orroral to Bimberi Peak via AAWT - L/E-M. A club member wants to meet some day walkers on Bimberi Peak. For strong walkers. Around 55km and 1600m climb. A long day, starting at first light and finishing late to allow maximum flexibility and walking in the cooler hours. Maps: Rendezvous Creek and Corin Dam. Leader: John Evans - jevans@pcug.org.au, 0417 436 877. Transport: ~$14 per person.

Further Information

Alan V, a living legend, is leading an overnight trip from Tantangara to Bimberi and would like to meet some day walkers up there.

This caused me to research the it newsletter archive recently added to the members only area of the CBC web site. Long time members directed me to the following walks:

  17 Jul 76, led by Gary M, report Aug 76 it, 6.50am - 8.30pm = 13hrs 40mins, incl 2hrs 30mins from Orroral to Cotter Flats! In and out AAWT with direct ascent from near Cotter Hut to Bimberi
  24 Sep 78, led by Tony H, report Oct 78 it, 7.15am - midnight = 16hrs 45mins, incl 1hr 45mins from Orroral to Cotter Flats!! and ~3hrs to climb Bimberi. In AAWT, direct ascent from near Cotter Hut to Bimberi, out Cotter Hut Rd
  9 May 82, led by Mick C,
  9 Jun 90 - to be led by Tim W, didn't go
  10 Mar 91 - to be led by Roger E, didn't go
  3 Nov 91 led by Tim W and Roger E, report Jan 92 it, 42km in 11hrs 30mins!!! In AAWT, direct ascent from near Cotter Hut to Bimberi, out Cotter Hut Rd
  early 2000s - non-advertised trip by Keith T and Bob H.

1 I will only go if I can get a carer for my wife - check.
2 I will only go if it's not too hot - looking good - Canberra 13-27, partly cloudy.

Planned route - Orroral Valley - AAWT to Murrays Gap - up the border to Bimberi Peak - out via AAWT to Cotter Hut, then Cotter Hut Road. The direct ascent was pretty scrubby 12-14 Sep 06 (it took 4hrs 10mins to climb from near the Yaouk Trail/Mt Franklin Rd/Cotter Hut Rd intersection to Bimberi (with overnight packs)), will be more so now and I'm too old and slow.

Preliminary timings - These living legends could walk! (they may have been a bit younger, too). I'd like plenty of time - there are border markers to hunt from Murrays Gap to Bimberi; we need some flexibility to meet the other party; the day may well be hot, so early morning and late evening walking would be ideal. I'm thinking to start at first light and would have to finish by 11.59pm to make it a day walk.

For 4 Feb 12, civil sunrise is 0557, sunrise is 0624, sunset is 2010 and civil sunset is 2037. Moonrise is 1750 and moonset is 0229, with the moon between first quarter (on 31 Jan 12) and full (on 8 Feb 12).

On 15-16 Oct 11, we did the 20km from Cotter Hut via the Cotter Hut Road, in 5hrs 20mins (11.40pm-5am).

So, leave Canberra 4.30am. Walking by 5.30am, first 30mins in dark. That will be along the Cotter Hut Road. ~3.6km to bottom of the big corner cut off - should be able to use the short cut. We should be able to average 4km/hr to Murrays Gap - that's 21.3km so, say 11am there. 3km from Murrays Gay to Bimberi, but 33 border markers to hunt. At 2km/hr takes 1hr 30mins, so about 12.30pm at Bimberi Peak. All this will be a bit slower if it's hot. Allow 1hr 30mins for lunch and flexibility to meet the other party. So leave Bimberi Peak at 2pm. It's 30km home via the Cotter Hut Road. At 3km/hr, that's 10hrs. So back at the cars by midnight.

Now, it's 9.8km from the Cotter River via the AAWT to Cotter Hut Road. If, per chance, we got across the Cotter River by, say 5.15pm, at 3km/hr we'd do the AAWT to Cotter Hut Rd by last light and have a shorter trip home. In and out via the AAWT totals ~48km.

We need a system at Murrays Gap for each party to indicate to the other their whereabouts. I propose stones placed on top of the "Namadgi National Park Murrays Gap" sign. Whichever party reaches there first, place 1 stone on the top of the top board. The other party, when it reaches Murrays Gap, places 1 stone on the top of the lower board. When each party returns from Bimberi Peak, it places a second stone on top of their board.


From To Distance Cumm dist Going
Start Leave Cotter Hut Rd 4.9 4.9 Fire trail
AAWT from Cotter Hut Rd Cotter Gap 3.6 8.5 AAWT footpad
Cotter Gap Cotter Hut 6.2 14.7
Cotter Hut Murrays Gap 6.5 21.2 Fire trail
Murrays Gap Bimberi Peak 2.9 24.1 Open forest/sub alpine top
Bimberi Peak Murrays Gap 2.9 27.0
Murrays Gap Cotter Hut 6.5 33.5 Fire trail
Cotter Hut Rd from Cotter Hut AAWT footpad intersection 15.1 48.6 Fire trail
Final stretch Cotter Hut Rd Finish 5.5 54.1 Fire trail


  1. Sawpit Creek at 7km
  2. Pond Creek at 11km
  3. Cotter River at 14km
  4. Bimberi Creek at 16km
  5. Little Bimberi Creek at 17km - 14km in the middle of the day back to here, so suggest take an extra bladder and fill it up here
  6. Little Bimberi Creek at 31km
  7. Bimberi Creek at 32km
  8. Cotter River at 36km
  9. De Salis Creek at 41km.


You can access all photographs here.


Track maps: thumbnails are active - click for a larger picture
Track overview Track 1 Track 2 Track 3

We met at the early hour of 4.30am at my place, a clever ploy to allow me 20mins more sleep time than those who had to drive there. A slow trip to the Orroral Valley Space Tracking site car park, as there were plenty of kangas and rabbits about.

However, we were on the way by 5.30am in the just-see light, to the accompaniment of a couple of wild dogs howling up the valley. The sound certainly gives me the shivers.

At the bottom of the big bend detour we turned left up into the bush and immediately struck the first unexpected issue for the day. The bush was oh-so-wet from the previous night's rain and by the time we gained the Cotter Road again, we were quite damp. I'll blame the half-light, but I lost the footpad on the way up and we ended up a bit down road. I've removed the 'top of detour' waypoint from the track maps, in an attempt to disguise this.

We reached the junction of the AAWT footpad and Cotter Hut Road at 6.35am and 5km, so on-track time wise. A pause to pop on gaiters.

Wet is not the word on the next leg. Head high pea regrowth, particularly in the section going slightly downhill across the old wooden steps after crossing the old alignment of the AAWT marked on the map, was bowed down with water and we were all soon soaked to the skin. I later learned from Alan V when we met up that "the only thing a walk leader can't delegate is the advertising of the walk" so should have put the others first to part the shrubs, but it didn't really matter. In sodden clothes and with numbed hands, we could see the sun ahead of us as we climbed towards Cotter Gap. We finally caught it below Split Rock. 8.7km in 1hr 55mins to here, so a fraction ahead of schedule. I think a few fine photographic friends (like Rupert B and Barrie R) would have not been happy with me - the objective was in mind so we had to keep moving, but wonderful compositions, like early morning sun, rain-droplet covered spider webs were sacrificed as we sped by.

Back down into the cold shadow and wet overhanging shrubs as we descended the Pond Creek cut, a little relief in the sun as we rounded Coronet Peak. Another snap gone begging - the sun striking the granite cap of Coronet Peak was spectacular. Bimberi Peak, rounded and benign looking, came into view and, at last, out into the full sun on Cotter Flats.

I carried a few unused items, but I guess that should always be the way. I was surprised that the Cotter River was so low. It was ankle high (I was expecting thigh high, but I guess the recent rain didn't come this far south), so stride was not even broken as we splashed across. So much for the pair of creek crossing shoes and chux towel I was carrying.

Cotter Hut was reached at 8.45am, 14.9km in 3hrs 15mins to here, so we had a little refuel break. Interestingly, our hands were pretty useless - they didn't feel cold, but were swollen from pushing through the wet regrowth overhanging the track - and we had to help each other open snack bars and zip up gaiters. The break was not as long or as elegant as I'd planned (my stove was another unused item I was carrying) as by now a party member (mentioning no names, but the one with the silver shock of hair and beard and is the strongest walker I know) had made it clear by now that he'd prefer the afternoon's return to be via the AAWT rather than the hard Cotter Hut Road.

I remember walking down from Murrays Gap on 4 Oct 10 and saying that I'd hate to walk up. Here was my chance. Not too bad, but got to the stage of counting my steps as we trudged up the Murray Gap Trail, gaining each spoon drain then having to sweat up to the next. We picked up water at Little Bimberi Creek, although the drainage line from Murrays Gap was flowing nicely this unseasonable damp Summer where we crossed it at GR63264953 (MGA94) on the Rendezvous Creek 1:25000 map.

We arrived at Murrays Gap at 10.40am, having covered 21.4km in 5hrs 10mins and puffed up a few inclines. No sign of the overnight party. According to our pre-arranged signal, we placed a stone on the top of the top board of the Murrays Gap sign to indicate that we'd gone up the hill. We set off after a 15 minute morning tea #2.

Border marker hunting did not go well at all. Both GPSs in the party were misbehaving badly (atmospheric conditions, water on the tree leaves; the presence of Yowies, Tim?). We did find G76. We'd come up the line of the border according to my ACTPLA supplied waypoints, occasionally striking the footpad from Murrays Gap to Bimberi Peak. Whilst half the party waited patiently on the track, the 2 GPSs took us for a wild and circuitous route around D76 - you can see it on the track 3 map segment. Did not find the marker. Decided to give up on border marker hunting (for this trip only (grin)), which was probably just as well with our time constraints.

Regrouped and wandered up the very well cairned footpad. 1hr 40mins to cover the 3.2km (including our little border marker hunting aside) from Murrays Gap to Bimberi Peak, climbing 380 vertical metres. The last 1km, after the footpad turns from N to NW, is a beautiful sub-alpine spur climbing 100m to the trig. Signs of brumbies on the pad. We reached Bimberi trip at 12.40pm, a 24.6km trip in 7hrs 10mins with 1350m vertical gain.

The 360° view on this beautiful day was fabulous! The video shows it off and the panorama below shows some of the hills visible to the E:

We took in the views, patched some feet, Robert had a hot lunch. The log book container on one leg of the quadruped trig is not weather proof - the book is waterlogged and useless. As you can see in the video, Keith cleaned his teeth!

Away at 1.20pm after a 40min lunch. We trod over another border marker on the sub alpine part of the descent, but I was so disappointed after the abortive effort on the ascent that I didn't even record it - it could have been I75, 31 Mile or J75. I'm not good at following tracks, even if they are heavily cairned, and I missed it around the 1600m contour (as the map segment shows). Got back on track with Keith's help. We met up with Alan V and Andrew M, Judy D, Meg McK, Phillip S, Rene D and Wayne P from the overnight party at GR 62657-50051 (MGA94), on the 1550m contour around 250m distance above Murrays Gap. Had a convivial chat. Back down on the edge of Murrays Gap I marked the little cairn indicating the start of the Bimberi footpad and will document it here.

Wandered over to the Murrays Gap sign, had a chat with Marg R and Wayne's wife who were enjoying the ambience there (the remaining members of Alan's party were further W at their camp site at Dunns Flat), completed our pre-arranged signal by placing a second stone next to our first one and set off down the hill.

All down hill to the Cotter River where, after crossing it at 4.15pm, we had arvo tea, a boot to shoe change for some and a water resupply. I must say that I'm very pleased with my Kathmandu Sandover NGX walking shoes - with just a couple of foam toes tubes, my feet were real good.

An uneventful 15.2km wander back to the car in just shy of 4hrs, including that slog up the Pond Creek cut to Cotter Gap. Didn't need to turn on Roger E's BBL (big bright light) head torch, so another unused (but very essential) piece of gear carried.

Met Cameron who'd just finished Thredbo to Orroral on the AAWT. His last day was a little longer than ours, leaving Long Plain at 3.30am. Nice to be able to give him a lift back to town, saving him a night at Orroral and a friend the drive the next day to pick him up.

Of course, Jacqui went dancing after she arrived back.

Thanks Jacqui R, Keith T and Robert M. A testing wander for me, but an absolute cracker of a day. Many thanks to Max S and Mike B for keeping an eye on us via SPOT.

Distance: 50.1km Climb: 1850m. Time: 5.30am - 8.30pm (15hrs), with 1hr 30mins of major breaks and a few more at water and exhaustion points.
Grading: L/E-M; H(14)

KMZ file for Google Earth/Maps: Orroral to Bimberi Peak

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This page last updated 29Aug22