6 March 2012 Two Sticks Hill and Mt Dowling

Map: Cotter Dam 1:25000

Getting There

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

Tuesday 6 March - Two Sticks Hill and Mt Dowling - M/E. A repeat of my Nov 2011 walk, at the request of a Club member who is interested in the stone wall found on Two Sticks Hill. A shortish walk mainly along fire trails to Two Sticks Hill and then Mt Dowling. Start is from Blue Range Hut. About 350 metres of climbing. Map: Cotter Dam Leader: Roger E. Transport: $36 per car. Limit: 8.

6 of us met in Canberra and drove via the Cotter (Uriarra Crossing closed). With the past week of flooding rains, the Murrumbidgee and Cotter Rivers were flowing at a high and fast rate. The overflowing, partially built new Cotter Dam looked spectacular. Off the tar onto Blue Range Road, which was quite drivable, but a bit muddy.


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From the locked gate we wandered up past Blue Range Hut. Very green surrounds. Right off Blue Range Road at the tool shed site and up past the burnt out arboretum. Plenty of water flowing down the side of the road.

We continued N-ish on fire trails, skirting Two Sticks Hill on the W. Crossed into NSW to the SW of the Hill. Turning E-ish, we climbed the fire trail to a saddle N of the Two Sticks Hill feature.

Turning S up the crest of the N-S spur through slightly damp open forest, we soon came upon the 'stone wall' sighted by Roger's party last November. Hardly a wall, just a line of obviously placed stones heading up the hill for 200m. Some old style (large pattern) wire netting associated with it in places. At the top end, it right-angled away NW off the crest. My best guess is that is the remains of a fence line.

A few metres further on from where the line of stones cornered, and just below a low stony knoll, we came across a straight lockspit angled across our route. We pressed on another couple of hundred metres along the crest until the ground began to gently fall, then returned to the knoll and border marker for morning tea. Our archaeologist went to work and exposed a white resurvey peg at the centre of the structure. We carefully remade it.

How can one interpret this area? Returning from the walk, I first checked the digitised field notebooks from the ACT border survey, as I thought there were no markers on this straight line from Mt Coree to One Tree Hill. A 69 - Coree to CH48,000 - FC18 sheet 1 - (PDF 14.0 MB) applies. Close examination reveals that marks were left at various distances from Mt Coree. I then contacted Alex P, my border marker guru at ACTPLA. He provided:

"Strictly speaking, between Coree and One Tree there are no corners. What you've found is in effect a line peg: these are used on long straight rural boundaries as an aid in fence erection. Those along the border were placed such that setting up on one, you would be able to see the next ones in either direction. You are right about the interpretation. Percy Sheaffe placed a lot of chaining points, but only permanently marking strategic ones. I had trouble as well, having to add up distances between the chaining points and then see if the result matched a running chainage shown on the FB diagram. I've attached the MGA co-ordinates of the marks. For continuity, I've given them identifiers based on their links-distances from Coree, as in the field books."

Things didn't quite line up. Contacting Alex again, he this time offered:

"You are correct that the mark called “Two Sticks” is north of the hill labelled as such on the map. This is the first time the name has appeared on a NSW topo map, not being on the earlier 1972 1:25,000 edition (or any other preceding map). I suspect that the hill labeled as such is incorrect, and it might be the peak to the north of the trig. During the border survey, the surveyors took compass sightings to various features they could see. These were then plotted out and are reproduced as hatchuring for hills on the original border plans. Along with Two Sticks, there are other such trigs along, or close to the border. These were chosen on prominent hills that the border passed across. Others include Blue Range, Phillip, Pleasant, Stinging Nettle and Middle Range. These were observation points used to take sightings to major trigs so as to make sure they didn’t stray off the line, especially when they couldn't see the terminal trigs."

A comparison of ACTPLA locations and my GPS recorded location indicated that we'd found the refurbished 41060.2 link marker.

Returning to the fire trail, we followed it around the N and E of Two Stick Hill, then a switch-back onto a fire trail which took us E across the top of the Uriarra Creek catchment then SE towards Mt Dowling. Reaching a bend W of Mt Dowling, we struck up through the bush (avoiding the stampeding cattle) to the clear top of Mt Dowling and the trig. Very nice views N through E, including to Pig Hill and Canberra.

Coming off Dowling, Roger picked up a fire trail and we headed S and W towards Sherwood. Under the power lines and a splash across a very fast flowing Uriarra Creek at a map-marked but non existent bridge. Followed fire trails towards the Sherwood site. One had a deep, gaping slash in it where a culvert had been washed away. Max was nearly swallowed.

No daffodils in bloom at this time of the year at Sherwood. We wandered about under the magnificent trees and down to the banking creek, then settled for lunch. Max found a walnut under the walnut tree at the entrance to the site. After munchies we wandered up the open and gently rising hill to the seat and sign. I forgot the grave site and plaque (so we'll have to go back).

Home via various fire trails and, at one point, a trail bike run up a fence line at the edge of an old pine forest area. Back down past the arboretum - it must have been wonderful in its pre-fire heyday. A stop at Blue Range Hut to read the signage.

Thanks Roger E, and Peter C and Linda G, Robert M and Max S.

Distance: 15.7km Climb: 550m. Time: 8.05am - 1.50pm (5hrs 45mins), with 35mins of stops.
Grading: L/E-M; M(10)

KMZ file for Google Earth/Maps: Two Sticks Hill and Mt Dowling

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This page last updated 29Aug22