26 February 2013 Isaacs Ridge and Mt Mugga Mugga

Looking down 100m into the Mugga quarry

Maps: Canberra and Tuggeranong 1:25000

Walk Description

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

Tuesday 26 February: Isaacs Ridge and Mt Mugga Mugga. Full morning walk at a brisk pace. From the southern-most point of Isaacs to Mt Stanley (841m), along crest of Isaacs ridge to Mt Sheaffe trig (793m), descend and cross valley to historic (circa 1920) Mt Mugga quarry, circumnavigate quarry and ascend to Mt Mugga Mugga peak (812m). Great views to East and West. Return via new O’Malley to goggle at recently built MacMansions thence along fire trail at rear of suburban Isaacs to start point. Mostly on track or open ground. About 12km and 300m climb. Maps: Isaacs Ridge Nature Reserve and Mt Mugga Mugga Nature Reserve online. Leader: Eric G. Transport: Please drive yourself. Limit: 12.

Further Information

Isaacs Ridge Nature Reserve map at http://www.tams.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/390585/cnpmapissacs.pdf.

Mt Mugga Mugga Nature Reserve map at http://www.tams.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/390591/cnpmapmugga.pdf.

8 of us met at the appointed time and place.

Track Map

Track map: thumbnail is active - click for a larger picture


Track Notes

Eric's first led walk and very well done too. The walk was designed for a hot February day - it turned out to be humid. Bring on Eric's next walk.

From Long Gully Road, we wandered via fire trail and a little bit of off-track to 'Mt Stanley'. I've been near before, but never to this spot. Concrete survey marker posts and a survey mark. Then along fire trail to the quadruped trig YA 90. This is also known as 'Mt Sheaffe'. Down the spur to the next survey point, then over to the disused Mugga quarry (we may have crossed some leasehold land between the Isaacs Ridge Nature Reserve and Mt Mugga Mugga Nature Reserve).

There was a hole in the fence and, like the kangaroos, we were tempted to go in.

What a fantastic area! The entrance is like a funnel; the bottom would fit a huge football field; great place for a rock concert. Eric offered a prize for the first one to spot the resident fox. Ian got the clap accolade when he pointed out the red fellow high up on one of the terraces. We wound our way up, zig-zagging up the face of the old quarry via the old roads. Attempts at regeneration - saplings seemingly growing out of the gravel.

A huge old, thick-walled, rivetted cylinder at the top, obviously modified to provide water for the revegetation. But what was its original use - our retired naval engineer leader suggests a compressed steam reservoir to drive early drilling/extraction equipment. Another further SE along the top of the quarry, near the Mt Mugga Mugga survey marker.

Attempts to find out what they were haven't been too successful. I emailed the Institute of Engineers twice and got no response (boo). Eric rang the current quarry owners (Boral) and the 'last man staning' from the quarry couldn't help. I still have an enquiry in with the CDHS. A general enquiry via the web into TAMS (good on them for responding) produced:

Territory and Municipal Services rangers and staff have looked into the history of the object. We believe it is a large boiler that may have been converted into a water tank to water the plantings after the quarry had closed.
A Google search shows that a tramway operated at the quarries in the early 1920’s, along with a cable way for extraction of rock from the pit and a stone crushing plant. Our assumption is that the large boiler/steel tank was associated with the cable way or stone crushing plant, however this is a guess only. The following link has some early photos: http://mildenhall.moadoph.gov.au/photo/6360. The following has a bit of info and a few photos too: http://www.engineer.org.au/chapter02.html.

We returned to the first cylinder and enjoyed morning tea near it.

Happy to be legal back in the Mt Mugga Mugga Nature Reserve, we wandered down and across to the reservoir on the SE edge of O'Malley, past the signage and gently up to 'Scrivener Hill'. A (stuffed toy) wild pig under the pleasant seat at this feature.

The next leg took us through the streets of O'Malley, to oggle at the embassies and huge houses there.

Our return leg took us via management trails/horse trails along the run-off drains on the E side of Isaacs.

A walk displaying the great city of Canberra with its natural hilltops.


Distance: 15.4km Climb: 400m. Time: 8.05am - 12.30pm (4hrs 25 mins), with 25mins of breaks.

Grading: M/E-M; M(9)

Walk Participants

Eric G, Matthew H, Jenny H, Stewart J, Maggie K, Phillip S, Ian W, me.

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This page last updated 2Sep22