16 July 2013 Kowen Forest 23 Dams


Dam 07

Map: Bungendore 1:25000

Walk Description

This walk was organised and led by Ian W as a CBC Tueday walk:

Tuesday 16 July: The Twenty-one Dams Walk. The weather and road conditions for Tuesday are a bit uncertain, so instead, we are doing a 20 km walk in the Kowen Pine Forest instead of the Mt Clear area. I have called it The Twenty-one Dams Walk – nothing spectacular, but visiting the dams help break up the walk into sections. Probably finish mid-afternoon.

8 of us met at Spotlight Queanbeyan and drove to the car park on the old Kings Highway just before the Sparrow Hill mountain bike track car park.

Further Information

This walk was advertised to be:

Tuesday 16 July: Creeks and Valleys, Western Side of Mt Clear - L/R,ptX. From the Mt Clear campground at the southern end of the ACT, we will spend most of the day off-track on a route that links up some of the many small creeks between Mt Clear and the Naas Creek, though we will not be going to the Mt Clear summit. Some of valleys are grassy but there will also be scrubby spurs and ridges. Minimum Distance: 16 km with 500 metres of ascent. Maps: Bredbo, Colinton. Leader: Ian W. Limit: 8. Transport: Approx. 160 km return.

However, wet weather was forecast and it was replaced by plan C.

Track Maps

Track maps: thumbnails are active - click for a larger picture

Track overview

Track 1

Track 2

Track Notes

So, how many dams were there? Advertised as the Twenty-one Dams Walk, 2 extra were visited on the day. And I guess there were so many that it wasn't till I looked through my photos that I realised we'd visited 24. Jack J from Wales was with us, so we asked how you say "dam" in Welsh - he said just say "dam" with a Welsh accent.

You may think that this little walkabout was of little interest, but not so. For an inveterate list-ticker like me it provided another list type and, as an added bonus, we visited 3 more 'fall-downs' in additions to the 2 visited/seen on 28 May 13.

The walk consisted of a foray first S of the new Kings Highway. From the car park we've previously used on the old Kings Highway, we walked to the Sparrow Hill mountain bike car park, then S to 2 grand underpasses under the the new road. Well set up for bikes. The whole area is a maze of mountain bike tracks.

Our loop took us to 12 dams, each unique in its own way. Usually a bit murky, one crystal clear. The frogs were loud in each one, so healthy.

Crossing back to the N side of the road, the afternoon loop took us to a further 12 dams. Some quite magnificent eucalypts in a coupe of pockets of the forest. Some savage erosion in places.

An added bonus, after visiting a 'fall-down' sediment control stone structure we'd previously seen on 28 May 13, was to find a further 3 of them, along with another we'd seen on 28 May 13. 2 had signatures; one had a 1965 date. Maybe it's worth another trip in the area walking the major drainage lines to see if there are any more.

What are they? A nearby land owner kindly provided:

"He knows them well and calls them the "fall-downs" and says they were put there in the1960s to catch sediment and control erosion for the Lake Burley Griffin catchment when the lake first started filling up. There were many dams put in there as well at the same time."

And the Manager Fire, Forest and Roads, ACT Parks and Conservation Service provided:

"extensive work was undertaken in the Kowen area to try and improve the water runoff and quality into the Lake. This is why you will see many erosion control structures and an abnormally large amount of dams. The area was degraded farm land before the pines were planted and in fact much of it was so infested by wattle scrub that it was useless for any form of land management."

So, all in all, an interesting day, with showers only coming in the last 20 minutes.


Distance: 21.4km Climb: 300m. Time: 7.55am - 3.00pm (7hrs 5 mins), with 45mins of breaks.

Grading: L/M; M(11)

Walk Participants

8 walkers - Chris F, Eric G, Meredith H, Jenny H, Jack J, Kunal S, Ian W (leader), me.

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This page last updated 3Sep22