• London Bridge Homestead and Arch  (NSW)
  • Googong Foreshores (NSW)
  • Mt Tennent and the Scar  (Namadgi NP, A.C.T.)
  • Gorilla Rock and Booroomba Rocks (Namadgi NP, ACT) 
  • Legoland on the Ridge of Stone (Namadgi NP, A.C.T.)
  • Orroral Valley and Orroral Cathedral 
  • Mt Rob Roy’s Hidden Creek and Waterfall  (A.C.T.,  Rob Roy Nature Reserve) 
  • Spinnaker Rock  (Namadgi NP, A.C.T.) 

It is hard to keep up on this blog with the walks my good friend, Shirley , and I do , as we usually go out once a week.   Her time is very limited, so we usually only have 4-5 hours at most, including travelling time, but these walks are not to be missed : she is the best of companions.  Full of fun and a sense of adventure , always optimistic and supportive, and never complaining or telling me off  or telling me where I should go even when I am hopelessly lost,

Some of the  walks we have done recently are described below.  We both agree that winter walking in the ACT is superb and the best time of the year for walking.


A lovely, autumn day.  Started off overcast, but gradually the clouds dissipated.

We took the road to Burra  just a little south of Queanbeyan, NSW,  turned left onto the London Bridge Road,  thence  to the car park at the end of the road. Adjacent to the car park is a most pleasant picnic area where you will also see the old shearing shed and the shearers quarters and, for those in need, toilets. It is only a short walk to the old homestead or the arch.

From the car park we followed the main track up the slope, but at the crest we turned off to the right along an old fire trail, which provided much nicer walking and views, including one of a very nice farm dam.  When we came to Burra Creek we crossed it, followed it upstream for a short while before striking up onto the ridge.  We then followed the ridge to a lovely view over the valley and the old homestead below, with Burra Creek, autumn-poplar lined, glinting in the sun .  We followed this ridge for a while, along a fie rail, before  cutting  down a ridge, off track, to the homestead, then we wandered down the creek to the arch.

In 1857, John McNamara, an Irishman from County Clare, paid 30 pounds for 30 acres of land in the Burra Valley. ‘London Bridge’ became one of the first properties in the area”

On the walk down beside the creek we saw kangaroos and a wombat taking the sun.

At the arch, Shirley noticed a cave to the left of it, and irrepressible as ever, insisted that we climb up there and explore.   Lots of laughs there as Shirley pretended to be a caver, lying on her back in a very low passage, scrabbling her way through.  .

Then we walked over to the north side of the arch, crossed the creek and enjoyed a companionable morning tea in the mellow sunshine, before walking back to the car

“  The arch was formed by water slowly leaching through the limestone, enlarging cracks until a passage became big enough for Burra Creek to pass through. It reached its present size about 20,000 years ago. The arch was first recorded by Europeans in 1823 when explorer Captain Mark Currie was directed to the arch by an Aboriginal guide. Currie described it as ‘a natural bridge of one perfect Saxon arch, under which the water passed’.    “

Yes,  technically, a Bridge is water-worn in a water-course, whereas an arch is formed by wind erosion .   From London Bridge, Burra Creek continues its sparkling way down its beautiful valley to Googong Dam.


The dam on the alternative route that we took

IMG_20180508_100047250_HDR London Bridge with Shirley

London Bridge Homestead from the ridge,  Shirley admiring pine needles

file-8 Shirley's London Bridge walk


IMG_20180508_100950781 London Bridge with Shirley

IMG_20180508_101958086 London Bridge with Shirley

file3-4 Shirley's London Bridge

file2-6) Shirley's



IMG_20180508_102054645 London Bridge with Shirley

IMG_20180508_102143985 London Bridge with ShirleyOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

IMG_20180508_102319304 London Bridge with Shirley

IMG_20180508_102352011 London Bridge with Shirley

IMG_20180508_102420754 London Bridge with Shirley


file1-9) Shirley's Ldn Br.

Photographing lichen on an ancient apple tree

IMG_20180508_102919919 London Bridge with Shirley

IMG_20180508_103911020_HDR London Bridge with Shirley

file1-10) Shirley's Ldn Br

IMG_20180508_103843808_HDR London Bridge with Shirley

file2-9 Shirley's London Bridge Burra Creek

IMG_20180508_105244225_HDR London Bridge with Shirley

IMG_20180508_105348898_BURST000_COVER London Bridge with Shirley

file-13 (2) Shirley's London Bridge walk

London Bridge IMG_0149


IMG_20180508_110437035_HDR London Bridge with Shirley

IMG_20180508_110905217 London Bridge with Shirley

IMG_20180508_111007540 (2) London Bridge with Shirley

How will I ever get through this tiny tunnel!!

file1-11) Shirley's

IMG_20180508_111207758_BURST000_COVER (2) London Bridge with Shirley


A fun day!

Just to give you a few more views, taken one spring :-







Burra Creek, flowing away from the Bridge.


One turns off the Old Cooma Road along the road leading to the suburb of Googong.   One by-passes the suburb and goes to the picnic area just up from the dam wall.  From here we took the walking track south along the shores of the lake and up to the head of  Shannons Inlet where there is a bench, too high for Shirley, whose feet dangled in the air while she pretended to be a naughty child!   From this bench a foot pad continues up the creek for a short distance and connects with a fire trail.  On reaching the FT we turned left and continued along it for some distance before going off-track to explore one of the large promontories.

Googong Dam has created a huge and beautiful blue lake surrounded by surreal blue hills, stretching away to the south, and becoming lighter and lighter shades of blue, while on our side of the lake the shades of blue were offset by the tawny autumn grasses and reeds.  For all the world we were in Scotland!  As usual, we enjoyed mugs of tea and a biscuit or two along with the beauty, peace and intense quiet of the bush  before turning back.  As usual, too, we had many laughs in between more serious looks at the world!  Shirley has a wonderful sense of humour as well as having great depth of thought.

The brochure on Googong Dam includes the following :

Whether you like picnicking, birdwatching, bushwalking, mountain bike riding, enjoy sailing and fishing or delving into history—at Googong there’s something for everyone. In the centre of Googong Foreshores is the Googong Dam, fed by the Queanbeyan River and numerous creeks; the area around the dam is a wildlife refuge. The historic London Bridge Homestead beckons visitors to explore the history of farming and settlement in the area. A remarkable natural feature of Googong is London Bridge Arch which formed over thousands of years.

The Queanbeyan River, within Googong, is home to one of the few remaining wild populations of the threatened Macquarie Perch. The Pink-tailed Worm Lizard, listed as vulnerable nationally, inhabits Googong’s native grasslands. Listed as vulnerable in NSW, Rosenberg’s Monitor is also a Googong resident. The Hooded Robin, Diamond Firetail, Brown Treecreeper and Speckled Warbler are all listed as vulnerable in NSW and also occur at Googong. Googong protects plants of national or state significance including the Silky Swainson-pea and Australian Anchor Plant. These plants occur in open grasslands on the reserve’s western side. Unusual Pomaderris and Dillwynia species grow in the woodlands along the Black Wallaby Loop Track and in heathy areas between Tin Hut Dam and Tortoise Inlet. White Box-Yellow Box (Box-Gum) Woodland, an endangered ecological community, also occurs here.

The area now known as Googong has a rich history in Aboriginal culture. The Ngunnawal people have lived in and maintained the area for thousands of years. The area is also rich in cultural and natural resources which sustained the Ngunnawal people. The Queanbeyan River was a traditional pathway used by the Ngunnawal, Yuin and other neighbouring tribes to gain access to the higher country where they would perform lore such as initiation, trade and marriage. Googong also has Aboriginal sites which are viewed by the Ngunnawal people as holding spiritual significance, including London Bridge Arch. Please respect all heritage sites






Shannon’s Inlet, looking out into the lake


Shannon’s Inlet


Shannon’s Inlet


The track beside Shannon’s Inlet


Shannon’s Inlet


The head of shannon’s Inlet.  We continued up here to the fire trail and then headed south along it.

NSW Googong Dam 6 April 2011_0485

Looking down the lake towards the dam


Looking towards the dam




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A selfie to prove we were there together!!  A great morning.






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Mt Tennent from Namadgi National Park Visitor Centre
The scar goes up the central gully, in shadow

One day Shirley’s time was shorter than usual but she still wanted a hardish walk so we went up Mt Tennent,  only just beyond the suburbs, thus saving a lot of driving time.  Both of us, and, seemingly, many Canberrans, use Mt Tennent as a training ground.  Sometimes there seem to be people “everywhere”  , some walking, others running.  However, on the Wednesday we went up we had the place to ourselves, and time and the climb passed by in what seemed seconds, so pleasurable was the walk together.


View from the Cypress Pine Lookout


The Brain at the Cypress Pine Lookout



On the summit


The obligatory selfie !!  Always fun.

However, having done Mt Tennent together, Shirley came to me one day and asked if I would take her office team up there as part of a team building exercise, but up the “Scar” rather than up the walking track.  Gulp!  Yes, but was I crazy?   These people are not bushwalkers, let alone rock scramblers.

The scar was caused about 5 years ago by a huge mudslide after torrential rain.  A wall of mud came sweeping down the gully, clearing it of vegetation and leaving a layer of mud quite high up on the surrounding vegetation.

The night before the walk I was very anxious, wondering if I was being crazy.  The next morning we met at the Namadgi Visitors Centre, and I found that two members of the team were unable to come, so we were down to 3 and myself.

The route up the scar is continuous rock scrambling, some of it very steep,  giving a good feeling of exposure.   I was surprised that they all handled it well, although one of them asked Shirley how old I am and when told he said that in that case he would just have to get up!

Well, we not only got up the scar but we then continued up through the bush to the summit of Mt Tennent, where we had lunch on a cold day.  We returned down the usual tourist track.

Mt Tennent scar Shirley's team building IMG_0527

Setting off, the scar clearly visible.

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Mt Tennent scar Shirley's team building IMG_0532

Mt Tennent scar Shirley's team building IMG_0533

Mt Tennent scar Shirley's team building IMG_0528




Looking down from one of the many cliffs we had to climb


The visitor centre far below us


One more cliff to go, beyond that rock column


Mt Tennent scar Shirley's team building IMG_0536

At the top of the scar


From the top of the scar looking back over Canberra


Done it!  But hey!  I have been left out!  Where is the obligatory selfie? Oh Shirley!!


The view from the summit – middle ground : Deadmans Hill left,  Booroomba ridge, right,  and on the skyline, left, Mt Bimberi, highest peak in the ACT, and extreme right, the summit ridge of Mt Gingera, 2nd highest peak




Another fantastic morning and Shirley and I scooted up to the Honeysuckle Creek Camp Ground at the head of Apollo Road, once the site of one of three Australian tracking stations so vital to the moon landings.   This is a lovely spot and we stepped it out with light hearts , northwards along the AAWT  (Australian Alps Walking Track) .

At a spot where the track makes a significant turn to the right on a creek crossing, we left the track and walked up the hill to Gorilla Rock which Shirley had not seen before.  We then   retraced our steps and continued along the AAWT to the Booroomba Rocks car park but were now running out of time, so didn’t continue to Booroomba Rocks.  Instead, we had our morning tea and then returned to the car and so back to Canberra.

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file1-4 (2) Booroomba Rocks track. By Shirls

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Having fun – can I get up there?


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A week later we were back again.  This time we drove to Booroomba Rocks car park and took the steep but short walking track to Booroomba Rocks (about half an hour).  Here we sat on the edge for some time, taking in the beauty and remoteness of the scene in front of us.  Across the valley was Blue Gum Hill, and at our feet, far below, was Blue Gum Creek which curved up and northwards around Blue Gum Hill.  An eagle cruised below us.   Eventually we moved from this lovely spot and wandered north east along the ridge, before returning, and so back to Canberra.

file2-3 (2 by SG Track to Booroomba Rocks )

On the track up to Booroomba Rocks from the car park

file-5 by SG Booroomba Rocks

IMG_0548 SG at Booroomba Rocks

file1-5 By SG. BR at Booroomba Rocks. Blue Gum Hill and Creek

IMG_0549 Booroomba Rocks

file4-3 by SG Booroomba Rocks


Time now to wander eastwards along the cliff edge :-

IMG_0553 Shirls at Booroomba Rocks

IMG_0557 Shirls at booroomba Rocks

IMG_0554 Booroomba Rocks

Looking back

IMG_0558 Shirls at Booroomba Rocks

looking back

file6-3 (2) by SG BR at Booroomba Rocks

file3-4 (2) by SG. BR at Booroomba Rocks

view across to distant Canberra

file2-4 by SG from Booroomba Rocks . Blue Gum Creek

Blue Gum Creek, with the bulk of Blue Gum Hill rising out of sight on the left.

IMG_0556 Booroomba Rocks

IMG_0552 Mt Gingera skyline centre

the summit ridge of Mt Gingera is on the skyline in the centre

IMG_0550 from Booroomba Rocks , Blue Gum Hill & Creek

Blue Gum Hill on the left, flanked by Blue Gum Creek on its right

IMG_0551 Booroomba Rocks

file3-3 selfie by SG. Booroomba Rocks. SG & BR

another happy, great day




Last year I posted an article on Legoland.  (See “ A winter stroll near Canberra)  ) but this year Shirley wanted to go there as she had only heard about it.   In some ways I am reluctant to write about this stunning spot as it is so easy to reach.  On the other hand, Outward Bound takes many people there every year and members of  the  Canberra walking clubs keep posting photos on the web.

I have several concerns about too many people coming in to this amd other wild places to “explore”, much as I applaud those who do, especially youngsters.  When this happens to any extent the bush is going to be trampled to death.   People forget how fragile is the Australian bush and the last thing that should be encouraged is the touristization of wilderness (and by “wilderness” I mean all wild places, not just those places which under legislation have been listed as official wilderness,  as if the rest doesn’t matter).

The other problem is one of danger.   Not only can one fall here but people become disoriented and I have known people who consider themselves bushwalkers to miss the foot pad they are looking for and then get into difficulties in the bush, not knowing exactly where they are or which way to go.  For those who are “not at home” in the bush it is easy to get lost, even when very close to a road or path.  Once I met an overseas visitor who had gone out for an early morning stroll and he was totally lost, even though the road was but a few minutes away downhill.   By then he was so frightened that he would not go on his own back down to the road.

Unfortunately, too, our ranger service is under resourced.  On the one hand we have the Department of the Environment encouraging greater use of the wilderness areas  together with  the bushwalking clubs whose very existence depends on increasing memberships and thus increasing use of wilderness through their newsletters and face books,  while on the other hand our rangers do not have the resources to protect the environment, manage trails and signage and rescue those who get lost or injure themselves.  .

Legoland and its “Ridge of Stone” is a very special place  of peace, remoteness and wildness but is already being impacted by increasing use .  My view is that this stunning and fragile area should be better protected and numbers visiting it should be limited.  Most people don’t go there to quietly enjoy the atmosphere of the place but to have fun.  The touristization of wilderness.   An outdoors theme park.  But this is also true of all our wilderness areas.  We destroy the very places, the very places that nurture our souls because they are wild.  Wildness and wilderness is only seen as a resource for mankind, not something to be protected because it is what enables us to breathe and live.

On the morning that we were there, fortunately,  we were on our own.  It was a sparkling morning, the forest and scrub glowed with light,  magpies were caroling, lyrebirds were calling and the air was fresh and clean. I had a great time taking Shirley exploring, following through narrow cracks and squeezing through holes and perching precariously on a knife edge,  after which we had morning tea on the Balcony overhanging the Orroral Valley, with views all the way up and down the Valley and across to Cotter Gap, Split Rock and to Mt Bimberi in the Brindabellas, on the ACT border and the highest spot in the ACT.  This is a wonderful place to sit and dream, the bird calls only accentuating the deep stillness of this unique land.


From the Orroral Valley the “Ridge of Stone” , including “legoland” is seen to perfection


Legoland from the Orroral Valley


Beautiful, sunlit forest along the Ridge of Stone



In the forest, tantalizing granite tors

Namadgi National Park Ridge of Stone Leggoland IMG_0625

Entrance to the main Legoland cave, taken on a previous trip



Namadgi National Park Ridge of Stone Leggoland IMG_0627

Shirley's Legoland file3-3 (3) - Copy

Come on, lets have a look!

Namadgi Legoland 3 1.8.09 Orroral to Legoland Hike

Yep, we squeeze through there. Its a tight fit. then we turn right and climb to a great viewpoint

Shirley's Legoland file2-3 - Copy (2)

Shirley's Legoland file4-3 (4) - Copy

You come out of the main cave, through a small hole, turn right and see in front of you a very steep rock slab.  Be adventurous, but ascend it with care.  The top, where I am standing,  is a knife edge, with the far side falling sheer from my heels into the depths.

Shirley's Legoland file2-4 - Copy (2)

Sitting on that knife edge, looking down and back.  Descend from here, down there, and take the next small hole up the slope.




A pair of rock climbers

Shirley's Legoland file1-3 - Copy (2)

Playing on the large, level Balcony hanging over the Orroral Valley


The view from the Balcony across the Orroral Valley to Cotter Gap, Split Rock and on the skyline, Mt Bimberi, highest peak in the ACT.

Shirley's Legoland file-4 (3) - Copy

Many thanks, Shirley, another great day.




1 Namadgi Orroral Cathedral Rocks 1 2009 03 11

Looking northwards or so, up the Orroral Valley

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the Orroral Cathedral

Despite the cold and drizzle, Shirley and I went out to the car park and picnic area at the site of the old Orroral Space Tracking Station.  We had thought we might manage to cross the Orroral River thereby quickly accessing the freestanding peak called the Cathedral.   Unfortunately, the river had too much water in it and crossing the swamps was not to our liking because of the width and depth of the water as well as the mud, so, after spending a lot of time looking for a crossing,  we just enjoyed walking in this beautiful valley. Far down the valley, across the Boboyan Road,  a curtain of light snow fell for most of the morning over the hills there, while curtains of very fine drizzle moved across the nearer hills creating a wonderful, changing mosaic of soft blues and greys as they caught the  light.  On the valley floor the reeds, rushes and grasses glowed with rich yellows, ochres and russets.   Colour is enhanced on days like this and being out in such conditions is often more satisfying than the cloudless days when often colour is washed out.

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Can we cross?

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Looking for a way across

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looking south.  A Snow shower on the distant hill.

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Boardwalk on the approach to the old historic Orroral Homestead

After trying several times to cross the Orroral, we found ourselves at the old Orroral homestead where the Australian Federal Police were holding a search and rescue exercise.   As we were chatting to a couple of them on the verandah, the stretcher party came in.  They don’t believe in lightweight clothing or gear!   There were six of them carrying the stretcher on which was a full size dummy and each stretcher bearer was carrying an immense and heavy pack.   They came across the paddocks at a run, to collapse, gasping, at the homestead.  Interestingly, they told me that there was no bridge lower down across the Orroral, which I knew to be incorrect.


Orroral Homestead

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After a cold morning out on the hills, and with a little time to spare,  what better
way to end the morning than sitting beside a wood fire at Lanyon for lunch and the obligatory selfie!.


But to get back to the Orroral Cathedral.   Shirley had been disappointed not to have made the climb to the summit , so I did a recce, well, 2 , to be precise.  It was a very cold, but sunny day,   -7* c in Canberra that morning.  I parked at the Orroral camp ground and took the steep fire trail, ever upwards, along the park boundary, the ground frozen solid and long patches of old snow in the shadows but not a breath of wind and the sky a cloudless, deep blue and the air crystal-clear.  When the track swung eastwards around the hill, Spot Height 1316, I went off track, following its south-east ridge to the summit.  This is attractive forest, although there is a lot of fallen timber, rocks, and large granite boulders to negotiate.  On this day there was a lot of old snow, and it was dark and cold in the trees. From the summit ridge there is a steep, curving ridge down to the Cathedral.   After going some way down this ridge, I realised that this approach would take too long for Shirley’s time slot, So I retreated.  This, route,  incidentally, is possibly the most used one.

Once back at the car, I drove further up the road to a point closest to the bridge over the Orroral (about 8 minutes away from where I parked. ) .  Once over the bridge, I connected with a very old vehicle track across the lovely grasslands of this beautiful valley.  From the car to the point where we would need to go off track to the summit of the Cathedral took only 40 minutes.  How long it would take us to get to the top from there was anyone’s guess, but I felt it was possible in the time available.


Orroral River


Orroral River


Orroral River.  Looking north .  the Orroral Cathedral is out of sight immediately to the right


The bridge over the Orroral, on the track from the camp ground to the Orroral Homestead and the site of the old Orroral Space Tracking Station.

The following day we were out there again.   An absolutely stunning day.   -10*c out there, the heaviest frost I have ever seen, and plenty of ice on the river. The sun shining through the frost was magical.   I had never heard of frost stars on the grass until I read the poem “Solitude” by the late Geoffrey Winthrop Young in which he talks about the rainbow lights of the frost stars.   This morning we had showers of them, pin pricks of blue, red and green lights sparkling in the sun.  Look carefully at my photo and you will see the rainbow light of frost stars on the grass.

It was glorious walking up the valley on such a morning.  Incredible beauty and so exhilarating.  Mellow grasslands and swamps,  mountains in shades of blue, and a deep blue sky.

In next to no time, so it seemed, it was time to turn off the track, and now it was up to me, up the steep slopes.  Could I get up there with minimum effort, the least amount of scrub,  and find the easiest, most direct route through scrub and forest and the maze of forest and scrub girt boulders to the slot that takes one straight up onto the top?   I had never been up from this side before, and navigation is  more bushcraft than map and compass or GPS.  In fact, I did not use GPS or map and compass.

I think we did very well and we hit that final slot pretty well bang on the nose.  Interestingly, on the way down, we managed to more or less cover exactly the same “track”, coming across our footprints and a couple of cairns and then stepping out of the scrub at almost the same spot where we had left the track.  On the way up, I followed a ridge for some distance, then contoured around for some time, then angled upwards while threading a way through and around massive boulders, before finally going straight up to where I hoped the slot would be.

It was with great pleasure that I saw the huge delight on Shirley’s face as she came out of the slot onto  the airy summit platform with the Orroral way below us. A true eyrie.    Here we chatted and enjoyed our morning tea after Shirley had pretended to collapse from exhaustion!

We arrived back just in time for Shirley although the Tharwa Bridge was closed and we had to take the longer detour across Point Hut Crossing.


Frost on the handrail.  Crossing the Orroral River



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Heavy frost where the sun has yet to warm

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Rainbow lights of the frost stars on the grass.


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The frost melting.   Following the old vehicle track on the true left side of the valley

25 Namadgi Legoland hike Orroral to Legoland 5 1.8.09 Cathedral Rocks

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getting there!

27 Namadgi Orroral Cathedral Rocks 12 2009 03 11 (Henry Hatch)

Made it!


exhausted on the top!  It’s a hard life!  the valley floor a long way below.

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Looking up the valley from the summit

35 Namadgi Orroral Cathedral Rocks 14 2009 03 11 from cathedral rocks

From the summit


A lovely view from the top



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Another grand day.   

Only a little while after this day,  Shirley and I were again in the Orroral Valley.   I was suffering from bad hay fever, and she was recovering from the after effects of the Sydney City to Surf run.  Neither of us felt energetic, and it was an awful day:  cold and with a full gale roaring down the Orroral Valley.  Walking up from the camp ground through the trees was sheltered, but once in the open grasslands it was a battle to walk.  As we bent forwards into the gale, I was reminded of  the lines in Masefield’s poem “Cargoes” , ” Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack, Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,” .  We stopped at the Orroral Homestead and had our mandatory cuppa in the sun on the verandah , pleasantly out of the full force of the gale, and talked of “Shoes and ships and sealing wax, of cabbages and kings,  –  and why the sea was boiling ”  (Lewis Carroll, The Walrus and the Carpenter)  as befits two good friends enjoying a cuppa, relaxed, and in lovely surroundings.

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On this day Shirley also took the following photos:

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The back of the Orroral Homestead

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The fireplace and chimney of the old kitchen at the back of the Homestead
showing the beautiful stone wall.  In those days the kitchen was usually separate from the house in case of fire in the kitchen

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A huge old tree brought down in a recent storm or gale.




Tucked away on Mt Rob Roy is a most interesting short walk up a hidden creek with a significant (mostly dry) waterfall. For us, another lovely winter’s day, frost on the ground, and ice cold in the shadows.   We had a lot of fun scrambling up the smaller falls and through the mini canyons before having morning tea on the heights of Big Monk  in the sun with the suburbs at our feet.

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The start of the walk

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A tree clings to life and the earth


This one didn’t cling to life.

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Art in patterns

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looking up the scramble

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Looking down

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A fatal ride

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THE  waterfall

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Big Monk Trig 

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From Big Monk

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From Big Monk

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Not asleep!   Just peeling an orange!

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Ah!  Bliss!  A mug of tea, a biscuit, a grand view, a sunny, sheltered spot, relaxation, and good company (!!!)   What could be better!!

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“Too soon this hushed uplifted hour must end and (we) to meet the world once more descend”


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“But something surely will remain, of this benediction we have known”

Thanks, Shirley, another grand day out on the hills.




Oh gosh!   The forecast was not great!   Not much rainfall, less then 1mm, but spread throughout the day, for both Canberra, Tuggeranong and Mt Ginini.  Furthermore, the maximum temperature for Ginini was forecast to be 1℃ with snow showers.   I called for Shirley at 8.30 and thought she would prefer to have a coffee at somewhere like Lanyon, sitting next to the fire.  But no!  She reminded me that I had said that winter is the best time for walking in ACT.  Besides, she had grown up in Scotland where our weather today is considered to be a good day.  She insisted we stick to our plans.  Surely she has a stronger resolve than I have.   My dreams faded and we set off, but how could my spirits not lift with the car heater on and  Shirley full of fun,  outrageous cheek and laughter.

We took the Boboyan Road from Tharwa and then Apollo Road, to the Honeysuckle Creek campground, totally deserted today.  We left the car at the beginning of the road to the tanks on the further hillside, walked along it for a short distance and then took the footpad to Sundial Rock.  This footpad basically follows the line of a creek flowing down from the saddle where Sundial Rock is unmistakeable on the saddle.   We now followed the south bound creek along occasional animal tracks and through scrub (wet of course, from the drizzle).  I find it best to come down here on the true left bank.  The trick, of course, is to know when to cross the creek and easily hit the open grasslands on the far side, rather than bash through more scrub.

From the grasslands I then follow the forested south east ridge to the summit .   Generally, the scrub is not too bad, although the terrain is rough and steep.  I weaved my way upwards , trying to avoid the worst of the scrub and Shirley, being the best of companions, never murmured dissent. About half way up , if one knows where they are,  there is line of huge granite boulders which one can explore and which we did, to some extent, despite the weather.  It was about here that we started to get sleet and then snow showers and even patches of sunshine.  Eventually, we topped one last huge boulder and there we were on the summit.   Had it been a sunny day we would have had views down into the Orroral Valley, across to Glendale, and right over to the Tinderries.

At this point, I took a very quick and rough and ready bearing, guessing where exactly we were, and taking a bearing to the spot on the map marked boulder.   That was silly,  for the entrance to Spinnaker Rock is a bit to the east of that, but not by much.  At the time, I knew that the bearing was too much to the west  (it felt and looked wrong!) but I continued knowing that the bearing was only a rough guide   Well, very quickly I realised that I was on the edge, but slightly too far to the west (as I had expected)  and moved to my right, everything shrouded by trees and drizzle and snow again.   Shirley claims that I walked in circles, but if you know her you will also know that , for effect, she is prone to great exaggeration!   I realised I was wrong, swung 90⁰ and there we were, in just a few steps (well, maybe 5 minutes!!)  , at the hard to find entrance to the top of Spinnaker Rock.   I led through, saying nothing to Shirley about where we were and what she would see.  She trustingly followed me through the low tunnel, came around the corner and gasped!   We were perched right on the edge of the cliffs forming Spinnaker Rock.   What a view.   All the way around from the Legoland Ridge, over the campground, Blue Gum Hill, Booroomba Rocks, Deadmans Hill and a long drop below us.   By now it was snowing again and we were on the wrong side of the hill and away from the shelter of the trees.  In that high wind it was bitterly cold.  We did not stay long!

I took us out by a different way through rock tunnels and from there it was a straight line descent back to Sundial Rock.  Easy!   There are two parallel rock ridges here, hidden away in the scrub and trees,  on this very scrubby and steep descent. One can either descend along the more northern edge of the northern ridge, the route I prefer, as that leads in a more dramatic way to a huge overhang, or one can take the gully down between the two.   Usually  I have no problem and aimed for the more northerly route.  However, I became entangled in horrendous scrub on very steep and craggy slopes.  Now, perhaps Shirley is justified in saying that I walked in circles.   In order to extricate myself from the impenetrable scrub I retreated upwards and then pushed by scrub and crags moved a little south and so  came down between the two rock ridges, on the south side of the huge overhang.  Here the sun came out for a little while and we had our morning tea out of the biting wind.

Leaving this cave or overhang I warned Shirley to be careful as the rock was wet and slippery.  As I spoke my feet took off and I gracefully slid the 2 metres down to the scrub.   Shirley decided that a slippery dip could be fun and elegantly showed me how it should be done.  I guess she was more graceful than I..

From there on,  it was still scrubby, but easier than up higher.  I think the scrub all along this descent is worse than a year or two ago  .    However, in the end I managed to impress Shirley for we came out right on Sundial Rock.  Just in time,  as I was starting to lose face , what with going around in circles and coming down in between the two rock ridges.

From there it was just a few minutes back to the car and I dropped Shirley off at 1.30 pm at her home.  A wonderful walk when time is of the essence.

We both agreed that it had been a great day.   After summitting the Orroral Cathedral she told me that all future walks would have to have the same allure and impact.   She agreed that Spinnaker Rock came up to this standard.  Both of us loved the beauty of the day, the changing weather, the beauty of drizzle and snow showers drifting over the mountains and the enhanced colours that you get in this sort of winter weather.  There is a magic, a sense of mystery, a mystical quality about the vegetation and landscape that you never get in late spring through to the end of autumn.

01 file-25 Sundial rock

Sundial Rock

1 file1-15 

On the way up

2 file-17

exploring granite boulders on the way up


4 shirleys - lichen - spinnaker rock

Beautiful lichen catching the fleeting sunlight

3 file-20

5 barrie on top

Out of the tunnel, around the corner and one is right on the top of Spinnaker Rock cliffs

6 on top 3 a

Looking along the very top of Spinnaker Rock.  We exited that way, edging along and then through a gap in the rocks and then a cave and tunnel 

7 on top

8 barrie leads the way off Spinnaker Rock

then through a gap in the rocks 

9 barrie bashing a way

fighting the scrub on the way down

11 Overhang, descending from Spinnaker rock IMG_0382

The huge overhang on the way down, where  we had morning tea 

10 cave overhang

12 selfie by shirley

The now usual signature on our walks – the selfie.  here on the top of Spinnaker, just before high-tailing out of the zero temp. and gale force wind. 
The small white specks on Shirley’s head band and my glasses are snow.