MT GINGERA WALK
SUNDAY, 25 NOVEMBER 2018
When the National Parks Association of the ACT day walk on the Main Range of the Snowy Mountains was cancelled due to bad weather, a road closure and a dump of snow a couple of days before, my good friend , Terrylea, and I, decided to walk to the summit of Mt Gingera from Corin Dam.
I have written before about this walk ( one of my previous posts on Mt Gingera is at https://barrieridgway.wordpress.com/2015/06/11/mt-gingera-and-stockyard-spur/ ) and so won’t go into too much detail now. Mt Gingera, at 1844 metres, is the second highest peak in the A.C.T. and lies on the Brindabella Range, which forms the western border of the A.C.T with NSW. Whilst the walk is mainly on fire trail, with just a little bit on a foot pad, it is a substantial walk, for it involves a return distance of 19.7 km and a total height gain of 1213m . The track up onto the Stockyard Spur commences from the car park at Corin Dam and rises unrelentingly over 500 metres in under 2 km to the open helipad space (for fire fighting) from where the track gains height in a more civilized way. We did this section in good time, taking just on an hour. All told, we left the car at 9.00 am and returned to it at 4.30 pm.
On the way up we met two couples, the one whom we met on Stockyard Spur had spent the night camping up near Pryors Hut, the other couple had walked in from the Mt Ginini car park. Both couples had been to the summit of Gingera.
After all the bad weather, we struck a stunning day. Many wildflowers were out and the birds were singing. The air was crystal-clear, rain-washed. The sky was deep blue with beautiful, shining white cumulous clouds. The temperature was cool, but pleasant. As we progressed, so we moved higher and into the beautiful world of sub alpine snow gum woodland until, on the summit of Gingera, we were on the tree-line.
The morning ( and the afternoon too!) passed most pleasantly with a lovely companion. We stopped for morning tea somewhere between the helipad and the Grandstand lookout and then it was up the long slow climb to the Grandstand, the highest point on Stockyard Spur. Here we stopped to admire the view over the Cotter Valley, east to the Tinderry Range near Michelago in NSW and south to the far border of the ACT.
Our next brief stop was at Pryor’s Hut built long ago as a shelter for the men working on the establishment of an Alpine Arboretum, of which only some connifers now remain. Close by , right on the fire trail, is one of the stone border markers of the ACT. Now we were under the north summit of the long Mt Gingera summit ridge. The southern summit is of course the true summit and is what we were making for. Some 20 minutes from Pryors Hut a beautiful, sparkling mountain stream comes tumbling down from the summit of Gingera and flows through a culvert under the fire trail. Here we left the fire trail, taking the obvious footpad up to the summit, through an incredible wild garden of flowers and grassy, open woodland before threading our way through granite tors to the top, some 20 minutes from the fire trail. It was just on 1.00 pm.
TL had never been up here before and was most impressed. The view was stunning. Almost 360 degrees. Canberra in the far distance , the Cotter Valley, most of Namadgi National Park, Mt Bimberi, highest peak in the ACT., Tantangara Dam, mighty Mt Jagungal and the Main Range of the Snowy Mountains glistening white under a fresh blanket of snow (disappointingly, my photo of this did not come out). Blue mountains and valleys as far as the eye could see, cloud shadows drifting, silence profound. It was cold up here, 12*c, with a slight breeze and we were wet from exertion. TL found a lunch spot just off the summit, on snow grass, sheltered by snow gums, but with a glorious view towards the Snowies. On went the jackets. Cold when the shadows drifted by (12*c) but warm when the sun shone. Companionable silences alternated with conversation. What better place to be. Why does one have to spoil a perfect time and return to “civilization”? Is it not possible for these beautiful moments to continue forever? In a sense of course, they do, for such a treasured time remains in the mind forever.
TL recalled me from dreaming by reminding me that time was getting on and so should we. She suggested that we return to the fire trail at Pryors Hut by going north along the summit ridge to the “north summit” and then down to Pryors, all off-track. I had been hoping that she might like to do this. The walk along the ridge is lovely, although the descent to the hut is steep and rough.
I was content to leave the navigation and route finding in TL’s competent hands and was thus able to more fully enjoy the beauty of the area without having to think about these other considerations. So I trailed along as we wound our way amongst the granite, the snow gums and patches of scrub. It is most delightful up here amongst the snow gums. From the summit ridge down we had to concentrate more on our footing as it was steep and rough, but TL did a great job of route finding , missing out the scrub and rougher terrain, and coming out spot on the hut
We were both in good form, and from Pryors it was just a most enjoyable stroll back to the car through lovely country. On the way down we did have 2 brief showers and had to put on our rain jackets for a few minutes each time. At about 3.30 pm, and about an hour from the car, we met a young Asian lad toiling very slowly up the hill. It was now quite chilly and just starting to rain again. He was lightly clad and carried a very small pack which did not seem to have much in it. Surprised to find someone coming up at this late hour we asked him where he was going, and he told us “to the end”. To the end? Where? “Doesn’t this track have an end”, he asked? TL replied, well, that depends : you could end up in Canberra or in Melbourne. It seemed that he had no real idea of what was involved in this walk or where he was actually going. TL strongly advised him to turn back when he reached the intersection of the Stockyard Spur track with the Mt Franklin Fire Trail, if not before. I asked him if he had a rain jacket and he said no, but indicating the light weight fleece he was wearing, said it would be fine.
We arrived back at the car at about 4.30. We quickly changed out of our sweat-soaked shirts and then settled down to chocolate desserts and mugs of tea before returning to Canberra.
A wonderful day with a wonderful companion. Thank you TL.
Walking along Stockyard Spur towards the Grandstand : open Snow Gum woodland
an alpine Buttercup
There were many of these orchids in flower : Stegostyla moschata Musky Caps
Snow gums on Stockyard Spur
Purple Eyebrights on Stockyard Spur
The view from The Grandstand, looking out over the Cotter River Valley with the
Tinderry Range near Michelago in NSW on the skyline
Terrylea at the Grandstand. ” I wonder what that peak is over there? ”
The footpad up the final slopes of Mt Gingera can be clearly seen alongside the
lovely stream which flows through a culvert under the fire trail . Blue Comesperma
sp. on right,
Just where we left the fire trail for the footpad up to the summit, a moment to smile
and we imagined the couple we had met earlier having a romantic moment as they leave
the beauty of the mountain for the fire trail.
Walking up the footpad to the summit of Mt Gingera . I wish I knew which of the many
pea flowers are these yellow ones .
Yay! Made it! Terrylea looks across to the Snowy Mountains from the summit of Gingera
Another view from the top, with, unfortunately in the photo, the remains of the
old Trig. station
oops. Out of focus. Sorry. But it shows recent snow on Mt Jagungal and also
Walking northwards along the Mt Gingera summit ridge through beautiful Snow
Gum Woodland, granite tors, Snow Grass and Wild flowers
On the way down. Diuris sulphurea Tiger Orchid
A wonderful day with a wonderful companion. Thank you so much TL.
this photo taken by TL on the summit of Gingera