SQUARE ROCK – JUST A SHORT WALK BUT GREAT FOR A HOT SUMMER’S DAY.

SQUARE ROCK,

NAMADGI NATIONAL PARK,  A.C.T.,  NEAR CANBERRA

Decided I needed a good walk, and decided on Square Rock but then procrastinated at home, which meant only starting the walk at 10.00 am  A hot day, but as is often the case in Canberra, the heat didn’t build up until late afternoon, besides, being quite a bit higher than Canberra meant it would be about 4⁰ to 5℃ cooler.

It is about a 45 minute drive from my home to the Square Rock car park near Smokers Gap on the Corin Dam Road.  The Corin Dam Road is fairly slow as it climbs and winds its way up into the hills, past Gibralter Falls.  Also, there are often unpredictable kangaroos and wallabies along the verges here so it is best not to speed along..

Rather than do a straight “there and back” walk to Square Rock, I decided to do the Smokers Loop, in a clockwise direction and the “add on” to Square Rock.

From the car park I headed off in a s-e direction along the broad fire trail.  It was not long before I branched off it onto the Smokers Loop walking trail which steadily climbs up through lovely forest,  gleaming with light and echoing with birds’calls,  to Smokers Trail.  This section took me 30 minutes.

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The beginning of the Smokers Loop Track

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Smokers Loop

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Smokers Loop

The Smokers Loop Track utilizes part of Smokers Trail ,  a broad, hard-packed road which would become tedious in hot weather, but this morning it was most pleasant.  As it climbs gently to the crest of a low ridge it goes through beautiful, tall, straight Eucalypt forest, the trunks gleaming white in the light.   Along this stretch I was overtaken by 2 rangers in a ute who stopped for a chat.  They were out to assess conditions for a controlled burn ( a fire to reduce the risk of a very hot out of control  bush fire)  I crossed over two small creeks, the first with almost no water in it, but the second was just flowing.   On my right were the headwaters of Booroomba Creek, a tributary of Orroral River.  Back in 1969 these headwaters were lovely grasslands , swamps, shallow pools, and flowing water, but today scrub has taken over.   Curiously, not far away, is another Booroomba Creek which flows from Booroomba Rocks.

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The Smokers Trail (now a fire trail) segment of the Smokers Loop Track .  Beautiful forest.  Smokers Trail goes all the way down into the Orroral Valley

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Some late Everlastings beside Smokers Trail

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The headwaters of Booroomba Creek, a tributary of the Orroral River, now covered in scrub, but which years ago was a lovely area of swamp, clear pools and flowing water

Forty-five minutes  later I turned off the Smokers Trail back  onto Smokers Loop footpad.

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Back on the Loop.  Looking back after crossing what was a very swampy area, but which on this day was unbelievably dry.

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spied at the far end of the aforementioned swampy area : an Australian Bluebell,
Wahlenbergia sp.

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Continuing along the Loop.  Approaching Smokers Flat and the turn off to Square Rock

15 minutes after leaving Smokers Trail I left the Loop and took the trail to Square Rock which I reached 30 minutes later.

Square Rock sits high up on the side of the valley, high above the Corin Dam Road.   Climb up the short ladder and turn right and you are on a broad balcony,  Jump across a narrow chasm and continue around to your left , to see wonderful views up the valley to Smokers Gap and beyond in the general direction of Canberra.

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Taken on a previous trip, but inserted to show what you will see to your right (minus the people!) from the top of the ladder

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Turn right at the top of the ladder, hop across the small gap, and walk around to your left.

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Caption as for last photo!

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As you come off that ladder your way straight ahead and to the left is blocked by a couple of large but low flat-topped boulders.   Hop up onto them and,  with your back to the ladder, scramble through a gap between more large boulders and you will find yourself on another balcony, semi enclosed, and giving a feeling of hanging over the valley below.   Here you will find the best views, wonderful views of our blue mountains.  Corin Dam lies hidden in the valley below, but the route from the dam up onto and along Stockyard Spur to Mt Gingera, the second highest peak in the ACT, is discernable.  Mts Ginini and Franklin are also clearly seen and,  like Mt Gingera, are another two peaks of the Brindabella range which lie along the  ACT/ NSW western border .

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Scramble through the gap and enter the large, enclosed balcony.

Namadgi Square Rock hike 5 Jan 2011 1 a

Also from another trip, but included to give an idea of the size of the balcony hanging over space. (this only part of it)

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View from the balcony, Corin Dam Road, descending from Smokers Gap to Corin Dam, below.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALooking across the Cotter Valley to Stockyard Spur.   The footpad from Corin Dam to the fire trail along Stockyard Spur and on to Pryors Hut and Mt Gingera goes up the ridge as indicated  

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Mt Gingera on the skyline, from the balcony

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Mt Gingera again

Up here, on my own, I sat with my feet dangling over the edge, enjoying the peace, the solitude and what can only be described as the “vision splendid”, while enjoying a flask of tea.

After about 20 minutes it was time to leave as a large group arrived.

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Climbing from the balcony, and looking back to the friendly, happy group of folks now there.

Some 30 minutes later I rejoined the Smokers Loop Trail just before an area of grassland which once was quite swampy all-year round but now was bone dry.  (Smokers Flat)   Very soon after this the path started to descend, and before long I was back at the car.

However, just before the car the path crosses a swampy area, the beginning of a creek,  and here water was just flowing over a large area.   Native Geraniums , Pratia and Fairy Aprons were growing here in profusion.  I have not often seen Fairy Aprons in the Canberra region and never in such abundance.  They are pretty special as they have only a single petal

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Native Geranium, Geranium neglectum, Red-stem Cranesbill

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Matted Pratia, Pratia pedunculata

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Fairy Aprons,  Utricularia dichotoma

Although the whole walk had taken me only 3 hours,  I had been conscious all the time of the beauty, peace and solitude that is to be found here, seeing the changing light, the beauty of the vegetation, the flowers, and hearing the bird calls,  calls of insects, the rustle of insects and lizards , the dropping of twigs, leaves and bark, and the rustle of the breeze in the leaves and grasses .   The more often we do this, the more such places become a part of our soul.  Sit still and listen and see and smell.  Wonderful as it is to be in such places with friends, when we are with them we are part of them and only part of the environment ; a different experience.  Today I was on my own.

A few weeks ago the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’sFour Corners” program covered growth and development.  I was appalled.   Many prominent people, including Federal politicians , made statements on the program.  While there was a great deal of concern over the effects of climate change, only one person,  Dick Smith, spoke against growth (including population growth)  and development for the survival of homo sapiens.   As far as i could see, all the others endorsed growth and development and for them it was just a matter of managing them in the best way for Our Fragile Earth’s survival.  It seemed to me, too that the ABC was, by providing such an unbalanced view, lulling the public into the view that “all is ok, it s just a matter of management”.    Are they unable to see that in time such a philosophy will only bring about the end of the human race?   Are not space and resources finite?  Whilst the economic model we are currently using suggests the need for growth and development, is that the only model, a model which will bring about the collapse of civilisation?   When will we look to safeguarding what we have and curtail population growth and economic development?   How long will it be before the wilderness with all its beauty , its peace and its ability to sustain life on earth and revitalize our souls, which I saw before me from Square Rock, be gone, trampled firstly by hordes of people and then by “development”?   I find it strange that hikers/bushwalkers would rather see the wilderness opened up to more and more people, rather than being preserved because it is wilderness that allows us to live on our fragile earth.

School holidays are on us.  Last Wednesday I was up in a little bit of heaven, in a singing wilderness with stunning views only 15 minutes from where we parked the car .  There we met 4 people, passionate about wilderness as passionate as I am I would surmise,  setting up abseil points for 400 youngsters who in the next few days would be having fun in the outdoors.   I think it is wonderful that kids are given such opportunities, but goodness!  Think of the damage to a very fragile environment that 400 kids will do, and how often is this sort of exercise being repeated?   Yet our NP managers condone it.

When will we change our attitude to wilderness and see that it is what enables us to survive and that when it is gone, so will be?

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