NSW Tinderries Mt Woolpack hike 7 02 08 07 a

Tinderry Peak is right of centre, and the walk commences close to the left hand margin of the photo, left of the furthest area of grassland

 Tinderry Peak lies in the rugged, but picturesque Tinderry Ranges just to the east of the Monaro Highway and the village of Michelago, on the Monaro Tablelands of Southern NSW.   Anyone travelling the Monaro Highway cannot but be impressed by the beauty of this long and range with its many summits, especially in the light of late afternoon.

Tinderry Peak itself calls to me, for it is remote, difficult to access, and a true mountain.  It is a challenge to get there and then climb to its summit but once on the summit there is peace and quiet and far-flung views. A place to dream and find ones own peace

This is the rocky solitude I love;
The rock below me and the sky above;
A cool air moving; save its sigh no sound:
“Glory of golden light and peace profound.

Too soon this hushed uplifted hour must end
And I to meet the world once more descend;
Yet something surely will remain my own
Of this benediction I have known.

 (WK Holmes)

 Is it any wonder, then, that I had been itching to lead a walk here?

  nsw Tinderry Ra., NSW, The Onion Hike 24 Mar 2010 Summit of the Onion IMG_0902a

Tinderry Pk from The Onion.  To the right of the main peak is a gully, flanked on its right by a line of rock which is the usual approach from Roberts Creek, whereas we came in along the skyline ridge to the top of the gully

IMG_0052a Tinderry Peak summit

Tinderry Peak – the last part of the long summit ridge. Scrambling over the rock slabs and intervening chasms.

Tinderry Pk from Round flat FT

Tinderry Pk from Round Mountain Fire Trail. Our route back to the Fire Trail followed, but to the right of,  the ridge  curving left from the peak and then to the bottom right of the photo  

I was on the program to lead the Wednesday Walk on 28 August 2016 and once again the weather forecast for Canberra and the surrounding areas of NSW had been awful for days. Anyway, undaunted, I decided on Tinderry Peak (1619m)  in southern NSW and sent out the walk description on Monday.

Wednesday dawned wet, gloomy and raining.   However, a close look at the weather radar indicated that the rain just might have passed over by the time we started to walk and so, when I met 5 other brave souls at the meeting place at 7.45 am, I decided to go ahead with the walk.   Once again, it was great to see the men outnumbered by women (myself (leader) Peter D,  Shirley F, Liz F, Miriam J, Judy G.)

We sped off in two cars, south along the Monaro Highway, and as luck would have it, the rain stopped just before we reached Michelago.   Here we left the Monaro Highway and, taking the Tinderry Road, snaked our way up and over the Tinderry Range.   We parked our cars at the beginning of Round Flat Fire Trail (1200 m ) and started walking north along it.  The rain had stopped, the clouds were lifting and the colours of the countryside were richly glowing in the overcast and wet conditions.

After about 2 km along the fire trail we left it at a point where it veered sharply to the right (east), taking a vague foot track roughly northwards. When it ran out we continued through very light scrub in the same direction along the contours to Roberts Creek, which we reached right on a significant bend, at about 07210 e  46013 n.   We crossed here, even though it was about ½ km downstream from my intended crossing.  However, the crossing here and getting to it was so good that we didn’t hesitate. The crossing was made over a flat, almost marshy area, the creek not at all well-defined.  What we didn’t notice was that a tributary came in at this very spot.  We crossed and, knowing that we needed to gain some height along Roberts Creek, went up the ridge alongside the creek in lovely open forest.   After about 100-200 (horizontal) metres we realised that we were going up alongside the tributary. It was 10.30 am so  we stopped and had morning tea on a suitable log and considered going on up this ridge given the excellent walking conditions, but in the end decided to continue on our intended route (sort of).

After morning tea it was an easy and quick matter to contour around, into and out of the tributary creek and back alongside Roberts Creek.  Really, we had lost nothing and might even have gained a bit due to the very open forest we were now in.  There was some tall tea-tree scrub right on the tributary, but it was easy enough to find a quick, open route through it.


Lovely open forest with its rich colours

Basically, we now followed the contours, taking the easiest route amongst the many huge granite boulders and fallen trees. However, the scrub was very light.  We were well above the tea-tree line flanking Roberts Creek.  Huge boulders and the need to maintain height above Roberts Creek meant that we were slowly gaining height,

The lichen on the rocks and hanging from trees was spectacular and the bark on the trees and that which had fallen and lay on the ground glowed with rich colour : orange and green, grey and brown.   How beautiful, rich and luxuriant it is when wet and under overcast skies.  The clouds were now shifting and playing amongst the summits and every now and again we had wonderful windows on the summit of the Onion across the valley.  Shifting mists create an air of mystery.  Sometimes the Onion looked close-to and towering over us, at other times it was ghostly and far away.   Given the wet ground, walking was a bit slower than usual : we had to take care not to slip on wet logs, bark and rocks.


In the mist!

At about 06951e, 46133n, our route coincided just above Roberts Creek with an earlier trip I had done up here, but about ½ km further on, at about 06399e, 46411n, we diverged from that earlier route which continued to parallel the creek before taking an obvious gully northwards, immediately to the east of the bulk of the mountain.   I had intended to continue along that route but continually found myself moving higher to get around huge boulders.  Since we had to climb anyway it seemed sensible to do that rather than to lose height.   Again, the walking was fairly scrub free.  Eventually we “topped out” at about 05969e, 46928n  and then walked north-westwards along a very shallow valley, almost level, to the usual ‘saddle” from which the final ascent commences.  Peter led us along here, even finding some old pink tapes and a vague foot track.   However, I had concerns: we were all cold and the party was getting tired.  It was 12.40 pm, time was running out, the summit was now covered in dense cloud and the final approach, which we had yet to find,  would be over wet, steep, and slippery rocks. At times, the peak could be seen as a vague shadow in the clouds, but at other times it was completely hidden.   I felt it best to call a halt and have lunch and not push on to the summit just for the sake of getting there.    I think everyone was more than happy with this decision.

Lunch, by mutual consent, was fairly short. We had all been sweating with all the climbing, the temperature was probably about 3*c and there was a slight breeze.  We were at about  1548m .  Now we were feeling cold and keen to move on.  Judy had taken shelter in a very drafty overhang, but the rest of us stood or sat in the open for our lunch .


Judy takes shelter


Peter enjoys lunch


Lunch.  Liz and myself.   Amongst the Snow Grass, Snow Gums
lichens and mosses

We set off on a bearing of roughly east, keeping just to the north of a long rocky ridge, now invisible in the cloud, and making for the pig trap on the prominent bend of Groggy Creek, at the end of a faint vehicle track.  To our north,  sunshine was breaking through.  We overshot the trap by about 200m and hit the track at 07546e, 47151n.   We doubled back to have a look at the trap, as Shirley wanted to know what it is like to feel like a pig in a trap.


Shirley captive.

While there, a magnificent Wedge-tailed Eagle repeatedly circled us from just above the tree tops. Then, Shirley’s wish satisfied, we walked up the track to the Round Flat Fire Trail and the last 5 k or so back to the cars, the sun now out and the late afternoon landscape just too beautiful.    Ten minutes from the cars, for about 5 minutes,  we had a very light shower while the surrounding hills were bathed in clear, brittle sunlight.

This walk was 14.6 km, with 648m height gain, about ½ off track.

Many thanks, Shirley, for the photos. .

And a big thank you to all of you for coming, being so cheerful and just being a great party. Just keep on coming!  🙂

I hope none of you were disappointed that we did not make the summit.  We will now have to get together again to actually summit the peak, this time in sunshine!   Do I hear calls of “oh yes!”?

A post script:

The return walk was much the same as in the past, but my outward route has, I think a lot to commend it. Whilst there is a lot of fallen timber and many boulders, it was all pretty easy walking, with virtually no scrub. In fact, I think that our initial minor error at the beginning is worth repeating as the creek crossing and its approach is so easy and then we were in lovely open forest.  I also think that it might be worth continuing on up that ridge and then walking westwards all the way along the ridge to Tinderry Peak,  although of course that long ridge with its outcrops might have a lot of scrub and be very broken




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