Monday, December 7, 2009
Bimberi Peak, ACT, Australia (west approach)
2009 December: Climb Bimberi Peak from the west - start from Currango Plain at north-eastern tip of Tantangara Reservoir - NSW, Australia
( An alternate and longer route is the east approach - start from abandoned Orroral Tracking Station in ACT and camp out at Cotter Flats. Photos and a write up of that trip are in my blog:
Bimberi Peak, 1913 meters, on the border of ACT & NSW, is the highest mountain of ACT. Ever since I came back from Aconcagua early in the year, I had been trying to climb it. But the weather forecast over that area was always cloudy. I often wonder whether the weather bureau ever bothered to update the details over there!
Anyway, today, Dec 6, the weather forecast is sunny, so Matt, Will, Tom, Thea and I are going to climb it.
First, some information on the climb:
From the north-eastern tip of Tantangara Reservoir, to Oldfield Hut, then eastward to Murrays Gap, then bush bash northward to the summit.
Best is to follow the description in Tyrone Thomas' book "120 Walks in NSW".
If you don't have the book, then the 1:100,000 8626-Tantangara map is good enough. If you wish, you can arm yourself with even finer detailed:
- 1:50,000 Rooftop's "Namadgi - ACT South Activities Map" 2011 edition
- 1:25,000 8626-1S Rendezous
Hiking distance and time:
19.5 km return
In his book, Tyrone Thomas said the return trip would take about 8 hours with minimal breaks.
You should carry 2.5 litres of water. But if you are prepared to drink from the creeks, then 1.5 litres is sufficient.
To get there:On the Snowy Mountains Highway, half way between Adaminaby and Kiandra, turn north into the unsealed Tantangara Road. Don't drive too fast, as there are the occasional kangaroos and brumbies who love to cross the road right in front of your car. The road leads to Tantangara Reservoir where it changes its name to Pocket Road. Keep following it till you reach a locked gate at the crossing of Gurrangorambla Creek in Currango Plain at the north-eastern tip of Tantangara Reservoir.
This is where we park the car and start walking northward along the Pocket Road. After a bit over a kilometer, we turn eastward into Murray Gap Trail. A further 2 kilometers along the tail, we come to an abandoned cattlemen's hut called Oldfields Hut. This is a good place to take a rest and explore around. The hut is still in good condition. Hikers sometimes spend a night inside or camp on its grounds.
Back on the Murray Gap Trail ... after another 4 kilometers, we reach Murrays Gap and come to a sign post marking the border between NSW and ACT.
Murrays Gap is a saddle point between Mt Bimberi to the north and Mt Murray to the south. Being the saddle point, it is a flat area where water doesn't drain away easily, thus forming a swampy treeless marsh. If it had rained a few days earlier, you would need a good pair of ankle-high waterproof hiking boots to walk through it.
It is quite interesting to stand alone in the middle of this large open swamp. It gives you a creepy eerie feeling of millions eyes watching you, even though no one is there. Just as well I have this creepy feeling, otherwise I would love to piss right there in the open and let half of the water flow down to Corin/Cotter Dams, then down the water pipes of Parliament house to let our politicians have a taste of an ordinary citizen. The other half of the water would flow westward to fertilize our western plains ... the farmers would love it.
Bimberi Peak is just north of Murrays Gap. There is no trail up there. Furthermore, because of the topography and the trees, you couldn't see the summit for a very long while, hence it is heavy duty compass navigation all the way to the peak.
Also due to the absence of a trail, it is scrub-bashing all the way too. It can be fun for people who have never tried it. But otherwise, it is a real inconvenience. It slows the pace down to about 1 km per hour. Thus the 2.5 km from Murrays Gap to the peak takes about 2 hours.
Once you reach the top, you are rewarded by a magnificent 360 degree panoramic scene. You can see Corin dam to the northeast. To the south is Mt Murray and the swamp at Murrays Gap.
We have lunch there. Then explore around a knoll south west of the peak. There we get a clear view of Oldfields Hut. Pocket Road can be seen winding its way to Tantangara Reservoir.
Then it is time to leave. The return trip is by retracing the steps.
Here are the stats:
06:25 Leave car and start walking
07:15 Arrive at Oldfields Hut
15 min rest
07:30 Leave Oldfields Hut
08:55 Arrive at Murrays Gap
20 min rest
09:15 Leave Murrays Gap
11:05 Arrive at Bimberi Peak
1:40 rest, including an excursion to a knoll south west of Bimberi Peak
12:45 Leave Bimberi Peak
14:00 Return back to Murrays Gap
14:00 Leave Murrays Gap
15:25 Back at Oldfields Hut
35 min rest
16:05 Leave Oldfields Hut
16:50 Return to car
Hiking time - 7:35 excluding lunch time exploration
Rest time - 2:50 including the exploration
Total time - 10hr 25min
Here are some photos. (To enlarge a photo, click on it.)
1: Start of the Murray Gap Trail. It leads east, past Oldfields Hut and then to Murrays Gap.
2: An abandoned cattlemen's hut called Oldfields Hut. The hut is in good condition and there are some interesting fruit trees around its garden area. Often hikers camp out here for the night.
3: Sombre looking Bimberi Peak (from Oldfields Hut) ... doesn't look inviting!
4: Goodradigbee River which flows into Burrinjuck Dam and thus is a tributary of the Murrumbidgee River
5: At Murrays Gap ... It marks the border between ACT & NSW. It is called Murrays Gap because it is between Bimberi Peak to the north and Mt Murray to the south.
(Left to right: Matt, Thea, Tom, me, Will)
6: Murrays Gap is a large flat open swampy plain. Standing in the middle of it gives you a creepy eerie feeling of millions eyes watching you, even though no one is there. Up to this point, we have been following a well defined track. Now we turn north and start scrub-bashing up hill to Bimberi Peak.
7: Plenty of wild flower growing in Murrays Gap - I think this one is called Grevillea Lanigera, a dwarf Grevillea.
8: We are scrub-bashing up Bimberi. There is no track. And you can't see the peak ... being obstructed by scrubs/trees. Compass and good navigational skill is required for this part of the climb.
9: Bimeri Peak ... we are almost there. (The area is much open now because we are at about 1900 meters, above the tree-line.)
10: Made it!!!
11: View from the peak ... The clearing in the middle of the photo is where Oldfields Hut is.
12: Zooming onto the clearing. You should be able to see Oldfields Hut ... to enlarge the photo, click on it.
13: Looking south at Mt Murray. At its foothill is Murrays Gap, the flat swampy area mentioned earlier. In the photo it shows up as long and narrow and in light green colour.
14: Zooming onto Murrays Gap.
15: Towards northeast is Corin Dam, the main reservoir for Canberra residents.
16: A wind-beaten Snow Gum growing horizontally near the peak ... quite amazing!
360 panoramic view:
A video of 360 panoramic view from the summit of Bimberi is in:
Post Script - List of 11 highest named peaks in ACT
I've compiled this list of 11 highest named peaks in ACT. One day, I like to climb them all. Contact me if you wish to do so too. (Data is from Rooftop's map called "Namadgi - ACT South Activities Map" 2011 edition.)
• 01 1913 m Bimberi Peak - this climb
• 02 1856 m Mt Gingera - photos and write up on this climb are in my blog :
• 03 1846 m Mt Murray
• 04 1826 m Mt Kelly - photos and write up on this climb are in my blog :
• 05 1810 m Unnamed peak just east of Mt Scabby - Easting: 668144; Northing: 6041045
1791 m Mt Scabby - Easting: 667725; Northing: 6041140
• 06 1784 m Mt Namadgi - photos and write up on this climb are in my blog:
• ** 1766 m Ginger Ale (unnamed on paper maps); on ACT/NSW border, between Leura Gap & Blackfellows Gap - photos and write up on this climb are in my blog:
• 07 1763 m Mt Ginini - photos and write up on this climb are in my blog :
• 08 1740 m Mt Gudgenby
• 09 1738 m Little Ginini - photos and write up on this climb are in my blog:
• 10 1727 m Sentry Box Mountain eastern peak - Easting: 672182; Northing: 6033836
1697 m Sentry Box Mountain western peak - Easting: 671412; Northing: 6033807
Photos and write up on this climb are in my blog:
• 11 1724 m Mt Burbidge - photos and write up on this climb are in my blog :
• ** 1711 m Mt Mavis (unnamed on paper maps) - Easting: 672279; Northing: 6049323 (just north-east of Mt Namadgi; east of Big Creamy Flats)