Saturday, January 3, 2015

Mt Kelly & Mt Burbidge, ACT, Australia

2015 January: One day climb to Mt Kelly & Mt Burbidge from Yankee Hat Carpark, ACT, Australia


Why climb mountains? If you have to ask the question, you wouldn't understand the answer   :-)

I lost count of the number of times I have attempted this climb - must be over ten times !
•  Most of the time, bad weather caused the cancellation.

•  Once a guy turned up in short-sleeve t-shirt and a pair of shorts despite being warned about the heavy duty bushbashing almost all the way. Not surprisingly, on the day, his arms and knees were badly cut up by the vegetation, and we had to abort the climb.

•  Once I had a foot injury, and another time an arm injury caused two last minute cancellations ... how frustrating !

•  Twice we went in early winter and had to abort the climbs when we realized our progresses were too slow to complete the climbs in daylight.

In frustration, I sent an SOS to Ricky who climbed most of the Australian State-8 peaks with me. He came all the way from Brisbane to climb Kelly with me! Thank you, Ricky!

List of named peaks in ACT above 1700 meters

I have compiled a list of named peaks in ACT above 1700 meters. There are 13 of them. And I have climbed them all ... Yay !

•  01   1913 m   Bimberi Peak - Photos and trip reports are in my blogs:
           - From east: 2011-01
           - From west: 2009-12
                                               (including climbing Mt Murray)

•  02   1855 m   Mt Gingera - Photos and trip report are in my blog:

•  03   1845 m   Mt Murray - Photos and trip report are in my blog:

•  04   1829 m   Mt Kelly - This trip report

•  05   1798 m   Mt Scabby - Grid Ref 676 411
          1805 m   Unnamed peak just east of Mt Scabby - Grid Ref 681 410
           Trip report is under construction.

•  06   1791 m   Mt Namadgi - Photos and trip report are in my blog:

•  07   1766 m   Ginger Ale - Grid Ref 601 586  (between Rolling Ground Gap & Blackfellows Gap)
Photos and trip report are in my blog:

•  08   1762 m   Mt Ginini - Photos and trip report are in my blog:

•  09   1739 m   Mt Gudgenby - Photos and trip report are in my blog:

•  10   1738 m   Little Ginini - Photos and trip report are in my blog:

•  11   1727 m   Sentry Box Mountain eastern peak - Grid Ref 721 338
          1696 m   Sentry Box Mountain western peak - Grid Ref 714 338
          1673 m   Sentry Box Rock - Grid Ref 713 346
Photos and trip report are in my blog:

•  12   1724 m   Mt Burbidge - This trip report

•  13   1711 m   Mt Mavis - Grid Ref 722 493  (just north-east of Mt Namadgi; east of Big Creamy Flats)
Photos and trip report are in my blog:

Data source:
    - First, from LPI maps from Department of Lands
    - Then from 1:50,000 scaled Rooftop's map called "Namadgi - ACT South Activities Map" 2011 edition
    - Finally, in Google we trust  :-)

Today's climb - Mt Kelly & Mt Burbidge

- Mt Kelly is 1829 m, 4th highest mountain in ACT.

- It is in a remote part of the Namadgi National Park; no tracks; just mind-numbing bushbashing suitable only for masochists. (In USA, it is called bushwhacking.)

- We start early from Yankee Hat Carpark at 4:30am in the dark (sunrise is at 6:00am). This is to make sure we'll have all the daylight hours we may need.

- It is also a hot day ... 32 degree celsius in Canberra; cooler in the mountains. I took along 4.5 litres of water and drank them all by the end of the day.

- Ricky sets a good pace; fast for me; slow for him  :-)

- Reach Mt Kelly summit in 5 hrs 41 mins ... now wondering what is the record to there? We may not be too far off the record  :-)

- As we are ahead of schedule, we go on to climb the nearby Mt Burbidge, 1724 m.

- The 360 degree panoramic views from both summits are superb !

- By the time we are back at Yankee Hat Carpark at 5:50pm, we've walked 13 hrs 20 mins - mostly bushbashing; a long and tired day, but a most satisfying one as well ... finally, Mt Kelly is conquered !


•  8626-1S Rendezvous Creek  1:25,000
•  8626 Tantangara  1:100,000
•  Rooftop's "Namadgi - ACT South Activities Map"  2011 edition;  1:50,000

The relevant part of the 1:25,000 scaled map can be downloaded from:

Below is the relevant part of Rooftop's 1:50,000 scaled Namadgi map.
But ... Warning:
- Where Yankee Hat is in the map, it should be an unnamed 1558-meter hill.
- Yankee Hat itself should be at the next hill to the north-east.

Camping - Orroral Campground

If you are coming from inter-state, a good place to camp out for the night is Orroral Campground.

Address: Orroral Road, Tharwa, ACT

•  Traditional tent camping sites for small parties only
•  Flush toilets.
•  Tables and wood BBQs.
•  Sealed road access.
•  Booking is essential. 3-night limit. Book at Namadgi Visitor Centre, or on-line.
•  Fee applied, but children under 10 years old are free.
•  Firewood not provided - bring your own supply.
•  You need to boil/treat stream water.

From Orroral Campground to Yankee Hat Carpark is about 25 minutes. The KML file of the route between these two places can be downloaded from:

Yankee Hat Carpark

The starting point of the Mt Kelly climb is at Yankee Hat Carpark on Old Boboyan Rd.

If you are coming from the direction of Canberra, drive south on Boboyan Rd. About 0.7 km pass the bridge crossing Rendezvous Creek, or 0.3 km pass the bridge crossing Gudgenby River, watch out on your right for a fork with a very small sign pointing to Yankee Hat Carpark & Old Boboyan Rd. You really need to watch out for it, as one blink and you'll miss it.

I have pin-pointed Yankee Hat Carpark and the junction to Old Boboyan Rd in a KML file which can be downloaded from:

GPS files & Route

The GPX tracklog files of our walk can be download from:
   - From Yankee Hat Carpark to Mt Kelly:

   - Return trip from Mt Kelly to Mt Burbidge to Yankee Hat Carpark:

The 1:25,000 scaled map with our tracklog superimposed on it can be downloaded from:

In summary:
•  Start at Yankee Hat Carpark.
•  Follow trail for 1 km to footbridge over Bogong Creek.
•  Keep following the track for a further 0.17 km.
•  Then go off track and just head directly towards Mt Kelly in a roughly north-west direction.

•  In the return trip, climb Mt Burbidge.
•  Then retrace steps back to Yankee Hat Carpark.

Timeline & Distance

04:30   0.0 km  Start at Yankee Hat Carpark, Old Boboyan Rd
04:42   0.9 km  at footbridge over Bogong Creek
10:11  11.4 km  at Mt Kelly summit


11:04  11.5 km  Start at Mt Kelly summit
12:33  13.9 km  at Mt Burbidge summit

12:51  14.0 km  leave Mt Burbidge summit
17.34  23.2 km  at footbridge over Bogong Creek
17:48  24.2 km  End at Yankee Hat Carpark, Old Boboyan Rd

Total:  13 hrs 18 mins;  24.2 km  (Distance is from Google Earth. Actual distance is longer.)

Pictures - Yankee Hat Carpark

1)  Yankee Hat Carpark ~~~ it is a nice picnic area too; but camping is not allowed here.

To footbridge over Bogong Creek

2)  You can't see Mt Kelly from Yankee Hat Carpark, but you can see it here - the "small" mountain pointed by the red arrow. This photo is taken at 5:40pm, on our way back to the carpark ... about 10 minutes out from the carpark, and about halfway between the carpark and the footbridge over Bogong Creek - see photo #3.

Footbridge over Bogong Creek

3)  The red arrow points to Mt Kelly.
This photo was taken the day before. Today when we cross the bridge it was 4:40am, still pitch dark. The sun won't rise till 6:00am.

Yesterday - Yankee Hat Rock Art Site

4)  After crossing Bogong Creek, if you follow a foot track heading west-ish, in about 2 km, you will reach this Yankee Hat Rock Art Site.

5)  The Rock is a granite boulder. The art site is protected from rain by the high roof overhang.

6)  The painting were drawn by the aboriginal people. Carbon dating of the camp-site deposits shows that people began using this shelter more than 800 years ago. Evidence from nearby sites suggests that people were camping in the area, and presumably painting, as long as 3,700 years ago.
The white paint is clay. The red paint is based on iron oxide or 'ochre'. The nearest known ochre quarries are at Michelago and Gungahlin. The different shades of red in the paintings may be the result of paint weathering or may have been deliberately caused by mixing some white clay with the ochre. Clay and ochre were normally mixed with a binding agent such as water, sap, blood or animal oils.

7)  An interpretation of the painting

Today - From Footbridge to Mt Kelly

8)  I went to the Yankee Hat Rock Art Site yesterday. Today, from the footbridge (photo #3), we follow the same foot track for 170 meters, then go off-track towards the north-west, heading to Mt Kelly.
(This photo of the off track area, and the previous photos at the rock art site, were taken yesterday.)

By the way, from the footbridge, we could have veered off-track straight away towards the north-west ... but we are still too early and in the dark, and hence we stick to the foot track for a while  :-)

9)  As mentioned, we started at Yankee Hat Carpark at 4:30am in the dark. We timed it such that by time we encounter the heavy bush, the sun just rises for us to see our way.

10)  The leaves catch the light of the red morning sun.

11)  It is heavy duty bushbashing. Only a masochist would want to climb Mt Kelly !

12)  Midway to Mt Kelly ~~~
We are at a rocky plateau where the vegetation is a bit less dense.

13)  Boulders at the rocky plateau

14)  Boulders at the rocky plateau

At Bogong Gap

15)  We've covered 80% of the route and are now at Bogong Gap - a swampy area. The tiny red flowers covering the swamp are quite pretty. The rocky mountain in this photo is Mt Burbidge. The summit is on the left hand side, behind the boulders and not visible in this photo. We'll climb Burbidge this afternoon, after climbing Mt Kelly.

16)  There are huge flies with horrible big green eyes at Bogong Gap ... Yeeek !

17)  It is only around Mt Bogong Gap that we start to get a good view of Mt Kelly.

Climb Mt Kelly

18)  We are closer to Mt Kelly ... still some more bushbashing to get through before the climb.

Mt Kelly summit

19)  Finally reaching Mt Kelly summit, 1829 m, 4th highest mountain in ACT - 5 hrs 41 mins after we started from Yankee Hat Carpark

20)  The 360 degree panoramic view from the Mt Kelly summit is superb - well worth all the effort to get here!
- The 4 arrows from left to right:
       • The blue arrow points to the open plain near Yankee Hat Carpark.
       • The next arrow in red points to an unnamed 1558-meter peak.
       • The next arrow points to Mt Gudgenby, 1739 m.
       • The next arrow points to Mt Scabby, 1798 m.
- The hill between the blue arrow and the unnamed 1558-meter peak is Yankee Hat.

21)  Of the two large mountains in the foreground:
- On the left is Mt Namadgi, 1791 m, even more remote and more difficult to climb than Mt Kelly.
- On the right is Mt Burbidge, 1724 m. As we are ahead of schedule, we decide to climb it after lunch  :-)

The climb to Mt Namadgi is difficult due to its remoteness. I climb it ten months later in late 2015-10. Photos and a write up on that climb is in my blog:

22)  Photo time - at the summit with Ricky ~~~
The large mountain on the right hand side of the photo is Mt Namadgi.

23)  Me at the summit ~~~
- The mountain on the left edge of the photo is Mt Murray 1845 m, 3rd highest mountain in ACT.
- On Mt Murray's right is Bimberi Peak, 1913 m, highest mountain in ACT. I climbed it with Ricky in January 2011.

Lunch is at the summit of Mt Kelly.

To Mt Burbidge

24)  After lunch, we descend Mt Kelly and head towards Mt Burbidge - see photo #25. While climbing Mt Burbidge, I look back and take this photo of Mt Kelly.

25)  Mt Burbidge is in front.

26)  Mt Burbidge is in front.

27)  Closer to Mt Burbidge now ~~~
The summit is on the left hand side of the photo.

28)  Mt Burbidge summit is in front - again, it is and has been bushbashing all the way !

Mt Burbidge summit

29)  Finally, we are at Mt Burbidge summit, 1724 m.

30)  As is the case with Mt Kelly, the 360 degree panoramic view from Mt Burbidge summit is equally superb!
The 5 arrows from left to right:
- Th red arrow points to Mt Kelly, 1829 m, 4th highest mountain in ACT; we just came from there.
- The next arrow points to Mt Murray 1845 m, 3rd highest mountain in ACT.
- The next arrow points to Bimberi Peak, 1913 m, highest mountain in ACT. I climbed it with Ricky in January 2011.
- The next arrow in blue points to Cotter Flats (where Cotter Hut is), Ricky and I camped around there when we climbed Bimberi. The valley leading to Cotter Flats is where Licking Hole Creek flows.
- The next arrow in red points to Mt Namadgi, 1791 m.

31)  View from Mt Burbidge summit ~~~
- The 3 arrows from left to right:
       • The 1st arrow points to an unnamed 1558-meter peak which is north-east of Mt Gudgenby.
       • The next arrow points to Mt Gudgenby, 1739 m.
       • The next arrow points to Mt Scabby, 1798 m.
- The open plain to the left of the 1st arrow is where Yankee Hat Carpark is.

Climbing down Mt Burbidge

32)  Coming down the summit of Mt Burbidge

33)  Coming down Mt Burbidge

Return to carpark

34)  Bushbashing back to the car ~~~
We can see the open plain where Yankee Hat Carpark is. But we still have a long way to bushbash  :-(

35)  The bushbashing is over; the open plain is in sight now. A kangaroo is congratulating us on our successful climbs.

36)  Around where the kangaroo is, are some interesting shrub and flowers.
This is a Cassinia, perhaps Cassinia aculeata (Dogwood or Common Cassinia), or Cassinia longifolia ... not sure. All Cassinia look the same to me, hence not sure which species it is  :-)

37)  Centaurium tenuiflorum (Slender Centaury)

38)  Echium vulgare (Vipers Bugloss), very pretty, native to Europe, but regarded as an environmental weed in Australia

39)  Finally we are onto the open plain - in about 45 minutes, we'll be back at the car.

40)  The grass is bathing is the warm glow of the setting sun.

41)  Verbascum virgatum (green mullein, twiggy mullein) in the open plain

42)  Onopordum illyricum (Illyrian Thistle, Illyrian Cottonthistle), abundant in the open plain.
Native to southwest Europe, but has been introduced into Australia and California, where it has become a noxious weed.


  1. Igor P******* was the guy who turned up in short-sleeve t-shirt and a pair of shorts despite being warned about the heavy duty bushbashing almost all the way to Mt Kelly.

    After we aborted the climb, Igor proclaimed that it was too difficult, in fact impossible, for anyone to bushbash through the bush to Mt Kelly. I pointed out the many accounts on the internet of people who had done it. He dismissed them all as fictional tales. What about all the GPX/KML files that you can find on the Internet? He also dismissed them as merely planned routes, not actual trips.

    He is one hell of an amazing guy who wouldn't accept that he had failed to climb Mt Kelly!!!

  2. Fascinating story and pics demonstrating that our little ACT is a truly challenging and even daunting place ?

  3. Funny, my son and I failed twice, first I was way too ambitious going Yankee Hat first,and to be fair he was just 16 and his first off track walk then the second we ran out of time cos he had a plane to catch the next day, and we finally got there up via Sams's creek which I hadn't done for 30+ years. The fires changed that park so dramatically, I remember doing Gudgenby a couple of years after the fires and it was ridiculous after the doddle it used to be. Strength to your arm Paul.

    1. Hi Ian,
      Do you have a GPS tracklog file of your walk up Sams' Creek that you can send to me?
      My email address is at top right hand corner of the blog.

  4. I failed to reach Kelly yesterday (Sept 2018) after encountering scrub so thick on Yankee Hat South that I could only travel at ~700 m/hour for two hours. I planned to follow the ridge all the way. I aborted the mission, traversed to Yankee Hat N (no comment on which is the "real" Yankee Hat...!) and called it a day. Will try the alternative route described here another day...

    1. Actually August 18 - there was some snow up there to complement the great views at least!

    2. Agree that the scrub there is from a horror movie :-)

  5. I first visited Mt Kelly in 1983 and later undertook small mammal survey on the peak and some of the others. It is truly wonderful place and worth the effort.

    1. Agree it is wonderful place ... once you get through the atrocious bush :-)

  6. Plant Names:
    1, Shiny Cassinia, Cassinia longifolia


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