Sunday, May 31, 2015

Camel Back & Johns Peak & Tidbinbilla Peak, ACT, Australia

2015 May: One day climb to:
Camels Hump, Johns Peak, Tidbinbilla Peak
in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve,
ACT, Australia

Camels Hump, Johns Peak, Tidbinbilla Peak

DH and I were meant to spend the weekend at Warrumbungle National Park. Rainy weather over there caused a last minute change of plan. So we decided on climbing these 3 mountains in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve in ACT instead:

1 - Camels Hump (also known as Camel Back), 1450 meters
2 - Johns Peak, 1442 meters
3 - Tidbinbilla Peak, 1561 meters

The view from the summits of all 3 peaks are good - well worth the climb.

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve entrance gate

The trip is uneventful ... except at the end ... As we are from Sydney and are unaware that the entrance gate to the Nature Reserve is shut at 6pm (8pm during the Summer months), hence we take our time in climbing down the mountain. By the time we are back to the car and arrive at the gate, it is 6:20pm and the gate is well and truly shut !

Fortunately, the ranger's phone number is displayed on the gate, hence we are able to reach him by phone; and he comes to open the gate for us not long afterwards. Phew! ... that is a relieve!  We wouldn't like to spend a whole night behind the gate as the temperature will be below 0 degrees !


Topographic maps:
•  8627-2S Tidbinbilla  1:25,000
•  Rooftop's "Namadgi - ACT South Activities Map"  2011 edition;  1:50,000
•  8627 Brindabella  1:100,000

You can download the 1:25,000 scaled map from:

The below map with commentaries is from the Rooftop's Namadgi map.

GPS tracklog file & Route

The GPX tracklog file of our walk can be downloaded from:

The corresponding 1:25,000 scaled map with the tracklog in brown colour is displayed here:

In summary:
- Park car at Mountain Creek carpark.
- Walk on Camel Back Fire Trail to Camels Hump.
- Climb down Camels Hump and re-trace Camel Back Fire Trail.
- At a point 1.3 km south of Camels Hump summit, go off-track to climb Johns Peak.
- Then to Tidbinbilla Peak.
- Descend down to Camel Back Fire Trail and return to the car.

Timeline & Distance

We left Sydney at 5:30am.  By the time we parked our car and started walking, it is 9:21am.

09:21   0.0 km  Start walking at Mountain Creek carpark
11:11   6.3 km  At Camels Hump summit

Morning Tea

11:29   6.3 km  Leave Camels Hump summit
11:59   7.5 km  Start to put on gaiters on Camel Back Fire Trail

Put on gaiters

12:05   7.6 km  Off-track to climb Johns Peak
13:00   8.5 km  At Johns Peak


13.33   8.6 km  Leave Johns Peak
14.26   9.6 km  At Tidbinbilla Peak

14.47   9.6 km  Leave Tidbinbilla Peak
17:16  11.5 km  Back on Camel Back Fire Trail
17:53  14.0 km  Back at car


Total:  8 hrs 32 mins  At leisurely pace
           14.0 km  Distance is from Google Earth


1)  On the Camel Back Fire Trail, we can see Johns Peak - one of the mountains we intend to climb today ... but not right now. We'll climb Camels Hump first; then Johns Peak.

2)  Zooming in on Johns Peak

3)  Along the side of the Fire Trail, there are plenty of these Verbascum thapsus (Mullein). I saw them last week in Barrington Tops as well.

4)  1 hr 20 mins after we started walking, we can see Camels Hump.

5)  Closer to Camels Hump now

6)  There is a narrow walking trail for the climb to the Camels Hump summit

7)  The Camels Hump summit is in sight ~~~
The lower photo is taken closer to the summit.

8)  Near the summit, we lost the trail. So we simply climb straight up a rocky face  :-)

9)  We make it to the summit of Camels Hump, 1459 m.

10)  With DH

11)  The below pic is a splendid view from the Camels Hump summit towards the east and south.
From left to right, the red arrows point to:
- Mt Tennent
- Johns Peak - we are heading there next.
- Tidbinbilla Peak - we'll be there after climbing Johns Peak.
- Tidbinbilla Mountain
- The Pimble
- Mt Franklin
In the middle of the pic you can see the Camel Back Fire trail. We came from there and we'll retrace our steps that way too.
The yellow arrow indicates how we intend to climb up Johns Peak. (Click on the pic to enlarge it.)

It is pleasing to see our old friend Mt Tennent. DH and I climbed it in August last year (2014). Photos and a write up of that climb is in mt blog:

12)  Towards the west is this valley where Burkes Creek flows.

13)  We have morning tea at the Camels Hump summit, then retrace steps along the Camel Back Fire Trail towards Johns Peak. In this photo, Johns Peak is in front of us.

14)  1.3 km after we came down Camels Hump summit, we go off-trail, bushbashing up to Johns Peak.

If I'm going to re-do this trip again, I would veer off the fire trail earlier. At 0.6 km from Camels Hump summit, there is a trail to climb a knoll, at the top of which is a burnt out communications tower. (The knoll itself is 1 km north-north-east of Johns Peak.)

15)  There are a number of these mushrooms on the slope to Johns Peak. If you know their name, please let me know.

At the top of the ridge, there is a faint trail to Johns Peak. But don't rely on it as it is very indistinct.

16)  Johns Peak is in front.

17)  Closer to Johns Peak

18)  This is the summit of Johns Peak

19)  DH walking up to Johns Peak summit ~~~
The mountain behind DH is Camels Hump - we climbed it not too long ago!

20)  We make it to the summit of Johns Peak 1442 m. There is no cairn nor trig here. Camels Hump is in the background.

21)  Panoramic view from the summit of Johns Peak:
- The left red arrow points to Tidbinbilla Peak ... We are going there next.
- The right red arrow points to Camels Hump ... we came from there.
- The yellow arrows indicate how we intend to climb Tidbinbilla Peak, then descend from it. (click on the pic to enlarge it.)

22)  Descending Johns Peak and heading towards Tidbinbilla Peak ~~~
There is a faint trail. Don't rely on it as it is very indistinct.

23)  Looking back at Johns Peak

24)  Tidbinbilla Peak is in front

25)  Although it is the start of winter, there are still some flowers around.
Does anyone know the name of this flower ?

26)  More birght red flowers ~~~
Ken (in the Comment Section) suggests it maybe Grevillea diminuta.

27)  At Tidbinbilla Peak summit 1562 m ~~~
There is a cairn and a cement platform for a trig that has long since disintegrated.

28)  DH and I at Tidbinbilla Peak summit

29)  At the summit towards south-west is Tidbinbilla Mountain 1615 m (left arrow) and The Pimple 1462 m (right arrow). I will climb them one and a half years later in 2016-11. Photos and trip report are in my blog:

30)  This is what the summit of Tidbinbilla Peak looks like. Towards the north is Pierce Hill (red arrow). The peak next to it's right is Camels Hump.

31)  On our way to the car ~~~
Bushbashing down Tidbinbilla Peak turns out to be harder than expected. As shown here, the trees are tightly packed that one can hardly squeeze through them. As a consequence, by the time we reach the entrance to the Tidbilbilla Nature Reserve, the gate was shut !  Fortunately, we are able to reach the ranger by phone; and he comes to open the gate not long afterwards. Phew! ... that is a relieve! We wouldn't like to spend a night behind the gate in below 0 temperature for the whole night !


After this trip, I have climbed these 11 peaks in ACT:
     Bimberi Peak 2011-01 east approach
     Bimberi Peak 2009-12 west approach
     Burbidge (Mt) + Kelly
     Camels Hump (also known as Camel Back) - this trip
     Ginger Ale + Little Ginini
     Gingera (Mt) + Ginini
     Ginini (Mt) + Gingera
     Johns Peak - this trip
     Kelly (Mt) + Burbidge
     Little Ginini + Ginger Ale
     Tennent (Mt) 2014-08-23 via The Scar (mud slide)
     Tennent (Mt) 2014-08-03 via trail
     Tidbinbilla Peak - this trip

Recently, I came across this website:
which has a list of all 68 named peaks above 1000 meters in ACT (called the "ACT's Percies"). Contact me if you wish to climb some of them, or the lot, with me.

Post Script

One and a half years later in 2016-11, I will climb the nearby Tidbinbilla Mountain and The Pimple. Photos and trip report are in my blog:


  1. Red flowers look like a Grevillea sp. There is one in that are Grevillea diminuta, but it is difficult to tell which particular species.

    1. Thanks Ken, I have updated the blog accordingly.


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