Monday, June 8, 2015

Pheasant Hill & Boboyan Hill, ACT, Australia

2015 June: One day climb to Pheasant Hill & Boboyan Hill, ACT, Australia

Pheasant Hill & Boboyan Hill

Pheasant Hill 1455 meters and Boboyan Hill 1394 meters are two obscure peaks at the southern tip of ACT. They are rarely climbed. So, why am I going there today?

David Dedenczuk sent me a list he compiled of 68 named peaks in ACT above 1000 meters. He named them the "ACT's Percies" ... see

Well, both Pheasant Hill & Boboyan Hill are on the list. They need to be ticked off  :-)

13 of the ACT's Percies

After today, I'll have climbed 13 peaks of the 68 ACT's Percies:
     Bimberi Peak 2011-01 east approach
     Bimberi Peak 2009-12 west approach
     Boboyan Hill - this climb
     Burbidge (Mt) + Kelly
     Camel Back (also known as Camels Hump)
     Ginger Ale + Little Ginini
     Gingera (Mt) + Ginini
     Ginini (Mt) + Gingera
     Johns Peak
     Kelly (Mt) + Burbidge
     Little Ginini + Ginger Ale
     Pheasant Hill - this climb
     Tennent (Mt) 2014-08-23 via The Scar (mud slide)
     Tennent (Mt) 2014-08-03 via trail
     Tidbinbilla Peak

A long way to go to claim all 68 peaks  :-)

Contact me if you wish to climb some of them, or the lot, with me.

Today's Trip

8 of us are on today's trip:
- Alan
- Dave
- David Dedenczuk, he compiled the list of 68 peaks in ACT
- Jacinta
- Lois
- Steven
- and me

After climbing the 2 hills, we go on to visit Waterhole Hut, Westerman's Homestead, then back to our cars at Brayshaw's Hut. These dwellings/shelters were built by the pioneers in the earlier part of the Australian history.

•  8626-2N Yaouk  1:25,000
•  Rooftop's "Namadgi - ACT South Activities Map"  2011 edition;  1:50,000
•  8626 Tantangara  1:100,000

The below map is from 8626-2N Yaouk map:

The Rooftop's Namadgi map is more useful in that it has more commentaries. But WARNING:
- The labels for Pheasant Hill & Boboyan Hill are wrong and should be switched. What is labelled as Pheasant Hill is actually Boboyan Hill. And what is labelled as Boboyan Hill is actually Pheasant Hill !!!
- Elevations for both hills are also incorrect.
- Waterholes F/TL should be labelled as Grassy Creek Fire Trail

GPS tracklog file & Route

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

In the below map, our route is in brown:

In summary:
- Park car at a carpark near Brayshaw's Hut.
- Walk on Settlers Track.
- At 1.4 km from Brayshaw's Hut, bushbash towards Pheasant Hill.
- Then to Boboyan Hill.
- Then to Waterhole Hut.
- Along Grassy Creek Fire Trail to Westerman's Hut.
- Then back to our car near Brayshaw's Hut.

Timeline & Distance

09:24   0.0 km  Start walking from carpark near Brayshaw's Hut
19:27   0.1 km  At Brayshaw's Hut

09:30   0.2 km  Leave Brayshaw's Hut
09:56   1.6 km  Leave Settlers Track, start bushbashing to Pheasant Hill
10:40   2.6 km  At Pheasant Hill summit

Morning Tea

10:54   2.6 km  Leave Pheasant Hill summit
11:25   3.4 km  At Boboyan Hill summit


12:03   3.5 km  Leave Boboyan Hill summit
12:51   5.2 km  At Waterhole Hut

12:58   5.3 km  Leave Waterhole Hut
13:01   5.4 km  At Waterhole Stockyards

13:10   5.5 km  Leave Waterhole Stockyards
13:13   5.6 km  At Waterhole Hut

13:15   5.7 km  Leave Waterhole Hut
14:01   9.0 km  At Westerman's Homestead

14:13   9.2 km  Leave Westerman's Homestead
14:15   9.3 km  At Westerman graves

14:22   9.4 km  Leave Westerman graves
14:25   9.5 km  At Westerman's Homestead

14:27   9.6 km  Leave Westerman's Homestead
14:54  11.5 km  At carpark near Brayshaw's Hut


Total:  5 hrs 30 mins
           11.5 km  Distance is from Google Earth
           12.6 km  Distance is from Garmin GPS


1)  The start of the walk is here at Brayshaw's Hut. In the photo, the main mountain is Pheasant Hill. We'll climb it along the ridge from the left side of the photo - the yellow arrows. Boboyan Hill is behind Pheasant Hill and can't be seen from here.

2)  Brayshaw's Hut is one of two timber slab and shingle farm dwellings remaining in Namadgi National Park. It is reminiscent of the farming era from the 1860s to early 20th century. During this time, large runs occupied by squatters were divided into smaller blocks of land.

The harsh cold climate and shallow soils of the mountains offered limited farming opportunities. Natural grassland and meadows which were expanded by clearing bush in and around valleys made grazing a viable option.

Brayshaw's Hut was built for David Brayshaw in 1903. He lived here for 28 years. The construction of the hut shows the resourcefulness of settlers at the time, using materials sourced from the land. In the absence of shops and ready-made supplies, self-sufficiency was important to surviving in isolated areas like here.

3)  We are on our way to climb Pheasant Hill. This pic looks back towards Brayshaw's Hut. Potters Hill is in the background.
Left to right: Susie, Dave, Steven, Jacinta. Lois in red is further to the right.

Potters Hill, 1386 m, is one of the peaks in David Dedenczuk's list, theACT's Percies. I haven't climbed it yet.

Winter is coming. The snow on the ground is the first batch of snow in ACT for the 2015 winter season ... they fell 2 days ago.

4)  We are on Settlers Track heading in the direction of Waterhole Hut. At 1.4 km from Brayshaw's Hut, we will go off-track north-ish to climb Pheasant Hill.
Alan is the guy in the photo.

5)  A remnant ring-barked tree from a bygone era ~~~
Ring-barking was seen as a quick and economic way to expand and improve grazing land. A ring of bark and underlying tissue was cut from around a mature tree in order to kill it. The axe marks are still clearly visible on this tree (red arrow in the pic). Once the tree was dead and devoid of foliage, competition for moisture and light was reduced, allowing more grass to grow to improve grazing.

6)  We are now off-track to climb Pheasant Hill.

7)  The squiggles on the trunk are made by Scribbly Gum Moth (Ogmograptis scribula) ... see next set of photos ...

8)  The zigzag tracks are tunnels made by the larvae of the Scribbly Gum Moth (Ogmograptis scribula) and follow the insect's life cycle. Eggs are laid between layers of old and new bark. The larvae burrow into the new bark and, as the old bark falls away, the trails are revealed. The diameters of the tunnels increase as the larvae grow, and the ends of the tracks are where the larvae stopped to pupate.

I learn about the Scribbly Gum Moth from Lois. Actually I learn a lot about plants from her - she knows more about plants than a botanist !

9)  This is the summit of Pheasant Hill - the highest point is where David Dedenczuk is standing.

10)  I am at the summit of Pheasant Hill, 1455 m.

11)  On our way to Boboyan Hill now, passing a termite mound.

12)  What type of animal made these foot prints?

13)  Near Boboyan Hill summit, looking back at Pheasant Hill.

14)  I am at the summit of Boboyan Hill, 1394 m.

15)  Lunch is by the summit of Boboyan Hill.
Clockwise from the left: Lois, Jacinta, susie, Alan, Dave, David Dedenczuk, Steven

16)  Some symmetric lichens - photographed when we are climbing down Boboyan Hill, heading to Waterhole Hut.

17)  This tree is Eucalyptus dalrympleana (Mountain Gum). The 3 parallel chopped marks on the trunk are natural for Mountain Gums, not man-made - says Lois.

18)  We are at the edge of the woods. Waterhole Hut and Grassy Creek swamp is in front.

19)  To get to Waterhole Hut, we need to cross Grassy Creek.
The hill in the background is towards the south, unnamed, at 1307 meters.
In the lower photo, left to right: Me, David Dedenczuk, Alan, Jacinta

20)  At the Grassy Creek swamp looking towards the west is Yaouk Peak in NSW territory.

Yaouk Peak is of particular interest to me because I climbed it a month ago. Photos and a write up on that trip is in my blog:

21)  We arrive at Waterhole Hut.

Waterhole Hut is a basic bush shelter, one of four built by or for the Oldfield family for short term periodic stock work when away from home property. It is the earliest surviving hut of this type in the Namadgi National Park.

It only took a couple of weeks to build. Timber was cut from nearby bush and dragged to the site by draught horse. The fireplace was made of stones from an earlier nearby structure (Dwyer's home). The iron was new and was brought in from Queanbeyan. The hut's construction reflects resourcefulness ... the recycling of materials is characteristic of many bush buildings.

22)  About 150 meters west-north-west of Waterhole Hut is the Waterhole Stockyards.

The Waterhole Stockyards are a good example of vernacular log-type yards using bush timber as building material. It is perhaps one of the most intact yards within Namadgi National Park that dates before the 2nd World War.

Jack Oldfield and Alf Peters constructed the yards between 1935 and 1939, before the hut (previous photo) was built. As well as being used by the Oldfields, they may also have been used by Henry Curtis. The drop-log technique was used, though wire has been included to hold some rails in place. A large granite boulder was incorporated into the enclosure.

23)  From the stockyards, we can see the 2 hills we have climbed:
- The left arrow points to Boboyan Hill.
- The right arrow points to Pheasant hill.

24)  We have left Waterhole Hut and are now on Grassy Creek Fire Trail to Westerman's Homestead.
Towards northwest is Sentry Box Mountain (left arrow) and Mt Gudgenby (right arrow).

25)  Westerman's Homestead, build around 1916 by Bruce Jeffrey, is distinctive for its decorative scalloped bargeboards, twin stone chimneys, use of red kalcomine paint on the walls and exotic paintings of pine & poplar. Some of the inside walls are made of plaster and lathe.

When the Jeffreys left, Thomas and Mary Jane Westerman, who lived nearby, moved in. They lived here until 1935 when they retired to Yaouk to live with their daugter Dalla. The son Charles lived here until 1946, the last to do so on a permanent basis. Dollie Oldfield (nee Crawford) bought the place from her grandparents (Thomas and Mary Jane) estate when they died. She was the owner when the land was resumed in 1975.

26)  Westerman graves ~~~ Remind us of the difficulties the early settlers faced in this isolated place.

An unnamed still-born baby of Thomas and Mary Jane Westerman was buried here in the 1880s.

When Thomas and Mary Jane's daughter, Elizabeth Sheils died here in 1922 of tuberculosis at the age of 46, there was a raging flood in the area. The family could not get her remains to the cemetery at Adaminaby. So the ceiling boards from the main bedroom was sawn down to make a coffin for her. An oilcloth ceiling replaced the wooden one, remnants of which can still be seen. In times of hardship, people had to make do with what they had.

A small enclosure was fenced off to protect the graves from stock. It wasn't until about 1991 that a memorial stone was placed at the graves here by the grandchildren of Thomas and Mary Jane.

27)  We are on the Settlers Track, and on our way back to our cars at Brayshaw's Hut - now crossing Grassy Creek.
Dave is the guy on the foot bridge.

28)  Driving back to Canberra, we stop at Hospital Hill Lookout.

29)  At Hospital Hill Lookout - towards the west:
The open plain is Gudgenby Valley.
The red arrows point to (from left to right):
- Mt Gudgenby
- Yankee Hat
- Mt Kelly
- Mt Burbidge
- Mt Namadgi

I've been to Mt Kelly, Mt Burbidge & Mt Namadgi. The others are high on my list of to-dos.

Photos and write up on the Mt Kelly & Mt Burbidge climbs are in my blog:

Photos and write up on the Mt Namadgi climb are in my blog:

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