Sunday, January 30, 2011

Bimberi Peak, ACT, Australia (east approach)


2011 January - 1.5 days hike - Climb Bimberi Peak, from the east - start from abandoned Orroral Tracking Station in ACT and camp overnight at Cotter Flats - NSW, Australia

An alternate shorter 1-day route is from the west - start at Currango Plain (north-eastern tip of Tantangara Reservoir). I did it in Dec 2009. Photos and write up of the trip are in:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com/2009/12/bimberi-act-australia.html

Bimberi Peak:
- 1913 meters
- Highest mountain in ACT
- Right on the border of ACT & NSW

Route, distance travelled and hiking time:
Day 1, 31 km, 12 hrs 15 min
- Start from the abandoned Orroral Tracking Station.
- Follow Cotter Hut Road.
- Turn west into Australian Alps Walking Track (AAWT).
- Cross Cotter River at Cotter Flats.
- Rejoin Cotter Hut Road which soon becomes Yaouk Trail.
- Take south-south-west fork, the Murray Gap Trail.
- At Murrays Gap, bush-bash northward up to the peak.
- Retrace steps back to Cotter Flats.

Day 2, 13.5 km, 4 hrs
- Retrace steps back to Orroral Tracking Station.

Maps:
1:25,000 scaled  8626-1N Corin Dam  and  8626-1S Rendezous maps
1:50,000 scaled  Rooftop's "Namadgi - ACT South Activities Map"  2011 edition
1:100,000 scaled  8626 Tantangara

Water Requirement:
From Cotter Flats to Bimberi Peak and back is a long trip. On a hot day, you should carry 3 litres of water.

Camping Permit:
You need one, but it is free. Get it from Namadgi National Park Visitor Centre at Tharwa, ACT.

To get to the abandoned Orroral Tracking Station:
Any decent map of ACT would show you how to get there. From Civic (Canberra city centre) to there is about an hour's drive.

Description:
Ricky and I park the car and start walking at 5:50am. Nice and cool then. We first walk on Cotter Hut road. Unfortunately cars are not allowed on it, as otherwise one could have driven all the way to Cotter Flats and saves at least 4 hours of walking.

About 4.5 km (1 hour) on Cotter Hut Road, we turn west into a small foot track which leads to Cotter Flats. The only way you will notice this foot track is a small post with a yellow triangle sign with the words "Australian Alps Walking Track" (AAWT) in small print ... scroll down to see the 1st photo. You must keep an eye out for it, because one blink and you'll miss it. If you miss it, you can continue on Cotter Hut Road. It will also lead to Cotter Flats, but it will be 4 km longer.

This area is truly remote. We do not see a single soul for the 2 days. And as such, many stretches of the AAWT is overgrown with vegetation. At times, it is very hard to pick the trail.

At 9:40am we arrive at Cotter Flats and cross the Cotter River. There is a nice camping spot, a flat grassy area just by the river. We dump our camping gears there and explore around. Nearby is a ranger's hut called Cotter Hut. It has a well manicured lawn ... but don't even think about it ... you are not allowed to camp anywhere near the hut.

At 10:30am, it is time to get going again. The pack is much lighter now without all those camping gears.

From Cotter Hut, one could have bush-bashed one's way westward to Bimberi Peak. We take the longer and easier route, ie walk on the Murray Gap Trail to Murrays Gap which is at the border between ACT and NSW. Then we bush-bash northward to the peak.

A description of Murray Gap and Bimberi Peak is in http://mntviews.blogspot.com/2009/12/bimberi-act-australia.html and won't be repeated here.

We reached the peak at 14:20. Spend 30 minutes browsing around, then it is time to retrace steps back to Cotter Flats for the night.

All up, it is a 12-hr day!!! The last time I had such a long walk was ages ago when I climbed ACT's Mt Kelly from Gudgenby homestead on Boboyan Rd. Admittedly, the Kilimanjaro summit day was longer - 15 hrs; but there were plenty of rests and a long lunch. Whereas these ACT hikes have minimal breaks only.

There are lots of kangaroos around Cotter Flats. They are a friendly and curious bunch. They nose around our stuff; even copulated in front of us!!! Ricky claims that when he pees, some kangaroos come over and drink his urine. How gross!!!

I bought a brand new Blackwolf Cocoon Bivy Tent for this trip. 1.1 kg. It is quite good, easy to set up. But condensation is a problem. The weather is fine, so I have the vinyl flap off, leaving the mesh screen in place to ward off insects. But still, by the morning the inside of the tent is all wet. Fortunately I have a good sleeping bag which keeps me warm and dry.

Next day, up at 6am. Put on the backpack at 7am. Cross the Cotter River on bare feet. The water is freezing cold and painful. Reminds me of the Aconcagua trip where I had to do the same. At the time, I swore I would never do any hiking again if it involves crossing freezing rivers ... and here I'm doing it again!!!

We are back at the car by 11am.

Here are the timelines:
1st day:

05:50 From abandoned Orroral Tracking Station, start walk on Cotter Hut Raod.
07:00 4.5 km later, arrive at junction of Cotter Hut Road and AAWT.

------ 0 min rest

07:00 Start on AAWT.
09:40 9 km later, arrive at Cotter Flats.

------ 50 min rest

10:30 Leave Cotter Flats.
10:50 1.5 km later, arrive at junction to Murray Gap Trail.
12:25 4.5 km later Arrive at Murrays Gap.

------ 20 min lunch

12:45 Start Bimberi Peak climb.
14:20 2.7 km later, arrive at Bimberi Peak (total of 22.2 km from the car to summit)

------ 30 min rest

15:10 Leave Bimberi Peak.
16:10 Back at Murrays Gap.

------ 10 min rest

16:20 Leave Murrays Gap.
17:45 Back at junction to Murray Gap Trail.
18:05 Back at Cotter Flats and camp by the west side of Cotter River crossing point.

------ Total for the 1st day: 12 hrs 15 min, 31 km

2nd day:

07:10 Leave Cotter Flats.
08:48 Back at Cotter Gap.
09:50 Back at junction of Cotter Hut Road and AAWT.

------- 5 min rest

09:55 Leave junction of Cotter Hut Road and AAWT.
11:05 Arrive at Orroral Tracking Station.

------ Total for the 2nd day: 3 hr 55 min, 13.5 km

Pictures:

1. Small post by the Cotter Hut Road - The yellow triangle sign points to a small foot track. Written in small print on the triangle is "Australian Alpine Walking Track". Both the foot track and this post are very inconspicuous. One blink and you will miss it.



2. The Australian Alpine Walking Track - This is the better part of the trail. Many stretches are completely covered with vegetation, making it very hard to find the trail.



3. A view of Bimberi Peak from Murrays Gap



4. Me at Murrays Gap. Murrays Gap is large flat swampy area between Bimberi Peak and Mt Murray.



5. At Murray's gap - This sign marks the border between ACT & NSW. There are wild pigs in this area. Avoid them if you can as they can attack you!!! (Just so that there is no misunderstanding, the wild pig is not me, ok!!!)



6. There is no trail from Murrays Gap to Bimberi Peak; need to bush-bash to the summit. Here Ricky takes a rest amongst the scrubs.



7. Love these small yellow flowers covering the slope



8. I saw this wind-beaten tree the last time I was here. And it is still here. A photo of the same tree is somewhere in http://mntviews.blogspot.com/2009/12/bimberi-act-australia.html



9. Bimberi Peak - almost there!!!



10. Made it!!!
(I got Ricky to carry my camera tripod. The last time I carried it was to climb Qld's Walshs Pyramid. It was heavy!!! From now on, he is going to carry it ... that is why one has a climbing partner ... hehe.)



11. Our hiking gears are under the shade of this tree



12. My smelly socks hanging here to dry. I always wear 2 pairs of socks. They got wet when crossing the numerous streams - it has been a wet summer.



13, 14: Grass Triggerplant (Stylidium graminifolium) at the summit


15. Cotter Flats - we camp out around here for the night.



16. Cotter River crossing point at Cotter Flats - We set up tent right here beside the river.



17. Our camp site - it has been a grueling 12-hr day, looking forward to a good rest.



18. A pair of friendly kangaroos inspecting my cocoon bivy tent



19. Caught in the act!!! Kangaroos having sex right in front of me!!!
There are lots of kangaroos around here. They are friendly and curious. They nose around our stuff. Ricky claims that when he pees, some kangaroos come over and drink his urine. How gross!!!



20. Early next morning, I cross the Cotter River on bare feet.
The water is freezing cold and painful. Reminds me of the Aconcagua trip where I had to do the same. At the time, I swore I would never do any hiking again if it involves crossing a freezing river ... and here I'm doing it again!!!



21. Ricky and the friendly kangaroos



22. Silybum marianum - it has many common names, Milk Thistle for example. Originating near the coast of southeast England, it has since been distributed widely all over the world. Many countries, including Australia, consider it as an invasive weed. However extracts from it are supposed to be good for liver, kidney and gall bladder problems. (Photograph taken near our car at the abandoned Orroral Tracking station.)



23. Kangaroos avoiding the hot summer sun. (Near our car)



360 panoramic view:
A video of 360 panoramic view from the summit of Bimberi is in:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EUrtGxnDAeo


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:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/mt-gingera-mt-ginini-act-australia.html

•  03   1846 m   Mt Murray

•  04   1826 m   Mt Kelly - photos and write up on this climb are in my blog:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2015/01/kelly-burbidge-nsw-australia.html

•  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:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2015/10/mt-namadgi-act-australia.html

•  **   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:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2015/02/little-ginini-ginger-ale-act-australia.html

•  07   1763 m   Mt Ginini - photos and write up on this climb are in my blog:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2013/01/mt-gingera-mt-ginini-act-australia.html

•  08   1740 m   Mt Gudgenby

•  09   1738 m   Little Ginini - photos and write up on this climb are in my blog:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2015/02/little-ginini-ginger-ale-act-australia.html

•  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:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2015/11/sentry-box-act-australia.html

•  11   1724 m   Mt Burbidge - photos and write up on this climb are in my blog:
http://mntviews.blogspot.com.au/2015/01/kelly-burbidge-nsw-australia.html

•  **   1711 m   Mt Mavis (unnamed on paper maps) - Easting: 672279; Northing: 6049323  (just north-east of Mt Namadgi;  east of Big Creamy Flats)

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