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A Trip report - Orroral Valley and Honeysuckle Creek

Canberra, Australia
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A Trip report - Orroral Valley and Honeysuckle Creek

Another fine Autumn Sunday so I decided to visit Orroral Valley in the Namadgi N.P. for a short walk. The drive there is very pleasant in Autumn with lots of deciduous trees planted by the early settlers turning red and gold.

The turnoff to Orroral Valley is about 12-15 minutes south of Tharwa on the Boboyan Road and is well signposted. Another 10 minutes from the turnoff had me in the carpark at the site of the Orroral Valley Tracking Station. Roads are all sealed. The tracking station played an important part in the Apollo missions but was decommissioned and is now long gone - all that remains are the footings of the buildings and some nice mature trees. There is good descriptive information provided about what was there and it is well worth a look. There were only 2 other cars in the carpark when I arrived at 9 am. There are picnic tables under the trees and free gas BBQs at the old tracking station site so the place gets busier around lunchtime. I saw a small group heading off toward the old Orroral Homestead about 1 km away - the homestead itself is very interesting and photogenic and is open for people to have a look through. If you have an hour it is an easy short walk (lots of kangaroos too!)

But I had visited it only about 6 months ago, so I had decided to do the Granite Tors walk.

The granite tors walk is about an 8 km round trip (come back the same way you go up). , I headed off past the toilet block on the well defined path. There is a "visitors book" just along the track. I think the idea is for walkers to provide some details of their intentions but mostly it seems to be used by people writing nice comments about the place. Lots of kangaroos on the flats, watching me carefully as I walked past. Most didn't budge, even when I walked within 10 metres.

The walk is steady uphill most of the way and follows an old road (now disused and overgrown). In some parts it is quite steep (gets the pulse rate up) and the sandy gravel is a bit slippery underfoot, particularly on the way back down. I was glad I had walking poles as it simplified things on that front. I took quite a few 'breathers" on the way up. I could see the upper end of the valley through the trees as I walked along, then I turned into a valley where taller eucalypts grew and I could hear a small stream babbling among the granite boulders off to one side. The track at this point is being encroached on by the scrub but it was still easy to follow.

At the top of the walk there is a disused and bricked up observatory dome (also once part of the space program) and a lookout built on a large granite slab that overlooks the valley (and the tracking station site). The lookout is around 400 metres higher than the carpark, so it is a good view.

After a look around and a meusli bar I left just as another couple arrived. On the way back down I passed 3 other groups heading up. I was back at my car by 11.30 (so, it was about 2 & 1/2 hours round trip).

Rather than have an early lunch at Orroral, I decided to drive around to the Honeysuckle Creek tracking station site which I hadn't visited since there were buildings there (over 20 years ago...). Orroral and Honeysuckle Creek were sister tracking stations only a few kilometres apart "as the crow flies", but with a sizeable range of hills in between.

Honeysuckle Creek turnoff was back along the Boboyan Road towards Canberra (only about 5 minutes out of Tharwa) and is well signposted. It is about 10 km up to the old tracking station site along the Apollo Road. On the way is the turnoff to the carpark for Booroomba Rocks - another walk well worth doing, but not today. Road is all sealed to the old tracking station, which also hosts one of the park camping grounds these days.

At Honeysuckle Creek I wandered among the footings of the old buildings and the remains of the gardens. Again, there is good signage explaining things. I had lunch on the lawn (kept cropped short by kangaroos is my guess), then decided to see if the road up to the ridge overlooking Orroral Valley was open - it was. This road is unsealed and about 4 km long and in reasonable condition at present. I negotiated it quite easily in my Toyota Corolla, but it might be a challenge for vehicles with really low ground clearance. There were about 6 vehicles in the carpark at the end of the road but nobody about - I suspect they may have been rock climbers who use a cliff about 1/2 km north of the carpark. There is no "formal" path to any lookout here & the best option is to veer left from the carpark and it was only a short walk (100 metres?) through the bush to a spot where I could look down onto the Orroral Valley from among large granite boulders. Easily as good a view as I had from the Granite Tors and a lot less work!

I retraced my steps and started back to Canberra at about 1.15pm.

Ballina, Australia
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1. Re: A Trip report - Orroral Valley and Honeysuckle Creek

Nice report, a good way to spend an otherwise lazy sunday

Gungahlin, Australia
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for Canberra
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2. Re: A Trip report - Orroral Valley and Honeysuckle Creek

Great report! Adding the ridge to my to do list! I've now done the Yankee Hat walk (but hardly any kangaroos!) and visited Orroral tracking station site again and Orroral homestead for the first time.

Sydney Australia
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3. Re: A Trip report - Orroral Valley and Honeysuckle Creek

Great report :-) It's always good to hear about new things to do around Canberra and it's a beautiful time of year to do it. Thanks

Canberra, Australia
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4. Re: A Trip report - Orroral Valley and Honeysuckle Creek

Thanks folks for the kind words - they aren't specific "attractions" so I have dealt with them as trip reports. But great spots for a picnic/BBQ & an opportunity to take the path less traveled & see something different.

I was also very impressed by the Settlers Track (in Namadgi, at the far southern end of the ACT) - a new-ish 9km easy walk on a well defined track, but with options to make it either 6km or 3km by cutting out some things. Very photogenic old homestead & huts etc. But it means quite a bit of unsealed road which I know puts off many.

Sydney Australia
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5. Re: A Trip report - Orroral Valley and Honeysuckle Creek

Settler's track is definitely on my list of things I would like to do! We had a deadline and ran out of time the day we came down and did Yankee Hat. Hopefully we will do it before next summer.

Canberra, Australia
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6. Re: A Trip report - Orroral Valley and Honeysuckle Creek

Snodge - in which case, make sure you stop at the Hospital Hill lookout right on the Boboyan Road (outstanding view of the mountains) and also consider the Yerrabi Track (aka. Boboyan Trig) a little further out - about 4 km round trip from the carpark on Boboyan Road (allow about 1 & 1/2 hrs) - excellent views of the mountains. Both are well signposted.

Boboyan Road can be quite busy during weekends in snow season (short-cut to Mt Selwyn) and can be greasy in wet weather.

Settlers Track - there was a nice little pamphlet & map handout at the beginning (carpark is right next to Brayshaws Hut, visible from the road). About half the track is on fire trail, half is through bush on a 2 metre track (freshly mowed a few weeks ago) - signposts every hundred metres or so to stop you from straying. A lovely walk. Very quiet down there - I only saw 1 other group in my 3 hours walking (a family of trail bikers on the fire trail). No snakes - all gone to bed for Winter I reckon.

Sydney Australia
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7. Re: A Trip report - Orroral Valley and Honeysuckle Creek

Thanks for the tips ActRegular I will keep that info in my phone for reference :o)

New South Wales...
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for Fiji, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory
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8. Re: A Trip report - Orroral Valley and Honeysuckle Creek

AR - I've started the FAQ for your trip reports on day hikes :) Keep them coming.......... and anyone else who has a great day out in the bush around Canberra! Snodge - you won't have to save it now - just come to our FAQ's :)

Sydney, Australia
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for Sydney, Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Business Travel, New South Wales
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9. Re: A Trip report - Orroral Valley and Honeysuckle Creek

ART : Thanks for sharing your TR I enjoyed reading it.

Good work Tez & congrats on your green tag !

Canberra, Australia
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10. Re: A Trip report - Orroral Valley and Honeysuckle Creek

tez823/Ellemay - no worries! I have a few more that I've done in the past few months that I'll post as opportunity permits. It seems TRs about roads less traveled might have an audience.

Snodge, a correction - I meant mountain bikes a couple of entries ago about Settlers Track, not trail bikes (trail bikes are those noisy things, aren't they..)

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