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GIBRALTOR PEAK

Image 1 - Part of the beautiful views from Gibraltor Peak. This one looking to the north west.

October 2015

Gibraltor Peak is one of the iconic ACT bushwalks that you can do in the A.C.T. It is well known to many and is also a popular rock climbing destination.

 

Walk Rating: Medium. The total distance of the walk is 8.3 kilometres. The trek to Gibraltor Peak is mainly uphill and gets reasonably steep towards the top. There are also a number of stairs scattered throughout the route and the last part of the climb also consists of stairs to get to the actual granite formation of the peak. The granite stairs are a classic Namadgi walk trail!

 

Directions: Drive to Point Hut Crossing and continue over the bridge along Point Hut Road until you come to the T-intersection. Turn right onto Tidbinbilla Road and follow the road for about eight kilometres until you will see the entrance road (on your left) to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. Turn left into Tidbinbilla and follow the road past the visitors center. Continue until you see the signposted car park - 'Dalgetta' on the right. This is the start of several different walks, including Gibraltor Peak. The Tidbinbilla Visitors Centre opens at 7.30am each day, and you are required to pay a small fee if you are taking your car into the reserve. The fees go towards maintenance and upkeep of the reserve - a very worthy cause! Attached to the right is the walking track map of Tidbinbilla. You can find this map and more information about the walk on the Tidbinbilla website.

Image 2 - Dalsetta car park and the start of the Gibraltor Peak walk

Image 3 - Above and Below - The grasslands at the lower part and the well signposted walking track 

Image 5 - Views to the north west from the viewing platform

Image 6 - The well shaded walking track with the many giant boulders dotting the landscape

Image 7 (above), 8 and 9 (below) show the different growing formations of the Tree Grass. You can also see the previous fire damage. 

The Walk: The walk to Gibraltor Peak is a very popular one and once you commence, you soon realise why. It offers a variety of different landscapes, geographical features, stunning views and an abundance of native flora and bird life to take in.

The best place to start the walk is from the Dalsetta carpark (Image 2) in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. At this location, there is an information board, describing the walk to Gibraltor Peak. After crossing the road we hit the walking track, which commences through some beautiful grasslands, which were a vibrant green due to the recent rain (Image 3).  The walking track is well signposted and there are a couple of different ways you can get to Gibraltor peak. You can continue on the defined walking track, or you can take the Gibraltor fire trail. We came back via the fire trail and although a pleasant enough walk, it was not as good as the actual walking track to the peak and I would recommend returning on that track. 

After walking through the grasslands we came to an area of wetland where tall reeds were growing. Continue past this and after the wetland, we began to enter the forrested area. At this point, the track starts to get steep and instead of going straight up, it 'snakes' its way until eventually straightening out again.

From the grasslands and into the forrested area, there was an abundance of native flora and of course, the local but very active birds. The native flowers are in full bloom at the moment and it really is a great time to be out and about (native flower photo montage at bottom of page).

As the walking track weaved its way through the eucalypt forrest, we began to gain in altitude and there was ample spots to take in the views as we got higher. About halfway up the track, we came across a picnic table in a small clearing. The table (and chairs) have been carved out of what was once a tree (Image 4). The table is set against the surrounding bushland but a clearing to the west allows some nice views back towards Canberra. 

From this point the track traverses along the western side of the mountain, continuing to provide nice views back towards Canberra. There is plenty of shade here, as the surrounding euaclypts offer a canopy of leaves overhead.

At about the 3 kilometre mark, there is a lookout that has been constructed adjacent to the walking track. The viewing platform is surrounded by giant granite boulders, but offers panoramic views to the north west and west (Image 5). The granite boulders are a constant feature of the walking track from this point (Image 6).  

   

Image 4 - The picnic table carved out of an old tree.

From the lookout to the peak gets reasonably steep and there are a lot of stairs (mostly carved out of the granite). However, the track has been well designed and whenever the ascent gets steep, there's either granite carved stairs or even a hand railing that has been bolted into one of the giant granite boulders (Image below).

 

It's worth mentioning that the area is renowned for an abundance of native orchids, although they are hard to spot! We managed to find one species (flora images at bottom of page) and there are a number of information signs along the track, including one that describes the different orchid species known to grow in the area to help you identify any of the orchids you may find. 

After some more stairs and a couple of steep sections, we arrived at Gibraltor Peak. Once you get to the granite rock formations, which is known as Gibraltor Peak, there are some more steps (of course), which take you up and onto the rock platform. 

The rock platform offers sensational views and what a great spot to stop and have a break (Image 1). We sat for about 45 minutes taking in the views of the surrounding mountains and the valley floor below (Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve) as well as the views out towards Canberra, and you can even negotiate your way through the giant boulders and get some southerly views (below image).     

After our break on Gibraltor Peak, we said goodbye and headed back down. We decided to take the Gibraltor Fire Trail and as mentioned at the beginning of this blog, is pleasant eneough but I would recommend coming back down the walking track as there is more to see and you feel like you're actually on a 'bush walk'. The fire trail is very exposed and on a hot day, the sun beats down on you. There are also some steep incline sections and the loose gravel surface makes it treachorous under foot!

At the bottom of the hill, we came back onto the grasslands and walked through the thriving 'forrest' of native tree grasses (Images 7. 8 and 9). There is a section of the walk here that takes you into the tree grass forrest, but on the day we were there, that section of the track was closed due to an outbreak of a root fungus. 

Tree Grass are plants that take many years to grow. As an example, the trunk itself takes 20 years to form even before you get the 'grass' growing from the top. It's not unusual for Tree Grass to be 50 plus years.

They also are a very tough and hardy plant, withstanding drought and frost. They also can withstand bushfire, and whilst they are blackened and charred from the fire, bounce back extremely well and it almost seems to encourage their re-growth. 

All in all, this is another of the regions good walks. Whilst not my favourite (I prefer the higher altitude and remoter areas of Mt Gingera), it certainly is a rewarding walk and I would recommend it.

Native Flowers - Gibraltor Peak

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