This is such a spectacular part of the A.C.T. If you walk to the summit you are rewarded with majestic views and, on a clear day, you can see the Kosciusko Range. A fabulous ACT bushwalk.
Walk Rating: From the carpark to the survival shelter - easy. From the shelter to the peak of Mt Franklin is all uphill so requires a moderate level of fitness and you may have to take a break several times.
Directions: Take the Cotter Road and follow it until you reach the interesection with Brindabella Road. Turn right here and follow the road until you come to a t-intersection (about 6.5 kilometres).
At the T-intersection turn left (which is also Brindabella Road) and follow this until you reach Picadilly Circus (about 15 kilometres). During this drive, the road starts off as a tarred surface, but then changes to dirt. This is well maintained but if you are in a two-wheel drive it is best not to attempt it if there is or has been any wet weather.
When you reach Picadilly Circus, there is a road to the right which takes you down to Brindabella Valley. Don't take this turn, but continue south onto Mt Franklin Road. From here to the Mt Franklin car park is 20 kilometres of dirt road. The road is two-wheel drive accessible but, again, do not attempt it if there is or has been wet weather, as it becomes treacherous and you will get stuck. If you're unsure, check ACT parks and Conservation website for a road access update.
The initial walk from the carpark is about 400 metres and brings you to the site of the old ski chalet. Unfortunately, this iconic 'lodge' was sadly lost in the 2003 Canberra bushfires. Nevertheless, you can still see the old footings of the chalet as well as some twisted metal foundation (Image 1).
National Parks have constructed a survival shelter at this location, which is mainly used by police for search & rescue and the Bushfire Brigade when required (Image 2). The shelter is also utilised by the volunteer groups who do work in the area to maintain the hisoric relics of the old ski runs. Unfortunately you cannot get inside the shelter, but it does provide tables, benches and chairs so you are able to have lunch or a cuppa. There's also a pit toilet about 20 metres away, which happens to be located just over the border in NSW. I wonder whether that was by design......
Also at the shelter there are information signs that provide details of the chalet's history as well as information about the local flora and fauna. It's a well presented for visitors (Image 3).
The walk from the shelter to the peak of Mt Franklin is about 800 metres uphill on a well defined track that used to be one of the ski runs. There are a number of signs along the way, which provide additional information about the area (Image 4) and you can see remnants of the old tow lines for the skiers.
Image 2 - The Mt Franklin survival shelter, which replaced the old chalet after the 2003 fires.
Image 3 - The well-presented information signage at the survival shelter.
Many of the tow lines were rudementary and also inventive, and you will see various vehicle hubs used as tow line runners (Image 5). The actual ski runs were all cleared by hand and the photos of the old times show young and energetic men and women clearly enjoying the winter lifestyle that they had made for themselves at what was a remote location back then. What a journey it must have been to get to the area, with people recorded as skiing on Mt Franklin as far back as the 1920s.
If you are doing the walk to Mt Frankling in the spring, it is worth taking your time as there are some brilliant native flowers. I took some photos last time I was here in the growing season, which I've attached below.
On the walk to the peak of Mt Franklin you may notice the changing flora, particularly the undergrowth, and the smaller gum trees than other parts of Namadgi. This is a sub-alpine area and the species of gums that grow here are commonly found in sub-alpine areas, particularly at the higher altitudes.
As you begin to get near the peak, the area begins to clear of trees and you appreciate the magificent views, particularly to the south-east. The peak is marked by a trig tower and, once there, you will also have sweeping views to the west. If you look to the distance in the north-west, you will see Burrinjuck Dam.
To the west of the trig, there is also an old ski run, with an old vehicle that was brought up to power the tow line. Most of the remnants of the tow line are still in place, including the vehicle, so if you're feeling energetic I'd encourage you to go down and have a look. I should add that the slope is very steep, so watch your footing.
All in all, this is a great place to visit and a good family walk which gives you a great appreciatation of the area. It definitely takes you back in time to the days of adventurous young people with a passion for skiing.
Image 4 - The walk to the peak of Mt Franklin with one of the information signs.
Image 5 - The remnants of an old tow line that brought skiers up to the top of the run.
Image 1 - The Mt Franklin Shelter with theold foundations of the chalet in the foreground.
If you time your walk with the right time of season, you will experience a wonderful array of native wild-flowers
Mount Franklin and the Old Chalet
The walk from the survival shelter approaching the trig on Mt Franklin.