Summit: Mt Domain
Date Completed: 18 April 2014
Transport: Drive to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. Car shuffle between Mountain Creek car park (start) and Fishing Gap car park (finish).
Accompanied by: GD, DB, BS
Notes: GD was planning to lead this walk for the Canberra Bushwalking Club in a few weeks time so I volunteered myself and a couple of mates (DB & BS) to accompany him on a quick recce up to the summit of Mt Domain. GD is a supremely experienced bushwalker, having covered a huge amount of the local trails as well as some of the more imagination capturing mountains around the globe such as the European Alps, Patagonia, the Canadian Rockies and even the Indian Himalaya. GD is a human bucket list, with an endless list of adventures in the pipeline and a real joie de vivre which is infectious.
DB and BS, both good mates and great athletes in their own right, are new to the Project but were both keen to get involved. They both lived to tell the tale but I don’t think either of them (nor me) knew what they were in for on this cool Autumn day.
We arrived at Mountain Creek car park early and after a quick assessment of the map and getting our bearings we headed up the trail towards Camels Hump. It wasn’t long before GD halted, turned about face and headed straight up the side of the mountain, completely bushwhacking through pretty dense forest.
He assured us that after the ascent we would reach Snowy Corner where the trail would reveal itself and it would be a steady ramble along the ridgeline with views worth the effort.
We ascended for about 2 hours and about 500m of gain before arriving at the Snowy Corner clearing for a quick rest and a snack. The air was cooler up around 1,300m and the wind was whipping around. We clipped up our packs and headed south, along the ridge in search of a trail. Unfortunately, due to the fires in 2003 the regrowth out the back of Tidbinbilla is still in its relative infancy which means that thousands of young eucalypt are fighting for the sun and the forest is… dense!
The track was overgrown, at best, and the going was tough… I’ve been throwing out the statistic of 8km in 8hrs and I don’t think that is an exaggeration!
We struggled through the scrub, along the ridge, scrambling along some precarious sections and swinging from tree to tree for support. The scrub was so dense that it was like pushing through a thick hedge… for hours… Cuts and grazes appeared on arms and necks and all the uneven terrain made my unconditioned feet really sing.
Pausing at a clearing just shy of the Mt Domain summit, we were rewarded for our efforts. Views to the west included Bimberi and Gingera and a 180 degree spin brought the entire Canberra landscape into view. I proudly pointed out Bimberi to DB and BS as well as Black Mountain and Mt Ainslie to give the lads a bit of perspective on where we were.
Continuing south to Domain and after a quick, steep scramble we found the large cairn which indicated the summit, although the views from here were mostly obstructed by the scrub.
Heading back down towards the Fishing Gap car park was no easier as we attacked the descent along slippery rocks and roots with morale fading rapidly for the group. We were all beaten and battered (with the exception of GD) and we were happy to reach the fire trail for a quick march on even terrain towards our car.
Overall it was an extremely rewarding day in the mountains and unique for me as I had never spent so much time off-trail. It was great to experience something like that with an experienced navigator (GD) and I will be lining up for more as soon as I can!
BS checking our status on his GPS watch
DB happy with our progress. Canberra in the background
Some serious scrambling with sharp drops to the left
The lads at the summit cairn