Blue Tiles Walk, ACT
Car park at the Molonglo Gorge Picnic Area
The Blue Tiles Walk located on the eastern border of Canberra provides an opportunity to do a riverside walk with some great scenery, all in fairly close(ish) proximity to the city centre.
On the day we did this walk we were looking for a walk close to home as we had limited time and didn’t want to spend time travelling south to complete the last of our long walks in Namadgi National Park. While we didn’t have high expectations of this little known walk it ended up being a bit of a surprise to us, and a pleasant one at that.
The walk starts in the Molonglo Gorge Picnic area on the eastern border of Canberra and you get there by heading down Pialligo Avenue as if you are heading towards Queanbeyan but instead turn onto Sutton Road. Not long after turning onto Sutton Road you take the turnoff onto Kowen Road and head to the Molonglo Gorge Picnic Area. There is a distinct lack of signage on this road and you will come across a number of locked gates but by taking the available road to its end point, you will reach your destination.
The picnic area itself has good facilities and contains male and female toilets, a number of bench tables out in the open, gas BBQs, a large covered BBQ area, and the occasional water tap. One thing this walk is short on is directional and interpretive signage so you do need to pay attention particularly once you start and when presented with choices of trail, stay close to the river and follow the main trail option rather than the lesser used alternatives.
This trail follows the Gorge with the destination being the Blue Tiles picnic area at about 3.4 km. The Blue Tiles picnic area contains picnic tables and while there is a water tank it is not in use so come prepared with your own water or bring a filter to drink from the river. This would be a good area for swimming on hot days so if you are that way inclined come prepared.
On the day we did this walk the area was in drought so the landscape was pretty parched. Wildlife was limited to the occasional kangaroo and a couple of shingleback lizards but given how dry it was and how low the water level was, there wasn’t much else to be seen including bird life.
The trail itself looks to be one of the older recreational trails in Canberra based on the trail infrastructure and it could use some love and attention, as well as some additional signage. Having said that it has a uniqueness about it that makes it feel like it belongs in another city. The trail tread is rough and can’t in any way be described as groomed and as such this is something to keep an eye on – some sections of the trail are quite narrow. While there are no cliffs there are some steep drop offs so keep an eye on your footing as well as any young children you have with you. The trail has plenty of ups and down and when combined with the rough trail tread makes for a demanding walk that can be done in 2-3 hours if fit. Alternatively take your time and make a day of it.
The last kilometre of the walk leading to Blue Tiles is more exposed with the Gorge opening up and containing less trees – you will need sun protection for this section during the hotter months. The return trip back to carpark is on the same route but is actually harder than the trip out due to having more downhill sections.
Overall we really enjoyed this trail as it provided a point of difference to most other trails in the Canberra region. Being a gorge walk and while doable year round, we suggest you avoid it in periods of drought so you can see it at its best.
Trail head picnic area
Undercover picnic area
Toilet facilities at the trail head
Kangaroo at the trail head car park
Trail head bushland
Trail head signage. This signage provide a brief overview but is in need of repair and updating
Just beyond the trail head you cross a small bridge
Stumpy Tail Lizard
Molonglo River. Your walk pretty much follows the river for the whole trip
Train on the other side of the Gorge
Seat on the start of the trail
Stairs on the trail are built out of stone
Ridgeway residential area on the other side of the gorge
Yellow Paper Daisies
Molonglo River Gorge
When you have a choice of trail, follow the more obvious option but make sure you keep in touch with the river
Blue Tiles picnic area in the distance
Unused water tank at Blue Tiles
Live on the trail on the Blue Tiles Walk
Return to the trail head
Google map showing the distance from the Canberra GPO to the trail head. This walk is only 22 km from the Canberra GPO and will take around 30 minutes to reach from the city centre
Turn off Sutton Road onto Kowen Road
Reserve entry. Once you turn off onto Kowen Road follow the (poorly) signposted road to the picnic area. You can’t really go the wrong way as there are a series of locked gates preventing you from going anywhere else
Car park at the trail head
This walk was undertaken by the team from Australian Hiker