The carpark for this walk is just off the Mt Franklin Road and is 75km from the Canberra GPO with a large section of dirt road included. Travel time to the trail head is about 1.5-2 hours
The Mount Gingera trail head is on the left side of Mt Franklin Road and is immediately adjacent to a locked gate. The trail head signage is just through the gate. The distance from the Mt Franklin trail head is just over 5km. You will also pass the road on the right to the summit of Mount Ginini. At this point you have about 300metres to travel.
The Mount Gingera trail head is also the finish point for this walk
If you feel like going a bit more remote then head towards the northwestern border of the ACT. Travelling on roads that quickly become dirt and are really only guaranteed to be passable in the warmer months. This road provides access to four main walks:
Pay close attention as you pass the road condition signs to ensure that this road is open as it can be closed in periods of extreme fire danger as well as heavy snow. The signage on this road is good so you will have no problem getting to the Mount Gingera trail head provided you pay attention. Once you turn off onto the Mount Franklin Road you very quickly enter the Bimberi Wilderness and as you travel along the road there are a number of heavy gates that may be locked in bad conditions (fire danger/heavy snow). The Mount Franklin Road crosses the ACT/NSW border on a number of occasions but this walk in in the ACT. Each of these walks in this area has something that in unique and the Mount Gingera summit walk is no different. In fact having having worked my way through most of the formed trails in the ACT the Mount Gingera Summit walk now has pride of place as my favourite walk and I’ll explain why in the following text.
The Mount Franklin Road is shut to private vehicles at the trail head car park so you know when you’ve reached you destination point for the start of the walk. The car park is at the locked gate on the left hand side of the road and will fit about 10 cars.
Walk around the locked gate and there is some interpretive signage just as you start the walk. The majority of this walk is along management trail and the trail register is about 100 metres down the road on the right hand side so don’t forget to sign in and sign out as you pass. This walk is really only guaranteed to be accessible during the warmer months of the year and while people do walk it in winter time you really do have to pick the weather to ensure that the road isn’t closed due to heavy snow. A better option in winter is to do the the Mount Gingera walk via Corin Dam which I will write up in the near future,
Having lived most of my life in Canberra we tend not to think about snow to much but the entirety of this walk is over 1500metres in altitude and the summit of Mount Gingera itself is almost 1900metres so decent snow on the ground is to be expected in mid winter. If you are trying to walk this trail in winter and the road isn’t closed due to heavy snow please ensure that your vehicle and your driving skills are up to scratch. I would also suggest considering snow shoes if you do this walk in mid winter.
PLEASE NOTE: One other warning I would give here is that out of any walk in the ACT this is the one that you can be pretty well be guaranteed to see snakes on if travelling during the hotter months. On the day I did this walk in early March I came across two Brown Snakes and a Tiger Snake and heard a number of others just off the trail; and boy do they move fast when they want to!
I started this walk just past 9:00am in the morning and the road to the base of Mount Gingera is an ‘ok’ walk but nothing spectacular in itself. This walk is all about Mount Gingera. In fact the old saying of ‘its the journey not the destinantion’ doesn’t apply to this walk. This walk is all about the destination! The management road is well maintained, easy under foot and easy to navigate. You need to pay a bit more attention in winter time when the snow obscures the way a bit. On thing that I did find disheartening on tis trail was that the first 2km involved walking down hill, in fact it involved a 200metre descent. All I could think of at this stage was that I had to make up this altitude loss.
Follow the road and the signage and keep an eye out for the minimal signage and you will eventually arrive at Pryor’s Hut which is 5km into the walk. This is an old working hut which can be used in an emergency to get out of the weather and looking at the interpretive material in the hut is well worth a visit. There is also a toilet just off to one side which is quite handy.
From Pryor’s Hut keep on walking up the management road and you will come to a tight hairpin bend and this is where you start your ascent of Mount Gingera itself. There is some very minimal signage here (see images below) but you do need to pay attention. The first time I did this walk it was in mid winter with about 40cm of snow on the road so the trail was more difficult to spot particularly if you haven’t done it before. The trail up to the summit of Mount Gingera is heavily overgrown and very narrow and not long after I started the walk I went though and old gate and was thinking about snakes and sure enough I came across an extremely colourful tiger snake looking for food in a damp area in the middle of the trail. It had stopped foraging and was facing me as I approached and even though I had my camera in my hand it shot off so quickly I didn’t even have time to take a photo. While I was already paying attention at this point I was hyper aware for the rest of the relatively short distance to the summit making sure that every time I put my foot down there was nothing to tread on. As result the walk up to the summit took me a long time as I wasn’t wearing gaiters and didn’t have trekking poles, both of which I would strongly recommend to anyone doing this walk in the warmer months. While I didn’t see anymore snakes on the way to the summit I did hear a number just off the trail.
Once you reach the summit there are some large rock outcrops and you can pick or choose which vantage point you want. I would suggest picking the highest point which requires a relatively easy rock scramble at the summit as this gives views both into NSW as well as the ACT. My time at the summit rather than the rest of the trip was the reasoning for me considering this my new favourite ACT walk. What contributed to this reaction was that I was alone, the weather conditions apart from the winds was mild and sunny, and the sky was reasonably cloudless providing panoramic views. In addition you get a sense of wilderness that is so engrossing that its hard to describe. I have done a lot of walks into the Bimberi Wilderness but this just had everything going for it and it could only be described as ‘special’. I may well have had a different opinion if there had of been a number of other hikers or the weather hadn’t of been so good but I was just lucky on the day.
The trip back down Mount Gingera was easy, if slow, as I kept an eye out for snakes and I managed to make it back to the management trail without seeing any more. It was then backtracking the way I had come to my car at the trail head. By the time I had gone past Pryor’s Hut I had pretty much gone into autopilot and had gone into my own thoughts. Given that I as walking on a wide clean management trail I had put any thoughts of snakes aside and this was a mistake. My return journey was around midday and I came cross two Brown Snakes in the space of 1km. Both were lying in the middle of the road sunning themselves. The first which was about 1.5metres in length I didn’t see until I was about 5 metres away and it was already rapidly on the move and had its head raised in a way the the Australian Museum describes as ‘mild threat’ mode (head raised-side on). I did manage to get photos of at least the rear half (see below). The second snake was smaller being just under a meter in length and after seeing the first one I was on the lookout. This smaller snake was sunning itself and as I saw it from about 10 metres away I managed to get some good photos, at least from that distance. As I moved closer it also shot back into the bush on the side of the road. The rest of the return journey was uneventful.
Even at just on 15km this was not a difficult walk. It is possible to do this walk from Corin Dam which is the best choice in mid winter as the trail head is easier to access although that walk is longer and physically more challenging. The Corin Dam version of this walk is physically longer and more difficult so if you don’t mind the drive then doing this walk from the Mount Franklin Road is the way to go. Overall a spectacular walk and one that I am looking forward to doing on at least an annual basis; all be it with trekking poles and gaiters.
If you wish to camp in this area then you need a permit which is available from ACT parks
Trail head signage just through the locked gate.
Trail head signage with the walking register on the right
Rosella Silhouetted in a tree
Views from the trail
Keep right at this turn off. If you go left you are heading towards Stockyard Spur and Corin Dam
Route to Corin Dam and Stckyard Spur. this trail is about 2.5km longer and also much steeper
Stay on Mount Franklin Road an head towards Pryor’s Hut. There is limited directional signage on this trail as you are following the management trail
Turn off into Pryor’s Hut
Pryor’s Hut with toilet in the back left of the image. You can walk to here from Corin Dam which is a longer and harder walk but an easier drive
Rear view of Pryor’s Hut
Fire place just inside Pryor’s Hut
Back on the trail again after leaving Pryor’s Hut
As you walk don the road you will come to a hairpin bend. You can just see the trail marker post in this image
Trail marker onto Mount Gingera
Royal Bluebell in flower on the trail
Through the gate
On the day I did this walk (March) there was a Tiger snake in the wet area looking for food. He/She shot off very quickly and wasn’t there when I returned
Trail example on Mount Gingera. This is a good example. Much of the trail was more overgrown than this. Wear gaiters and bring trekking poles to make a bit of noise
The things you see when you are looking for snakes on the trail
Paper daisy on Mount Gingera
Wildflowers on the trail
Skink on the summit of Mt Gingera
One of the many spectacular views from the summit of Mt Gingera
Mount Gingera Panorama Shot
Lake Adaminaby in the distance as viewed from Mt Gingera
On the way back down
Brown Snake sunning itself on the road. Keep an eye on the road during the warmer months particularly during the middle of the day
Another snake going bush. This one was about 1.5metres in length and did raise its head in mild threat mode as it headed off
Back to the start at the carpark
Mt Gingera as viewed from the summit of Mt Ginini. Drive up to the summit of Mount Ginini after your walk for the views. You need a car with good ground clearance on this road
The Mount Gingera Google map showing the distance from the Canberra GPO to the trail head car park on the Mt Franklin Road:
Urriarra crossing. Turn left if coming from Weston Creek just after you go over the crossing
Road conditions sign. If doing this walk make sure that the Mount Franklin Road is open
Note the 2.4meter tall road markers. This gives you an idea of the possible snow conditions in winter time
Bitumen road changing to dirt. From here the Mount Gingera car park around 30km
Follow the turnoff sign and head along Mt Franklin Road
Mt Franklin Road
Just after you turn on to the Mount Franklin road there is a road condition sign which will indicated if the road is open or not
Car Park at Bulls Head
Information signage at Bulls Head picnic area
Toilets at Bulls Head picnic ground
Bulls Head Picnic area
Weatherproof shelter at Bulls Head picnic area
Just after you leave the Bull Head Car park you will see the turnoff to the Bendora Dam. Keep following the signs and head past the carpark for Mount Aggie and Mount Franklin, and Mount Ginini. You have reached your destination when you reach at locked gate.
More signs and gates. There are a number of gates you will need to access. If the conditions are bad then the gates will be closed. When you see this sign you have approximately about 15.3km to go to reach the trail head to Mount Franklin then another 5km to the start of the Mount Gingera walk.
Mount Franklin Car park turn in. Drive past this and keep on heading past the turn off to Mount Ginini to the trail head car park for Mount Gingera
Turn off to Mt Ginini. Once you see this sign then your nearly at the start of the walk for Mt Gingera
Trail head car park at Mt Gingera
This walk was undertaken by the team from Australian Hiker