Orroral Valley Tracking Station (former) carpark
Carpark at Orroral Tracking Station
Orroral Valley Tracking Station (former) carpark
The Orroral Valley Circuit is another of those walks that consists of two halves. The first half of the walk is on management trail and while interesting the first time that you do it the first half of the walk for me is just a means to an end. It is the second hand of this walk that really shines and has that wow factor. The option exists to turn this into a two day walk and camp on the back half of this trail and this is where you get the views as well as remote area that provides you with a great atmosphere.
This walk starts at the site of the decommissioned Orroral Valley Space Tracking Station and the facilities provide a great day picnic or overnight camp in its own right with a decent toilet block, picnic tables and gas barbecues.
This walk can be done in either an anti clockwise or clockwise direction. I would recommend doing this walk in a clockwise direction so you end up with the best part of the walk last. This walk can be done as a single day walk if you have the fitness level to undertake a 20km day walk but can also become a great overnight walk in its own right. The first 5km of the walk is the most physically difficult with much of the elevation gain. The first 10km of this walk is on management road which will provide glimpses across the Orroral Valley to the Belfry and Sentinel Rocks walks on the ridge above before you head in to the more remote areas of the valley.
At around the 5.8km mark you will come across the turn of on the left which takes you towards Cotter Flats and Mount Bimberi on the Australian Alps track. In fact you have been on that track since about the first 1km into the walk. Keep on going past this turnoff and continue following the management road. Keep and eye out for the signage and at around the 7.5km point you will turn towards the right. This turn is signposted and indicate the way to the Smokers Trail so unless you have really zoned out you won’t miss it. Keep on going along this trail and at around the 10.5km point you will have another signposted turnoff onto a grassy vehicle trail that commences your walk back towards the start point along the centre of the valley.
It is at this stage where the walks starts to become really interesting. Walking though treed areas in natural grassland following an occasionally mown, rarely used, vehicle trail. The Kangaroos that you see along the way are timid and will hop away unlike most others that you see in the valley. The views to the Orroral ridge to the left of the trail and the hills to the right provide good interest and there are plenty of good potential campsites along the way. Please note that camping in Namadgi National Park (as opposed to the Bimberi Wilderness) is only permitted in designated campgrounds. Having said that people do camp in other areas but you do so at your own risk.
The walk down the valley keeps to the right hand side and there is a reason for that. In early to mid Spring the central part of the valley, at its lowest point, is a natural swamp and this becomes very obvious when there has been good rains and a bit of warm weather when you notice the lush green growth. You can cross but you need to very carefully pick your crossing points and to also keep an eye out for snakes hunting frogs and other water creatures.
As you head down the valley you go past the remains of old farm properties including fencing and sheep yards and as you move down the valley eventually connect back with the management trail to started this walk on.
At just on 19km in distance this is a difficult walk particularly as the management trail is hard on your feet but if you are up for a walk of this length then it is worthwhile doing at least once, if not more often.
The path to the trail at the Orroral Valley Tracking Station car park
Turn right when you reach the road at the top of the hill. If you go straight ahead you will be walking to the Granite Tors
Management road which makes up the first 10km of the walk
Creek flowing under the road
Turn right here
The turnoffs are well marked
You are now on the smokers trail for a couple of kilometres
Keep an eye out for the turnoff sign on the right
Turn right into Orroral Valley
From here the trail become mown grass
Small flowing creek on this part of the trail. The creek in this image is connected to the previous water body shown
Grevillea in flower
Hakea seed pod
Black Sally Eucalyptus. The bark on this small eucalyptus is one of my favourites
Banksia in flower
Out of the trees into the valley
Follow the flattens grass its very obvious so long as you pay attention
Over the swamp
Thats a swamp down in the bottom of the valley and in the warmer months is very noticeable because its lush and green where everything else is a bit dry
Rowleys Hut ruin. There is pretty much nothing to see here
Old farm ruins
The Belfry rock formation that forms part of the Orroral Ridge of Stone
Sentinel Rocks and Trojan Wall up on the Orroral Valley Ridge of Stone
Back into the trees
Follow the signs
Back on the road and turn left
Back down to the car park. Dont forget to sign the bushwalking register to say you have returned
The former Orroral Valley Tracking Station complex provides an excellent carpark from which to base a number of walks in this region. To get to the tracking station drive from Tharwa approximately 30 km from the Tharwa Bridge along the Naas Road to the former Orroral Valley Tracking Station.
Travel along Naas Road (this road changes to Boboyan Road) past Apollo Road and turn off onto Orroral Road which is approximately 18 km from Tharwa on the right. Continue on Orroral Road past the campground and the road will finish in the tracking station carpark approximately 10 km from the turnoff. If you arrive early in the morning there are a few heavily shaded carparks that will keep your car cool for the day if travelling during the hot part of the year.
The information signage for this walk is located at the Nursery Swamp car park which you will drive past to get the the Orroral Valley Tracking Station Car Park.
Carpark at Orroral Valley Tracking Station
Toilet block. Note the space age design that references the Tracking Station
Bushwalking register: remember to sign in and out
This walk was undertaken by the team from Australian Hiker