This is graded as an easy 3km walk with the suggestion that it can be completed in an hour and a half.
While there is a bit of a pull up to the Birrigai Rock Shelter the loop walk is, I agree, overall easy and I took around 55mins to complete it.
Both this walk and the Church Rock walk are “sold” as heritage walks – the latter focusing on European settlement in the area while this walk focuses on both Aboriginal and European settlement.
While the brochure accompanying this walk (pick one up from the visitors centre, from which the walk starts) tells a story about 19th and early 20th century European settlement in the area there is actually nothing to see in relation to this settlement as evidenced by my picture immediately below of the 1920s ‘tennis court” which is located beside the equally hard to see Gibraltar School.
European settlement of this area started in the 1830s when George Webb and his family secured land in the Tidbinbilla Valley from local Aboriginal owners though from a government perspective Webb was squatting on Crown Land. Title was granted to the Webbs in the 1860s following the Selection Acts which divided the land into blocks. Former or ongoing Aboriginal occupation of the land was not considered an issue in those days. It was hard to eke out a living on what was now small 40 acre blocks of poor quality agricultural land and many selectors (as those who settled here were called) left the land and the area.
The Aboriginal element of the walk, in the form of the Birrigai Rock Shelter (picture 1) is of course still there, with it and the granite rock formations around it certainly being worth a look. Birrigai is a Ngunnawal Aboriginal word meaning laughter.
As far as the walk itself goes most of it is across open grasslands where you will see lots of kangaroos. You will pass a small dam (I recommend you do this loop walk in a clockwise direction) before entering the more interesting rock outcrop area and arriving at the shelter. There are good views towards Gibraltar Peak (a great walk in itself).
Once at the shelter it is easy to appreciate why the Ngunnawal people would have selected this shelter to escape the searing heat of grasslands where they lived in small communal groups of several families. Based on pieces of stone, bone, shell and charcoal found during an archaeological dig of the shelter’s floor it is estimated that it was used as long ago as 21,000 years. Unlike the Yankee Hat shelter in Namadji National Park, about 50kms drive from here, there is no artwork in this shelter.
If you are interested in the historic aspects of this walk then please inquire at the visitors centre about hiring a guide. Without a guide (and noting that details on half the story boards along the walk – those facing the sun – have faded away) this becomes a distinctly average walk with the Reserve having many much better walks.
This is walk 2 on the Discover Tidbinbilla guide which you can download or pick up from the visitors centre as you enter the Reserve.
For details on park entrance fees and other general information about the Reserve and links to other walks see my introductory Tidbinbilla review.
Address: Paddy’s River Road, via Cotter Road (Weston Creek
Directions: Follow Tourist Route 5 from Canberra.
This blog entry is one of a group (loop) of entries on Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. To continue with my next entry chick HERE.
To start at the beginning of this loop click HERE.