Nil Desperandum or in its longer form, Nil Desperandum Auspice Deo roughly means “Don’t Despair, Trust in God”. Please remember this motto as you tackle the gravel path up to the ridge at about the half way mark heading in towards the 1890s homestead call Nil Desperandum.

This walk is an 8-9 kms walk depending on where you start from. It is classified hard with an estimated completion time of 4 hours. I completed the walk in around 3 hours which included total breaks of around 30 minutes.

Yes, there are a couple of hard sections on the walk – about 500m metres or a little more on the way in and around half that amount on the way out – but the remainder of the walk is not that bad though it is 8-9 kms long. Allow yourself sufficient time and take care not to slip on the loose gravel.

You can start the walk from the visitors centre (9 kms from here) or drive into the Reserve to Webbs car-park (turning off the main road at the sign for the picnic/bbq /play area. As far as I could see, Webbs is not marked on the main road).

I suggest you start from Webbs as the first part of the walk from the visitors centre is over terrain similar to that found elsewhere on this walk and on other walks. That said, finding the starting point for the walk at Webbs is a little tricky. It’s is just a small metal marker pole (as used along most of the walks in the park) with a very small walks listing and arrows – look down towards the river and toward the toilet block at the adjacent Greens car park. You start out heading left along the river looking down from the car-park.


Having got yourself onto the walking track you have used all the orienteering skills you’ll need as the track is well marked for its duration. The first km of the walk is a loop along and across the gurgling Tidbinbilla River through lush (for Australia at any rate) eucalyptus forest and other native vegetation. 49The next section of the walk very slowly climbs though an open grassland area – lots of kangaroos and a few wallabies from here on. Once you hit the reserve boundary fence you make a sharp left hand turn and proceed up a mostly gravel fire trail. At this point you should recall the name of the walk and soldier on!

Were it not for the fact that, if of similar fitness to me, you will stop numerous times before getting to the top of the ridge I would advise you to do so anyway. Turn around and look back – the views into the valley, out towards Canberra and across to Gibraltar Peak (picture along side) are breathtaking. Don’t despair as you walk slowly up to the ridge top – alas, given the lay of the land you will think you are almost there a number of times before you hit a large green area signifying that you are in fact at the top of the ridge. It’s about a good hours walk from Webbs to this point which is actually a pleasant, sheltered spot for morning tea. As I started out at 8am on this walk I did stop here for morning tea, but on my way back out. I strongly recommend you make an early start on this walk and avoid the heat of the day given that most of the trail is very exposed.

Back to the walk. I must admit when I got this far I assumed that the remaining 30 minutes or so of the walk would be a nice stroll across the top of the ridge to the homestead. Continuing on I was rather dismayed that I appeared to be loosing altitude at a rather alarming rate. Alarming, in the sense that I knew I would have to climb back up here again! Recalling the walk’s name I carried on and realised that you only loose about half the altitude you gained on the other side.


Walking along this side of the ridge again affords you great views of various mountain peaks (pictured above) – including Camels Hump (pictured below), the longest of the marked walks in the Reserve. It really is a most amazing feeling to be able to walk in the hills like this on beautiful spring day.


Depending on what stops you make, within 2 hrs of heading off from Webbs you reach the Nil Desperandum homestead (picture 1 and seperate review) Having had a look around here turnaround and return via the same route you came in – unless having got back to the top of the ridge you are tempted by the sign for Camels Hump!

While not easy, this is a great walk and well worth the effort. Take as long as you like and enjoy.

When I’d finished this walk and another couple of short walks in the Reserve I called into the Tidbinbilla Cafe (no longer operating – 2017) in the visitors centre for lunch. What else could I have other than the Nil Desperandum open burger and salad. It was delicious and a great way to end a long morning’s walking.

This is walk 19 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.
Website: https://www.tidbinbilla.act.gov.au/home

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.

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