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Molonglo Gorge Recreation Area

Home > Canberra > Escape the City | Outdoor | Picnic Spots | Playgrounds | Walks
by Sue W (subscribe)
Lover of exploring, family, food and fun!
Published June 15th 2015
Over 15 million years of history, minutes from the CBD
Molonglo Gorge is only a 15 minute drive from the CBD, yet feels like you are in the middle of the Aussie bush miles from anywhere. On the border of ACT and NSW, the Molonglo Gorge Recreation area is a quiet place to have a picnic or BBQ, for the kids to play at the impressive park, or to enjoy a 6km return walk along the Molonglo River.

Molonglo Gorge Recreation area, Queanbeyan
Recreation area entrance


As you drive in, there is a stretch of the road of approximately 200m which is unsealed, however easy to drive. My GPS couldn't locate Molonglo Gorge, so if you have the same trouble enter in "Kowan Pine Forest, Queanbeyan" and it will take you there.

the road to Molonglo Gorge, Queanbeyan
Unsealed road for a short time, before becoming sealed again.


There are a few forks in the road with gated off roads, so just follow the road around and you will get to the Recreation area at the end. Here you will find a sheltered BBQ area and a surprisingly modern and large playground.

BBQ area, Molonglo Gorge recreation area
Undercover BBQ area and seating, as well as other picnic tables in the area.


Playground at Molonglo Gorge recreation area, Queanbeyan
Large playground, great for both toddlers and older children.


It feels quite isolated, however whilst we were there we met a local father and his son at the park, who lived close to busy Canberra airport and enjoyed the peace of this area, and a lady walking her elderly dog. Both of them told us about the 6km return walk along the river and to another picnic area called "Blue Tiles". This was too far for our daughter Miss Four, however they both were enthusiastic about the scenic walk, taking in beautiful views of the gorge.

Only a few people I have spoken to in Canberra know of this recreation area. They have described it as a relatively easy walk (with a few rocky and steep areas) along the river, with great views.

If you have done this walk please comment on this article with your feedback.

entrance to the walk, Molonglo Gorge, canberra
Entrance to the walk, taking approx. 45 - 60 minutes to the Blue Tile BBQ area


map of kowan forest recreation areas, molonglo gorge
Map courtesy of ACT government webpage www.tams.act.gov.au. The walk is represented by the brown dotted lines at the bottom of the map.


Molonglo Gorge was formed 15 million years ago when two faults collided and forced the land in the middle to move upwards to create the hill above the gorge (Cullarin Block). Molonglo River (the name Molonglo derived from the aboriginal word meaning "like the sound of thunder") continued to flow and erode the rock, creating a natural gorge. The gorge is also part of a transport route, so it is possible to see the occasional train on the other side of the river.



Although it looks fresh, it is advisable not to drink the water as it has a high mineral content after mining in the area. Back in the 1930s and 1940s, there was mining at Captains Flat further upstream and the toxic residue still is found in the water. This eradicated all the native fish (Murray cod and Golden perch) and although the government tried to restock some of the river with these fish in the 1970s/80s, there are still parts of the river that have no native species at all, just introduced species.

Molonglo Gorge recreation area, ACT
Molonglo river, it looks fresh but don't drink the water.


As you drive out of the Recreation area, there is a road off to the left which takes you down to another little picnic area with two picnic tables.

Molonglo Gorge recreation area, ACT
Picnic tables down the side road as you arrive or leave.


This is a very peaceful recreation area so close to the city. With BBQ's, picnic tables and a bushwalk, it is an ideal way to spend some time with your friends and family.

Put a snag on the barbie and enjoy the peace of the Aussie bush.

Molonglo Recreation area, ACT
Don't forget the sauce!

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Why? A quiet and peaceful location for a picnic, BBQ or walk
When: Open all year round.
Phone: 13 22 81
Where: Molonglo Gorge Recreation Reserve. Kowen Pine Forest ACT 2620
Cost: Free.
Your Comment
It certainly looks like a very peaceful get away.
by Jenny Rossiter (score: 3|4004) 1125 days ago
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