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.
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.
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.
Undercover BBQ area and seating, as well as other picnic tables in the area.
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, taking approx. 45 - 60 minutes to the Blue Tile BBQ area
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 river, it looks fresh but don't drink the water.