Along the Murrumbidgee River in Canberra, there is a 27km long bushwalk called the Murrumbidgee Discovery Track, which starts at Point Hut Crossing and ends at Casuarina Sands in the Cotter region. This riverside walk is also broken up into shorter, more manageable walks, such as the section between Point Hut Crossing and Pine Island (South) - which is just 2.5km one way, making it an easy and scenic 5km return walk along the riverside.
Point Hut Crossing is located near the suburb of Gordon, 25 minutes south of the city. To get to the start of the walk, park your car and walk down towards the river until you see the yellow Point Hut Crossing sign and entrance to the walk on the right-hand side. The signage explains that this walk follows the footsteps of explorer Charles Throsby in 1821, who was the first non-aboriginal person to walk alongside this section of the Murrumbidgee River. As Point Hut Crossing was one of the few crossings along this river, it is expected that he would have literally walked along this section of the river - perhaps even on the exact path we walked today.
The walk is graded "easy" and it is, with just a few small hills to raise the heart rate and keep it interesting. I have previously walked another section of the Murrumbidgee Discovery Track, between Kambah Pool and Red Rocks Gorge Lookout, which had its path a long way from the river to protect the Peregrine falcons that breed there. On this walk however, the river is much closer and you can hear it roar and tumble through the rapids a short distance away.
Locals have created little trails off the main walkway across to the river, so if you are feeling adventurous you can follow these and see where they lead. When I walked down one, I discovered a beautiful and secluded swimming beach, which would be the ideal spot to spend the day with family or a loved one (however please be aware of the swimming warning signs).
This easy walking trail is ideal for families, people who enjoy bushwalking without big hills and for people like myself, who prefer walking for exercise out in nature - without hiking for hours on end. On my walk, I passed a seniors walking group, a father and son out for a bike ride and two serious mountain bikers who looked like they were on a mission to complete the full 27-kilometre discovery trail. Each had a smile a mile wide, enjoying the beautiful spring day and scenery along this natural corridor.
An easy path with a few small hills - fun for mountain bikers!
If you enjoy your flora and fauna, take your camera with you to record the beautiful spring wildflowers along the side of the pathway. Bird-watchers will spend the entire walk spotting finches and native birdlife hopping between the branches and sweeping through the sky in the air currents, above. If you have kids with you, they will enjoy counting how many wombat burrows there are along this pathway - but just watch out for the multiple wombat "pebbles" they leave outside each entrance!
After about half an hour of walking, you reach the Pine Island (South) reserve, which is a good excuse to stop for a picnic or a rest in the shade, before walking back the way you came. Before you leave, however, ensure you walk through the reserve and down to the river swimming "beach", with clean white sand and areas to swim and relax.
Take off your shoes and have a paddle at Pine Island (South)
On my return walk back, I came across a mountain biker riding toward me who said he had seen a snake on the path about a kilometre back, so to be careful where I walk. As a person not exactly fond of snakes, I spent most of my walk back with my face glued to the pathway and surrounds. Although I had chosen a cool spring morning of 12 degrees and started the walk at 8am, it shows that snakes can become active in the cooler temperatures as well, so be aware of this when walking.
On the way back I did manage to look up a few times to enjoy the untouched mountain and river views along the way. When explorer Charles Throsby walked through here looking for pastoral land, almost 200 years ago, he would have been ecstatic to have discovered such a scenic, useful treasure in this wild and harsh land.
Why not tie up the hiking boots and have your own Murrumbidgee adventure, this weekend?