A 2 km walk to this scenic lookout on the Murrumbidgee River
Red Rocks Gorge Lookout is located on the Murrumbidgee Discovery Track, which can be accessed from the suburb of Kambah, 20 minutes south of the city. The scenic platform looks right down the length of Red Rocks Gorge, which was created from millions of years of erosion from the Murrumbidgee River flowing through the middle. At various points along the gorge, when the sun hits the rock surface, the 40 metre high cliffs show off their red volcanic hue. Although the lookout is part of the longer 27km Murrumbidgee Discovery Track, it is only a 2.2km one way walk from the car park at Kambah Pool Beach swimming hole, making it an easy short walk for most fitness levels to enjoy.
A short walk between Kambah Pool and Red Rocks Gorge. Source: Original map supplied by ACT Government TAMS website
To get to the start of the walk, drive to the Tuggeranong suburb of Kambah and follow the signs to Kambah Pools Road. When you reach this isolated swimming area, ensure you turn left at the Kambah Pool Beach sign (if you turn right it will take you to a nudist area on the river!). Once you have parked your car at Kambah Pool Beach car park, just walk a few metres back up the hill to find the entranceway to the walk. The walk to Red Rocks Gorge is also part of the much longer Centenary Trail, so you will also find signs for this walk along the path. When you read the signage at the start of the walk it advises you to wear sturdy shoes, take water, tell someone where you're going and most importantly, enjoy yourself!
Turn left at the Kambah Pool Beach sign and look for the start of the walk, near the car park
The path to the lookout is fairly narrow, making it a single-file walk or bike ride, if you do it with company. When I looked at the map, I assumed the walk would follow the Murrumbidgee River itself, however the path is cut in half way up the hill from the river and behind bushland - however you can still occasionally catch a glimpse of the water and hear the small rapids as you walk along. I have since learnt that the path was created this way to protect the peregrine falcons which breed near the river between August and November.
Narrow walking paths along the side of the hill...
The walk is an easy one, with a few uphill and downhill sections to keep it interesting. The first half of the walk is an enjoyable amble along the side of the hill, looking over to the mountainous Bullen Range on the other side of the river. Half way along there are gates to walk through and bridges to walk over, making it more challenging with twists and turns around the side of the hills. It is obvious that this trail has been looked after, with hand-stacked rock walls created near bridges and clear markers at each fork in the path, to ensure you stay heading in the right direction.
Although the sign at the start of the walk says to allow an hour to get there, it only took me half an hour before I reached the sign and arrow to the Red Rocks Gorge Lookout. It is then just a short walk down to a small platform - that may be small in size, but big on views..
When you take in the views from the Lookout, it is easy to imagine how the Murrumbidgee River was an important area for local indigenous tribes. The word Murrumbidgee itself means "big water" in the Wiradjuri language. Carbon dating of stone and charcoal remains at the Birrigai Rock Shelter at Tidbinbilla Nature Park nearby, show that Aboriginal people have lived in the region for about 21,000 years. As well as the river providing fresh water and fish to eat, the hillsides above the river were (and still have) healthy kangaroo and wombat populations - whose tell-tale reminders can be found frequently along the path.
When you get back to the car park, why not walk down the stairs to Kambah Pools Beach and enjoy this scenic spot by the river, with a sandy beach to sit on and cool water to dip your toes into. In the warmer months, this is a popular swimming destination for locals with plenty of shade and refreshing water straight from the mountains to swim in (although swimming is at your own risk). It truly is an enjoyable way to finish the Red Rocks Gorge Lookout walk and appreciate the beauty of this natural area, just minutes from Canberra's city centre.
The quiet Kambah Pools beach - perfect for a paddle after your walk