The Murrumbidgee Discovery Track is a bushwalking trail that runs for 27 kilometres along the river corridor in the ACT. This popular trail is enjoyed by mountain bikers and hikers, as the path twists and turns by the rushing rapids and along narrow bush trails, high above the river. As 27 kilometres is a long way to hike in one go (for me anyway!), I have been breaking the walk up into manageable sections and eventually aim to walk the entire track.
Previously, starting from the south, I have written articles about the sections between Point Hut Crossing to Pine Island and then Pine Island to Tuggeranong Stone Wall (or Boundary Wall). This article highlights the next section which begins from the stone wall to Red Rocks Gorge - the next attraction along the trail from south to north. I have found, so far, that each section is very different - some meander very close to the water and others, like this one, spends most of the time hiking through the rural land along the Murrumbidgee Corridor. This grassy meander means that you will meet plenty of kangaroos next to the path and finally, when you get to the end, you will get your stunning reward.
This section of the walk starts at Tuggeranong Stone Wall, which is a 790 metre-long boundary wall that snakes over the countryside. It was built by the early settlers in the region in the late 1800's from stacked stone and starts from Athllon Drive in Greenway and finishes at the Murrumbidgee River at the bottom of the hill. (If you would like to just explore the wall itself, see a full article here).
The easiest place to start this section of the walk is to park your car in the car park of the Lakeside Leisure Centre in Greenway. From here, walk directly over Athllon Drive until you see the sign for the Tuggeranong Boundary Marker by the pavement.
Look for this sign and then turn right, then left just before the bridge
From this sign, turn right and walk towards the bridge - however turn left at the dirt path before you get to the bridge. You will then see a gate and a sign welcoming you to the Murrumbidgee River Corridor. Keep your eyes peeled along the next part of the walking trail, as on my walk I saw a wombat on the side of the path, before we startled each other and he loped over a mound and back into his hole.
Turn left before the bridge and look for this gate - the entry to the Murrumbidgee River Corridor
Follow this trail for a couple of hundred metres until you reach a gate straight in front of you - but don't go through it. Instead, take the dog-leg path to the right which leads you to an old bridge over a tributary of the river. Take note of the Centenary Trail sign on a small post at the start of this path, as this is the sign that you will follow for the rest of the walk. The trails and signage along this walk is excellent, just follow these little markers and you will traverse over hills, walk through gates, cross make-shift bridges and see a range of wildlife, all along this one, winding path. Look out for rosellas, rock wallabies and birds of prey, as you amble along.
Walk along until you see the gate, then turn a sharp right before it and follow the Centenary Trail sign over the bridge. The walk now begins!
As this rugged walk has little shade, I would recommend doing it in the cooler months, or in the early hours of the day in summer. I would also recommend wearing sturdy shoes with good grip as the single-file dirt path has rocky, steep, uneven and slippery areas, with lots of smaller pebbles. It also has a surprising number of hills, so take your time and take plenty of water.
Eventually, after walking for about 45 minutes you will see the 40 metre-high red rocks of Red Rocks Gorge, almost shining in the sunlight in the distance. These are the best views of the red hue in the rocks, as the Red Rocks Gorge Lookout further along takes in a different view of the gorge. You will catch a glimpse of the cliffs a few times, before the path leads into bushland and much-needed shade.
Most of this section of trail along the Murrumbidgee River is cut into the hillside above the river or around the natural corridor, so you only get the occasional glimpse of the river itself. As you get closer to Red Rocks Gorge Lookout however, you start to hear the roar of the rapids and the sweet sounds of the river flowing wildly on your left. Eventually, just when you think you can't walk any more, there will be a surprising T-junction in the path. There is no signage to say what is left, however if you walk right a short way there is a small sign to say that it is actually the way to the Lookout. Don't miss turning left at this T-junction - otherwise you will miss the Lookout and keep walking to Kambah Pools, another 2 kilometres further. (If you would prefer to walk from that direction, see here for a full article).
The Lookout is a special area to stay for awhile, have a drink and snack, before walking back the way you came. There is signage to read about the volcano that erupted over the region 420 million years ago, which then settled and caused the red colouring in the rocks. The deep gorge was created from the river eroding down the rock and it is a well-known rapids course for kayakers around the country, particularly after heavy rain.
Although this section of the walk may not get as close to the Murrumbidgee River as the sections further south, it is an enjoyable amble through the countryside with a wide array of bird calls to listen to and hundreds of kangaroos to keep you company as you walk by. On my weekday walk I didn't see one person, however I saw a wombat up close, a fox chase a mob of kangaroos and countless rock wallabies twitching their ears along the side of the trail. It really felt like I was walking through a true slice of the Aussie bush, just minutes from the suburbs. Why don't you escape the city and explore it for yourself, this weekend?
The reward at the end is worth it.
Look for peregrine falcons, as they fly through the wind currents