Walk 4 from Best Bush, Town and Village Walks in and around the ACT

Explore the beautiful Molonglo Gorge

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Best Bush, Town and Village Walks in and around the ACT - Googong dam

Best Bush, Town and Village Walks in and around the ACT - Googong dam

Best Bush,Town and Village walks in and around the ACT
Best Bush, Town and Village Walks in and around the ACT - Looking back at the Arboretum


Along with being the political capital and home to some magnificent historical and artistic collections, the tranquil countryside around the ACT has over 140 vineyards which in itself is motivation to visit. But the surrounding areas also provide many opportunities for interesting and inspiring walks.

In Best Bush, Town and Village Walks in and around the ACT, you'll discover a selection of fascinating city walks, as well as bushwalks in nature reserves and National Parks close to Canberra.

For those interested in exploring further afield, this book also explores walks in the towns, villages and countryside outside the ACT borders.

From early settlers to bushrangers, this fascinating region is a must for lovers of early Australian history with stories to be found in the architecture, memorials and cemeteries of the towns and villages. The aboriginal people of the ACT and surrounding region have also left a tangible legacy in the heritage sites to be found on many of the walks in this book.


This is Walk 4 – Molonglo Gorge

This walk runs high along the northern side of the gorge, giving views up and down the Molonglo River. Trains from the Canberra–Sydney run can be seen regularly, while on special occasions a heritage train or a steam train may chug its way along the southern side of the gorge, vanishing behind cuts in the hillside before reappearing further along.

The path is rarely more than half a metre in width, often with an almost sheer drop down to the river below. The area is at its best after heavy rain, with the river in full spate, pouring down the rapids and foaming at each bend. There is a picnic spot at each end of the walk.

Walk directions

  1. The track starts from the far end of the parking area, near the toilets. Cross a wooden bridge and turn left. (The right path leads down to the river, which you may wish to visit on your return. A track runs along the edge of the river for about 500 metres, joining the higher path, but this requires considerable rock clambering and is impassable after heavy rain.) Follow the stepped path that rises steeply to a level more than half way up the slope. A railway track runs on a similar level on the other side of the gorge. There are high cliffs on either side of the river. The northern side is wooded with a variety of trees, mainly Scribbly Gums, Red Stringybarks and Black Cypress. Moss or lichen- covered rocks also edge the path.
  2. A second wooden bridge takes you past a small waterfall, and up then down a slope above a rocky river bed, notable for rapids after rain. The lower path mentioned at waypoint 1 feeds in at a point 500 metres from the parking area, just before a small gully. Climb up the other side of the gully, past more and more rapids as you walk high above the river, before dropping down to cross a creek and up the other side. Black Cypress Pines can be seen next to the path and across on the other side of the gorge, where the hillside is more open, with loose shale.
  3. The path follows the edge of the hillside, twisting and turning, often with an almost sheer drop down the slope. Large tree trunks or fallen trees form arches across the path and need to be navigated. Cross a creek using large rocks as stepping stones and climb a long flight of rock steps on the other side, continuing upwards to a point high above the river, almost at the top of the hill. Native plants can be found alongside the path for the entire walk, flowering in season. The river below continues over a succession of rapids, running fiercely after heavy rain, dwindling in dry times to a trickle.
  4. The path winds up and down over gullies and eventually comes down close to the river. Ignore a maintenance road to the left, following instead a direction arrow straight along the river. The terrain changes here, becoming increasingly more open with low native plants.
  5. The path leads eventually to a grassy area with picnic tables, where the river widens and is quiet. Retrace your steps to complete your walk. The return journey has fewer uphill climbs, the difference in altitude between the picnic area in waypoint 4 and the starting point is approximately 70 metres. Note: on the return journey, at the small gully mentioned in waypoint 2, take care after crossing it to turn right up some rough rocky steps, if you wish to retrace the higher route. Alternatively, the path ahead leads to a viewing area and then over rocks down alongside the river to return to your starting point (often difficult going).



The Molonglo Gorge is fifteen million years old. It was formed when two faults, Lake George and Queanbeyan, lifted a section of land across the path of the Molonglo River. The Gorge was formed as the river cut through the rising land. (Taken from an ACT Forests information board at Molonglo Gorge.)


At a glance

Grade: medium

Time: 3 hrs return

Distance: 6.2 km return

Conditions: shady track winds up and down the hillside and across creeks and gullies (mostly via calm day stepping stones) – take care with children as there is often a steep drop from the path.

Getting there by car: from Pialligo Rd turn into Sutton and right onto Kowen Rd, taking another right turn to follow the road straight down to a picnic area beside the river

Dogs: permitted on leash


This excerpt reproduced with the kind permission of the Australian publishers, Woodslane Press.

Best Bush, Town and Village Walks in and around the ACT written by Marion Stuart is published in Australia by Woodslane Press (RRP A$29.95)

Best Bush, Town and Village Walks in and around the ACT is also available via Booko here »



  • Canberra (ACT)

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