Growing up, my family spent many weekends camping and exploring. My Dad would arrange various hikes and bushwalks, with every detail meticulously planned and mapped out. We’d often camp out overnight, carrying all the essentials for the few days on our back.
I don’t really remember what we talked about on those long hikes, or whether we even talked at all. Although knowing Dad, he would have been full of groan-worthy ‘dad-jokes’ and probably broken into song as we marched along.
I do, however, remember loving the fresh air. The trees, the wildlife, the peacefulness.
And while my girls are still quite young (and longer hikes are not on the cards just yet), our little family has really embraced living in the Bush Capital and its abundance of local trails.
Some of our favourite trails are quite popular (Mt Ainslie, Mr Taylor..) while others are a little more hidden. Some are definitely kid-friendly, others not so. And then there are some whose online information is quite out of date, or just plain wrong.
So as a reference tool for myself, and also for any like-minded wanderers out there, I’d love to cover some of my favourite trails as we continue to explore this gorgeous Canberra region.
A “Walk Canberra” series.
Starting with – Kambah Pool to Pine Island
This walk is part of the larger Murrumbidgee Discovery Track – a 27km trail between Casurina Sands and Point Hut Crossing that runs alongside the Murrumbidgee River. I tackled it last weekend by myself – as a bit of a reconnaissance mission to see whether it would be suitable to bring the kids along (my thoughts on that later).
The skies were grey, but the threatened rain held off. And, on reflection, the overcast weather was actually rather perfect for this relatively ‘exposed’ trail.
I parked my car at Kambah Pool, with a view to being collected by Mr BBB at the other end at Pine Island. However, the walk took far less time than I had expected so I ended up doing an out-and-back walk / trail run combination.
Distance / timings
I should start by saying that the TAMS website information for this walk is rather inaccurate. It indicated the walk was 7km one way, when signage at the start of the trail (more accurately) confirmed it was 9.2km.
The suggested timing of 3 to 4 hours (one-way) is probably too conservative and I think you could quite comfortably complete the one-way trip in around 2 hours (although I guess it depends on how fit you are feeling and how many stops you wish to take along the way.)
All in all, I covered around 8km out, and 8km back, walking some – running some – in around 2.5 hours.
The trail itself was quite varied, changing between grassy paddock paths and rocky bushland sections. It was quite exposed in parts, which I imagine would get quite hot in the warmer months, so BYO water, sunscreen and a hat!
For the most part, the trail was quite well sign-posted – with lots of the Centenary trail markers guiding the way. There were a few points of confusion closer to Pine Island, but it was more a case of needing to be vigilant so as to not miss the next marker.
Another thing that confused me was the listed gradient, with signs suggesting the trail had a moderate to steep gradient. Perhaps I am more used to mountain climbing as I found the trail to be quite flat with only a couple small hilly sections along the way. Certainly nothing I would describe as steep!
In fact, I saw more mountain-bikers than walkers – and quickly promised myself that I would return to also explore the trail by bike soon!
A big highlight was definitely Red Rock Gorge – with a look-out a short distance off the trail about 2kms in.
And the view when approaching the gorge from the other direction was pretty spectacular too – with the red-rocked cliffs seeming to pop into view out of nowhere!
I also loved the old stone wall – which was apparently built in the 1860s to mark the boundary between two early rural properties.
Another big highlight was how quiet it was. I crossed paths with a few walkers, a few more mountain bikers and one other trail runner. And aside from the hundreds of kangaroos I encountered, I had the trail pretty much to myself most of the time.
Normally when we take hikes as a family, I carry Miss 1 In the Ergo, and Mr BBB carries Miss 4 in a hiking backpack (for around half the walk, or until she decides she’s had enough). While I think this would be a suitable walk in terms of gradient / terrain to take the girls, I suspect they would lose patience pretty quickly given how long it is (an hour being their general tolerance limit). In saying that, I’m really keen to take them for a walk to the lookout (about 4kms return from Kambah Pool) and I am pretty confident that Miss 4 could probably walk at least half of it.
And, if all else fails, I think the abundance of kangaroos we will inevitably spot along the way should keep her entertained!
All in all, I really enjoyed this walk. It was quiet, well sign-posted and covered a lot of terrain variety. I’ll definitely be back – and hope to perhaps bike an extended version of the route too.
Kambah Pool to Pine Island – in Summary
- Start? Kambah Pool Road, Tuggeranong (the trail is well sign posted as you enter the carpark, on the left)
- Distance? 9.2km one-way (18.4km return)
- Time? Allow 4 hours return (moderate pace)
- Terrain? Mixed dirt paths, bushland, exposed paddocks
- Gradient? Some rolling hills, but nothing too steep
- Difficulty? Easy / moderate
- Mobile reception? I had mobile coverage the whole way (Telstra)
- Water? BYO
- Toilets ? At Kambah Pool and Pine Island. None along the trail itself (aside from the ‘bush’ toilet)
- Bike friendly? Yes
- Run friendly? Yes
- Kid-friendly? In parts, yes. The walk from Kambah Pool to the lookout would definitely be do-able.