I would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land in which this walk takes place, the Ngunnawal people. I would like to pay my respects to elders past, present and future. Australia always was and always will be Aboriginal Land.
If you’ve ever wanted to walk some of the Australian Alps Walking Track but just don’t have enough time to do the 655kms of the whole trail, this little overnighter to Cotter’s Gap in Namadgi National Park is your little taster. The park is only an hour outside of Canberra, on the border to NSW and ACT. Stop by the national park office before heading off on the walk to check in and get a map. Although the track is pretty straight forward, I would highly recommend a map to gauge distances and understand your surroundings. You will also need to carry in all your own water as water sources are not reliable and when we hiked in the creeks were all dry.
The 15km return hike starts at the Orroral Valley Tracking Station, where you’ll find large mobs of kangaroos lounging in the morning sun - how iconic.
The start of the track is clearly signposted so head across the grassy clearing and meet up with the fire trail heading up into the mountains. There is a bushwalking register here, make sure you write down your trip details and planned return date.
The first part of the hike is mostly along a fire trail road and is pretty easy going, with a slight incline. The turnoff from the road onto the Australian Alps Walking Track is quite discreetly signposted so make sure to keep an eye on the distance you’ve walked and on your map so you don't miss it. Once on the walking track, the bush becomes more dense. In spring, the bush is teeming with native flowers and bright bursts of orange Oxylobium ellipticum, otherwise known as the common shaggy-pea. After a small descent and then a quick ascent from the creek, you’ll find yourself at Cotter’s Gap. As this is not a maintained campground, it’s a ‘pick where is the flattest’ approach for pitching your tent.
You can wander on past the campsite down to Cotter’s River or spend an afternoon exploring the bush. There is more camping down near the river at Cotter’s Flat if you’re feeling keen for a longer walk, which will be a total of 32km return trip.
Note: Even in spring we had snow falling, so make sure you bring enough warm clothes as it gets pretty chilly in the evening and fires are not allowed in the national park.
Next morning head back the way you came to your car. As it’s a relatively simple walk and not too far, I’d strongly recommend bringing along some little luxuries like an aeropress for coffee and a good book!