Conquering Camel’s Hump

1 Oct


Camel's Hump - the pointy one


You may not have heard of Camel’s Hump, but it’s instantly recognisable when looking to the horizon as the pointy peak. Housemate and I had previously attempted to scale the ‘Hump’ part in mid-June but had had to stop just a little way up because of ferocious winds (combined with my occasional but always inconvenient vertigo).

Since then, I subconsciously found myself seeking out the peak from wherever I am in Canberra – from driving along a highway, to taking photos of it while atop other mountains. In short: Camel’s Hump was haunting me. We hadn’t actually completed it. We’d given up. I don’t give up. We had to go back.

And so it was on Saturday morning, a little dusty following Friday’s after work drinks, that Housemate and I packed our high-energy lunch of various delicacies from Breadtop and Baker’s Delight and set off to Tidbinbilla Nature Park to try again.

As we drove towards TNR (our cheap annual pass securely in the glovebox from where we’d thrown it last time) I sought out the peak


from the car but curiously couldn’t see it. I didn’t think too much of it until we approached and I realised the horizon was absolutely shrouded in mist. We were a little disappointed—though hopeful that it’d clear up around midday—and for better or worse my determination still held strong.  We were treated to hundreds upon hundreds of kangaroos as we made our way through the reserve to Mountain Creek carpark.

We stopped briefly to sign the bushwalking register (and check our last entry, reminding ourselves how long it had taken us) before beginning the easy first 400m where the past splits between Lyrebird Track and Camel’s Hump. But that’s where easy ends. The first 1.8 kilometres are by far the hardest as you bear the burn with little reprieve. There’s almost no ‘downhill’ or ‘flat’ – it’s all up – and I’m not ashamed to say that on both ascents I’ve had to stop often to catch my breath. On reaching the first sign, things level out a lot and both times we’ve been able to cover the next 1.5 kilometres to the second sign very quickly.

The final slog to the base of Camel’s Hump is probably the most rewarding of the first three stages, where you snatch glimpses of the valley below and the famous, enormous satellite dishes. Well, usually it’s the most rewarding. This day, we remarked it felt like we were walking in an apocalyptic wasteland as we trudged through the mist and looked out into what felt like a blank canvas. Spooky.

We took a brief rest at the base of Camel’s Hump before starting the ascent. And what an ascent! On making it to where we’d taken cover on the previous occasion, we had a little trouble working out where the footpath led, with Housemate rather convinced we had to go over some very large (and in my opinion insurmountable) rocks. I held my ground—literally—while he investigated.  He eventually admitted he was wrong and after another wrong turn, we found our way.

Despite Housemate’s views, I’m convinced my centre of gravity is somewhere near my head, so spent a lot of time with my hands in the dirt aka holding on for dear life, while nimble-footed Housemate largely went up on his ‘hind legs’ with me barking “Slow down!” every so often in the background.  In contrast to our last endeavour, the misty weather meant there was literally no wind, for which I was eternally grateful. However, there were points where we did literally have to climb with all four limbs fully engaged.  I remarked it was probably better that we didn’t have the spectacular views we’ve almost been promised – if I’d any idea how high we were, I would have been much more scared!

It took us about 40 minutes to reach the top, where we consumed our high carb delights. Housemate took great joy in adding more rocks to the cairn and I had a little nap, having exhausted myself out of a curious combination of fear and effort. After taking some embarrassing photos and recording some movies, a chill had set in and we made our way down.

The entire way up I’d been terrified that I simply would not be able to make it down and that a helicopter would have to rescue me. Fortunately, it was nothing like that and we made it down with considerable ease, stopping to take some more movies and photos when we spotted some of the mist moving out of the way for a glimpse of John’s Peak. Where it got steep or tricky I defaulted to my favourite ‘crab’ position where I crawl with my back facing downwards (it is foolproof!).

We’d been gone about 4 hours at this point, which is my usual “I want to go home now” mark, but of course we had the 5.6 kms of descent.  As reward for the punishing ascent, it’s almost straight down which is enjoyable and quick.

We were the only ones on the mountain the entire day – no doubt a direct result of the misty conditions.  For all my terror, the climb really is the fun bit, and I’m stoked that I can finally gaze at Camel’s Hump with a sense of satisfaction.  I can only imagine how great the views are on a clearer day… We’ll have to go back!


10 Responses to “Conquering Camel’s Hump”

  1. MJWC1 October 4, 2014 at 8:58 pm #

    Excellent post and very informative (as well as generally enjoyable) – thanks! I did the walk up to Nil Desperandum today and am contemplating Camel’s Hump for Monday. Not sure if I dare…

    • inthetaratory October 7, 2014 at 8:48 pm #

      I’m glad you enjoyed! Did you end up doing the walk up to Camels Hump? Would love to know what you thought!

      • MJWC1 October 7, 2014 at 10:03 pm #

        No, I took the easier option this time and did Gibraltar Peak instead. That is an extraordinary place up there. The only problem now is that I have about 4.3 million photos to sort through and process 😁

  2. louisemackin September 8, 2016 at 8:39 am #

    I got within 60m yesterday after I was determined to do it! But I was terrified, now I’m annoyed I didn’t make it! It was a clear day too so I could see the sheer drops!

    • inthetaratory September 8, 2016 at 8:58 am #

      Oh, so close! I was terrified, too – you did so well to get so close!


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