Uriarra Loop from Shepherd’s Lookout

7 Oct

It’s innocent enough. We’ve spied the walk from our usual trips to Shepherd’s Lookout, and we’re keen. Uriarra Loop is a 3.5km round trip, and I’m sure it’s just a little way from Shepherd’s Lookout to the start of the walk. Boyfriend’s sceptical. “It’s mostly flat,” I say. I might be stretching the truth being overly optimistic, but it convinces Boyfriend. We set out down to Stockdill Drive just before midday.

We park at the Shepherd’s Lookout carpark, and head in, following the path to the left.

Walking through the Shepherd's Lookout off-lead area

Walking through the Shepherd’s Lookout off-lead area

The sign painted blue just off the path points the way; blue signs guide us the rest of the way. At time there are many within eyesight, and at other times they’re overgrown or simply missing.

The post behind the sign pointing the way has a teeny little map

The post behind the sign pointing the way has a teeny little map

3.5km – is that 3.5km return? Hopefully! (Hint: no.)

My optimism about it being ‘mostly flat’ soon comes undone. It’s a steep walk down to the Molonglo River – which I guess you’d kind of expect given we’re walking from a lookout.

It's steep and long but the view opens up before us - pine trees, rivers, mountains, valleys

It’s steep and long but the view opens up before us – pine trees, rivers, mountains, valleys

The path at this point is mostly compacted dirt and steps made from logs. They are a LOT of steps, and we head further and further down.

There are informative - if dilapidated - signs along the way

There are informative – if dilapidated – signs along the way

We finally make it to the bottom. Boyfriend’s been clued in for a long while now, and isn’t too impressed. “This isn’t even the loop walk yet, is it?” he says after half an hour. I’m tired, too, but my stubbornness always defeats other feelings. Plus, I’m sure the rest of it is flat…

We reach the bottom of the gorge where there’s a bridge the remains of a bridge. I am not Boyfriend’s favourite person today.

Where the bridge should be

Where the bridge should be

Boyfriend gives me a look - we jump across a small gap here into an ant's nest, then climb over (Boyfriend) or under (me) the log to get through

Boyfriend gives me a look – we jump across a small gap here into an ant’s nest, then climb over (Boyfriend) or under (me) the log to get through

Oh well! Soldier on! We’re down near the Molonglo River now (it’s on our right), and the ground turns mostly sandy or rocky.

California poppies (I think?) are our in full force in the sandy ground

California poppies (I think?) are our in full force in the sandy ground

They're everywhere!

They’re everywhere!

And there are many bees about (yay bees!)

And there are many bees about (yay bees!)

It’s really pretty, and quiet, and green, and the sound of running water is lush. It’s my favourite part of the walk.

Blue signs point us across a particularly rocky area, where there’s a footbridge across the Molonglo River. According to reliable sources, it didn’t look this good a few months ago, having mostly been washed away. I can assure those who haven’t been recently that it’s very well restored. We spend a lot of time on the bridge enjoying the sun and the sound of the water. I don’t enjoy Boyfriend splashing me.

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Restored footbridge

Restored footbridge

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After a long time in the sun, we set off – we’re now at the start of the Uriarra Loop. We can either go up through the paddock to the road and then down to the Uriarra picnic area, or the other direction towards where the Murrumbidgee meets the Molonglo. We opt for the latter (which I think is north), while a group behind us opts for the former. We expect to see them again (given it’s a loop) but don’t – they must spent a bit of time at Uriarra Crossing.

The little map appears again - we take a closer look

The little map appears again – we take a closer look

Little map on a not so straight post

Little map on a not so straight post

My “I’m sure it’s flat” gets a beating again as we immediately have to start climbing a bit of a hill to make our way to the Murrumbidgee.

Another group follows the loop in the other direction

Another group follows the loop in the other direction

Looking down at the footbridge over the Molonglo River

Looking down at the footbridge over the Molonglo River

And so we walk. And we walk, and we walk, and we walk.

Looking towards the water quality control centre

Looking towards the water quality control centre

No smiles from Boyfriend

No smiles from Boyfriend

The blue posts get replaced for a little

The blue posts get replaced for a little

A fair portion of the 3.5km is through fairly overgrown path and – I hate to say it – it’s not ‘mostly flat’. It’s fairly hilly. As we get closer to the Murrumbidgee River, the tracks turn to sand again.

California poppies pop up again

California poppies pop up again

Some thick bush

Some thick bush – the path is a little hard to follow, and occasionally the otherwise omnipresent blue posts simply don’t appear

But there's one! And there's the Murrumbidgee River

But there’s one! And there’s the Murrumbidgee River

We don’t see anyone the entire time.

Keeping the Murrumbidgee to the right of us, eventually we hit Uriarra Road. Never fear, the signs reappear when we need them and point the way: cross the road!

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We arrive at Uriarra Crossing (Uriarra East?) where there are plenty of happy dogs and people enjoying the sunshine and piercing water.

And I take a much needed break

And I take a much needed break

The next part of the walk keeps us with civilisation. We keep with the road and head back up to join Uriarra Road. It’s a little steep – no photos because I’m too busy concentrating on just getting this walk over with πŸ˜‰

As we cross Uriarra Road (again!), we’re pointed back into the paddock, and over a ladder.

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Having headed back up hill, to get to the Molonglo River we of course have to go back down. It’s a pleasant walk through the paddock, and one we savour – because it’s the last time we’ll be heading back down.

Molonglo River from the south side of the loop

Molonglo River from the south side of the loop

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Mission accomplished!

Mission accomplished!

And, we’re back at the footbridge! Mission accomplished! Well. Not quite. The 3.5km loop is complete. But we’ve still got the other 1.5km of the 3km return walk from the Molonglo River back to Shepherd’s Lookout. And it’s all the way up.

I distract myself from complaining by counting the log steps. There are about 200 (I do lose count a few times), and some are 30-50cm steps – my thighs feel it the next day.

Finally, we’re back at Shepherd’s Lookout. In the distance, there’s the car. It’s over. And Boyfriend’s talking to me again. πŸ™‚

WALK SNAPSHOT

Time required: 2-3 hours; more if you want to have a picnic or similar at Uriarra

Height: Unsure; but it’s a long way down from the lookout – and a long way back up

Distance: It’s 3km return from Shepherd’s Lookout to Molonglo River, and Uriarra Loop is 3.5km so 6.5km all up

Views: Good, but the sweeping vistas dramatically reduce as we head further into the valley. However, what you see does change from what you see just from standing at the edge of Shepherd’s Lookout

Flora and fauna excitement level: Low-medium; there are some lovely flowers out and it’s looking pretty lush, but we see no animals (except bees).

Effort expended: Medium. It’s not a long walk, but there’s quite a bit of effort in the steepness at places, and similarly with crashing through some of the shrub (particularly when we lose sight of some of the blue posts).

Quality of track: Low-medium. The sandy banks can be annoying to walk in while shod, and some of the track is very overgrown or difficult to see.

Value for effort: Medium-high. If I think of the walk as two parts – the first to Molonglo River, and the second as the actual Uriarra Loop, the first part of the walk had most of the excitement, effort and payoff – we got the river, the lovely footbridge, the views, the exercise and the flora. I didn’t find that the Uriarra Loop added much at all. Unless I had a picnic with me, I’d skip the Uriarra Loop altogether. Perhaps I’m missing something.

Date: Monday, 30 September 2013

Cost: Free

Worthwhile factor: Worthwhile (parts)

Want more? This brochure has the best description/s of the walk on page 3, and does split it into two walks (one down to Molonglo River meeting up with the Uriarra Loop, and the other as Uriarra Loop). Page 5 of the brochure provides an accurate map of the route we took.

4 Responses to “Uriarra Loop from Shepherd’s Lookout”

  1. Carolyn Kidd March 20, 2017 at 9:45 pm #

    I reckon this was an awesome read! And pointed out to me today by someone who was commenting on my post about Shepherds Lookout. Love your work Tara! πŸ™‚

    • inthetaratory March 20, 2017 at 9:50 pm #

      Thanks Carolyn! I need to get back out there – has been too long!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Mt Majura | In The Taratory - October 9, 2013

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  2. The Way It Goes | beeseeker - October 19, 2013

    […] Uriarra Loop from Shepherd’s Lookout (inthetaratory.wordpress.com) […]

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