In our nation’s bush capital (otherwise known as Canberra), bikepacking might be the ultimate mode of instant escape. From the moment you leave your front door you’re travelling under your own steam with that sense of freedom and adventure that comes from having the wind in your hair and all your possessions in a pannier. Here are three great camping spots in the Brindabella Range to get you out of Canberra for your bikepacking fix.
- Escape from the city using only the power of your own legs
- Heritage listed Blue Range Hut
- Panoramic views
- Shady swimming hole
The Brindabella Range, Canberra
Any local or visitor to Canberra is familiar with the blue-tinted backdrop of the Brindabella Range. Forming the western border of the ACT, “the Brindies” rise above 1700m – and are often snow-dusted in the winter.
With warmer weather and longer days, we were looking longingly towards the mountains and the Brindies were beckoning us for a springtime jaunt. Yearning for an escape from the city, we packed and strapped bags to our mountain bikes, and rode for the hills to scope out three stunning sites for your next (or first!) Canberra bikepacking overnighter.
# 1 Blue Range Hut
The Blue Range Hut is a heritage-listed hut which is becoming a popular site for campers and day-trippers alike. Roughly 50km from Canberra, it is accessible by bikepackers of most fitness levels, with the added advantage of having phone reception to phone-a-friend if you wake up with dead legs the next day!
On bike, it can be reached through a fairly friendly route of fire-trails from the city, through the Arboretum to Stromlo, then down Cotter Rd and around Mt MacDonald to the Uriarra pine forest.
The most hospitable of the three sites, Blue Range Hut boasts campsites (bookings essential), toilets, shelter, a BBQ, and a large fire-pit.
# 2 Coree Campground.
For those who love the #searchforvert, snaking northwards through the Blue Range pine forest brings you up seven hundred vertical metres to Mt Coree. The peak has panoramic views of the Brindies, and of the Canberra region – you can even see the radio telescope dishes of the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (which hosts the telescopes that received the pictures of the moon landing!)
Mt Coree has north-facing rocky outcrops with some dope exposure and a number of sport climbing routes. Having left the ropes at home, we settled for the views alone.
The Coree Campground is only 3km from the summit, and is fairly basic, with campsites, fireplaces and toilets.
# 3 Flea Creek
Descending from Mt Coree to Piccadilly Circus, we crossed the border and dropped into the Brindabella Valley below. The “Gentle Annie Trail” took us down on a roller-coaster like ride of steep pitches and drainage ditches, to the Flea Creek campground. This delightful little bikepacking spot has many campsites, several fireplaces, toilets, and a clear mountain creek running nearby.
Only 150m down the road is the junction of Flea Creek and the Goodradigbee River, an idyllic location with a wide shady swimming pool, small rocky rapids, and mammoth boulders –perfect for cooling off after a long day in the saddle!
The Way Home
If you’re not already tired out from your efforts riding to one of these three spots on the first day of your trip, the Brindies have plenty more to offer. After a quad-busting 800m ascent to Piccadilly Circus from Flea Creek, the relatively flat Mt Franklin road traverses the ridgeline through majestic Mountain Ash and Snow Gum forests, affording great views. The summits of Mt Franklin, Mt Aggie, and Mt Ginini are close to the road and easily climbed. From Ginini you can see Long Plain and the snow-capped peaks in Kosciuszko NP.
From here, you have many choices of routes home, from the straightforward descent along the Brindabella Rd, to a rocky and steep descent of Warks or Pipeline Rd into the Cotter pine plantation; either route bringing you back to paved roads and civilisation!
Wait – How Do I Bikepack?
While at first glance bikepacking doesn’t seem like much more than tying some bags to your bike and riding off, we’d recommend you check out this informative and inspiring article on how to plan your first bikepacking trip, as well as this one on what to bring along for the ride.
For this trip, an up-to-date map is definitely handy. We recommend the Namadgi ACT South Activities Map, by Rooftop Maps.
Water purification tablets are highly recommended to treat water found in Brindabella NP. A spare couple of long straps to secure baggage is a good option too.
Title photos of bike rig and purple flowers by Tim Keith @treadlie_timmy. All other photos by Anthony Newman.
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