Less than an hour from Canberra, in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, lies Mount Domain. A winter hike here offers endless snowy vistas from atop this unsuspecting summit.

Highlights

  • Epic views of Tidbinbilla, Namadgi National Park and Canberra 
  • Reaching the Mt Domain summit 
  • Snowball fight!

Traditional Owners

We acknowledge and pay our respects to the Traditional Custodians of the Canberra region, the Ngunnawal people.

As we traversed this beautiful valley, we reflected on the first people who used this pass to link with other groups. We recognise their long and ongoing custodianship and connection to Tidbinbilla and its surrounding peaks.

 

Fishing Gap

We set out early on a late August morning, intent on savouring the last of winter. Snowfall’s a novel experience to a group of Queenslanders, a Sydneysider and a Northern Territorian, and we planned to make the most of it. 

We began our ascent on Fishing Gap fire trail. In the early hours of daylight, the trail was peaceful and still. Just seven months previous these hills were lit with flames. At last, the charred mountain gums and undergrowth were starting to show signs of recovery. 

The climb was not particularly steep, but constant. As we climbed higher, the vegetation and trail became increasingly snow-covered. After almost 4km and 300m of vertical climbing, we reached Fishing Gap, shrouded in fresh snow.

 

Mount Domain Summit

Facing the saddle, we found the trail to our right. Usually, this would’ve been more distinct, however the fresh coating of snow had masked the trodden undergrowth. The track’s marked by intermittent coloured tape, but as a general rule, if you’re climbing up, you’re probably going the right way.

 

 

The track was manageably steep, but difficult in the thick snow. After about 1.5km, we reached a plateau with sweeping views across Namadgi National Park. The snow was spectacularly contrasted against the burnt landscape.

The summit was teasing us, less than 100m above. The last 800m we trudged in knee-deep snow (or shin-deep for my 6 foot+ companions). The vegetation was sagging under the weight of the heavy snow. It truly was a winter wonderland. The cairn marking the summit was so deep in snow we almost missed it!

 

A View Not to be Missed!

Just 20 metres to the north-east of the summit is an unmissable view point. The panorama spans across Namadgi National Park, with glimpses of Bendora Dam and the rolling hills towards Tidbinbilla. Canberra’s iconic Telstra Tower was even visible in the distance.

Standing at just over 1500m high, we could see the snowy landscape transition to lush forest below us. We stayed there until our hands and bodies became cold and then followed our footprints in the snow, tumbling, sliding and laughing until we collapsed at the bottom

Essential Gear

  • Day pack
  • 1-2L water 
  • Snacks! 
  • Map and compass
  • Long pants or gaiters 
  • Waterproof shoes with decent tread (especially if snowy) 
  • Snowshoes if the snow’s particularly heavy
  • If attempting in winter, bring warm clothes! (we each wore gloves, beanie, thermals, fleece and a puffer jacket) 

How To Get There

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is approximately 40-50 minutes from Canberra. Fishing Gap fire trail is accessible from Tidbinbilla Reserve Road, just 10 minutes past the Visitor’s Centre. There’s parking directly opposite the head of the fire trail.

Activities

  • Hiking/Snowshoeing
  • Photography
  • Snow games

Skill Level

Intermediate

Basic navigation is required as the track is quite indistinct from Fishing Gap. It’s very accessible up until this point. Many young families and day-trippers stop at Fishing Gap. A decent level of fitness is recommended!

Distance Covered / Elevation Gain / Duration

~13km / 700m elevation gain / 4-5 hours