At an impressive 1,855 metres and only an hour’s drive from Canberra, Mt Gingera makes for the perfect out-and-back overnighter for those times you need to squeeze in a quick trip to the mountains to get away from it all.
- Spectacular mountain views
- Isolated camping
- Winter snow and summer wildflowers
The Climb Up Mt Gingera
Straddling the border with NSW, Mt Gingera in Namadgi National Park is the ACT’s second-highest peak. While most people head to the summit via the gentle Mt Franklin Road, the full 835-metre climb from Corin Dam up the infamously steep Stockyard Spur makes for a great fast and light overnighter.
With the mornings starting to cool off, my boyfriend and I decided the Canberra Day long weekend would be the perfect time to head into the mountains and enjoy the last of the summer weather.
To save our knees, and make sure we’d be back in time for our Saturday afternoon plans, we opted to go ultralight. We traded the tent for bivvies, dehydrated our own food, and ruthlessly culled anything that wasn’t essential.
Including our compact stove setup, the new Jetboil Stash, my gear weighed in at just under 6kg and fit snugly into my day pack.
Corin Dam to Pryor’s Hut via Stockyard Spur
We hit the trail at 3:30pm, with the goal of reaching Pryor’s Hut before sunset. Our first job was to tackle Stockyard Spur. There’s no easing into it with this section of the walk — the gruelling 2km climb starts with a series of stairs and steep switchbacks, which gradually give way to an even steeper kangaroo trail.
By the time we reached the helipad that marks the end of this section my calves were on fire and I was grateful we’d opted for light packs.
The scenery changes dramatically after Stockyard Spur; tall eucalypts are replaced by short, wavy snow gums, and the single track widens into an overgrown fire trail that makes for some pleasant walking. Even though you continue uphill, the track rolls fairly gently up and down for the next 4km until you arrive at a rocky platform with great views out towards Mt Ginini.
A Lookout Bivvy for Sunset
We initially planned to camp at Pryor’s Hut, but the lookout was so beautiful we decided to pull up stumps and enjoy the last of the golden light. After a quick look around to make sure we’d picked the best spot, Pat set up the hammock and I set to work on dinner.
Your food and stove are often some of the heaviest things you’ll carry on a hike, but they’re also the easiest to make ultralight. We were using the new Jetboil Stash, which weighs in at 200g thanks to its titanium burner, and leaves plenty of space in the backpack for snacks.
For dinner I’d made spicy beans and rice the day before and dehydrated them so all I had to do was add some water and cold-soak the food for about half an hour, before heating it in the stove.
Opting for a lightweight sleeping set-up is another easy way to shave grams off your pack weight. With the weather forecast to be clear, we left the tent behind and bivvied instead so we could enjoy the stars.
A bivvy is a bit like an ultralight swag — it’s a bag you place over your sleeping gear to protect it from the ground, and keep the wind and dew out. It’s fast to set up and pack down, and gives you the freedom to camp wherever you want!
Sunrise in the Mountains
After a quiet night under the stars we woke to a gorgeous sunrise over the mountains. We had a lot of ground to cover this morning — it was another 4km to the top of Mt Gingera, and then we had to hightail it back down to the car so we could be in Victoria by dinner-time. While Pat packed up camp, I made coffee. Even though it was a bit windy, the Jetboil did a great job and we were enjoying a hot brew with our oats in under five minutes.
We had about a kilometre of easy walking along overgrown fire trail before we reached Mt Franklin Road, which takes you to the Mt Gingera summit trail. We were the first people on the trail for the day, and the morning light was the perfect reminder of why taking the effort to get out early pays off.
After conquering Stockyard Spur the day before, the summit trail felt easy. It’s a narrow track through waist-high grass that winds its way up to a series of granite boulders on the summit.
Along the way we passed brightly coloured robins and the last of the summer’s wildflowers, which made a stark contrast to the area’s recent fire damage. When we got to the top we were joined by a group of swifts, whipping through the air in search of a morning feed.
We spent about half an hour at the summit soaking in the views across the Bimberi Wilderness, before heading back, bracing ourselves to tackle the knee-jarring descent down Stockyard Spur. We made it to the car just in time for lunch, and were back in Canberra early arvo, with the whole weekend still left to enjoy!
- Jetboil Stash
- Dehydrated food
- Bivvy and other ultralight camping gear
- First aid kit, including a snake bandage
- Enough water for a day, and a filtration device/purification tablets to collect water just after Pryor’s Hut.
- Camping permit from ACT Parks and Conservation — they’re free and you can get one by calling the visitor’s centre.
Read more: Packing List for an Overnight Hike
How To Get There
The walk starts from the Corin Dam car park which is in the northern half of Namadgi National Park. Corin Dam is about an hour’s drive south of Canberra.
The trail is well signposted and easy to follow, but the steepness means it’s not for the faint-hearted.
Distance Covered / Elevation Gained / Duration
The trail rises from 1,020m to 1,855m, and has a total (knee-jarring) elevation gain of 1,383 m.
Less than 24 hours if you pack light!