On Top of the World: Booroomba Rocks

I write these posts on my weekend, and I’ve just written three back-to-back about work, so I think it’s time for a little holiday.  Last time I took you to far north Queensland; today, we go more than 2,500km south down the east coast and slightly inland, to the Australian Capital Territory.

In January this year, my four best friends and I travelled to a little campsite called Honeysuckle Creek.  If this was Australia in 1969, I think people would have gone, “Oh, that’s so cool!” My reaction in 2018 was just, “that sounds pretty.” (Spoiler alert: it is, although I did not find any honeysuckle).

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The elusive honeysuckle. I found none.

I did find a creek, though.  I don’t know if it is the Creek referenced in the name.

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A creek of sorts.

The reason it might have run bells is, back in 1969, Honeysuckle Creek was part of the NASA Tracking Network following the moon landing.  The movie “The Dish,” was actually based on events that happened at Honeysuckle, not out at Parkes in NSW.  Apparently it was a point of contention for the two stations.  Honeysuckle Creek relayed the first images of the moonwalk in Australia.

Hamish's class photo
Honeysuckle Creek Tracking Station in its glory days.  The road, the base of the dish, the outline of the buildings, and the glorious mountains are all you will see there now.  Photo by Hamish Lindsay, originally published here: https://www.honeysucklecreek.net/station/index.html

Now, unfortunately, there’s nothing much left of the tracking station, but it is a charming campground.  It has one big area for camper vans and trailers, and some smaller areas for schmucks like us who used tents.

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If you stand where the dish used to be and look down, this is all that’s left of the building in the photo by Hamish Lindsay above.

It is very quiet and peaceful, with beautiful walking tracks, and kangaroos, wallabies and possums are pretty much guaranteed sights.  Unfortunately, so are redbacks, which were in the compost toilet blocks.  However, as long as you leave them alone, they leave you alone.  They aren’t hugely aggressive spiders and will generally just sit and judge you as you use the loo.  Mosquitoes are also a large part of the local population, so bring lots of repellent and anti-itchy lotion.

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Kangaroos just chilling around our firepit.  They later found the frying pan we hadn’t yet cleaned and supped on chilli-infused oil.  Two of them had a fight over it.  That night, a possum stole all our choc-chip biscuits then tried to run off with a bag of cashes, and one of my friends had to have a tug of war with it.

The campgrounds are surrounded by gorgeous walks in most directions.  You can walk in from Canberra itself, if you are a real sadist, climbing over a big old mountain to get there, but most people drive.  Alternatively, gluttons for punishment can use Honeysuckle Creek as a starting point for a 200km+ walk to the Snowy Mountains.  To nobody’s surprise, we did not do this.

Instead, we headed for Booroomba Rocks.  Most people drive in from Canberra, park at Booroomba car park, and then make the 2.5km climb to the top.  Instead, we walked the 5.25km from Honeysuckle to the carpark, then made the 2.5km climb.

The walk from Honeysuckle to Booroomba is beautiful and undulating rather than mountainous.  There were tiny gorgeous flowers poking out all around the track, multiple bridges over little streams, and dozens of native birds (mostly cockatoos, shrieking from the tops of trees).  On the way back, we saw a large red-belly black snake, but these are shy of humans and slithered off pretty smartly.  At one point, we stopped and introduced our most inexperienced friend to the joys of trying to pee in the bush (something she swears she will never willingly do again).  Ironically, had we just walked on another 100m we’d have been at Booroomba Rocks carpark and its compost loo.  We just couldn’t see it through the trees.

The walk up to Booroomba Rocks is also very pretty, but it is killer.  It is incredibly steep, alternating between little rocky steps and just plain old hill.  At one point near the top, we passed a tree with “send nudes” carved into it.  Comforting to know that the very best aspects of modern civilisation had made it into the Namadgi wilds.  At several points some of us nearly died from being unfit.

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A very sweaty me at the top of the climb.  Despite all expectations, including mine, I did not actually die.

When you do make it to the top, though, it is entirely worth it.  The view is spectacular.

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Misty mountains to the south.

You can see all the way to Canberra if you look north, or out over the Namadgi National Park to the east.  If you climb the southern tip of the rocks, which involves a fair deal of bush-bashing, you can see nothing but mountains and trees all the way to the horizon.

 

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Me on the southern tip, having nearly died once more trying to get there.

 

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Some bold adventurers scrambling up the cliff face.

Skinks of various sizes will keep you company on the rocks, and some mad rock-climbers will attempt the sheer cliff face on the eastern side.

 

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Lil’ skink buddy.

Would I advise someone who has recently had surgery or a bad flare-up to attempt this climb?  Heck no.  After we got back to camp (16km round trip for me because I stupidly climbed both peaks on Booroomba) I was in considerable uterusy pain.  I had to lie down and die some more for most of the afternoon to recover.  In retrospect, it was very silly of me to climb the second peak, particularly alone as I did.  However, if you have been going through a good patch and are relatively fit, and happen to be in the Canberra region at the time, this is a beautiful walk.

What about Honeysuckle Creek?  Well, you could camp there relatively comfortably if you aren’t suffering too badly.  You would absolutely want to bring a comfortable bed and buckets of peppermint tea, though.  And hand sanitiser or camp soap, because those are not provided.  That being said, if you are in enough pain that camping sounds intensely unappealing, camping is not for you anyway, and Honeysuckle Creek is no different in that regard. Camping is not endometriosis-friendly generally – there are no microwaves for our heat packs, no showers if you start bleeding, and the inside of a tent is not interesting at all if you do become bed-ridden.

On the plus side, it makes it easy to get that lost-in-the-bush, hours-from-civilisation feeling without actually being more than an hour away from the closest chemist, fast food store, and medical centre.  That makes it ideal for people with endometriosis who are relatively well, but want to balance safety with adventure.  It does have a compost toilet, which is a step-up from some camp grounds, and running water (albeit not much).  There are some gentle, easy local walks to try.

Ultimately, it has to be your call about your physical condition.  If you think it will be ok for you, give it a whirl, particularly if you are a Canberra local.  On the other hand, if you are in big pain, play it safe.

Have you tried any campsites that make camping more endo-friendly?  What walks in your area are worth the trip?

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