On the Queen’s birthday long weekend in June, we visited Tidbinbilla for two major reasons. Firstly, we wanted to do some of the highly raved about walks in the reserve and it was a stunning, cloud free winter day. Secondly, we’d been going out of our way to try to catch a glimpse of a platypus on most of our trips and were still yet to see any (even on our day trip to Taronga Zoo!) and we’d heard there are extremely good odds of seeing a platypus in Tidbinbilla.
As it was a long weekend – we didn’t want to get up too early so ended up pulling into the entrance to Tidbinbilla at around 10am and bought our visitor entry which was $11.50 per car.
It was from this first car park that we commenced the Birrigai Time Trail.
Time taken: 1 hour, route was essentially a big loop
Highlights: Colonial and indigenous history including remains of houses, a school building and a tennis court as well as rock shelters that have had some excavations discovering that indigenous people had been in the area for a lot longer than previously thought – 20,000+ years. Also there were a crazy load of kangaroos and wallabies everywhere as well as the only two emu’s that we saw that day.
Next stop was Gibraltar Peak – we drive up the road for about five minutes, packed ourselves a lunch and set off. This is probably the “main” big walk in Tidbinbilla, for good reason.
Time taken: 2 hours return – including a brief lunch stop at the top, same route up and down
Highlights: Lots of kangaroos and wallabies at the base of the track, beautiful views over Canberra and interesting rock formation at the top, changing scenery along the walk due to the bush fires quite a few years ago. A minor lowlight was the number of people at the top, but I guess on such a beautiful day it’s a hard place to resist!
Next up was a significant change of scenery to a rainforest-y area of the park. With a name like Cascade Trail we couldn’t resist doing a little exploring due to our love of waterfalls and the Lyrebird Trail seemed like a logical addition to continue exploring this piece of Tidbinbilla.
Time taken: 1 hour for both, route was two loops off a track.
Highlights: A cute babbling brook. We walked the track anti-clockwise so started with quite a steep climb but then joined the creek (at a lovely waterfall) and followed it down a series of mini waterfalls. The Lyrebird Trail continued to follow it for a little way then looped back around – lots of bird calls but no sightings of lyrebirds this time.
And finally it was platypus time in The Sanctury! We started from the Black Flats carpark.
Time taken: We were there for around 2 hours
Highlights: We finally saw a platypus!! And although it’s not completely “wild” it nearly is.. Lots of different wildlife with lots of fences and gates to get through. We saw the platypus at the weir – so far the best place to see them that we’ve found in Australia although I am sure we will keep looking.
It was swimming straight towards us!
Overall it was a great, diverse day and our stingy selves felt we had gotten value for our $11.50 entry, especially topped off with seeing the platypus. An invaluable guide including trail descriptions and a map of Tidbinbilla.