I have just finished processing the photos from my walk to the top of Gibraltar Peak a few weeks ago (the only downside to taking masses of photos is masses of sorting and processing – by the way, please take the time to click on the smaller pictures below to see the larger versions – worth it for these sorts of landscape pictures, I reckon).
Gibraltar Peak is a mountain in the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. With an elevation of 1,038 metres it is not a big mountain by world standards, but can lay claim to being the 45th highest mountain in the Australian Capital Territory. Nonetheless, with its cap of huge granite tors, Gibraltar Peak dominates the landscape as you drive towards Tidbinbilla.
The walking trail to Gibraltar Peak begins in fairly open grassland before climbing up a well maintained trail. The grasslands are home to many Eastern Grey Kangaroos.
As the trail begins to climb, looking back rewards you with a beautiful view to the mountains on the other side of the Reserve. In the foreground the reeds of a small swamp produce soft colours and shapes, while ahead the granite boulders that define this peak begin to be seen.
Ascending the trail, glorious views across the valley towards Canberra begin to open up. Tidbinbilla was badly affected by massive bushfires that went through this area in 2003, eventually burning through to Canberra where they took out 500 homes and claimed several lives. The Reserve was closed for a long while and large parts of the infrastructure were rebuilt Bushfires are a part of the Australian environment and some plants like the grass trees (Xanthorrhoea sp.) rely on fire to germinate their seeds and produce regeneration.
At this point of mid-spring, many beautiful little wild flowers decorated the path.
Nearing the top a flight of stone steps led to a lookout that afforded glorious views across the surrounding area. From there you can see the Black Mountain Tower (as you can from pretty much everywhere in and around Canberra), the shiny white Lovett Tower in the Woden Town Centre and the radar dishes of the Tidbinbilla Deep Space Tracking Station (currently playing a role in monitoring the craft that was deposited from the Rosetta spacecraft onto the surface of a massive comet hurtling at ridiculous speeds across the galaxy).
Some more stone steps and a bit more exertion and you find yourself on top of the peak, among the massive granite tors that made the place so important for the original inhabitants of this land, soaking in the views on all sides.
As much as I could have stayed on top of the Peak, soaking in the views for many hours, a fierce wind and fading daylight sent me back down towards ground level. On the way, the interplay of setting sun, rising moon and looming mountains made for some more moments of true beauty and drew an end to a fascinating, tiring and entirely rewarding day.