Queanbeyan

Molonglo Gorge & The Blue Tiles Walk

Set within a stone’s throw from Queanbeyan, and a quick drive from Canberra, is the hidden gem of Molonglo Gorge. Located in the Kowen Forest, the Gorge provides locals and visitors with a peaceful escape from the city for a few hours.

The Gorge was formed 15 million years ago as the Molonglo River carved its way through the rocky land lifted up by the Lake George and Queanbeyan faults, creating what’s now known as the stunning Molonglo Gorge.  Made up of unspoiled bush, cascades and pools, it is the perfect getaway destination for those looking to take some time off in serene natural surroundings.

 

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Thousands of years have seen hundreds of generations of Aboriginal People use this area as a means of getting from the sea to the mountains. It is a common belief that the word ‘Molonglo’ originated from the Moolonggoolah people, a family group of the Ngunnawal people, who lived in the area.

Further up the Gorge, a small rural community existed in the region in the 1800s. What remains is a heritage listed precinct which demonstrates almost all aspects of 19th century wool production as well as mining and charcoal fuel production. This area is called the Glenburn Precinct and can be accessed from the Kings Highway via walking and cycle trails only.

Today, Kowen Forest boasts Canberra’s largest commercial pine plantation. It is also a popular destination for orienteering, bushwalking, running, mountain biking and horse riding. Many visitors also frequent the Gorge to simply take in the spectacular views or to enjoy a nice picnic by the river. These days the Gorge is also used as a transport route, connected by a railway line at the southern end.

 

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Blue Tiles Walk

The Blue Tiles Walk is a moderate walk along the Molonglo River. Along the way, you may find some challenging sections as the trail is not frequently maintained. The start of the trail has some steep sections and you may find you have to climb over some rocks to continue on the trail, but for the most part the walk is a pleasant stroll through the bush.

The path is fairly narrow in most parts with sections of it overgrown with a few shrubs growing over the trail. The trail also has very limited signage, so you should keep an eye on your surrounds to make sure you stay on track.

It is recommended you walk cautiously, as some sections of the path have a steep drop, although most of these sections have a hand rail running along the side to ensure safety.

After about a 3km walk, you will reach the small grassed picnic area of Blue Tiles with a charming view of the Molonglo River. Recharge and snap some photos of the great outdoors before heading back out on the second leg of the walk, back towards the Recreation Area.

 

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Molonglo Gorge                    

Directions

  • To get to Molonglo Gorge, take the Sutton Road off Pialligo Avenue and turn onto the dirt road signposted as Kowen Forest and Molonglo Gorge.
  • The dirt entrance road is heavily corrugated. Turn right before the locked gate to Kowen Forest and take the lower road. The road is tarred and has many speed bumps. Travel to the end of the road to get to the Blue Tiles Walk up to the Molonglo Gorge.
  • The distance to the Gorge is 6.5km from the Queanbeyan Visitor Information Centre or a 15 minute drive from Canberra.

Facilities

  • Electric barbecues with bench table and chairs (one under cover) at Molonglo Gorge Recreation Area.
  • Picnic area also at the end of Blue Tiles Walk.
  • Public toilets located near one of the barbecue areas, close to the beginning of the Blue Tiles Walk.

 

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Highlights

  • Keep an eye out for the spectacular wildlife that calls Kowen Forest home. You might get lucky and spot some kangaroos, wallabies, wombats or possums. On top of that, this natural landscape’s wild birds are prolific and noisy.
  • The Molonglo Gorge area is a spectacular setting for a nice morning hike or post-lunch stroll. Depending on how much time you’ve got in your hands, you can opt for the full Blue Tiles Walk loop, or just take a short stroll along the river. No matter what you choose, the surrounding landscape is sure to take your mind away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Recommendations

  • Drinking water is not available at Blue Tiles, so make sure to take enough water with you for the 6km return trip.
  • Although it looks fresh, it is advisable to not drink the water as it has a high mineral content after mining in the area. The toxic residue from the Captains Flat mine in the 1930s and 1940s is still found in the water.
  • There are no bins provided in the Molonglo Gorge area. It is expected that you’ll take your rubbish with you.
  • Please note that the Blue Tiles Walk is not frequently maintained which means you may come across some challenges, such as a few small trees that have fallen and blocked the path. Only take on the walk if you are sure-footed and don’t mind a true bushwalking experience.
  • We recommend that first-timers give the walk a go with a friend who is already familiar with the path as the signage on site is limited.

 

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