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Uriarra Loop is a 3.5km, grade 2 return hike located in Uriarra Crossing, ACT. The hike should take approximately 2.5 hours to complete.
From Uriarra East picnic area, follow the Murrumbidgee River downstream towards its junction with the Molonglo River. The trail then follows the Molonglo River upstream, returning through open grazing country. The steep Molonglo River gorge creates conditions that are different from the surrounding tablelands, allowing an unusually high diversity of plants. Mist trapped in the gorge acts like a protective blanket. The Pale Pomaderris (Pomaderris pallida), a nationally vulnerable shrub grows here as well as the unusual Anchor Plant (Discaria pubescens).
Shepherds Lookout – History
Named after nearby property owners, Shepherds Lookout is the ACT’s northern-most viewing point of the Murrumbidgee River. The power lines spanning the river mark the border between the ACT and New South Wales.
Hundreds of stone tool scatter sites in the area are evidence that the Ngunnawal Aboriginal people have lived in the Murrumbidgee and Molonglo catchments for thousands of years. The river provided water as well as fish, yabbies and water birds. The first Europeans to the area came in search of the Murrumbidgee River in 1820. On the opposite bank, there was a sand mining venture that operated until the early 1980s. Behind it lies the Retallick rural lease, one of the first properties in the area.
The deep river pool below provides important habitat for platypus and native fish including the endangered Macquarie Perch and Murray Cod. Black Cypress Pines, Callitris endlicheri, grow here on thin rocky soil. Their winged seeds are protected in tough woody cones and are a favourite food of Gang Gang Cockatoos.
The adjacent Lower Molonglo Water Quality Control Centre was built in the 1970s and is the main wastewater treatment facility for Canberra. Trees along the Shepherd’s Lookout Loop were planted in the 1970s to rehabilitate a road and temporary workshed sites associated with the construction of the centre.
About the region
Uriarra Crossing and Swamp Creek are located in a 2km area, close to where Uriarra Road crosses the magnificent Murrumbidgee River, and are accessed off the Uriarra Road. They are great spots for shady river-side picnicking. On hot summer days you will find many Canberrans enjoying the easy access to the river, lovely swimming spots and picnic areas. On cooler days you can light a fire in one of the many wood-fired barbecues and enjoy the views of the Murrumbidgee. Fishing and canoeing are also popular activities. Or take one of a range of short walks along the river, including walking up to the confluence of the Molonglo and Murrumbidgee Rivers.
Take the Uriarra Road from Weston Creek, or via Coppins Crossing and Belconnen. You can also walk from Shepherds Lookout which is accessible from Stockdill Drive in the suburb of Holt.
- Dogs are welcome at the river and picnic areas, however we ask that you dont take them on the walking trails.
- Toilet facilities are provided.
- No bins are provided – please take your rubbish home with you.
For more information, a location map and facilities please visit the ACT Government Information Portal.