According to the Wagga Wagga city website, "The Wiradjuri Walking Track is a 42-kilometre loop around our city inviting you to explore the river banks, hilltops and everything in between. The track extends across many of our city's significant Aboriginal places. Pick your point of entry or start at the heart of the city which will take you past the Murrumbidgee River and a number of waterways before winding through Silvalite Reserve and Pomingalarna Reserve – both perfect for a little wildlife spotting or enjoying some of the best views over our city." More recently, this has been referred to as a trail rather than a walking track, reflecting the fact that it is a multi-purpose route - for mountain bikes as well as walkers.

The inland city of Wagga Wagga is not far from where we live and, in these Covid-19 travel restricted times where most interstate borders remain shut, the thought of doing a nice long walk close to home appealed. The walk is named for the Wiradjuri people who have lived in this region for over 40,000 years. European settlement, by contrast is less than 200 years old, but in that time Wagga Wagga (the place of many crows or of many dances in the Wiradjuri language, depending on whose opinion you choose to accept) has grown to a population of 60,000. Hence this walk falls into the category of urban fringe, exploring that curious interface between the man-made and the natural (which means both the walking and the coffee could be good).

As mentioned above, the walk is 42 km long, so can be done in 2 or 3 days. We opted for a 3-day adventure, as that meant we could drive down Hume and Sturt Highways to Wagga in the morning, do an afternoon walk, followed by a full-day and then a morning walk to complete the circuit before driving back home at the end of Day 3.

This is why we found ourselves on a sunny Sunday morning with our good friends, Marg and Alan, cruising down the highway listening to an eclectic mix of of 70s hits, operatic tenors, reggae and country classics. We are off to walk the Wiradjuri Trail.

Day 1 - River, billabong and farmland (10.5 km - 15m ascent - 15m descent)

It was an uneventful drive from Canberra to Wagga, save for a short stop at Jugiong to enjoy a decadent caramel cheesecake and coffee. In this La Niña weather cycle, the countryside was a verdant green, spattered with the yellow daisy flowers of cape weed and punctuated by luminous yellow fields of canola. Beyond the purple carpets of Paterson's curse cloaked many of the hill-tops. It was a good year for crops and weeds.

We arrived at 12.30pm and, after lunch, were off and walking. The Wiradjuri Walking Track lay only a few hundred metres from our very comfortable AirBnB apartment and soon we were climbing the steps over the levee bank that protected the city from Murrumbidgee river flood waters. From there, it was quickly down onto the river bank. The Murrumbidgee was flowing swift and brown below steep banks lined with majestic river red gums. In both directions a well formed gravel track headed off along the edge of this bank. We turned northwards to start our anti-clockwise circuit of the Wiradjuri Walking Track.

The green-banked, bike-path topped levee

First view of the Murrumbidgee River

Well-formed path along the river flat

The tracked headed purposefully north following the river to enter the Wiradjuri Reserve, where in years past tribes people would gather for feasting and ceremonies. Well-signed markers along the way told of the history of this region.

Looking down river

A large river red gum

Swimming hole in Wiradjuri Reserve

Sweeping around a large curve in the river, where the banks gave way to river flats, we continued on beneath the shady red gums and the whistling and twittering of birds in the canopy above ... it was very pleasant walking and quite a few of the local Wagga residents were out enjoying the sunny spring weather as well.

A well-formed section of the Wiradjuri Trail

Boot-brushing station - leave your weed seeds behind

A steep section of river bank

The track then climbed back on to the levee bank to pass the Marrambidya wetlands, where ducks, cormorants, swamphens and coots called these shallow reed-rimmed ponds home.

The Marrambidya wetlands

Leaving the wetlands, we dropped back off the levee to the river's edge to follow a sandy track through the lush green river gum forest. However, the increasing hum of traffic reminded us that this was an urban fringe walk and we were nearing an urban section. Passing under the 1.2 km long Gobbagombolin Bridge, which crosses the floodplain, we found ourselves wandering alongside a 4-lane road through an industrial part of the city. It was a time to just push on in automatic mode.

Sandy track through the wetlands

Crossing a fence in style / on stile

A lush flood-plain section of the walk


Another Murrumbidgee riverscape

Arriving at Flowerdale Lagoon

Luckily, this section was not too long and we turned away from the busy road to follow a side route that led us to the Flowerdale Lagoon. Crossing a low stile, we found ourselves next to the still brown waters of this oxbow billabong, flush with run-off from recent rains. It was a very pleasant stroll as we curved around its tree-lined shore, looking across to pastures on the opposite bank.

Following the edge of the billabong

Take me home country road

Finally, a fence blocked our waterside route and we turned to follow a broad gravel country road a short way southwards, then a long straight road to the west, through the open pasture lands of rural properties. Without the shade of the river gums, the sun shone warmly, but it was only for a short time, as we strolled past the green fairways of the local golf course and the further-away hills of the Pomingalarna Reserve. That would be our walk tomorrow .... for now, we would head a few hundred metres south to the Golf Course Motor Inn and call a taxi. The first afternoon's walk was over, and it was time to head back to our apartment and enjoy a cold beer on its comfortable balcony.

Day 2 - Hills, woodlands, pastures and suburbia (19 km - 330m ascent - 320m descent)

The sun rose to another warm and cloudless spring day in Wagga Wagga. When we were all ready, we drove down to Lake Albert, where Alan pulled out his mobile and texted away. Five minutes later we were all being Ubered across the city to the Wagga City Golf Links where our walk would resume from yesterday - it was a seamless operation.

Passing the 7th green at Wagga Wagga Golf Course

Heading westwards, we followed the edge of the golf links, passing a few early morning golfers lining up their putts on the 7th green. Quickly we reached a gate to leave the course and follow a gravel road up through the Pomingalarna Reserve, the first hilly section on the Wiradjuri Trail. It was very peaceful as the road led us up through the cypress forest, where a flock of cockatoos were enjoying a feast of cypress nuts. Patches of purple Paterson's curse and scatterings of yellow cape weed lined the route, and it was good to see the odd patch of native everlasting daisies.

A field of Paterson's Curse

Road up through the callitris trees

A short sharp climb up through the eucalyptus woodlands brought us to the ridge, where we stopped for a while on one of the Trail's solid wooden benches to take in the expansive views over Wagga Wagga and the rural landscape that surrounds it.

View from the ridge in Pomingalarna Reserve

Pomingalarna eucalypt forest

Heading to the top of Mount Moorong .....

.... and back down the other side

From there, a further steady climb through callitris and eucalypt forest brought us to the crest of Mount Moorong and a steady descent down through thicker bushland and the odd mountain bike track. In the cool of the morning it was a very pleasant walk, with the sound of songbirds in the canopy and wildflowers replacing the exotic carpet of purple.

From here we left the reserve for a somewhat less interesting stroll that parallelled the Sturt Highway, with the sound of cars and heavy transport vehicles. That ended when we took an underpass beneath the highway to emerge at the Silvalite Roadhouse ... the coffee sign attracted us and we stopped to buy some flat whites and enjoy them in the shady environs of a nearby park and playground.

The road next to the Sturt Highway

Track into Silvalite Reserve

A slight detour from the official route prevented us from back tracking and soon we were following a well-formed track through a strip of woodland between suburbs and the Olympic Way. The track was far enough away though for the sounds of birdsongs to dissipate the muffled drone of traffic and we thoroughly enjoyed our stroll through the Silvalite Reserve.

Silvalite is a wildlife corridor connecting patches of bushland to provide some continuity and throughfare for native birds and mammals.

Native everlasting daisies in Silvalite

The stroll ended abruptly, when we reach the modern and massive concrete structure of the Kapooka Bridge - for a while we had been parallelling a railway line and now we had to cross it. Once on the other side of the bridge though, we found ourselves quickly back into more pleasant surrounds as we picked up a gravel road that climbed steadily up into the lush waist-high grass of these open woodland hills that lay beyond the railway.

Silvalite landscape

A farm dam near Kapooka Bridge

Road up into the Birramal Conservation Area

Looping our way up into these hills, which form a south-western rim to Wagga and have recently been designated as the Birramal Conservation area to protect them from urban intrusion, we had views of the city to the north and the countryside to the south. On reaching the high point, we found a sheltered seat just off track - it was a perfect place for lunch, looking out over the green, green pastures to the distant silhouette of The Rock, an ancient outcrop of sedimentary rock rising 360m above the Riverine Plain.

The grasslands of the Birramal Hills

A nice panorama to enjoy lunch at .....

View over Wagga Wagga and the plain beyond

..., looking at the the blue silhouette of The Rock

From our lunch spot, the route undulated and meandered through the bucolic setting of these lushly green pastured hills, splashed purple with the palette of Paterson's Curse - if only it weren't a weed. Intriguingly, here clumps of woodland were linked by series of wooden poles. This was squirrel glider country and the poles, topped by flat platforms, were built so that the tiny squirrel gliders could launch themselves from pole to pole and thus connect the isolated groves of eucalypts - fascinating. It would have been great to return after dark in the hope of seeing one gliding through the air.

Track through Birramal .....

.... where, inplaces, Paterson's Curse has turned the paddocks purple

Encroaching new suburbs

Squirrel glider transit poles

Passing through a grove of eucalypts

Some Wiradjuri Trail artwork

The landscape was gradually changing though as we approached a new suburban development, at first sidling between its fringe and the pastures beyond, before ducking in to follow a well-groomed street up to the far rim of suburbia. It looked a comfortable life style here in outer Wagga, but we were glad to emerge once again on the more densely wooded ridge.

Transition stage across the suburban streets .....

.... an back on to the woodland ridges

After a break in the shade, we followed a gravel road up onto the spine of the ridge, a narrow strip of denser woodland between two suburban developments that ultimately led to Willans Hill. With a breath of cooling air, it was pleasant walking up here.

The sight of Lake Albert, our destination for the day, to the east was also heartening. In fact, we made an executive decision to abandon the official route and cut down through the suburban streets to rejoin the Wiradjuri Trail just before Lake Albert. That cost us a little bit of ridge walking, but saved us a kilometre in distance and a walk along a busy road.

The road to Willans Hill

View over Lake Albert

The shore of Lake Albert - end of the day's walk

The final short stretch of track took us along a shallow creek that led into Lake Albert. We did not walk to the lake - that would wait for tomorrow - our destination was our car in the nearby carpark and a quick drive home to Central Wagga for a shower and a beer. It had been a hotter day, an enjoyable one, but one that turned late afternoon thoughts towards the comforts of sitting on our cool apartment deck, reminiscing on the balcony over a cold drink.

Tomorrow, we would return to Lake Albert to walk back to the City Centre and finish our exploration of the Wiradjuri Walking Track.

Day 3 - A lake, a suburb and a river (15 km - 20m ascent - 30m descent)

Our final day on the Wiradjuri Walking Track saw us once again driving out to Lake Albert, not in our own car this time but in a taxi. Today we would be walking back from Lake Albert to our our central Wagga lodgings to complete the circuit. Lake Albert is an artificial lake created in 1868 and today is a recreational centre for the city's residents. A 5.5 km sealed track runs around its shore and is well-used by joggers, walkers and young mums out pushing babies in prams and strollers. We joined them for an enjoyable ramble around its tree-lined edge in the early morning sunshine.

Lake Albert and foreshore

Soon after passing the wetlands at the southern end of Lake Albert, the thought of a morning coffee began to take hold. Following the advice of some locals, we made a slight detour away from the lake to a small shopping centre and an outdoor table at the Mock Orange- our source was right, the coffee there was very good. This is one of the benefits of urban fringe walking.


On the Lake Albert Circuit

Wetlands at the south of Lake Albert

Reed-lined waterway feeding in to the lake

Moving on, we quickly rejoined the lake shore and completed the circuit. The temperature was now beginning to warm up and, unfortunately, we were heading into a transition stage .... a section of not so pleasant walking that joins the nice bits. In our case, this was a 4 km trudge along a long suburban road, passing the large Memorial Cemetery and skirting the edge of Wagga's industrial area.

The Kooringal Road bikepath - a long suburban transition

Following the levee bank into the industrial zone

Luckily, Marshalls Creek flows through this otherwise uninspiring part of the city and the track joined a narrow corridor of the tree-lined waterway. Walking was once again a pleasant activity.

Marshalls Creek corridor

View of Rocky Hill

Below the levee at Marshall's Creek

The track along Marshalls Creek led us back to the Murrumbidgee River, at first passing beneath the shade of the riparian forest and then along a narrow footpad that followed the river's edge. It was a very pleasant part of the trail, so much so that we stopped for a bite of lunch.

Remains of the 19th century rail bridge

Traversing the floodplain forest

Back to the Murrumbidgee

Wagga City Centre beyond the river

We had covered the bulk of our walk in the morning, so, with lunch over all that was left was a short section of river-side foot track, followed by a climb back up to the top of the bank and a short-cut across a quiet church-filled street of town (aptly named Church St) to cut out a bend in the river.

From the end of the street, we picked up the bike path along the top of the flood levee between city and the river below. From the height difference, there must be a lot of water coming down under flood conditions. For us, though, it was the end of the journey .... we had reached our starting point and completed the circuit of the Wiradjuri Walking Track. All that remained was a short walk back to our car and a 3-hour trip down the highway to home, reminiscing on the last three days.

A final stroll along the river's edge

The city cente beyond the levee bank

On Church Street

One of several murals along the levee

Wagga Council has done an excellent job in setting up this walk .... well-formed and well-signed tracks highlighting the different landscapes of the region. Other signage gave us a good sense of pre- and post-colonial history of the region. The river is the jewel and it was great to start and end along the banks of the Murrumbidgee, but the hidden surprise was the rural woodland landscapes of the middle day. Admittedly, we were there in the right season, with the rains of La Niña painting these open woodlands a verdant shade of green and the river running well, but, as they say, timing is everything.

Thanks, Alan and Marg, for a great few days away to break the covid blues.