26 December 2017

Canberra Day Trips: Explore the spellbinding Brown Mountain

| Canberra Day Trips
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View from Pipers Lookout on Brown Mountain. Photo: National Parks NSW.

Discover a secret forest hidden under a canopy of towering trees and serene natural areas on the beautiful Brown Mountain. The panoramic views over the Bemboka escarpment and Bega Valley are spectacular, and on a clear day, you can see the ocean glittering in the distance. A series of lookouts and boardwalks make you feel as though you’re floating among the lush ferns and rainforest growth.

If you’ve ever made the trip from Canberra to the Far South Coast towns in the area around Merimbula or Bermagui, you probably won’t need much of a reminder about Brown Mountain. The drive to and from the top of the mountain is steep and can be challenging, but the hairpin turns and sharp corners are well worth it when you get to the top.

The mountain is part of the Great Dividing Range, between the villages of Nimmitabel and Bemboka, on a vital mountain road that links the coast with the Snowy Mountains.

Why you’ll love it


Pipers Lookout is a terrific vantage point and picnic area near the top of Brown Mountain, in South East Forests National Park. From there, it’s an easy walk via a boardwalk to two other lookouts about 500 metres away from the main area. The slope under the boardwalk creates a feeling of being right among the lush greenery and the area is entirely wheelchair accessible. There are also stairs if you want to do a loop of the three lookouts.

It’s a great place to stop for a picnic – well set up with toilets and picnic tables.

Whatever you do, be sure to bring your camera – the surrounding old-growth forest and rainforest create excellent photo opportunities.

There are a couple of delightful and leisurely walks in the area. A gravel road opposite Pipers Lookout leads to Rutherford’s Walk while a short walk straight ahead leads to Finn’s Hut, beyond which is a bridge and another boardwalk. Make sure you take a map if you’re planning on exploring, as the signposting is limited.

When you’ve had your fill of walking or exploring and you’re back in the car again – or if you want to stock up before your mountain picnic – grab some sweet or savoury delights at either Nimmitabel or Bemboka bakeries. Both are less than half an hour from the top of Brown Mountain, and their baked goods are delicious.

Getting there


From Canberra, follow the Monaro Highway through Cooma, which will become the Snowy Mountains Highway and take you over the mountain.

Once past Nimmitabel, the driving can get challenging, and drivers will need to keep their eyes on the road despite the breathtaking scenery.

When to go

Spring, summer and autumn are perfect times for a walk in the rainforest to explore the lush gullies of ferns covered by a dense canopy of trees, but spectacular views are on offer from the lookouts just about any time you’re travelling on the Brown Mountain.

Key details

  • Duration: it’s around two hours from Canberra to the top of Brown Mountain.
  • Distance from Canberra: about 190 kilometres each way.
  • Recommended for: birdwatching, bushwalking, hiking, and appreciating nature and all that it has to offer.
  • More information: Visit NSW

Have you ever stopped for a break on Brown Mountain while driving to or from the coast? Have you discovered any hidden gems tucked away in the National Park?

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Oh yes, many happy memories of Pipers Lookout. We spent many summers in the 1960’s holidaying at Tathra. On one occasion whilst travelling with my Grandparents we stopped at Pipers Lookout and tucked into my Grandmother’s selection of corned-beef or curried-egg sandwiches; as was so often the case, they were frozen in the centre. Funny how seeing the Lookout once more reminds of those wonderful times.

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