Saturday 16 July 2022: Gungaderra Grasslands and Mulanggari Grasslands Nature Reserves * – M/E-M,X. Canberra Nature Park – a breath of fresh air for busy walkers. There are 39 Nature Reserves in the Canberra Nature Park. Or, the 39 step(pe)s. How many can we walk in? These are numbers 7 and 8. I haven’t walked in most of these areas before.
From the Gungahlin Hill car park on the southbound Barton Highway, walk tracks through woodland and slashed routes through grasslands to Spiders Hill. Then north to the edge of Palmerston and across Gungahlin Drive to visit Thomas Gribble’s ‘The Valley’ ruin. Walk clockwise around Mulanggari Grasslands. Visit Gubur Dhaura, a Ngunnawal ochre ground site celebrating indigenous culture. Return west across the southern edge of Palmerston and south to climb Gungahlin Hill through woodland. Around 14km and 200vm climb.
From Garmin Connect – Distance: 12.35km | Climb: 319m | Time: 2hrs 55mins moving + 55mins of gate and fence climbing and stops | Grading: M/E-M,ptX; M(8).
Photographs are available here, including many of gates and fences.
The weather was overcast at beginning and end, with the sun struggling out at times. The Garmin temperature sensor tells me the temperature range was 4-13°C during our walk.
Today we filled the car park off the Barton Highway southbound and, after a walk briefing that included map orientation by visual means, we headed off through the Gungahlin Hill entry into the Gungaderra Grasslands NR. Gungaderra is named after a homestead in the area (actually located east of Mulanggari in suburban Harrison), a name developed by combining Gungahlin (Gnunnawal for ‘white mans house’ or possibly ‘wonderful’ or ‘beautiful’) and Ginninderra (Gnunnawal for ‘sparkling like the stars’). There’s some background information here.
We didn’t trend as far south as planned, but no matter. There are many tracks and footpads through the woodlands. We gained the edge of the grasslands, passed the large dam and headed up to Spiders Hill. This gave us a view of our route generally north-east to Gungahlin Drive.
Slashed walkways took us to an easement along the southern boundary of suburban Palmerston.
We were funneled out beside Gungahlin Drive, where we took our lives into our hands to cross.
Immediately opposite was the entrance to Mulanggari Grasslands Nature Reserve. There’s some information here, but no one yet has been able to tell me the meaning of Mulanggari.
From here the plan was to handrail Gungahlin Drive to The Valley site. Not a good plan, as we had multiple gates and fences to cross. If you’re into gates and fences, check out the photos.
One sees this fenced off site when speeding along Gungahlin Drive. Today we could appreciate its history.
And get up close and personal.
Our next leg was east-ish across the southern side of Gungahlin. I documented a few more obstacles for future walks in this area, although the solution learned on the return through Mulanggari is to stick to the slashed routes through the middle.
We gained the western edge of Harrison and headed into Gubur Dhaura Park. Some additional information here.
Gubur Dhaura means ‘ochre ground’ in Ngunnawal. There is some really good explanatory signage.
Pity I didn’t read it as well as photographing it. Might be worth a rerun visit to see the detailed sites.
We stopped at the high point for morning tea. There was a piece of ochre available to examine.
There was an option to walk the streets of Harrison to visit the extant Gungaderra homestead and associated community building, but bushwalkers were not keen to traverse suburbia. Another reason to return.
So it was homeward bound from here. The front runners found a better gate to access Mulanggari NR (waypoint Gate 7) and this started us on a slashed route through the middle of the Nature Reserve with no fences and gates were open.
Back across Gungahlin Drive, we took slashed walkways and a couple of B-lines up to Gungahlin Hill, back in its lovely woodland.
Down through the trees to the cars.
Canberra nature Park Nature Reserves #7 and #8, tick, tick.
Here’s where we went, displayed on an e-topo geo-referenced PDF map downloaded from SIX and calibrated for use in OziExplorer.
See the track on AllTrails where you can pan and zoom.
14 walkers – Andrea, Elizabeth, Jacqui, Jane, Julie, Margaret, Mark and Sarah, Nathan, Rochelle, Sean and Jan, Tilly, me.
Post Script – locations of slashed walkways
With huge thanks to Kate, who gave me lots of links to features of Gungaderra and Mulanggari, more very useful information. Slashed walkways are actually fuel management cuts and are publicly available via the Bushfire Operations Plan for map download. Note her warning “Please note that the slashed lines are implemented in Spring and maintained for the fire season. In years like the ones we have just had the slash lines may grow over, so can’t always be guaranteed for a clearly defined path”.