last updated 18Mar23

Walking in the 39 Nature Reserves of Canberra Nature Park

Canberra Times Saturday 18 March 2023 Panorama p8,9

I’m just a user, a walker, in these Nature Reserves. Before I begin to enthuse, hats off to all those who manage, enhance and maintain these areas – the ACT Government ecologists and Rangers, the Park Care groups, FOGs (Friends of Grasslands) and others. They put tremendous effort into the conservation of these ‘Bush Capital’ reserves.

Users there are aplenty. Walkers, runners, bikers, bird watchers, geocachers, parents pushing prams, orchid hunters … the list goes on.

A list is important to a pedantic pensioner. So I thought I could put together Canberra Bushwalking Club walks in all 39 Reserves. It’s gotten me out of bed early on many days since the quest was begun in June 2022. You can find details of these Canberra Nature Park walks in Johnny Boy’s Walkabout Blog. Just activate the Completed Walks tab and look for the #nn in the Walk column trip descriptions, or see the list of contributing walks below.

A couple of the Nature Reserves include private leases and one is completely managed as a private lease. I’m sure users would respect these no-go areas – after all, their stock is reducing fuel load and the risk of urban fringe fire.

Photographs are available here.

Tim the Yowie Man joined us to walk the last two and kindly produced a video.

The best? For me, all of them! But the outstanding ones are:

1 Nadjung Mada Nature Reserve

Ever heard of this one? Its name means ‘wet lands’ in Ngunnawal, not wetlands but wet lands. Sullivans Creek and many small tributaries criss-cross it. Walk north-south along the Old Well Station Road; tackle the currently head high Phalaris grass via kangaroo tracks to their daytime resting ‘nests’ in the east (or find easier going on a government slashed line); walk west over the hill to catch a tram on Flemington Rd. Some lovely old growth trees on the eastern border. Eagles.

Old growth tree, Nadjung Mada NR

2 Goorooyarroo Nature Reserve

Many would have walked the Canberra Centenary Trail through this area. But detour to the eastern ridge of Gecko Hills, Old Joe Hill and Gooroo Hill. See ACT border markers, over 100 years old. Or come in from the western side via the recently opened WildBark Centre and follow the Ground to Sky Walk to Sammys Hill.

Survey mark at South Gecko Hills knoll, Goorooyarroo NR

3 Molonglo Gorge Nature Reserve

Although situated north-east of Queanbeyan, this reserve and the adjoining Kowen Escarpment NR are in that sticking out bit of the ACT in the east. The well maintained foot track follows high above the river, giving superb views down onto the Molonglo River. Lovely stands of Brittle Gum.

Molonglo River Gorge from the walking track Molonglo Gorge NR

4 Mount Taylor Nature Reserve

One can drive past the Sulwood Drive parking area any time of the day or night and see that people are up on the hill. A very popular spot for the time-poor needing exercise, or a leisurely stroll to breathe some fresh air. But try a little off-track and you’ll find some great rock platforms on the western flank with views over suburbs to the distant ranges.

View from rock platform, Mt Taylor NR

5 Rob Roy Nature Reserve

This reserve is in my backyard, so I’ll have to include it. The usual entry up the Banks Steep Track can be circumvented by scrambling up the nearby creek line, but one still has to go up. Big Monks is a cameo spot with trig and tree and huge views. The Kurrajong at ‘Little Monks’ has a stone throne under it and further down the hill is the site of Andrew Cunnigham’s 1910 so-called Black and White mine. It’s fun to plunge down any of the spurs to Banks. Mt Rob Roy provides filtered views and, around 2km west you can visit ‘Rob Roy-Lanyon Falls’ (usually dry, but a spectacular sight).

Rob Roy-Lanyon Falls in Rob Roy NR

6 Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve

Along with the adjoining Goorooyarroo NR, Mulligans Flat is surrounded by a predator-proof fence. Quolls, curlews and bettongs have been introduced into Australia’s largest single Box-gum Grassy-woodland area managed for conservation. You’ll nearly always see a shingleback lizard. Try the Wetlands Walk from WildBark. A stunning feature is the Gungahlin Quartz Ridge in the south-west of the reserve.

Wetlands dam and edge of Throsby from Gungahlin Quartz Ridge, Muligans Flat NR

7 Callum Brae Nature Reserve

Vegetated primarily by open woodland, this reserve has many easy walking tracks starting off Narrabundah Lane in Symonston. Of non-natural interest are three powder magazines, built in the late 1950s (and since restored) to contain explosives used at the nearby Mugga Quarry.

Twisted Eucalypt in Callum Brae NR

8 Cooleman Ridge Nature Reserve

Cooleman Ridge provides magnificent views to the serried ranges west of Canberra, the Bullen Range, Tidbinbilla Range and glimpses to the Brindabellas. Walk on fire trails to take in these views. The Arawang quadripod trig station was established for the surveying of the Tuggeranong sewer tunnel.

6.18am Cooleman trig, Cooleman Ridge NR

9 Mount Ainslie Nature Reserve

Another immensely popular reserve, with many each day making the trek up the Kokoda Track from behind the War Memorial to the lookout at the top. Old quarry sites in the south-east and the Labyrinth in the north-west. Do respectfully visit the aboriginal war memorial.

Enjoying the labyrinth, Mt Ainslie NR

10 Red Hill Nature Reserve

A multitude of walking tracks in this centrally located reserve. Maybe try a walk at night, with your head torch set to red to maintain your night vision. Follow the ridge-top track from the Red Hill car park through Davidson trig to overlook Hindmarsh Drive. Great Canberra night lights.

Western views over Woden to the Tidbinbilla Range, Red Hill NR

Contributing Walks

If you’re looking for more detail, activate a link below. Each trip report contains various metrics, photos, a map segment and gpx file. Plenty to get you safely started on your own walk and exploration!

Nature Reserves # Date Walk
Red Hill 1 13 Jun 22  Red Hill NR
Callum Brae
Jerrabomberra Grasslands
2, 3 25 Jun 22 Callum Brae and Jerrabomberra Grasslands NRs
Bruce Ridge
Gossan Hill
O’Connor Ridge
4, 5, 6 2 Jul 22 Bruce Ridge, Gossan Hill and O’Connor Ridge NRs
Gungaderra Grasslands
Mulanggari Grasslands
7, 8 16 Jul 22 Gungaderra Grasslands and Mulanggari Grasslands NRs
Percival Hill
9, 10 23 Jul 22 Kinlyside and Percival Hill NRs
Budjan Galindji Grasslands
Nadjung Mada
Crace Grasslands
11, 12, 13 30 Jul 22 Budjan Galindji Grasslands, Nadjung Mada and Crace Grasslands NRs
McQuoids Hill
Urambi Hills
14, 15 6 Aug 22 McQuoids Hill and Urambi Hills NRs
Kowen Escarpment
Molonglo Gorge
16, 17 14 Aug 22 Kowen Escarpment and Molonglo Gorge NRs
Rob Roy 18 21 Aug 22 Rob Roy NR
Tuggeranong Hill
19, 20 27 Aug 22 Tuggeranong Hill and Melrose NRs
Cooleman Ridge
Mt Taylor
Oakey Hill
21, 22, 23 4 Sep 22 Cooleman Ridge, Mt Taylor and Oakey Hill NRs
Isaacs Ridge
Mt Mugga Mugga
24, 25 17 Sep 22 Isaacs Ridge and Mt Mugga Mugga NRs
Mt Majura
Justice Robert Hope Park
26, 27 25 Sep 22 Mt Majura and Justice Robert Hope Park NRs
Mt Ainslie
Mt Pleasant
28, 29 1 Oct 22 Mt Ainslie and Mt Pleasant NRs
Mulligans Flat
30, 31 8 Oct 22 Mulligans Flat and Goorooyarroo NRs
Black Mountain
Aranda Bushland NRs
32, 33 12 Nov 22 Canberra Centenary Trail Section 5 – Black Mountain to Stromlo Leisure Centre including Black Mountain and Aranda Bushland NRs
Farrer Ridge
Wanniassa Hills
34, 35 20 Dec 22 Farrer Ridge and Wanniassa Hills NRs
Mt Painter
The Pinnacle
36, 37 17 Jan 23 Mt Painter and The Pinnacle
Dunlop Grasslands
Jarramlee-West McGregor  Grasslands
38, 39 11 Mar 23 Dunlop and Jarramlee Grasslands NRs