Cooleman Ridge Nature Reserve

Cooleman Ridge Nature Reserve panorama



Cooleman Ridge Nature Reserve

Cooleman Ridge Nature Reserve, part of Canberra Nature Park, is a 192 hectare reserve in Weston Creek which is popular for walking, cycling, dog walking and horse riding. There are a number of walking tracks and management trails in the reserve, and the Bicentennial National Trail is on the reserve’s western edge.

Cooleman Ridge is home to a large population of the threatened Pink-tailed Worm-lizard (Aprasia parapulchella) and there are patches of endangered Yellow Box-Blakely’s Red Gum Grassy Woodland, with rare plants in the understorey. The reserve is part of woodland rim around the northern Tuggeranong Valley and provides important habitat for woodland birds and a connection to the Murrumbidgee River.

Dogs are allowed on leash.


  • Nature appreciation
  • Bird watching
  • Walking
  • Mountain bike riding (on management tracks only)
  • Horse riding (on designated trails only)
  • Dogs are allowed on leash.


Cultural Landscape – A continuing connection to country

Aboriginal people lived in and managed the landscape in this region for thousands of years and have maintained a connection to the land to the present day. Generations of Aboriginal people have cared for Country, and have been sustained, physically and spiritually through their relationship with the land, waterways and cosmology.

Traditional Custodians have actively managed the landscape through activities such ‘fire stick farming’ and selectively cultivating certain plants, which created the landscapes first seen by explorers and pastoral settlers.

Continuation of knowledge

Traditionally, the local Ngunnawal people shared knowledge and responsibility for Caring for Country. Today, this cultural knowledge continues to be passed down to younger generations and has a role to play in the management of ACT reserves. Aboriginal community organisations and the Murumbung Rangers in the ACT Parks and Conservation Service run cultural activities to educate the wider community about the cultural landscape, heritage values and land conservation practices.

Visit Murumbung Yurung Murra cultural activities to find out more about participating in cultural activities or attend a cultural tour with a local Traditional Custodian.

Heritage sites

The reserve protects two Aboriginal heritage sites including stone artefacts, occurring individually and in small scatters on the surface, and a number of areas are likely to contain further Aboriginal heritage sites.

These sites are of cultural significance to Traditional Custodians, linking generations of Aboriginal people over time, and they are also of archaeological significance as an important source of information on the history of the reserve and the ACT region.

Sites are listed on the ACT Heritage Register. If cultural artefacts are found they must not be disturbed to prevent a breach of the ACT Government Heritage Act 2004.

Historic Heritage

Foundations of the Bush Capital

Pastoral settlers arrived in the Canberra region from the 1820s. The Cooleman Ridge area was grazed as part of 'Yarralumla' one of the earliest and largest of Canberra’s nineteenth century estates. The property of ‘Cooleman’ was subdivided from Yarralumla and leased by the Champion family as a grazing enterprise from 1937 to 1996.



Vegetation communities and associations

Cooleman Ridge has previously been extensively cleared for pastoral activities and sparse woodland vegetation in varying condition now remains. Trees within the woodland area includes Red Box (E. polyanthemos), Yellow Box (E. melliodora), Red Gum (E. Blakelyi), Mealy Bundy (E. nortonii), and Scribbly Gum (E. rossii).

Plants – Land of diversity

Several plants that are rare in the ACT are found on Cooleman Ridge including Bertya (Bertya rosmarinifolia), Bristly Cloak Fern (Cheilanthes distans), Pale Flax Lily (Dianella longifolia), Purple Grass Lily (Caesia calliantha), Rough Tree Fern (Cyathea australis), Sickle Fern (Pellaea falcate), Tick Indigo (Indigofera ademsiifolia), Wedge Diuris (Diuris dendrobioides) and Yellow Burr Daisy (Calotis lappulacea).

Small areas of Drooping She-oak (Allocasuarina verticillata) occur in both the eastern and western ends providing a food source for the threatened Glossy Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus lathami).

Very small scattered areas of woodland, mainly on the eastern end of the reserve, provide habitat for threatened and declining birds.

Animals – Home to many

The reserve protects a large population of the threatened Pink-tailed Worm-lizard (Aprasia parapulchella) in rocky areas.

A number of threatened and declining woodland birds have been recorded including the Diamond Firetail (Stagonopleura guttata), Flame Robin (Petroica phoenicea), Speckled Warbler (Pyrrholaemus saggitatus), Varied Sittella (Daphoenositta chrysoptera) and White-winged Triller (Lalage sueurii).


Cooleman Ridge ParkCare conducts regular activities such as weeding, tree planting and maintenance, interpretive walks, mapping of rabbit warrens, etc. For further information visit the ParkCare Initiative page.



Cooleman Ridge Nature Reserve is accessible from various points in Chapman.

Note: If you have difficulty accessing the information in this map please contact Access Canberra on 13 22 81.

Download a PDF map

About Canberra Nature Park

Canberra Nature Park is made up of over 35 reserves ranging from bushland hills to some of the best examples of lowland native grassland and endangered ecological community of Yellow Box-Red Gum Grassy Woodland left in Australia. The ACT Parks and Conservation Service is responsible for managing Canberra Nature Park. For more information visit the Canberra Nature Park webpage.


The management of Canberra Nature Park is greatly assisted by a group of volunteers called ParkCare. ParkCare volunteers undertake a variety of activities including seed collection, plant propagation, tree planting, weed removal, erosion control, vegetation mapping and recording, water quality monitoring, raising community awareness and the maintenance and restoration of heritage places.

For more information visit ParkCare

Caring for Ngunnawal Country

The ACT Government acknowledges the Ngunnawal people as Traditional Custodians of the Canberra region, and their continuing sense of responsibility to preserve the spirit and stories of their ancestors throughout the landscape. Cultural values ;are also living and current, as much as an appreciation of the past. For more information visit Caring for Ngunnawal Country.

Canberra Nature Map

Report rare and endangered plant sightings via the Canberra Nature Map.


For more information on heritage tracks, visit Canberra Tracks which is a network of heritage signage that incorporates six self-drive routes leading to many of Canberra’s historic sites.

Prescribed burns

The ACT Parks and Conservation Service conducts prescribed burns throughout Canberra Nature Park.

More information and feedback

For more information or to provide feedback, contact Access Canberra on 13 22 81 or complete an online feedback form.