Gossan Hill Nature Reserve

Gossan Hill bushland



Gossan Hill Nature Reserve photo

Gossan Hill Nature Reserve, part of Canberra Nature Park, is a 47 hectare reserve located in south-east Belconnen.

Gossan Hill has dry forest - woodland vegetation with high plant diversity, orchid flora and unusual geological features.

The reserve contains a significant ochre quarry, one of the few known in the ACT.

The reserve provides important habitat for vulnerable and regionally declining woodland birds.


  • Nature appreciation
  • Bird watching
  • Walking
  • Mountain biking (only permitted on management trails and the marked Centenary Trail)
  • Dogs are allowed on leash.


Land Use History

The ACT has a long and rich Aboriginal history, extending from the present day back at least 25,000 years. Over this time, generations of Aboriginal people have cared for Country, and have been sustained, physically and spiritually, through their relationship with the land. Traditional Custodians have also actively managed the landscape for thousands of years, through activities such as ‘fire stick farming’ and selectively cultivating certain plants, which created the landscapes first seen by European explorers and settlers. As a rare and significant source of ochre within the ACT, Gossan Hill would have been cared for by local Aboriginal groups, including control of access and the collection of ochre for trade with neighbouring groups.

With European settlement, the land was selected in 1865 by Richard Shumack from the Campbell’s Emu Bank estate and by 1888 the Parish of Canberra map showed that blocks covering the area of Gossan Hill were held by F. J. Davis, E. K. Grace and John Southwell. Stock grazing continued until more recent times when the surrounding suburbs were developed.

Cultural Heritage Values

Gossan Hill Nature Reserve contains a significant ochre quarry, one of the few known in the ACT. Ochre is a highly valued cultural material, and one that has been traditionally used for ceremonies and art. Early European settlers in the area, Frederick Campbell and Richard Shumack, both noted that the area was used for corroborees; and stone artefacts in the reserve and the surrounding area also reflect this past Aboriginal use. It is also understood that an Aboriginal pathway once connected Gossan Hill to Gubur Dhaura, another known ochre quarry site in the ACT. These physical (archaeological) traces of the Aboriginal history of the area are of high cultural significance to Traditional Custodians, linking generations of Aboriginal people over time. They are also of archaeological significance as an important source of information on the history of the reserve and the ACT region.

All Aboriginal places and objects in the ACT are protected under the Heritage Act 2004 and must not be disturbed. Anyone finding an (unregistered) Aboriginal object or place has an obligation to report it to the Heritage Council.



Vegetation Communities and Associations

Gossan Hill reserve contains predominantly red stringybark (Eucalyptus macrorhyncha) dominated forest, with Yellow Box-Blakely’s Red Gum Grassy Woodland on the northern slopes. An area of secondary grassland occurs on the slopes above the grassy woodland.

Plants – Land of diversity

A majority of Gossan Hill is dry forest, with high plant diversity and many orchids.

Gossan Hill has a number of plants which are rare in the ACT including:

  • Thin Clubbed Mountain Orchid (Arachnorchisa atrovespa)
  • Hoary Sunray (Leucochrysum albicans) (endangered)
  • Black Mountain Diuris (Diuris nigromontana)
  • Hairy Wattle (Acacia lanigera var lanigera)

Animals – Home to many

The reserve provides important habitat for threatened and declining woodland birds. The vulnerable Varied Sittella (Daphoenositta chrysoptera) and regionally declining Speckled Warbler (Chthonicola sagittata) breed in the reserve.



Gossan Hill Nature Reserve is accessible from College Street on the north side and from numerous points in Bruce.

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 38 nature 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.