Gungaderra Grassland Nature Reserve

Trees on a hill at Gungaderra Grasslands



Gungaderra Grassland Nature Reserve photo

Gungaderra Grassland Nature Reserve,  part of Canberra Nature Park, is a 281 hectare low lying grassland which rises  to Gungahlin Hill. The area is located in the south west of the Gungahlin  Valley. It is an ideal place to observe some of the more common  native plants and animals in Canberra. There are a number of old gnarled  scribbly gums and brittle gums scattered throughout the grasslands.

The reserve features  the nationally endangered natural temperate grassland and supports populations  of striped legless lizard, key’s matchstick grasshopper, Golden sun moth and perunga grasshopper. It also contains several rare plant species and yellow  box-red gum grassy woodland which provides habitat for rare woodland birds.

A small number of management tracks cross the reserve.


  • Bird watching
  • Nature appreciation
  • Lookout

Dogs and other pets are not allowed.



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 ‘fire stick farming’ and selectively cultivating certain plants, which created the landscapes first seen by European explorers and settlers. Grasslands were frequently fired to maintain high levels of fresh, succulent, green growth to attract game animals into an area and to maintain open pathways for travel. Gungaderra contains areas of wet ground which support the growth of several species of native grass, sedge and rush which are used by Aboriginal people in weaving for baskets, nets and string.

Gungaderra Grasslands were once part of the historic Gungahlin Homestead property (est. 1862). Gungaderra was the name of the old Red Hill homestead (named by Richard Crace) and is a combination of the two names GUNGAhlin and GinninDERRA (ACTPLA 2013).

Cultural heritage values

The reserve protects seven known Aboriginal heritage sites, being the physical (archaeological) traces of the rich Aboriginal history of the area. Stone artefacts are found in the reserve, 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.



Vegetation Communities and Associations

  • Much of Gungaderra Grassland Nature Reserve is natural temperate grassland or native pasture.
  • The natural temperate grassland is dominated by Austrostipa spp. and wet themeda, with  other native grasses and forbs present such as wallaby grasses (Austrodanthonia spp.), common  everlasting (Chrysocephalum apiculatum),  and new holland daisy (Vittadinia spp).
  • Native pasture is dominated by speargrass (Austrostipa spp.), wallaby grass (Austrodanthonia spp.) and redgrass (Bothriochloa macra). Areas of  predominantly exotic grasses tend to occur in the lower, wetter and nutrient  rich areas and are typically dominated by phalaris (Phalaris aquatica), cocksfoot (Dactylis  glomerata) and tall fescue (Festuca  arundinacea).
  • Nationally endangered blakely’s red gum-yellow box tall grassy woodland (approx 30 hectares) occurs on the eastern slopes of  Gungahlin Hill. The remaining hill area supports  dry forest dominated by scribbly gum (E. rossii) and brittle gum (E. mannifera).
  • Common understorey plants include black wood (Acacia melanoxylon), Australian indigo (Indigofera australis), false  sarsaparilla (Hardenbergia violacea), nNarrow-leaf bitter pea (Davesia  mimosoides) and snow grasses (Poa spp).

Plants – Land of diversity

  • Several rare plant species occur in the reserve  including: Black Mountain leopard orchid (Diuris  nigromontana, creeping bossiaea (Bossiaea  prostrata), dwarf milkwort (Polygala  japonica), pale flax lily (Dianella  longifolia), rufous midge orchid (Corunastylis  clivicola), twinning fringe lily (Thysanotus  patersonii) and yam daisy (Microseris  lanceolata).
  • The nationally vulnerable striped legless lizard  (Delma impar) is the most common  vertebrate found in the reserve, with an estimated population of at least  3,000 animals. The reserve also supports a very large population of the  regionally uncommon key’s matchstick grasshopper (Keyacris scurra).
  • The endangered golden sun moth (Synemon plana) and vulnerable perunga grasshopper (Perunga ochracea) have  been found in the reseerve.
  • The vulnerable white-winged triller (Lalage sueurii) and varied sittella (Daphoenositta chrysoptera) inhabit the  woodland on Gungahlin Hill, as does the regionally declining speckled warbler (Chthonicola sagittata) and dusky woodswallow (Artamus cyanopterus).
  • Other grassland fauna common in the reserve  include the common eastern froglet (Crinia  signifera), delicate skink (Lampropholis  delicate), grass skink (L.  Guitchenoti), three-toed skink (Hemiergis  decresiensis) and spotted grass frog (Limnodynastes  tasmaniensis).


Access is provided along the Crace boundary via step overs off Bollard Street (Palmerston) on the north side and Gungahlin Drive on the east side.

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.