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 297 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 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 as ‘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 it is likely that other as yet unrecorded sites also occur. 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.

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

  • 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 Spear Grass (Austrostipa spp.), Wallaby Grass (Austrodanthonia spp.) and Red Grass (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 Yellow Box-Blakely’s Red Gum 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 Blackwood (Acacia melanoxylon), Australian Indigo (Indigofera australis), False Sarsaparilla (Hardenbergia violacea), Narrow-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)
  • Dwarf Milkwort (Polygala japonica)
  • Pale Flax Lily (Dianella longifolia) and
  • Rufous Midge Orchid (Corunastylis clivicola).

Animals – Home to many

  • 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 reserve.
  • 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 (Lampropholis 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 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.