Mount Majura Nature Reserve
Explore Mount Majura’s many walking tracks through old woodland and open forest. Hear the chatter of a variety of birds while wondering up to the summit for magnificent views of north Canberra.
Where is Mount Majura Nature Reserve?
Mount Majura Nature Reserve (481 hectares) and the adjoining Mount Ainslie Nature Reserve to the south form a significant ridge in north-east Canberra. At 888 metres above sea level, Mount Majura is the highest peak in Canberra Nature Park. The reserve is bordered by the Federal Highway to the north-west; rural leases to the north-east, the Majura pine forest to the east, and Hackett and the Majura Horse Paddocks to the west. It can be accessed from the suburbs of Hackett and Watson, via Majura Pines recreation area, and the Federal Highway.
What’s so special about Mount Majura Nature Reserve?
The ACT and region was, is and always will be part of the traditional home of the Ngunnawal Aboriginal people. Mount Majura is an important Aboriginal cultural place in the ACT with up to 12 known Aboriginal heritage sites of cultural and archaeological significance.
A connected landscape
As part of an ancient ecosystem that was once widespread from the northern end of NSW down into Victoria, Mount Majura is an important part of an extensive area of Yellow box-Red gum grassy woodland in northern ACT. This includes Mount Ainslie, Goorooyarroo and Mulligans Flat nature reserves and rural land in the north and west of the ACT. Wildlife, including migratory birds, use these areas for foraging, breeding habitat and as a movement corridor that links through the Majura Valley to the Molonglo River.
Mount Majura is home to many threatened species of plants and animals, especially regionally declining woodland birds. It is the only known ACT nesting area of the vulnerable Glossy Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus lathami lathami). Several threatened or declining nomadic or migratory woodland birds are regular visitors including Swift Parrot (Lathamus discolour)and Regent Honeyeater (Anthochaera phrygia).The rare and vulnerable Rosenberg’s Monitor (Varanus rosenbergi) is sometimes seen wandering through the diverse understorey. The reserve supports a high plant diversity including rare plants such as the Canberra Spider Orchid (Arachnorchis actensis) and Hoary Sunray (Leucochrysum albicans). Historic 1920 Kurrajong (Brachychiton populneus)plantings are found near the summit.
There are various accesspoints into Mount Majura Nature Reserve from the suburbs of Hackett and Watsonand via Majura Pine Plantation and the Federal Highway.
Rivett Street. Three access points canbe accessed from Rivett Street. A small gravel car park is situated at thesouthern end of Rivett Street.
Mackenzie Street. There is off streetparking at the Mackenzie Street access point.
Kellaway Street, off Phillip Avenue.There is street parking with pedestrian access to the reserve.
Antill Street. The two Antill Streetentry points to the reserve, near the Majura horse paddocks, have off streetgravel car parks.
Federal Highway. From the Federal Highwayheading into Canberra, there are two access points. However, there is no carpark at these access points.
The Fair, adjacent to the Federalhighway. There are two access points and street parking along Ian Nicol Street/Tay Street.
Majura Pines recreation area.
Pedestrianaccess to the reserve from the eastern boundary is through the Majura Pinesrecreation area, from Majura Parkway, Majura Road, or along the Mount MajuraRoad.
Mount Majura has many walking andmanagement tracks. The best access to the tracks is from Watson and Hackett. Thereare no picnic tables available in the reserve. Picnic in the shade of anancient gum tree.
Walking tracks and multiuse formed roadsprovide opportunities to explore the reserve.
Dogs are allowed on leash in the Mount Majura Nature Reserve. Pick up your dogs droppings.
Cycling/Mountain bike riding is only permitted on formed vehicle tracks
Horse riding is permitted only on designated tracks. The established horse trail follows a route around Mt Majura.
Share the experience of the bush on your door step with your family. Go to the Nature Play website for more ideas.
Many of the walking trails lead to the summit of Mount Majura where you can enjoy magnificent views of north Canberra. An alternative track via the summit is the Casuarina walking trail – a 3.8 km loop suitable for all ages. The walk is a moderate walk with steep sections, steps and uneven ground. Friends of Mt Majura have developed a map of the Casuarina walking trail.
There are no facilities in the reserve. Nearest public toilets, public phones and water are at the local shopping centres.
We want you to enjoy Mount Majura Nature Reserve safely. Parks and reserves are natural environments that can be unpredictable. For your safety tips ready our safety in ACT Parks and Reserves.
To help us protect Mount Majura Nature Reserve, we ask you to follow the following restrictions
No timber collection
No lighting, using or maintaining fires No motorised vehicles
Note: If you have difficulty accessing the information in this map please contact Access Canberra on 13 22 81.
- Mount Ainslie Nature Reserve
- Majura Pines recreation area
- Justice Robert Hope Park (Watson Woodlands)
- Goorooyaroo Nature reserve
- Valour Park, Federal Highway, Watson
- Corroboree Park
- Haig Park
- Caldwell Street Playground, Hackett
- Bragg Street Playground, Hackett
- Nearest shopping centres, cafes
- Hackett Shops
- Watson Shops
- Ainslie Shops
There is no accommodation in the reserve
Set in an ancient woodland landscape, Mount Majura Nature Reserve is an important breading habitat for a diverse range of woodland birds. It is significant for its cultural and natural history, geology and biodiversity. Learn more about the bush on your doorstep.
Ecosystems in this reserve
The lower slopes of Mount Majura protects endangered Yellow Box-Blakely’s Red Gum Grassy Woodland. This endangered ecological community is part of a larger ecosystem that once extended from northern NSW down to Victoria. Forest dominated by Red Stringybark (E. macrorhyncha) occurs on the steep upper slopes and a small area of Snow Gum-Candle Bark Tableland Woodland also occurs.
Drooping She-oak (Allocasuarina verticillata) is found across Mount Majura. The threatened Glossy Black-Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus lathami lathami) love to forage on the seed cones of the Drooping She-oak. The Glossy Black-Cockatoo and other woodland birds and tree dependent mammals rely on tree hollows to make their perfect home.
Areas of grassland are found on the western slopes above the Majura Horse Paddocks.
Land of diversity
Mount Majura nature reserve is home to around 250 local native species of trees, shrubs, flowering herbs, ferns and grasses. There are more than 30 different types of orchids; a variety of flowering herbs and shrubs, that decorate the slopes of Mount Majura in spring and summer time. Some of these plant species are considered rare or endangered in the ACT.
Endangered plants found in the reserve include:
- Spider Orchid (Arachnorchis actensis)
- Hoary Sunray (Leucochrysum albicans)
- Chamomile Burr-Daisy (Calotis anthemoides)
- Emu Foot (Cullen tenax)
Tussocks of snowgrass, speargrass and Redanther Wallaby Grass (Rytidosperma pallidum) are found on the dryer western slopes of the reserve. Mat-rush (Lomandra longifolia) is a tough-leafed understorey plant, looking a little like a robust grass clump or a lily. Mat-rush leaves have wide tips with usually three little teeth. In late spring the flattened flowering spikes are clustered with little white flowers. Aboriginal people valued the plant; they ate the soft leaf bases and flowers, and wove the strong fibrous leaves into baskets and mats.
Other rare plant species present on Mount Majura include:
- Creeping Bossiaea (Bossiaea prostrata),
- Hill Fireweed (Senecio hispidulus),
- Large Tick-trefoil (Desmodium brachypodum)
- Pale Flax Lily (Dianella longifolia var. longifolia),
- Prickly Moses (Acacia ulicifolia),
- Swollen Tick Bush (Indigofera adesmiifolia),
- Twining Fringe Lily (Thysanotis patersonii), and
- Yam Daisy (Microseris lanceolata).
A common shrub in the reserve is a daisy known variously as Cauliflower Bush, Cough Bush or Dogwood, one of four species of Cassinia growing on the mountain. It flowers in summer, when most other shrubs have finished. Be cautious handling it – the leaves and flowers can irritate the skin, eyes or lungs of some people. It is named for Count Alexandre de Cassini, a French botanist of the early nineteenth century who specialised in daisies.
See plants of Mount Majura for more information.
Canberra Nature Map offer photos and descriptions of each of the species.
Home to many
Mount Majura is home to several kinds of native mammals, reptiles and insects. The most common marsupials in the reserve are:
- Eastern Grey Kangaroo (Macropus giganteus)
- Swamp Wallaby (Wallabia bicolour)
- Ringtail Possum (Pseudocheirus peregrines)
Sugar Gliders (Petaurus breviceps) and Short-beaked Echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus) have occasionally been spotted.
Mount Majura provides good quality bird habitat for more than 110 species of birds. Several threatened woodland bird species have been recorded including:
- Hooded Robin (Melanodryas cucullata)
- Little Eagle (Hieraaetus morphnoides)
- Painted Honeyeater (Grantiella picta)
- Regent Honeyeater (Anthochaera phrygia)
- Superb Parrot (Polytelis swainsonii)
- Swift Parrot (Lathamus discolour)
- Varied Sittella (Daphoenositta chrysoptera)
- White-winged Triller (Lalage sueurii)
Old trees provide nesting hollows; younger trees, shrubs and grasses provide blossoms, seeds and protection for smaller birds. For more information on Canberra’s birds go to Canberra birds.
The endangered Golden Sun Moth (Synemon plana) has been found in the reserve. The larvae develop in grasses such as wallaby grass, spear grass and Chilean needle grass. Around mid-spring to midsummer they pupate into adult moths living only for up to two days.
Reptiles living in the reserve include:
- Eastern Brown snake (Pseudonaja textilis)
- Red-bellied Black Snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus)
- Shingleback (Tiliqua rugosa)
- Rosenberg’s Goanna (Varanus rosenbergi)
The Rosenberg’s Goanna is sometimes seen wandering through the diverse understorey. If you come across any reptile, please leave them alone and keep your distance. After all, this is their home!
The stands of Drooping She-oak (Allocasuarina verticillata) on Mount Majura provide important habitat for the threatened Glossy Black-Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus lathami) as the birds feed almost exclusively on She-oak seeds. Mount Majura is the only known breeding site in the ACT for this species.
Surveys in the 1970s and 1980s found Yellow-footed Antechinus (Antechinus flavipes) and Brown Antechinus (Antechinus stuartii) in the reserve, but recent surveys have failed to find the species and it may no longer occur on Mount Majura.
See wildlife of Mt Majura by the Friends of Mt Majura for more information.
Canberra Nature Map (link to http://canberra.naturemapr.org/Community/Location/3) offer photos and descriptions of each of the species.
Every rock tells a story
More than 425 million years ago a shallow sea teeming with life covered much of south eastern Australia. Behind the shoreline, to the west of Canberra, the land was completely barren of any life, though in places the first primitive plants were making a momentous move onto the beaches. Along the shore, not far to the west of the reserve, and on scattered islands in the sea, active volcanoes deposited ash and mud into the waters. This volcanic debris is the origin of the rocks of Mounts Ainslie and Majura, which are very different from the older sandstones of Black Mountain, formed from silt and sand washed by rivers into the sea. The eruption came from a volcano into shallow sea water as part of a chain of island volcanoes, similar to the present day chain of volcanic islands stretching from New Zealand’s north island to Tonga.
The Mount Ainslie Volcanics can be seen in cuttings on the Mt Ainslie Summit Road and at the Mt Ainslie lookout, as well as near Ginns Gap along the Federal Highway. Rocky outcrops of Mount Ainslie Volcanics are found on the upper slopes of Mount Majura. The Mount Ainslie Volcanics was used as a durable building material by the early settlers. It was used to build Saint John’s Church in Reid.
Fossil outcrops are found on the lower north-west slopes near Hackett, including corals, trilobites and brachiopods.
Detailed information on the geological history of Mt Majura can be found at the Friends of Mt Majura website.
A continuing connection to country through past, present and future
Mount Majura has long and varied place in our history as a cultural landscape. 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.
Gateway to the mountains
Traditional Custodians have 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 may have been frequently burnt to maintain high levels of fresh, succulent, green growth to attract animals for hunting and to provide open pathways for travel. The saddle between Mount Majura and Gecko Hill, now crossed by the Federal Highway was, and still is one of the main entry points into Canberra area, was a favoured travel route to the southern ranges. The eastern side bordering Majura Valley is known to have been a major pathway through the landscape leading towards alpine areas.
Mount Majura holds a special association with Aboriginal people as a Men’s Place and is a key landmark in the northern ACT. Physical traces of a rich Aboriginal history of the area are found within the reserve including scarred trees, ceremonial sites and stone artefact scatters and isolated finds, considered likely to reflect past Aboriginal camping places, from recent to more distant times. The reserve protects these known Aboriginal sites as well as the cultural values. 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.
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. Follow the Murumbung Yurung Murra cultural activities link (link to http://www.environment.act.gov.au/parks-conservation/parks-and-reserves/recreational_activities/murumbung-yurung-murra-cultural-tours) to find out more about participating in cultural activities or attend a cultural tour with a local Traditional Custodian.
There are numerous Aboriginal cultural heritage sites in the reserve which 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. Read more information about Heritage
Foundations of the Bush Capital
Traditional Custodians have actively managed the landscape for thousands of years, and created the landscapes first seen by European explorers and settlers through activities such as ‘fire stick farming’.
European settlers arrived in the Canberra region from the 1820s. With European settlement the Darmody family moved to the Canberra region in the 1860s and farmed much of Mount Majura and the surrounding land. Other families farming in the Mount Majura and Mount Ainslie area included Campbell, O'Rourke, Ginn and Hope. Most blocks were 40 or 50 acres, and a few were 100 acres or more.
Robert Campbell was one of the first major land owners in the area, with land covering most of Mt Ainslie, the foot hills of Mt Majura and the land from the present day Canberra airport to the City centre.
Stock grazing and other settlement activities reduced vegetation cover in many areas. Abrupt changes in vegetation type (which can still be observed) indicate previous fence lines and different management styles. A post and rail fence, probably constructed before 1886, is found on the lower north-west slope of Mount Majura. Grazing sheep was the major stock activity, and during drought years Drooping She-oak (Allocasuarina verticillata) was used as fodder. A 1915 timber inspector’s report notes that there were ‘very few trees and those of poor quality. Records at Yarralumla Nursery note that Kurrajong (Brachychiton populneus) seeds sourced from Queanbeyan, were sown on Mount Majura in 1919 and that a further 8 000 Kurrajong were sown there in July 1920. Drooping she-oak (Allocasuarina verticillata) was also planted for stock fodder. Grazing ceased in the Mt Majura area in 1985.
Today, old fence lines, yards, dams and tree stumps as well as introduced grasses and other plants can be seen today in the reserve as remnants of Canberra’s pastoral era.
Managing our reserves
Nature reserves are created to protect and conserve native flora and fauna with high conservation value. Reserves are also an important place for scientific research, education, and nature based recreation. A management plan is in place to ensure the protection of a healthy ecosystem for the plants and animals that live there and for visitors to enjoy. Park rangers follow the reserve management plan in order to:
- restore biodiversity
- protect heritage sites
- research and monitor natural values
- manage threats (weeds, pest animals, inappropriate grazing, impacts of urbanisation and climate change)
- manage fire
- engage with community
For more information refer to the Canberra Nature Park Plan of Management.
Managing Mount Majura Nature Reserve
Mount Majura Nature Reserve is managed by ACT Parks and Conservation service which oversees programs to protect rare plants and animals through management actions. The control of invasive plants and animals, such as the Cootamundra Wattle (Acacia baileyana) and rabbits, is one important part of conserving and enhancing biodiversity. Park Rangers work with researchers and volunteers and conduct regular patrols of the Reserve.
Friends of Mount Majura volunteers have put in thousands of hours of on ground work to rehabilitate the reserve. Join the Friends of Mount Majura in one of their working bees. The Parkcare group conducts regular activities including weeding, tree planting and maintenance, interpretive walks, mapping of rabbit warrens, etc.The group have supported the rehabilitation of two dams on Mount Majura and a project to monitor the changes in ground layer vegetation by excluding grazing by rabbits and/or kangaroos.
Photo: Friends of Mount Majura Tree planting day 2014, by A. Tatnell.
Mount Majura, because of its proximity to suburbs and major public facilities, is subject to regular fuel reduction burns. The frequency and extent of these burns is managed under the Bushfire Operations Plan, which sets out to manage the risks of bushfire in the ACT.
The plants growing on Mount Majura have evolved different strategies to survive fire. The majority of species produce vegetative shoots after being burnt. The eucalypts resprout from their base and along their stems and branches. Most of the other woody plants and perennial herbs and grasses also develop shoots from the base of their burnt stems, buried roots or other underground organs.
Photo: Regrowth months after a burn
Some species rely on vegetative regrowth to recover after a fire. Many others produce seedlings from seed buried in the soil or released from burnt fruit. A small number of species are unable to resprout after being burnt; seed germination is their only means of recovery. For these species, it is important that the interval between fires is long enough for them to mature and replenish their soil seed store.
Fire fuel management activities are subject to ecological guidelines that aim to protect rare, threatened and fire sensitive species, and threatened ecological communities. Special measures to protect threatened or rare species are undertaken during fuel reduction burns. For example, on Mount Majura spring fire fuel reduction burns are generally avoided to protect the diverse woodland bird habitat during breeding season and threatened plant species, in particular the Canberra Spider Orchid. Stands of mature Drooping she-oak (Allocasuarina verticullata) are protected from burning as they are an important breeding location and food source for Glossy black cockatoos.
For further information see the Bushfire Management in the ACT webpage.
A Survey of the Vertebrate Fauna of Mt. Ainslie, Mt Majura and Black Mountain; 1975-76, K.Kukolic, (1990)
Vegetation of the Ainslie – Majura Reserve F. Ingwerson, O. Evans and B. Griffiths, (1974)
About Canberra Nature Park
The ACT Parks and Conservation Service is responsible for managing 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 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.
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.
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.