Mount Taylor Nature Reserve
A significant hill in the south side of Canberra, Mount Taylor offers magnificent panoramic views over Woden and Tuggeranong valleys, as well as the Brindabella ranges to the south west.
Where is Mount Taylor Nature Reserve?
Mount Taylor Nature Reserve (297 hectares) is part of a continuous ridge system that provides a popular, native bushland setting for suburbs in southern Canberra. Mount Taylor (856 metres) is the highest south side hill within easy access from Kambah, Chifley, Pearce and Torrens. Reward yourself with a walk to the top of the hill to view one of the best panoramic views of south Canberra and the Brindabella ranges to the south.
What’s so special about Mount Taylor Nature Reserve?
The ACT and region was, is and always will be part of the traditional home of the Ngunnawal Aboriginal people. The reserve holds important physical (archaeological) traces of a rich Aboriginal history of the area. It also has a cultural significance and an importance to the cultural landscape to Traditional Custodians, linking generations of Aboriginal people over time.
A connected landscape
Mount Taylor is important for connectivity including Farrer Ridge, Wanniassa Hills and Cooleman Ridge nature reserves, and on to the Murrumbidgee River Corridor in the west. Wildlife use these areas for habitat and as a movement corridor, along the wooded ridges to the south and west. The reserve’s woodlands are part of an ancient ecosystem that once was widespread from the northern end of NSW down into Victoria.
Mount Taylor supports a diverse high quality woodland, which include the endangered Yellow Box-Blakely’s Red Gum Grassy Woodland. It has the largest ACT population of the endangered Small Purple Pea (Swainsona recta) and a variety of rare plant species. The reserve supports a rich but threatened woodland bird population as well as a large population of the vulnerable Pink-tailed Worm-lizard (Aprasia parapulchella). Mature eucalypt trees provide hollows as the perfect home for several species of birds and mammals. As it matures and produces seed cones, the Drooping She-oak (Allocasuarina verticillata), found on the drier north facing slopes will be a food source for the threatened Glossy-Black Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus lathami).
Getting there and parking
Mount Taylor Nature Reserve is located on the south side of Canberra, creating a natural boundary between Woden Valley and Tuggeranong Valley. Driving south on the Tuggeranong Parkway Mount Taylor comes into view as the highest hill south of Lake Burley Griffin.
There are various entry points into Mount Taylor Nature Reserve from the suburbs of Chifley, Pearce, Torrens and Kambah.
From Tuggeranong Parkway
Heading south, turn left onto Sulwood Drive, Kambah. There are several pedestrian access points.
Sulwood Drive: Off road dirt area opposite the intersection with Manheim Street, 1.8 km from the Tuggeranong Parkway.
Colquhoun Street: Off Sulwood Drive. Parking is off the street along a dirt track.
Access is off Parkhill Street, and MacFarland Crescent. Parking is along the street.
Access and parking is at the end of Waldock Street with a turning circle.
Access and parking is off Hawker Street and Athllon Drive, northbound from Sulwood Drive, via the horse paddocks. Parking is at the end of the road with limited turning circle.
Mount Taylor has an extensive network of management and walking tracks and numerous access points on all sides of the reserve. A formal walking track leads to the summit on the southern side and a car park is located on the lower slopes of the reserve on the northern side of the reserve.
Dogs are allowed on leash in the Mount Taylor 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. Horse riders are allowed on the identified horse track located on the perimeter of the reserve connecting to the horse holding paddock, to the east of the reserve.
Picnic tables are located at the end of Waldock Street, Chifley. There are rest benches along the way to the summit from the east approach and along the walking track on the north-eastern side.
Share the experience of the bush on your door step with your family. See the Nature Play website for more ideas.
Mount Taylor Summit
The walk up to Mount Taylor summit can be ascended from the end of Waldock Street, Sulwood Drive, or Gouger Street. All three tracks are a mix of dirt track and sealed or reinforced footpath. The most popular track starts from Sulwood Drive (Opposite Mannheim Street). The track to the summit starts gently, gradually becoming steeper towards the top. There are rest benches intermittently along the way with beautiful views of the Brindabella ranges. The main summit track is just over 2km return from the base of Mount Taylor.
Picnic tables. Picnic tables are located at the end of Waldock Street, northern side of the reserve.
There are no toilets, drinking water, public phone or barbecue facilities in the reserve so make sure you plan ahead. Nearest toilets are at the local shopping centres.
We want you to enjoy Mount Taylor Nature Reserve safely. Parks and reserves are natural environments that can be unpredictable. For your safety tips read our safety in ACT Parks and Reserves.
To help us protect Mount Taylor Nature Reserve, we ask you to follow these restrictions.
- No camping
- No timber collection – it’s home to our local wildlife
- No lighting, using or maintaining fires.
- No motorised vehicles.
- Farrer Ridge Nature Reserve
- Wanniassa Hill Nature Reserve
- Cooleman Ridge Nature Reserve
- Mcquoids Hill Nature Reserve
- Oakey Hill Nature Reserve
Nearest shopping centres, cafes
- Chifley shops
- Pearce shops
- Wanniassa shops
- Kambah shops, Mannheim Street
- Kambah shops, Marconi Crescent
- Woden Westfield shopping centre
- Tuggeranong Hyperdome
There is no accommodation in the reserve.
Mount Taylor Nature Reserve, a prominent landmark in southern Canberra, contains significant cultural and natural history. Learn more about the bush on your doorstep.
Ecosystems in this reserve
Mount Taylor is one of a number of nature reserves that form a large forested-woodland area in south Canberra. Woodland is the dominant ecosystem in the reserve. The nationally endangered Yellow Box-Blakely’s Red Gum Grassy Woodland is found on the lower western slopes. This woodland is part of a much larger area that ranged from northern NSW down to Victoria. A large area of Apple Box Woodland occurs on the southern slope. Other tree species include:
- Scribbly Gum (E. rossii)
- Red Box (E. polyanthemos)
- Broad-leaved Peppermint (E. dives)
Many Snow Gums (E. Pauciflora) are also present along and above Sulwood Drive.
Mount Taylor has the best example of Broad-leaved Peppermint (E. dives) and Red Box (E. Polyanthemos) forest on the southern side leading up to the summit. Broad-leaved Pepperment is usually associated with higher altitude dry forest, while Red Box is characteristic of more open, lower elevation woodland.
Drooping She-oak (Allocasuarina verticillata) is now widespread and will provide a food source for the threatened Glossy Black-Cockatoo (Calyptorhynchus lathami lathami) when mature.
Groundcover is predominantly native with areas of very high diversity. Small patches of shrub land have established in previously cleared areas.
Land of diversity
Mount Taylor supports the only large population of the nationally endangered Small Purple Pea (Swainsona recta) in the ACT. This is approximately 10 per cent of the entire population in south-east Australia.
Mount Taylor is a significant habitat for rare plants. It supports large populations of:
- Blue Grass Lily (Caesia calliantha)
- Gristle Fern (Blechnum cartliagineum)
- Milkmaids (Burchardia umbellata)
- Mountain Hickory (Acacia penninervis)
- Plain Sun Orchid (Thelymitra nuda)
- Tick Indigo (Indigofera adesmiifolia)
Late Black Wattle (Acacia mearnsii) grows in the reserve and provides food for a host of animals. The nitrogen-rich flowers which appear from October to December attract Red Wattlebirds and Yellow-throated Honeyeaters. Wood-boring grubs inside the trunk and branches are eaten by Yellow-tailed Black-Cockatoos while the seeds have appendages which entice ants to carry them into their nests. Unlike most Acacias, Late Black Wattle has true leaves. All wattles start out with true leaves but in the majority of species, the leaves are replaced by phyllodes – false leathery ‘leaves’ formed from flattened stems. They have adopted this strategy to reduce water loss. There are also tiny glands along the leaf axials that secrete nectar (wattle flowers do not) which attract birds and ants.
Home to many
Mount Taylor Nature Reserve is home to an abundance of diverse bird species, reptiles, insects and mammals. The most common marsupials in the reserve are Eastern Grey Kangaroo (Macropus giganteus), and Ringtail Possum (Pseudocheirus peregrines).
The forest on Mount Taylor is often noisy with over 85 bird species recorded in the reserve. The reserve is especially noisy in spring and early summer when the migratory species have arrived to breed. Noisy Friarbirds (Philemon conriculatus) can be found foraging at this time of the year. A mix of mature trees, shrubs, and grasses provide the perfect environment for different bird species to forage, hunt, nest and find shelter. The never-ending piping of White-throated Treecreeper (Cormobates leucophaea) may be heard along the walking tracks to the summit. It uses its long toes to run up the trunks of rough barked trees, probing for insects with its curved bills.
A pair of Nankeen Kestrels can often be seen soaring overhead or perched on an exposed dead limb. Kestrels are small falcons, rusty red above and white below. Kestrels hover or perch to watch for prey – mice, lizards and grasshoppers – moving in the grass below. Wedge-tailed Eagles are also frequently seen patrolling their territory around Mount Taylor.
For more information on Canberra’s birds go to Canberra birds
The threatened Pink-tailed Worm Lizard (Aprasia parapulchella) is found across much of the reserve. Not to be mistaken for a snake, it has a slender, grey brown or coppery brown body with a blunt head and rounded tail. It reaches a total length of around 240mm. It lives in rocky native grassy areas, especially large tussock grasses.
Every rock tells a story
More than 425 million years ago a shallow sea teeming with life covered much of south eastern Australia including brachiopods. These are two shelled animals similar to scallops that were anchored to the sea floor. There were also coral-like bryophytes and trilobites – a rich group of segmented arthropods which either fed on the sea bottom or swam above it.
Nearby present day Mount Taylor was a chain of scattered islands in the shallow sea, similar to the present day islands of Japan. Active volcanic islands formed due to the crustal extension forming the rift which Canberra is built upon. The violently eruptive volcanoes deposited volcanic debris from huge volcanic explosions (Laidlaw Volcanics). The rocks spewed out by the Laidlaw Volcanics are found mostly in the southern and western Canberra region.
The explosive debris from the Laidlaw Volcanics can be found on the summit of Mount Taylor. The gravel once quarried at Mount Mugga Mugga is also part of the Laidlaw Volcanics Suite.
A continuing connection to country through past present and future
The Mount Taylor region has a long and varied place in our cultural 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. 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 were frequently burnt to fresh, succulent, green growth to attract animals for hunting and to provide open pathways for travel.
A vantage point
Mount Taylor and other hills in the region served as distinct visual markers and also provided excellent vantage points for intruders or to signal to other family groups. With their expansive views over the land, mountain tops were also used for imparting knowledge to young men. Tidbinbilla Mountain to the west was used for a similar purpose.
‘Tuggeranong’ is an anglicised Aboriginal word meaning ‘cold plain’. Campsites a little way up hillsides and usually on north-facing slopes would have been warmer in winter than in lower lying areas on the plains.
New European settlers around this area recorded that relationships were generally friendly between them and the local Aboriginal people. Aboriginal groups and individuals assembled on the edges of pastoral properties and villages. Traditional Aboriginal ceremonial activities were recorded in the region until the 1860’s including a corroboree on the Isabella Plains in 1827 (recorded by William Edward Riley). Eventually the Aboriginal people of this region were sent to missions near Yass and Tumut until the mid 1950s.
The reserve protects two Aboriginal heritage sites, being the physical (archaeological) traces of the rich Aboriginal history of the area, including a culturally modified tree where Aboriginal people once removed bark for cultural use. 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 to find out more about participating in cultural activities or attend a cultural tour with a local Traditional Custodian.
There are two 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’.
The name ‘Mount Taylor’ is most likely derived from James Taylor, whose hut can be seen in the field books of the early surveyors and also on Dixon's 1829 map of the Molonglo River. He was the son-in-law of Colonel George Johnston, reportedly the first person ashore when the First Fleet landed. Mount Taylor is some distance from the actual site of the hut, which was located (approximately) on the site of the Yarralumla woolshed.
Grazing followed by conservation
With European settlement, the area was extensively cleared and heavily grazed. In recent years there has been significant regeneration of native vegetation. The forest and woodland across the reserve now generally has good structure and diversity in all layers (trees, shrubs and ground layer). A large part of the reserve was burnt in the 2003 wild-fires and has since recovered. Since 1989, the Mount Taylor ParkCare Group and Parks and Conservation Service have made a joint effort to manage the reserve. The group has assisted with revegetation, woody weed control, kangaroo counts and public education.
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.
Managing Mount Taylor Nature Reserve
Mount Taylor Nature Reserve is managed by ACT Parks and Conservation service which oversees programs to protect rare plants and animals through various management actions. The control of invasive plants and animals is one important part of conserving and enhancing biodiversity. Park rangers work collaboratively with researchers and volunteers and conduct regular patrols of the Reserve. Friends of Mount Taylor ParkCare volunteers have contributed their time since 1989 to improve and protect our parks and reserves natural and cultural values.
For more information refer to the Canberra Nature Park Plan of Management.
Mount Taylor has suburbs bordering the reserve on the eastern and southern sides. It is subject to regular fuel reduction burns. These burns follow ecological guidelines that aim to protect rare and threatened and fire sensitive species and threatened ecological communities. For example, fire fuel reduction burns avoid the areas of the fire sensitive Drooping She-oak. 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. Special measures to protect threatened or rare species and habitat trees are undertaken during fuel reduction burns.
For further information see the Bushfire Management in the ACT
Note: If you have difficulty accessing the information in this map please contact Access Canberra on 13 22 81.
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.