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.

About

About

Mount Taylor Nature Reserve

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.

Natural landscape

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).

Visit

Visit

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.

Kambah

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.

Pearce

Access is off Parkhill Street, and MacFarland Crescent. Parking is along the street.

Chifley

Access and parking is at the end of Waldock Street with a turning circle.

Torrens

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.

Activities

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.

Local recommendations

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.

Facilities

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.

Safety

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.

Regulations

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.
What’s nearby

Other reserves

Urban Parks

Nearest shopping centres, cafes

  • Chifley shops
  • Pearce shops
  • Wanniassa shops
  • Kambah shops, Mannheim  Street
  • Kambah shops, Marconi  Crescent
  • Woden Westfield shopping  centre
  • Tuggeranong Hyperdome

Accommodation

There is no accommodation in the reserve.

Learn more

Learn more

Mount Taylor Nature Reserve, a prominent landmark in southern Canberra, contains significant  cultural and natural history. Learn more about the bush on your doorstep.

Natural landscapes
Cultural landscape
European heritage
Canberra Nature Map


Natural landscapes

Ecosystems in this reserve

Woodland

Grassland

Landscape ecosystems

Woodland in Mount Taylor Nature ReserveMount 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.

Plants

Land of diversity

Small Purple Pea (Swainsona recta)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 Late Black Wattle (Acacia mearnsii)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.

Animals

Home to many

Eastern Grey KangarooMount 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.

Nankeen KestrelFor 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.

Geology

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.

Cultural landscape

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.

Cold Plain

‘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.

Heritage

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.

Continuing culture

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

European 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’.

Mt Taylor in the 1970’s.James  Taylor

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

Friends of Mount Taylor planting treesMount 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.

Fire

Fire regeneration, Mount TaylorMount 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

Directions

Directions

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

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.

Volunteering

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.

Heritage

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.