Mount Gibraltar Reserve is located in the Southern Highlands region, between Bowral and Mittagong in New South Wales. It is approximately 1.5 hours away by car from Sydney's CBD, and makes for a great day trip - Mount Gibraltar Reserve provides great views of country New South Wales, without asking for too much time in the car in return. The township of Mittagong acts as a gateway to the Southern Highlands when coming from Sydney, with nearby Bowral having served as a rural summer retreat for Sydney's elite in a past era (similar to The Hamptons for New York's elite) - it's time to bring this rural summer retreat back in season!
In addition to being listed on the State Heritage Register by the NSW Heritage Council in December 2013 in recognition of its historical and natural significance, Mount Gibraltar, a collapsed volcanic core, is also of special importance due to it being the highest point between Sydney and Canberra. Standing tall and proud at 863m above sea level at the summit, Mount Gibraltar Reserve encompasses an impressive 130 hectares of igneous rock microsyenite (known commercially as Bowral Trachyte).
Information on Mount Gibraltar Reserve at Bowral Lookout.
What's the history surrounding Mount Gibraltar Reserve that led to it being listed on the State Heritage Register, and can you give me a brief rundown on the timeline of its history?
The Bowral Trachyte that is found in abundance on Mount Gibraltar Reserve was quarried for 100 years from 1886 to 1986 - it was quarried for stone to build many grand public buildings. The quarry scars commemorate a major part of the history of Mittagong and surrounding towns, with quarrying being one of its early industries. Surveyor Major Mitchell was one of the earliest white settlers in the area, who noted "a naked rocky spot called by the stock people, Gibraltar" - this was the earliest recorded mention of the name. He also noted excellent 'whinstone', an early name for Bowral Trachyte.
1798 - explorer John Wilson became the first European to climb the mountain
1867 - quarrying began commercially once the railway reached Bowral and could transport the heavy stone
1919 - Joshua Stokes purchased 32 hectares of land on the summit, with a vision for the area to become a nature reserve
1930s - During the depression of this decade, Minister Eric Spooner provided relief funds for men to construct the Scenic Loops Road, lookouts, and shelters for public enjoyment
1940 - declared a Fauna and Flora Reserve
2001 - listed under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act
2008 - the NSW National Trust added the Mount Gibraltar Quarries Complex to its Industrial Heritage List
2011 - listed under the Australian Government's Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act
2013 - listed by the NSW Heritage Council on its Significant Heritage Register
2014 - registered with Land for Wildlife
'Naked rocky spot' - Surveyor Major Mitchell; a reserve rich in history. View of surrounding country from Jellore Lookout.
What walking tracks are available for patrons of Mount Gibraltar Reserve?
Mount Gibraltar Reserve is composed of at least 7 different walking tracks for day users to explore - dogs are more than welcome too, provided that they are on leash at all times. There are a range of walks to suit everyone, from (very) short treks from the carpark to longer circuits with steeper tracks, Mount Gibraltar Reserve caters for all its patrons equally. 'The Rim' walking track is amongst the most popular, as it is a short 25 minute walk that takes connects all the lookouts on the west side of the reserve.
List of the main walking trails at Mount Gibraltar Reserve - screenshot taken from the official Mount Gibraltar booklet.
Tracks are well signposted, as are lookouts - it'll be hard getting lost in Mount Gibraltar Reserve provided you stay on the provided path! Note: Please stay on the tracks and take care of the bushland - all native plants, animals, and rocks are protected.
Eddy on the 'The Rim' walking track, near Jellore Lookout.
Are there are picnic areas on Mount Gibraltar Reserve?
Yes, there sure are! One of the picnic areas is located at Bowral Lookout, with toilets, tables, and a shelter available for patrons to use. The picnic area is conveniently located adjacent to the carpark. Another picnic area is at the Inner Bowl area, with a table and a shelter available. Car parking is at the western entrance.
From the township of Mittagong, Mount Gibraltar Reserve is only a 10 minute drive away - simply navigate towards Oxley Drive and follow the signs you see along the way. It's very easy to find! The road leading to the lookouts is mostly paved - although it can be quite steep and narrow in sections, 4WD access is not required. The paths are beautifully flanked with lush green trees throughout, so it makes for a nice scenic country drive with great views even before you get to one of the lookouts.
Eddy and I were very impressed with the views from the lookouts that we checked out during our visit - we were also relieved when we realised how well sign-posted the reserve was, as we did not have an exact address of any of the lookouts. Our only regret is that we did not have enough time to spend more time exploring the multiple walking trails Mount Gibraltar Reserve have to offer, but at least we've saved something new to see for our next visit!
We'll definitely be trying out more of the walking trails (and check out all the lookouts) when we next visit!