Have you been to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve? It is located 40 minutes south-west of Canberra's city centre and has kangaroos roaming freely, koalas in the trees, platypus in the rivers and thousands of years of indigenous history in every part of the land. If you enjoy bushwalking, there are more than 20 walking trails to choose from within the reserve - with 13 of them less than 5km long. To maintain the reserve, there is a daily entry fee per car to get in, or you can buy an annual pass and go back as many times as you like.
Our family purchased an annual pass, so that we could keep going back throughout the year to enjoy the walks in every season. Over the last several months, we have now walked all of the short walks - some as a family and many of the longer ones on my own. These are my personal favourites, however why not walk them all yourself and see which ones you love the most? It takes awhile to get through the list - but every time you go back you will discover something new and beautiful, about this special, sacred land.
Ensure you stop every once and awhile and look around - you are sure to be getting watched by a few cute natives!
Birrigai Time Trail (3km, 1 hour, Easy) The Birrigai Time Trail is one of my personal favourite walks in the reserve, as you encounter a large number of kangaroos grazing on the grassy hillside, emus wandering along the paths and a fascinating aboriginal shelter at the end of the trail. A sample of dirt was taken from the bottom of the Birrigai Rock Shelter for testing and it showed that local indigenous groups used it as far back as 21,000 years ago, near the end of the last ice age. See here for more details.
Cascades Trail is ideally suited to the warmer months, as the walk is entirely under the canopy of rainforest trees. This walk is classed as "moderate" as the first half of the walk is uphill and gets the heart rate pumping. Look and listen out for lyrebirds in the cooler months, with mounds created by male lyrebirds near the walking path. It may be difficult is some spots, however it is an enjoyable walk back down, listening to tinkling water through the streams all the way. See here for more details.
Koala Path (700 metres, 20 minutes, Easy) The Koala Path is an easy and leisurely walk, which packs in a lot of things to see in a short space of time. It is a popular walk with families and overseas visitors in particular, as you are guaranteed to see koalas in the sanctuary at the entrance of the walk, before you meander along the trail and look for them in the wild. Also look out for potoroos darting through the undergrowth and wallabies camouflaged in the bushland. If you would like to extend this walk further, turn off to the signs for the Peppermint Trail. See here for more details.
Sanctuary Loop (2.1km, 1.5 hour, Easy) The Sanctuary Loop is one of the most popular walks in the nature reserve, with a boardwalk over the wetlands and quiet platypus pools to spot the furry monotremes in the wild. On weekends and school holidays, you will often see volunteers at the platypus pools to help you find them. Our family love this walk, as we also enjoy looking for the art and sculpture along the pathway. If you are a twitcher, take your binoculars! See here for more details.
* Both of these walks have concrete paths all the way, so they are suitable for prams and wheelchairs.
Sculpture, boardwalks, wildlife and nature at The Sanctuary - a fenced, protected section of the reserve
Hanging Rock (500 metres, 25 minutes, Easy) Hanging Rock is the perfect short walk for kids or anyone who prefers a shorter, easier walk. At just 500 metres, the path is easy to follow and leads to a towering, granite aboriginal rock shelter, which dates back over 400 years. This cluster of boulders creates shade over the cool rocks, so you can imagine that it was a cool place for indigenous groups to stop for a rest, as they made their way to the mountains to look for Bogong moths. This is our favourite easy walk to show visitors, when they come to visit us from overseas. See here for more details.
Turkey Hill Trail (500 metres, 15 minutes, Easy) This short walk is fun for kids, as it is a quick run around a grassy hill, before or after a picnic at the Dalsetta reserve at the start of the walk.
Black Flats Dam (300 metres, 15 minutes, Easy) This walk isn't as maintained as the other pathways, however it is a short walk to Black Flats Dam, where you can stand quietly and look for any signs of the elusive platypus in the wild. This walk also connects to The Sanctuary, so you can add the two walks together.
Take a short walk to Black Flats Dam, for a quiet moment looking for wildlife
There is such a wide range of bushwalks to do at Tidbinbilla, it is hard to know which one to try first. Have a look though the list on their website, pick up a brochure from the Visitor Centre and hit the trails. It really doesn't matter which bushwalk you start with, the main thing is that you are there - learning about its history, appreciating its views and enjoying the serenity of this natural treasure, right on Canberra's doorstep.
Ensure you take a moment, just to breathe it all in