Black Mountain Nature Reserve

Why is Black Mountain special?

Black Mountain Nature Reserve is one of the largest and most prominent reserves in Canberra Nature Park. It is significant because of its geology and plant diversity. It is also a key element of the landscape and in the design for the national capital by Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin.

Its Early Silurian rocks (Black Mountain Sandstone), formed from sediments deposited 435 to 430 million years ago, are among the oldest in the ACT. The sandstone-derived soils are very rare in the Territory. The soils along with the complex habitat support hundreds of species of plants and animals; somewhat different from other Canberra hills. There are more than 650 species of plants, including more than 60 orchids.

There are ten eucalypt species native to Black Mountain. The steep slopes of the mountain are covered in low open forest, dominated by Red Stringybark, Scribbly Gum, and Brittle Gum.

Eucalypts, wattles, native shrubs, grasses, herbs and wildflowers thrive in the soils that are enriched by nutrients from invertebrates and fungi in the leaf litter on the forest floor. Half of the orchid species found in the ACT occur on Black Mountain, as well as some rare plants. Birds, small and large mammals and reptiles feed and breed on Black Mountain, many relying particularly on the eucalyptus trees for nest hollows and shelter.

In gullies and on damp, south facing slopes, the variety of mosses, ferns, lichens and damp-loving plants redefine the word ‘green’. The bark of the different tree species, with their textures, patterns and hues, delights artists and shows others that trunks are never paint-box brown. Up close, the beautiful colours of the wildflowers can be appreciated by walkers.

Black Mountain may be the best known mountain in Australia because of research and studies done by CSIRO and others.

How can I help protect Black Mountain?

Friends of Black Mountain is an energetic local community group consisting of volunteers who help protect biodiversity and landscape values for future generations. New members are always welcome. It is one of many ParkCare groups that work cooperatively with ACT Parks and Conservation Service. Activities include:

  • Weeding parties on the first Saturday of the month.
  • Participation in Vegwatch, Frogwatch, BioBlitz, and other citizen science surveys.
  • Conducting guided walks, including the Spring Wildflower Ramble and Heritage Festival walks.
  • Assisting with maintenance of walk paths.
  • Promoting Black Mountain’s biodiversity locally and further afield, through public information.

What is Black Mountain Nature Reserve?

Black Mountain Nature Reserve is part of Canberra Nature Park. It epitomises the image of Canberra as the ‘Bush Capital’. Its rich diversity is a delight for local residents and visitors.

The intriguing forested slopes offer walks in the bush and panoramic views of Canberra and surrounding mountains. And it’s all within three kilometres of the city centre.

Enter the Reserve at Frith Road (near the ACTEW substation), Belconnen Way, Caswell Drive, Black Mountain Drive, or Clunies Ross Street and the Australian National Botanic Gardens during daylight hours to the Summit Walk.

What can I do on Black Mountain?

  • Walk to the top and admire the views.
  • Explore other walking paths.
  • See and hear the birds; go birdwatching.
  • Enjoy wildflowers, especially in spring.
  • Jog or cycle along the formed vehicle trails.


The map shows the main walks on Black Mountain, and there are signs at key intersections. Most of the following walks are easy with some steep sections.

  • Forest Loop Walk (2km, 1 hour round walk)
  • Link Walk (3.5km, 2 hour)
  • Little Black Mountain Walk (3.5km, 2 hour)
  • Summit Walk (2km, steady climb to summit, 2 hour return trip)
  • Walk through ANBG to Summit Walk
  • (1km, 0.5 hour)
  • Woodland Walk (2km, 1 hour)

Please remember

  • Dogs and other domestic pets are not allowed in Black Mountain Nature Reserve.
  • Everything is protected. Removal of any native animals or plant material (living or dead), rocks or soil is prohibited by law. Penalties apply under the Nature Conservation Act (2014).
  • Please walk on authorised walking paths and vehicle roads.
  • Bicycles are allowed only on formed vehicle roads.
  • Please take your rubbish home.

Further information

For more information about Friends of Black Mountain, what it has to offer and what you can do to help protect and restore this valuable area:

GPO Box 1777, Canberra City ACT 2601

More information about ParkCare, Canberra Nature Park, and Black Mountain is also at:


Thank you to volunteer authors and photographers, including Linda Beveridge, Con Boekel, Jean Geue, Lois Padgham, Michael Maconachie, Joshua Mulvaney and Tony Wood.

This brochure produced with support from the ACT Government, Field Naturalists’ Association of Canberra and the Australian National Botanic Gardens.

© Friends of Black Mountain, January 2015