Forest Loop Walk
The Black Mountain Drive has good views over the city and the Lake. The Forest Loop Walk takes an hour or more. The walk has some steep sections with steps and rocks. Sturdy footwear is recommended.
Park on the right hand side, in the designated car park about 2/3 of the way up the hill. Then cross the road to the circular path we intend to follow.
Just inside the ‘gate’ and steps is the tall Acacia mearnsii (Black Wattle, Green Wattle). On either side of the track are examples of Eucalyptus rossii (Scribbly Gum) with characteristic scribble patterns on the trunk. Also, mature Eucalyptus macrorhyncha (Red Stringybark) with their rough dark bark. Scattered beneath are the smaller Acacia buxifolia (Box-leaved Wattle) which grow to about 3 metres with bright yellow flowers and green elliptical leaves.
The grass along here is Rytidosperma pallidum formerly Joycea pallida (Red-anther Wallaby Grass) which flowers in summer and is scattered among the different small green shrubs providing variable coloured understorey. A hazard reduction burn in 2014 is evident on the right. Soon we see the long, pointed, stiff leaves with a central midrib of a Dianella revoluta (Blue Flax Lily) with its spikes of blue flowers and small berries in summer. More of them can be seen on either side further along the track. Keep an eye out in spring and summer for the small Pimelea linifolia (Rice Flower) with its white flowers. There are a number of trees with hollows in this area, too; perhaps there are small animals that take refuge in them.
At the sign, there is a good view across the valley that clearly shows the National Arboretum Canberra which has replaced the pine forest that was burnt out in 2001 and 2003. We walk by another grassy section and then see quite a few plants of Hakea decurrens (Bushy Needlewood). This is a small spikey leaved plant, which usually flowers in winter with white to cream coloured flowers. The Scrivener Dam wall can be seen from here.
Just near the bridge are several dark green bushes of Cassinia longifolia (Cauliflower Bush) with its creamy white flowers in spring and long slender sticky leaves. Let’s read the notice boards on this path; they give interesting information about the nearby area. The two near the bridge are about “Plant Associations” and the “Dominating Eucalypts and the understorey”. Lomandra longifolia (Spiky-headed Matrush) is on both sides of the small creek, with its flat strap-like leaves and cream flower spikes. A bit further on, there are some Stackhousia monogyna (Creamy Candles) plants on either side of the track; a small plant but its spikes of white flowers are easily seen in spring.
Another view on your left, near the tall Exocarpus cupressiformis (Cherry Ballart) with a mossy trunk, includes the Woden Tower and Lake Burley Griffin. Some Ranunculus sp (Buttercups) on both sides of the track may be taking advantage of the drainage from the top of the mountain. Here we see the small shrub Brachyloma daphnoides (Daphne Heath) which has a spring show of small white trumpet shaped flowers.
Next we see a group of Cassinia aculeata (Dolly Bush). They are easily recognised by their very sticky foliage and are quite delightful when they flower in summer. Also, we have a view over the Glenloch Interchange where Caswell Drive meets Parkes Way, the Tuggeranong Parkway and William Hovell Drive.
On both the right and left of the track are Stypandra glauca (Nodding Blue Lily), with leaves clasping its tall stem and bright blue flowers in spring. There is also a small group of Dillwynia phylicoides (Small-leaved Parrot Pea) with their cheerful yellow and orange sweet-pea-shaped flowers amid small leaves with spiky tips.
Then the grassy slopes of Mount Painter come into view as well as Belconnen Town Centre and Lake Ginninderra. Keep an eye out for Coronidium oxylepis subspecies lanatum (Woolly-pointed Everlasting) near the path with yellow daisy-like flowers blooming in spring and summer. We can see Dodonaea viscosa (Hopbush) with shiny sticky leaves, slim small flowers and green to purple hop-shaped hanging fruit, further along on the left. We are also starting to see the tall shrub Daviesia mimosoides (Bitter Pea) with its wattle-like leaves and clusters of tiny bright yellow and brown sweet-pea-shaped flowers along its stems.
Then further along is a group of Pomaderris intermedia (Lemon Dogwood), which can be almost covered in their golden balls in spring. New growth on the gum tips seems a shiny orange colour when the sunlight is on them. Nestling among the clefts of the rocks on the right is Cheilanthes austrotenuifolia, a small Rock Fern. Another small shrub dotted along the left and right of the path is Phyllanthus hirtellus (Thyme Spurge); it has a myriad of tiny creamy yellow flowers with yellow stamens in spring. Several Persoonia rigida (Rigid Geebung), with obovate leaves and yellow flowers in summer, appear on the right and left.
We have now reached the ‘dry’ side of Black Mountain with a different aspect and slope. The half way point! Keep an eye out for more Daviesia mimosoides. Walk across the junction with the Summit Walk towards the sign about the “Reign of the Red Box” and continue along the dirt track with its views over the Australian National University and the Canberra Civic area. Down the hillside we see Eucalyptus polyanthemos (Red Box) with grey-green rounded leaves and creamy white flowers in spring.
We are walking near some reasonably large rocks of Black Mountain Sandstone. On both sides is Grevillea alpina, (Mountain Grevillea) a small shrub with small-leaved grey-green furry foliage, displaying little orange/red flowers in spring and summer. Way down the mountain-side on the left, is a large group of Callitris endlicheri (Black Cypress Pine) tall, conical shaped trees.
The next sign is “Plant Diversity” which features the Exocarpus cupressiformis. Then a sign that is double-titled “Life on the sheltered side”, and “Termites at war”. Further along, and after a large termite mound on the left, is a view, from the footbridge, of Lake Burley Griffin, the bridges at Kings Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue and, closer, the National Museum of Australia. Then looking at the plants along the way to the car park.
Reference: Our patch: Field Guide to the Flora of the Australian Capital Region as photographed in the Aranda Bushland. Produced by the Friends of Aranda Bushland, 2nd ed (2007).