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Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
Australian Capital Territory
IUCN category II (national park)
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is located in Australian Capital Territory
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
Established 1971
Area 54.5 km2 (21.0 sq mi)
Managing authorities Territory and Municipal Services
Website Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
See also Australian Capital Territory
protected areas

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is a 54.5 square kilometres (21.0 sq mi) protected area, on the fringe of Namadgi National Park, that is a short drive from the city of Canberra, in the Australian Capital Territory, the capital city of Australia. The nature reserve consists of a large valley floor, the Tidbinbilla Mountain and the Gibraltar range. The sides of the valley are steep and relatively undisturbed; the lower slopes are partly cleared and have a history of Aboriginal and European use. Tidbinbilla Mountain is believed to have been used for initiation ceremonies. The word 'Tidbinbilla' is Aboriginal in origin and is derived from the word Jedbinbilla – a place where boys become men.[1]

Known sites of Aboriginal significance in the nature reserve include the Birriagi Rock Shelter, which is the oldest Aboriginal site within the Australian Capital Territory. Bogong Rocks is a shelter contains the oldest evidence of Aboriginal occupation at a bogong moth resting site.

The nature reserve is classified as an IUCN Category II protected area.[2]


  • History 1
    • Indigenous history 1.1
    • European history 1.2
  • History of the nature reserve 2
  • Fauna 3
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7


Indigenous history

Aborigines have inhabited the Tidbinbilla area since antiquity. Archaeological digs carried out at Birrigai (over the hill from Tidbinbilla) found the earliest evidence of the use of fire, dated at 20,000 years old. This was at the time of the last ice age. Excavations at Hanging Rock has dated occupation of that site to some 16,000 years.

The name Tidbinbilla is derived from the Aboriginal word ‘Jedbinbilla', meaning a place where boys become men. The last corroboree held at Tidbinbilla was circa 1904. There are aboriginal rock paintings to be found at at Gibraltar Peak in a small cave.

European history

There are over 100 years of European tenancy within the nature reserve. Nil Desperandum and Rock Valley Homestead are both pise rammed earth buildings built in the 1890s. Both buildings were built by George Green and George Hatcliff. Nil Desperandum is a historic four-roomed residence alongside Hurdle Creek first occupied by Henry French Gillman. The remains of a commercial camellia plantation and the best preserved eucalyptus distillery in the ACT are nearby.

The Rock Valley Homestead was occupied by the Green family. Nil Desperandum was later occupied by George Greens daughter Elsie Jane and her husband Eric Blewitt from the early 1930s to the early 1950s when Eric was killed drenching a horse. Both buildings were severely damaged during the 2003 Canberra bushfires. Nil Desperandum has since been rebuilt in its original condition and design with the kitchen extension but not the enclosed side verandah that the two brothers John Douglas (Doug) & Cyril Leslie (Ned) both slept in.

History of the nature reserve

In 1936 about 8.10 square kilometres (3.13 sq mi) were set aside as a public reserve and in 1939 a koala enclosure was built by the Institute of Anatomy. The government acquired land to establish a national park and fauna reserve in 1962, extending the national park to 36.29 square kilometres (14.01 sq mi) and later further extending the park to its current size.

In 1966 the park saw the appointment of park ranger and later manager, David Kerr. He was to develop many of the bush walking tracks, enclosures, water fowl areas and roads throughout the park. Under his management the Cape Barren goose enclosure and conservation scheme was developed, which has been credited with contributing to the survival of the endangered species. He also oversaw the importation of Victorian koalas to the park, the establishment of kangaroo enclosures and the creation of the water fowl areas. Many of the picnic areas subsequently enjoyed by generations of visitors were established under his management. David left Tidbinbilla in 1970 to oversee the foundation of Namadji National Park.

In 1969 the first wildlife displays were created and in 1971 the nature reserve was officially gazetted.

The Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is located adjacent to the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex, part of the NASA Deep Space Network.

1988 saw one of the world's first international TV satellite linkups "World Safari" being broadcast from Tidbinbilla's kangaroo enclosure. The ABC linked up with fellow broadcasters across the globe in a live natural history program, which was vision mixed by David's daughter, Fiona Kerr.

In 2003, bush fires devastated the nature reserve with many of the koala population being lost to the fires. Lost also was the Manager's Residence, with damage to the Heritage listed Rock Valley and Nil Desperandum homesteads.

On 7 November 2008, the nature reserve was added to the Australian National Heritage List as one of eleven areas constituting the Australian Alps National Parks and Reserves.[3]


Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve has a wide variety of bushwalks - ranging from 30 minutes to over 6 hours. It is a native habitat for kangaroos, wallabies, platypus, koalas, lyrebirds, emus, and other wildlife. Ninety-nine percent of the park was burnt out in the Bendora bushfire of 18 January 2003, resulting in the loss of countless numbers of wildlife. Of the captive animals, only one koala, six rock wallabies, five potoroos, four freckled ducks, and nine black swans survived the bushfire.

See also


  1. ^ Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, Australian Alps National Parks
  2. ^ "Terrestrial Protected Areas in ACT (2014) (see 'DETAIL' tab)". CAPAD 2014. Australian Government - Department of the Environment. 2014. Retrieved 15 September 2015. 
  3. ^ "Australian Alps National Parks information". Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. Retrieved 2010-06-10. 

Further reading

  • Department of Urban Services and Conservation. 1999. Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve: Management Plant. Environment ACT
  • Boot, P and Bulbeck, D. 1991. Tidbinbilla nature reserve cultural resource survey and conservation plan, ACT heritage unit and ACT Parks and Conservation, Canberra

External links

  • Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

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