Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve was established in 1971 and affords Canberra residents and tourists alike a fantastic opportunity to explore and enjoy the native flora and fauna of a beautiful natural valley, framed by granite topped hills, just a short drive from Canberra.

The name Tidbinbilla is derived from the aboriginal Ngunnawal word ‘Jedbinbilla’ – a place where boys were made men. There is evidence that Aboriginal people have lived in the Canberra region for at least 21,000 years. Their descendants still live in the region today and Aboriginal Ranger guided walks in the Reserve are available – check at the visitors centre


Europeans settled in the area in the 1800s. For over a hundred years farms, bougainvillea plantations and eucalyptus oil distilleries operated in the ranges. There remain a few rammed earth cottages dating back over 100 years in the Reserve including one at Nil Desperadum which can be rented by visitors.


In addition to the natural beauty of the area, part of the Australian Alps, encompassing wetlands, grasslands, wet and dry forests and woodlands the Reserve is home to kangaroos (thousands), emus, lyrebirds, platypus’, wombats, koalas and other native animals. The Reserve also hosts the endangered species breeding program for the rare Brush-tailed Rock-Wallaby and the Northern Corroboree Frog.

To get the most from your visit to the Reserve I recommend that you do one or preferably a lot more of the 20 or so well marked walks and the primary purpose of my series of reviews on Tidbinbilla is to introduce you to the walks.


The marked walks within the Reserve range from short wheelchair accessible ones to an 8 hours slog with everything in between. A list of current walks can be found at
https://www.tidbinbilla.act.gov.au/. I have prepared separate reviews on some of the walks (more to be added over time). Follow the links here noting that numbers refer to walk numbers on the Discover Tidbinbilla guide which you can download or pick up from the visitors centre as you enter the Reserve:

52 Birrigai Time Trail
6 Church Rock Heritage Loop
9 The Sanctuary Loop Walk
10 Hanging Rock Walk
11 & 12 Koala Path and Peppermint Trail
13 Cascades Trail
14 Lyrebird Trail
16 Fishing Gap
18 Gibraltar Peak Walk
19 Nil Desperandum Walk
21 Camels Hump Walk

Also in the Reserve you will find two former European homesteads constructed in the 1890s:

Nil Desperandum Homestead
5 Rock Valley Homestead

For those with kids or just wishing to relax, do a short walk, enjoy a picnic and visit the fully equipped kids playground area. In fact lots of families come just for the slides and climbing frames in the playground area and a picnic. The visitors centre at the park entrance is also well worth a stop for good local advice, your free reserve map, to pursue the small gift shop and to attend to your toiletry requirements.


Tidbinbilla is located to the south of Canberra. While it is only a 40 minute drive from the city centre please be careful as it is along a very winding road which is very popular with cyclists.

Opening hours:

Visitor Centre (where you acquire entrance ticket unless you have an annual pass)
9:00 am to 5:00 pm

Reserve Gates:
Open 7.30 am to 8:00 pm in summer and 6:00 pm in winter. Tidbinbilla is closed on Christmas Day, and may also be closed on days of total fire ban, high winds or for management requirements.

Eating at Tidbinbilla
The former Cafe Tidbinbilla (of reasonable credentials) is closed and a small kiosk now offers what the Reserve’s website refers to as “Snacks, ice-cream, hot pies, sausage rolls, coffee and cold drinks”. I didn’t see much in the way of snacks on a recent visit. Should you want something more substantial and have a vehicle and can fit in with its restrictive operating hours I would suggest a pizza at the Corin Forest Mountain Retreat – Cafe (seperate review), about 10 minutes drive from the Reserve. Alternatively bring your own food and have a picnic in the Reserve.

Entrance Fee (July 2019):

Annual Pass private vehicle (up to 8 seats) – $37.00
Day Pass private vehicle (up to 8 seats) – $13.50
(various concessions and other options available –see website).

Address: Paddy’s River Road, via Cotter Road (Weston Creek)
Directions: Follow Tourist Route 5 from Canberra.
Website: https://www.tidbinbilla.act.gov.au/home

This entry is the first of a group (loop) of entries on Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. To  continue with my next entry click  HERE.


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