Canberra Nature Park: cycling welcome

ACT, Australia

In 2019 the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate (Environment) released the Canberra Nature Park Draft Reserve Management Plan. The Murrumbidgee corridor, the Molonglo River Reserve, the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and the Namadgi National Park are not part of Canberra Nature Park. The Canberra Nature Park reserves are ideal for recreational cycling.

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Map of Canberra Nature Park, Canberra Nature Park Draft Reserve Management Plan 2019 (ACT Government, Sept 2019)
Map of Canberra Nature Park, Canberra Nature Park Draft Reserve Management Plan 2019 (ACT Government, Sept 2019)

“Canberra Nature Park has an extensive network of management trails and multi-use tracks where cycling is permitted. Cycling and mountain biking are not permitted on walking tracks. Canberra Nature Park features two key mountain bike initiatives. Canberra Centenary Trail circuits the ACT covering approximately 140 kilometres. Some sections of the trail, on Mount Ainslie and Mount Majura for example, are for walkers only. These sections have duplicate routes that cater for cyclists.”

Canberra Nature Park Draft Reserve Management Plan 2019 (ACT Government, Sept 2019), page 82

Table 7.1 Reserves where cycles are permitted, page 84, Canberra Nature Park Draft Reserve Management Plan 2019 (ACT Government, Sept 2019)

Nature ReserveCycling*
Aranda Bushland (No dogs in Aranda Snow Gums)
Black Mountain
Bruce Ridge
Callum Brae
Cooleman Ridge
Crace Grasslands#
Dunlop Grasslands
Farrer Ridge
Goorooyarroo
Gossan Hill
Gungaderra Grasslands
Isaacs Ridge
Jarramlee/West MacGregor Grasslands#
Jerrabomberra West Grasslands
Justice Robert Hope Park
Kinlyside#
Kowen Escarpment#
Melrose
McQuoids Hill
Mount Ainslie
Mount Majura
Mount Mugga Mugga
Mount Painter
Mount Pleasant
Mount Taylor
Molonglo Gorge
Mulanggari Grasslands
Mulligans Flat (Equestrian trail in Little Mulligans)
Oakey Hill
O’Connor Ridge
Percival Hill
Red Hill
Rob Roy#
The Pinnacle
Tuggeranong Hill#
Urambi Hills#
Wanniassa Hills
* Cycles are only permitted on identified trails.
# No access to rural lease area without permission from rural lessee.

All information from the maps in the Canberra Nature Park Draft Reserve Management Plan 2019 can be found in OpenStreetMap.

Vision, Canberra Nature Park Draft Reserve Management Plan 2019 (ACT Government, Sept 2019)
Vision, Canberra Nature Park Draft Reserve Management Plan 2019 (ACT Government, Sept 2019)

Single track for mountain bikes

The Bruce Ridge Nature Reserve offers a network of mountain bike tracks, but this is the exception for Canberra Nature Park. 

“Other mountain biking areas outside the ACT reserve system include Stromlo Forest Park, Majura Pines, Isaacs Pines, Sparrow Hill, Kowen Pines, Tuggeranong Pines, Fadden Pines and Yerrabi Ponds.”

Canberra Nature Park Draft Reserve Management Plan 2019 (ACT Government, Sept 2019), page 82
Black Mountain, Canberra Nature Park Draft Reserve Management Plan 2019 (ACT Government, Sept 2019)
Black Mountain, Canberra Nature Park Draft Reserve Management Plan 2019 (ACT Government, Sept 2019)

Suggestions for improvement

As cyclists we want to do the right thing and protect the environment. Dated maps and signs, and unclear language can confuse us. The ACT Government could improve these things.

Flowers, Canberra Nature Park Draft Reserve Management Plan 2019 (ACT Government, Sept 2019)
Flowers, Canberra Nature Park Draft Reserve Management Plan 2019 (ACT Government, Sept 2019)

Dated maps and signage

Cycling is permitted in most nature reserves (table 7.1). Gates are often signed with more specific information. Some of the signage is dated. I wrote to the ACT Government about this in 2018, and mentioned it again in 2019 at the Management Plan consultation. Some help was promised on the Environment website. 

“The Parks and Conservation Service will continue to promote appropriate use of Canberra Nature Park by providing extensive information on the ACT Government website, including: maps; permissible, restricted and prohibited activities”

Canberra Nature Park Draft Reserve Management Plan 2019, EPSDD, page 75

The maps on the Canberra Nature Park website are, however, also out dated (from 2004). This was true at the time of the consultation in 2019 and nothing has changed since (20 May 2020). The Pinnacle Nature Reserve, Mulligans Flat and Goorooyarroo Nature Reserves, and the Mount Painter Nature Reserve brochures appear to be more recent. 

Despite all good intentions, updating the website and signage onsite is slow. Until then, the information from the Canberra Nature Park Draft Reserve Management Plan 2019 can be found in OpenStreetMap and be taken with you with the Komoot app. 

Animals, Canberra Nature Park Draft Reserve Management Plan 2019 (ACT Government, Sept 2019)
Animals, Canberra Nature Park Draft Reserve Management Plan 2019 (ACT Government, Sept 2019)

Imprecision of language

The language of the Management Plan is imprecise. Horse riding and cycles are only permitted on “identified trails” (page 84) and “identified tracks” (page 75). The ACT Government also instructs us that cycling is permitted on “formed roads”, “formed vehicle trails” or “management trails”. 

The terms “management trails” and “multi-use tracks” are defined in the Canberra Nature Park Draft Reserve Management Plan 2019 and I would suggest that these be adopted for reasons of consistency.

Management trails are vehicle trails that have generally been designed and constructed to meet the required standards for their purpose. They are used by the Parks and Conservation Service and the ACT Rural Fire Service for park management activities. These trails are also used by utilities or other service providers for the construction, repair or maintenance of infrastructure, and contractors undertaking land management activities.

Motor vehicles driven by the public are not generally permitted on these trails…

Management trails are maintained by the Parks and Conservation Service and/or utilities. Trail surfaces may be sealed, unsealed or graded.“

Canberra Nature Park Draft Reserve Management Plan 2019 (ACT Government, Sept 2019), page 77

Multi-use tracks (unsealed) have been designed and constructed for walking, cycling and mountain biking. These tracks are maintained by the Parks and Conservation Service, sometimes with support from ParkCare volunteers or recreational user groups. The tracks generally meet the Class 3 walking track standard and follow best practice for mountain bike tracks for attributes such as slope, alignment and drainage.

Multi-use tracks in Canberra Nature Park currently include sections of the Canberra Centenary Trail and tracks in Bruce Ridge Nature Reserve.” 

Canberra Nature Park Draft Reserve Management Plan 2019 (ACT Government, Sept 2019), page 77
Rosella, Photo by Robert Premus on Pexels.com
Rosella, Photo by Robert Premus on Pexels.com

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