I wasn’t expecting quite so many people on this very late afternoon walk to the top of Mount Taylor, which is the highest point in Canberra’s south and is listed on the Register of the National Estate as the most prominent landmark in southern Canberra. And, as I later found out: “one of Canberra’s most popular walking spots”. There’s still a fair few cars in the parking area along Sulwood Drive even though it’s 6:30pm, as I set off up Mrs Lowes Firetrail.
The firetrail soon reaches a junction with the Mount Taylor Walk (also called the Mount Taylor Hill Climb), and passes another information board which explains the history of the area. While the Mount Taylor Nature Reserve is now part of the Canberra Nature Park – a series of over 30 nature reserves in and around Canberra – the area has been extensively cleared and heavily grazed. The mountain was named after James Taylor, a squatter in the 1920s who established a sheep run on the Molonglo River.
The paved path ascends steadily up the side of the mountain – most of the trails were updated and strengthened to prevent erosion from heavy rain in early 2022.
I’m soon on the final stretch, with a telecoms tower coming into view (a National Transmission Station which relays television and FM radio to the Tuggeranong valley and parts of Woden/Weston Creek).
At the top of Mount Taylor is a trig point (TS4301 TAYLOR) and two panoramic maps pointing out the key geographic features which can be seen. There are sweeping views in almost all directions, which includes the Brindabella Mountain Range, Weston Creek and Mt Stromlo (ANU Observatory), Black Mountain, Lake Burley Griffin, Woden Valley, the city of Canberra, Mt Ainslie and Mt Majura. It’s the second highest point in Canberra (but not the Australian Capital Territory) at 856 metres, behind Mt Majura at 888 metres.
Rather than returning the same way, I continue down the Summit Trail on the northern side, to do a loop walk.
With the sun starting to set, the people are replaced by kangaroos. Although the ones I see are just standing around, and not fighting each other – Mount Taylor was where an “epic wrestling match” between two kangaroos was captured on video the previous year. As well as kangaroos, Mount Taylor supports the largest ACT population of the nationally endangered small purple pea and the steeper northeast-facing slope is home to the threatened pink-tailed worm lizard.
At the bottom of the Summit Trail I turn onto the Western Powerlines Firetrail, which follows the base of Mount Taylor back to the starting point. It’s a pleasant walk along the wide firetrail, although walking between two sets of power lines makes for not-so-attractive views.
There are lots more kangaroos grazing on both side of the firetrail…
…and with the sun setting behind the Bullen Range Nature Reserve to the west, it’s a nice end to my afternoon bushwalk.
The loop walk has taken me just over an hour to cover 5.2km – plus almost half an hour on the top of Mount Taylor as I waited for a large mountain-biking group to leave.
Getting to the Mount Taylor Walk
Mount Taylor is on the south side of Canberra between the suburbs of Torrens (Woden) and Kambah (Tuggeranong), about 15min drive from the centre of Canberra. There are a few places from which you can access the bushwalking tracks of the Mount Taylor Nature Reserve:
- Sulwood Drive has a large parking area along the road, opposite the intersection with Mannheim Street and about 1.8km from the Tuggeranong Parkway.
- End of Waldock Road has a carpark
- Canberra Times – All trails lead to Mount Taylor, as bush bursts with life
- ABC7 – Video captures epic kangaroo battle at nature preserve in Australia
There are a few different ways to reach the Mount Taylor summit: