7 reasons to visit Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve
To the north of Canberra, just a short while up from Gungahlin, lies Mulligans Flat and Goorooyarroo. This fantastic little nature reserve is a diverse mix of grassland, woodland, and forest, and has a huge array of native animal and plant life on display.
Mulligans Flat is part of the plan to restore the rich abundance of native wildlife and habitats that were present before European settlement. Mulligans Flat forms part of Canberra Nature Park – a group of over 30 nature reserves throughout the ACT – and provides an opportunity for nearby residents to enjoy nature right on their doorstep.
It’s part of an effort by the ACT Parks and Conservation Services to maintain Canberra’s reputation as the ‘bush capital’, and to provide a much-needed habitat for many native species that live around the area. The result is a huge, wondrous habitat that looks veritably stunning the whole year around.
Trek on the the bird walk
Whether you’re the most hardened avian adventurer or you’ve somehow never even seen a bird before, there’s more than enough variation within the varied display of beaks and feathers that comprise the Mulligans Flat Bird Walk.
Mulligans Flat Bird Walk is a 2 hour walk (6 km return) through box-gum grassland overflowing with native bird species. There’s plenty of information about what to expect on both the self-guide brochure and plaques along the way. Make sure to stop at the dams which flourish with bird life.
2. See rare, endangered species…
There aren’t many places on the planet that you can spot a Striped Legless Lizard or Hooded Robin, or find Button Wrinklewort growing in the wild.
Mulligans Flat is proud to call many native, rare, and endangered species residents of the park, and provides a habitat in the ACT free from urban planning. Many of the capitals native plant and animal species are under threat of new developments; each highway or highrise erected is one less stretch of liveable bushland for a whole host of life.
With more and more of the area around Canberra devoted to humans, there’s only so many places that they can live, and so Mulligans Flat provides a place where visitors can come and (if they’re lucky) catch a glimpse of some beautiful Australian wildlife that can’t be seen anywhere else.
3. …and help to protect them!
Luckily, it’s not all dire news for our native friends. The Mulligans Flat Sanctuary operates a community outreach program to encourage the community to give back to the beautiful, natural landscape in their backyard through a variety of fun activities.
The ‘Friends of Mulligans Flat’ and their associated kid's conservation group the ‘Bettong Buddies’, engage in a bunch of projects, activities, and monitoring tasks to make sure that the Sanctuary keeps operating as a haven for nature in the region.
The Bettong Buddies operate as place to educate and inspire those interested in nature and to help foster a new generation of conscious kids. They share knowledge about the local flora and fauna, as well as the damaging impacts of humans on the environment and how their scientists are working to restore the ecosystem. If you’re a local you might be lucky enough to have a hand in one of the long term projects, such as the curlews released into the park in late 2014.
For adults, there’s a bit more legwork involved with some of the vital processes, such as seed collection from native species, planting new shoots, biodiversity monitoring, and clearing up weeds and litter from the grounds. If you’re looking for a way to give back and help preserve native Australian species, this might just be it.
4. Learn a thing or two
If you’re just passing by, you can still get involved just by learning a little about Australian plant and animal life in the Education Centre. Located just a short hop up the Circuit at the Woolshed, inside you’ll find a bountiful display of the park’s history and biodiversity.
5. Take a hike!
The Mulligans Circuit is a 12 km looping path that takes you through the whole Sanctuary. Starting from the main gate, it reaches up past the old Woolshed and along the ACT/NSW border before looping back to the Betong Gate.
As you meander through woodland and forest along the 3 hour trip, you’ll see a range of ecosystems and wildlife and get a nice workout while you’re at it. It’s a genuinely pleasant experience that’ll get you one step closer to nature.
6. Take a (night) hike!
For an extra thrill, Mulligans Flat also offer guided twilight walking tours for anybody interested. A lot of the animal life in the park is nocturnal, so coming along at night time is the very best chance you’ll have of spotting them in the wild. You’ll be provided with knowledgeable commentary from the guides along the way as you lookout for local species– hopefully you’ll even get to see a couple of Bettongs in their natural habitat!
7. Go Cycling
If you’d rather ditch the runners, there’s a cycle path through the heart of the sanctuary instead. It cuts a bit more direct than Mulligans Circuit, but extends well to the South if you’re looking to do a bit more overland travel.
In the interests of conservation, the Sanctuary Board do advise that cycling isn’t permitted outside of the designated paths and areas, for health and safety reasons both to cyclists and to the conservation of the park.
The Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary is a space to inspire all generations of Australians about the importance of conservation as they experience its natural wonder. A visit to the sanctuary will provide a glimpse of the past as a reference point for encouraging future generations to protect our natural environment in the years to come.