22 July 2017

Canberra Day Trips: Yanununbeyan State Conservation Area

| Canberra Day Trips
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apple box picnic Yanununbeyan State Conservation Area Canberra Day Trips

The Yanununbeyan State Conservation Area is home to the Apple Box Flat picnic area. Here you can immerse yourself in a natural environment that feels like it’s a long way from civilisation – but in fact, it’s less than an hour’s drive from Canberra.

Perched on the edge of the Yanununbeyan Conservation Area, Apple Box Flat picnic spot is the perfect launching pad for a day of birdwatching, cycling, bushwalking or just relaxing in a picturesque spot teeming with wildlife.

The Queanbeyan River is a short walk away, and there are plenty of fire trails to explore.

Pack your binoculars and your camera – you’ll probably have the chance to get up close to some wildlife in this unspoilt natural setting.

“If you’re after a bit of isolation and a lot of peace and solitude, Yanununbeyan State Conservation Area is just the place to visit. You can be as active or as passive as you wish.” – Visit NSW

Why you’ll love it

Apple Box Flat is the ideal spot for a picnic – just remember to bring food and drink as there are no facilities on site.

The picnic area is nestled in the centre of an open, grassy clearing surrounded by majestic eucalypts – apple box of course, but also peppermint, scribbly and brittle gums aplenty. The area is home to some spectacular forest – you’ll see wet, dry and intermediate eucalypt environments as well as the grassy woodlands.

Yanununbeyan is rich in Indigenous history, with recorded Aboriginal sites in the area, including artefact scatters of grey and black chert and quartz. The Ngarigo people spent much of their time on the tablelands, but sought shelter in warmer places in winter.


If you’re interested in birds, this is the place to spot wedge-tailed eagles, spotted quail thrush, superb lyrebirds, dusky wood swallows, speckled warblers, cockatoos and diamond firetails.

At dusk and dawn, the kangaroos, wombats and wallabies appear, and at night, owls and gliders come out to play.

Getting there

To get to the picnic area from Canberra, head through Queanbeyan on the Kings Highway. About 3 km out of town, turn right at the roundabout onto Captains Flat Road. Drive for almost 19 km then turn right into Woolcara Lane, continuing into the Yanununbeyan State Conservation Area, where you’ll find somewhere to park at the picnic spot.

The last part of the road is unsealed. It is suitable for two-wheel drive vehicles in dry weather.

The Yanununbeyan State Conservation area is closed during poor weather or fire danger.

There’s no mobile phone access in many parts of the reserve, so visitors are encouraged to advise someone else of their travel plans.

When to go

Autumn is the perfect time to explore the area on foot, by bike, or even on the back of a horse.

In spring, the woodlands burst into colour during wildflower season, attracting a range of colourful birds.

Be aware that there can be extremes of weather in the area year round, so prepare for all possibilities with appropriate clothing, equipment and supplies.

It’s best to delay your trip if there has been rain in the area – the dirt roads can become boggy and may be closed after wet weather.


Key details

  • Duration: around an hour’s drive from the city, via Queanbeyan
  • Distance from Canberra: 50 km from Canberra city
  • Recommended for: birdwatchers, bushwalkers, cyclists and photographers
  • More information: Go to the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service website

Have you visited Yanununbeyan State Conservation Area or the Apple Box picnic spot? We’d love to hear about your experiences.

Header photo of Apple Box Picnic Area from Visit NSW.

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