Questions I often hear from my Gunghalin dwelling friends are: how come you never come for walks at our end of town? Don’t you know there are lots of great places to explore in Canberra’s North? And my answer to them is usually – because you’re so far away!! Now before you throw your arms up in rage, I know that’s not really true. As I’ve mentioned before, I am a born and bred Southsider so my natural affection for all things south of the lake sometimes leads to an unfair view of anything north of Braddon.
To conquer my prejudices, I decided to pack a lunch, fill up my fuel tank, pull out my trusty compass and navigate my way to Forde and Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve.
The Mulligans Flat & Goorooyarroo Nature Reserves border the suburbs of Bonner and Forde, there are a number of different entrances to the Reserve from the suburban streets. I chose to start at the carpark on Amy Acker St in Forde, close to the Red Gum Gate. This was a decent sized carpark with a lovely little picnic area including tables. There are a number of helpful signboards and information in the carpark including maps showing the different suggested tracks. I had already chosen to do the Mulligans Circuit, after a quick check of my water bottle I set off up the path.
Situated inside the Nature Reserve is the Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary. The sanctuary was established as part of a national effort to conserve endangered woodlands and is enclosed by a predator proof fence, allowing native species to thrive. The Mulligans Circuit I followed takes you through the Woodland Sanctuary before exiting and continuing through the Reserve and along the ACT/NSW border.
My first reaction upon reaching the Sanctuary Gate was how ominous it looked! More than twice my height with security cameras and barbed wire, I felt it wouldn’t have looked out of place outside a prison block. However when you consider who the fence is designed to keep out, and keep in, it all makes sense. Predators including feral & domestic cats, foxes and rabbits are very resourceful and the wire fence with complementarynetted trenches and electric wires play an instrumental part in ensuring the conservation and restoration of the grassy-woodland habitat which would have existed in the area prior to European invasion.
Following the Mulligans Circuit through the Sanctuary was simple as there are many signposts indicating the way. One of the highlights inside the Sanctuary was the old Woolshed. Inside was an education centre with lots of information about the different species introduced into the Sanctuary as well as information on the hard work undertaken by the conservationists.
Upon reaching the eastern end of the Sanctuary I exited through the Bustard Gate and shortly after turned left along a small track to continue the circuit. (If you have reached signage for entering the Goorooyarroo Nature Reserve you’ve gone too far and need to head back a short distance to turn off the main track).
The next few kilometres follow a fence line marking the border of ACT and NSW. The vegetation differs quite substantially from that within the Sanctuary, leaving the grassy woodlands behind and providing luscious views across the valley. I passed large mossy rocks, little wildflowers and a patch of beautiful old pines trees who had thrown their pinecones all over the path. I really enjoyed the variety of the plants and trees along the way.
Heading back into the Sanctuary through the Betong Gate I was suddenly reminded I was only a matter of minutes away from the bustle of civilisation as Gungahlin Town Centre came into view. A short walk later I was back in the carpark having thoroughly enjoyed myself on the Northside.
Walking distance: approx. 11.5km
Walking time: approx. 2 hours hrs
Walking grade: Easy. A slight incline at times
How to get there: I parked in the carpark on Amy Acker St in Forde. It is a good sized carpark with undercover picnic table facilities.