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FoBM About Black Mountain

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Black Mtn Nature Reserve

Black Mountain Nature Reserve

What is Black Mountain Nature Reserve?

Black Mountain Nature Reserve is part of Canberra Nature Park. It epitomises the image of Canberra as the 'Bush Capital'. Its rich diversity is a delight for local residents and visitors.

The intriguing forested slopes offer walks in the bush and panoramic views of Canberra and surrounding mountains. And it's all within three kilometres of the city centre.

Enter the reserve at Frith Road (near the ACTEW substation), Belconnen Way, Caswell Drive, Black Mountain Drive, or Clunies Ross Street and the Australian National Botanic Gardens during daylight hours to the Summit Walk. 

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What can I do on Black Mtn?
Why is Black Mountain so special?

Black Mountain Nature Reserve is one of the largest and most prominent reserves in Canberra Nature Park. It is significant because of its geology and plant diversity. It is also a key element of the landscape and in the design for the national capital by Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin.

Its Early Silurian rocks (Black Mountain Sandstone), formed from sediments deposited 435 to 430 million years ago, are among the oldest in the ACT. The sandstone-derived soils are very rare in the Territory. The soils along with the complex habitat support hundreds of species of plants and animals; somewhat different from other Canberra hills. There are more than 650 species of plants, including more than 60 orchids.

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There are ten eucalypt species native to Black Mountain. The steep slopes of the mountain are covered in low open forest, dominated by Red Stringybark, Scribbly Gum, and Brittle Gum.

Eucalypts, wattles, native shrubs, grasses, herbs and wildflowers thrive in the soils that are enriched by nutrients from invertebrates and fungi in the leaf litter on the forest floor. Half of the orchid species found in the ACT occur on Black Mountain, as well as some rare plants. Birds, small and large mammals and reptiles feed and breed on Black Mountain, many relying particularly on the eucalyptus trees for nest hollows and shelter.

In gullies and on damp, south facing slopes, the variety of mosses, ferns, lichens and damp-loving plants redefine the word ‘green’. The bark of the different tree species, with their textures, patterns and hues, delights artists and shows others that trunks are never paint-box brown. Up close, the beautiful colours of the wildflowers can be appreciated by walkers.

Black Mountain may be the best known mountain in Australia because of research and studies done by CSIRO and others.

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What can I do on Black Mountain?
  • Walk to the top and admire the views.

  • Explore other walking paths.

  • See and hear the birds; go birdwatching.​

  • Enjoy wildflowers, especially in spring.

  • Jog or cycle along the formed vehicle trails.

Why is Black Mtn Special

What can I see on Black Mountain?

What can I see? - plants & animals
Flora of Black Mountain

BLACK MOUNTAIN F LORA BORING? NEVER!

 

Article by Rosemary Purdie  Journal, Australian Native Plants Society, Canberra Region Inc—December 2015  

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Birds of Black Mountain

Black Mountain is home to a variety of bird species. Some live in Canberra all year round and others are seasonal visitors. Look and listen as you walk, run and enjoy the slopes of Black Mountain.

You may have to look and listen a little harder to spot some of the following species.

All images are by Con Boekel

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Butterflies on Black Mountain

Butterflies go through different stages; egg, caterpillar and butterfly. As caterpillars they enjoy food plants, but when they become butterflies they seek nectar.

Black Mountain is regarded as a “hotspot” for butterflies, and we have enjoyed the Butterfly Walks led by Dr Suzi Bond.

Suzi’s book, Field Guide to Butterflies in the Australian Capital Territory (2016), has wonderful information and illustrations.

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Dry sclerophyll forest shrubs

Dry Sclerophyll forest shrubs are typically characterised by plants that have hard, short and often spiky leaves, a quality closely associated with low soil fertility. Shrubs found in the dry sclerophyll forest on Black Mountain include: Wattle, Hop Bush, Dogwood, Cassinia, Dillwynia, Mirbelia, Heath, Grevillea and Bush Pea.

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Grassland Plants

You will see a diverse display of grassland plants growing on Black Mountain during our popular spring walks. Plants include various Everlastings, Buttons, Bindweed, Bluebells, Sunray, Carrot, Riceflower, Wild Flax and Woodrush.

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Liverworts on Black Mountain

Liverworts are tiny plants usually found growing on the soil surface, often occurring with mosses. They don't develop flowers and seeds, and instead produce structures called capsules that develop spores which grow into new plants. They are mostly more visible after heavy rainfall in areas that remain moist for several weeks, including creek lines and banks, heavily shaded areas, and flats or gentle slopes with water seepage. At least 28 liverwort species have been recorded on Black Mountain; five of them were first located there in 2020 after searches during prolonged wet conditions.

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Dominant grassland and grassy woodland plants

The healthy grassy woodland of Black Mountain includes large old Eucalypt trees, saplings of various heights, an understorey of native plants and grasses and fallen timber and leaves. 

 

Dominant plants found on Black Mountain are:

 

Trees: Broad-leaved Peppermint, Red Box, Apple Box;

 

Shrubs: Burgan, Prickly Teatree

 

Grasses: Kangaroo Grass, Redleg Grass

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Geophytes: now you see me, now you don’t!

Geophytes are perennial plants including herbs, lilies and orchids that have underground storage organs - bulbs, corms, tubers, or rhizomes.

 

Geophytes found on Black Mountain are Pale Sundew, Slender Tick Trefoil, Yellow Rush Lily, Small St John’s Wort, Bulbine Lily, Yam Daisy, Nodding Chocolate Lily, Fringed Lily, Early Nancy, Purple Beard Orchid, Common Onion Orchid and Dusky Fingers. 

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Hailstorm on 20 January 2020

Text and photos by Rosemary Purdie

In the early afternoon of Monday, 20 January 2020, a violent, 10-minute long hailstorm swept over the northern parts of Black Mountain Nature Reserve, pummelling the vegetation with hailstones up to 6 cm in diameter. Along the length of the storm's pathway tree canopies were stripped of their foliage, which formed a carpet on the ground.

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Hailstorm 20 Jan 2020
Get Involved
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How can I get involved?

Friends of Black Mountain in an energetic local community group consisting of volunteers who help protect biodiversity and landscape values for future generations. New members are always welcome. It is one of many ParkCare groups that work cooperatively with ACT Parks and Conservation Service. Activities include:

  • Join weeding work parties on the first Saturday of the month.

  • Participate in Vegwatch, Frogwatch, Birdblitz, and other citizen science surveys. 

  • Conduct guided walks, including the Spring Wildflower Ramble, and Heritage Festival walks.

  • Assist with maintenance of walk paths.

  • Promote Black Mountain’s biodiversity locally and further afield, through public information.

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This site is managed in partnership with Molonglo Conservation Group

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