Canberra Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve reopens to Canberrans – see wildlife, picnic & go bushwalking

The Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve has long-been a Canberran recreation favourite, especially as it is located just 40 minutes drive from Canberra’s city centre. Now finally open again to the delight of many Canberrans, it’s reopening comes with a temporary bonus!

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve Canberra - Cascades Bushwalk

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve Canberra – Cascades Bushwalk

The Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is a must-see when visiting Canberra. It’s full of native wildlife, has a great adventure playground and plays host to numerous beautiful Canberra bushwalks.

Tidbinbilla Canberra Lockdown temporary changes

  • After several weeks closure due to Canberra’s COVID-19 2021 lockdown, Tidbinbilla is now open again for recreation purposes – open until 8pm during daylight savings time (that’s now!)
  • Whilst the Tidbinbilla Visitor Centre is still closed until lockdown ends, elsewhere in the reserve access is, for the most part, normal other than no overnight stays.
  • There is an extra bonus for Canberra families, nature lovers and bush walkers to take advantage of at the moment – you can currently enter the nature reserve for free! A private vehicle day pass entry fee into Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is normally $14.
  • Face mask wearing is a requirement around others outside of your household, as it is exercising elsewhere in the ACT. You don’t need to wear it if you are not around others (other than your own household) when exercising outside.
  • You will need to limit your exercise time at Tidbinbilla to no more than the limited exercise hours allowed, as mandated by the ACT government at that time

One of the top-ten things to do in Canberra

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve Canberra - Cascades Trail bushwalk

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve Canberra – Cascades Trail bushwalk

An incredibly beautiful corner of Australia, the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is nestled in a valley surrounded by the stunning Tidbinbilla ranges. Huge, eucalypt-covered mountains contain a vast array of Australian native flora and fauna. All yours to see and explore via a network of well-maintained mountain and valley trails.

Access within Tidbinbilla is simple via a central “Ring Road” with several carparks branching off it. These areas often have attached picnic table areas and public toilets.

It’s almost impossible to visit Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and NOT see Australian wildlife here. On the open plains which the ring road passes through, Kangaroos graze and rest in groups. Rare Rock Wallabies have a special habitat too, hopping about in the foothills. A koala area is a mere stroll from a nearby carpark. Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve truly is a mecca for Australian wildlife and nature lovers.

Our list of favourite things to do at Tidbinbilla

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve Canberra - Cascades Trail bushwalk

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve Canberra – Cascades Trail bushwalk

My family has been lucky enough to have visited Tidbinbilla many times over the years, Whilst I have enjoyed all of these with my kids, most of these activities will suit everyone – whether you are bushwalking alone, as a couple, with friends or family. Whether you live in Canberra and have an annual pass, or are visiting Canberra and visiting just for the day. In no particular order, here are my Tidbinbilla highlights for visitors:

Go on a Canberra picnic with kangaroos

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve Canberra - Kangaroo picnic grounds

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve Canberra – Kangaroo picnic grounds

There are several picnic areas scattered around Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve where you can sit and picnic whilst watching wild kangaroos graze nearby. There is no wild animal feeding at Tidbinbilla to keep both animals and humans safe in the reserve.

A couple of these picnic areas you will come across almost immediately upon entering the reserve are Dalsetta on the right, and Flints on the left (all marked on the free Tidbinbilla map available from the front entrance). They are also trail setting-off points.

(It’s also very possible to spot kangaroos around the Visitors Centre before even entering the park if you’re super-short on time!)

Do the wheelchair accessible Koala Path walk

For a sure-thing sighting of koalas, go for a walk along the Koala Path at Eucalypt Forest. There is a Koala enclosure at the start where you can see koalas close up, and at only 700 metres, this level, wheel chair accessible loop trail is a must-do at Tidbinbilla – particularly if you love seeing koalas (and surely that’s everyone, right?!).

Do the wheel chair accessible Sanctuary walk – see Platypus and more!

Another wheel chair friendly trail loop around huge and beautiful water ponds, pools and dams is the Sanctuary. This gorgeous, level and peaceful walk incorporates hard, wide paths with long bridges spanning peaceful waterways chock-full of water birds and other native animals.

Here you’ll have the opportunity to see a lot of native wildlife that you’ll rarely get the opportunity to see anywhere else in Australia in such a natural setting, like the small but industrious Platypus. Don’t miss this one!

Take the kids to the Tidbinbilla Nature Discovery Playground

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve Canberra - Nature Discovery Playground

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve Canberra – Nature Discovery Playground

A favourite Canberra adventure playground of many Canberran parents is the Tidbinbilla Nature Discovery Playground, which is fantastic for kids of all ages. It includes a tiny tots play area, plus a big climbing frame, a huge twin slide and flying fox – all big enough for primary school aged children right up to teenagers.

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve Canberra - Nature Discovery Playground

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve Canberra – Nature Discovery Playground tiny tots area

There are a couple of shaded picnic tables at the top of the playground, and also large picnic grounds featuring covered areas and a toilet block just below the playground at Sheedys.

Watch our video of the Tidbinbilla Nature Discovery Playground

Watch this video to see what visiting the Tidbinbilla Nature Discovery Playground is like…

Bushwalks for beginners to advanced

A big highlight of visiting Tidbinbilla is going for a walk. From the long and difficult Gibraltar Peak hike to the gentle, flat Sanctuary stroll, there are a myriad of great walks and bushwalks at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, all well-signposted. This includes wheel chair accessible trails to makes sure everyone can get out there to enjoy the beautiful scenery and animals.

Tidbinbilla Hanging Rock short, easy bushwalk

The Hanging Rock bushwalk trail leads you through towering gum trees to a large, rocky outcrop which local Aboriginal people once used for shelter. Only 500 metres return, Hanging Rock is a short, gentle bushwalk suitable for those who are short on time, or perhaps aren’t able to walk very far, but still want to enjoy a walk through the beautiful Tidbinbilla bushland. It also makes a great introductory family-friendly bushwalk for those with toddlers who may tire more quickly. With it’s level, short path, it’s great for little ones to run along without coming to any harm.

Tidbinbilla Cascades Loop moderate bushwalk

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve Canberra - Cascades Trail bushwalk

One of our favourite bush walks at Tidbinbilla is only 1.8km long. The Cascades Loop is classed as “moderate” in difficulty, however it is big on beauty. It takes my family about one hour to complete this trail at a very gentle pace. My kids have been hiking the Cascades Loop since my youngest was about 6 years old, so it’s definitely do-able with school-age kids.

The Cascades Loop bushwalk encircles a very small and beautiful waterfall cascade and stream. Along the way it takes you up the foothills into the eucalypts, across quaint bridges spanning bubbling streams, and passes by huge boulders set deep in ferny gullies. There is a bit of uphill walking involved including rock stairs, but you don’t need to be a super-fit hiker.

The trail is wide dirt and mostly good underfoot, with a few short rocky sections or inclines. This is also a great trail for a hot day, as there’s plenty of shade. If you’re still wanting more at the end of the Cascades loop, you continue on to the Lyrebird loop and double the distance – and the fun!

To get to the Cascades trail start, head along the Tidbinbilla Ring Road until you reach the right-hand Mountain Creek turn off. Follow the road to the carpark at the end and follow the signs.

Watch our video of the Tidbinbilla Cascades Loop bushwalk

Watch this video to see what hiking the Tidbinbilla Cascades Loop bushwalk is like…

Important info and tips

  • Bring your sunscreen, hat, drinking water and walking shoes
  • Drinking water & free maps are available from the Tidbinbilla Visitor Centre
  • Don’t feed or pet the animals – this can be threatening to both animals and humans
  • Don’t stray off the walking trails and do walk within your physical limits
  • Sign the bushwalk registration book at the start of each trail (where provided)
  • There is little or no mobile phone coverage at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve

Where is the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve?

The Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is located off Paddy’s Road/Tidbinbilla Road, approximately 40 minutes drive from Canberra’s city centre in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).

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Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve Canberra - Cascades Bushwalk

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve Canberra - Canberra Bushwalks

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve Canberra - Cascades Bushwalk



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Hi, I'm Barbara, mum of the Let's Go Mum blog. We'd love to hear from you! You can contact me anytime with ideas on where you think we should go or what you think we should try...just drop me a line at!