Have you ever encountered a wild emu? If the answer’s no, your state of deprivation can be quickly rectified with a visit to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, an expansive, protected area on the fringe of the Namadgi National Park, at the northern end of the Australian Alps. Around 40 minutes drive southwest of Canberra, Tidbinbilla is home to a huge variety of birdlife, as well as kangaroos, wallabies, platypi and some very accessible koalas. The reserve runs breeding programs for endangered species like the Northern Corroboree Frog, the Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby and the Eastern Bettong.
There are 21 trails to walk throughout the park, including an Aboriginal Heritage Walk. These range in difficulty from very easy – the wheelchair accessible Koala Path – to long and challenging uphill hikes, including one that leads to the rocky outcrop of Gibraltar Peak, which, when you make it to the top, has remarkable views out across the valley below. At the entrance to the park you’ll find an information centre, staffed by volunteers and rangers. If you’re interested in doing something a little more involved, the reserve has guided walks most weekends.
It’s important to rug up on a trip to Tidbinbilla – being on the northern edge of the Australian Alps it tends to be at least a couple of degrees colder than Canberra, and in the shade of gum forests, it can get particularly chilly. But, once you’re adequately clothed, it’s also one of the best places in Australia to interact with mammals and birdlife in the wild.