Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, on the fringe of Namadgi National Park, is a short drive from the city of Canberra, Australia. The reserve covers an area of approximately 54.50 km² and consists of a large valley floor, the Tidbinbilla Mountain and the Gibraltar range. The sides of the valley are steep and relatively undisturbed; the lower slopes are partly cleared and have a history of Aboriginal and European use. Tidbinbilla Mountain is believed to have been used for initiation ceremonies. The word 'Tidbinbilla' is Aboriginal in origin and is derived from the word Jedbinbilla – a place where boys become men.
Known sites of Aboriginal significance in the reserve include the Birriagi Rock Shelter, which is the oldest Aboriginal site within the Australian Capital Territory. Bogong Rocks is a shelter contains the oldest evidence of Aboriginal occupation at a bogong moth resting site.
There are over 100 years of European tenancy of the reserve. Nil Desperandum and Rock Valley Homestead are both pise rammed earth buildings built in the 1890s. Both buildings were built by George Green and George Hatcliff. Nil Desperandum is a historic four-roomed residence alongside Hurdle Creek first occupied by Henry French Gillman. The remains of a commercial camellia plantation and the best preserved eucalyptus distillery in the ACT are nearby. The Rock Valley Homestead was occupied by the Green family. Nil Desperandum was later occupied by George Greens daughter Elsie Jane and her husband Eric Blewitt from the early 1930s to the early 1950s when Eric was killed drenching a horse. Both buildings were severely damaged during the 2003 Canberra bushfires. Nil Desperandum has since been rebuilt in its original condition and design with the kitchen extension but not the enclosed side verandah that the two brothers John Douglas (Doug) & Cyril Leslie (Ned) both slept in.
In 1936 about 8.10 km² were set aside as a public reserve and in 1939 a koala enclosure was built by the Institute of Anatomy. The government acquired land to establish a national park and fauna reserve in 1962, extending the park to 36.29 km² and later further extending the park to its current size. In 1969 the first wildlife displays were created and in 1971 the park was officially gazetted.
Tidbinbilla has a wide variety of bushwalks - ranging from 30 minutes to over 6 hours. It is also a native habitat for kangaroos, wallabies, platypus, koalas, lyrebirds, emus and other wildlife. Ninety-nine percent of the park was burnt out in the Bendora bushfire of 18 January 2003 resulting in the loss of countless numbers of wildlife. Only one koala, six rock wallabies, five potoroos, four freckled ducks and nine black swans survived the bushfire.
The Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is across the road from the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex, part of the NASA Deep Space Network.
On 7 November 2008 The Park was added to the Australian National Heritage List as one of eleven areas constituting the Australian Alps National Parks and Reserves.
- Department of Urban Services and Conservation. 1999. Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve: Management Plant. Environment ACT
- Boot, P and Bulbeck, D. 1991. Tidbinbilla nature reserve cultural resource survey and conservation plan, ACT heritage unit and ACT Parks and Conservation, Canberra
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