|This page and its subsidiary pages are far from comprehensive, but start to compile an information resource about the Pinnacle Nature Reserve. At the moment they concentrate largely on the physical characteristics and natural history of the reserve, but in time will include information about its past, present and future indigenous connections and importance to indigenous peoples, as well as its history since European settlement. In addition, the existing pages will be expanded and improved.
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What and where is The Pinnacle Nature Reserve?
The Pinnacle Nature Reserve is a unit of the Canberra Nature Park (CNP). Totalling approximately 154 ha, the Reserve is located on Belconnen's southern boundary, adjacent to the suburbs of Weetangera and Hawker. The Reserve adjoins Springvale Drive and private residences to the north, and unleased and leasehold rural land on its southern and western boundaries [see location map]. The Reserve is promulgated under the ACT's Territory Plan, and managed by ACT Parks and Conservation Service (PCS).
The "Pinnacle" refers to the highest point of the Reserve, which is 708 m above sea level and seems to have first appeared on an official map in 1914.
[ see also our 2022 brochure ]
Why is The Pinnacle Nature Reserve Special?
Amble a few hundred meters or less from the suburbs or Hawker or Weetangera and you're greeted with spectacular views across the Molonglo River to the Brindabella Mountains in the west, the Tidbinbilla Range to the south-west, and across the southern suburbs to Mt. Tennent in the south. To the east is the city of Canberra, the view dominated by Parliament House, Lake Burley Griffin and Black Mountain. Whether it's the blue haze of summer on the mountains, the remnants of the morning fog delineating the path of the Molonglo River, or just the feeling of space so close to the bustle of the suburbs, it is always uplifting.
Lower your view to the Reserve around you and enjoy some of the more than 1000 native species that have been confirmed to occur on the Reserve. These include more that 260 native species of grasses, shrubs and trees, from precious orchids, to kangaroo and wallaby grasses, and magnificent eucalypts such as red stringybark, scribbly gum and yellow box; there is nearly always something in flower to admire. In and around this vegetation flit 115 species of birds, close to 50% of the species known to be found in the ACT; some make their homes here permanently, while others visit seasonally or less regularly. You'll also never tire of seeing the iconic Eastern Grey Kangaroos, several hundred of which inhabit the Reserve. If you're lucky, you'll get a glimpse of a more elusive Red-necked Wallaby, an Echidna scurrying for cover, or a Bearded dragon holding perfectly still hoping that it won't be seen.
These are some of the many reasons that the Friends of The Pinnacle are working to foster community pride in and care for the Reserve, to halt and reverse threats posed by pest plants and animals and by land and water degradation, and to share its values with as broad a community as possible.
Read on and follow the links to experience more of what The Pinnacle Nature Reserve has to offer.
Hydrology and Geology
The Pinnacle is part of a ridge including Mt. Painter, that runs west from Black Mountain. This ridge forms the southern boundary of the Belconnen suburban area, and is also the water divide that separates the Ginninderra Creek catchment from that of the Molonglo River. The bulk of the Reserve faces south and drains into the Molonglo River, the largest creek being Deep Creek, which flows from the dam (see hydrology map). There is an elevation change of 90 m, from 708 m at The Pinnacle to 600 m at the southern corner of the Pinnacle Extension (now referred to as the Kama Link).
The rocks underlying the Reserve belong to the Hawkins Volcanic Suite, and specifically the Walker Volcanics, deposited in the mid-Silurian geological period (about 425 million years ago). As the name implies, these are largely of volcanic origin and the main rock type mapped to the area is dacitic ignimbrite, a blue-grey rock that oxidises when exposed to the air to produce the reddy brown colour that we see when walking through the Reserve. The volcanic eruptions occurred in a shallow marine and terrestrial environment. Between eruptions lenses of sedimentary rocks (limestone and shale) were incorporated into the geological sequence. An outcrop of one of these limestone deposits occurs in the southern part of the Reserve. Unlike the deposit that is found further down the hill along the Molonglo River which is rich in marine fossils, it does not seem to contain fossils visible to the naked eye.
Over much of the reserve, the surface is rocky and the soils are shallow. On the slopes and in the depressions, however, deeper soil formation has occurred. Most of the area is covered by soils assessed to have a moderate to very high erosion hazard, with patches, mainly in low lying areas, having extreme erosion hazard.
While a large part of the Reserve has suffered from clearing of forest and grazing in the past, the western portion has remained in a relatively natural state. The dry sclerophyll forest in the west of the Reserve features Eucalyptus macrorhyncha (Red Stringybark) as the dominant tree species. These appear quite well established in the earliest aerial photo of the area (1940) suggesting that perhaps the area was not cleared after settlement in the mid 1870s. Shrubs dominate the understorey with smaller shrubs, fallen timber and leaflitter at ground level. There are also many forbs including daisies, orchids and lilies. Weed invasion is less noticeable here than elsewhere in the Reserve, but, because this is a high conservation part of the Reserve, control of weeds is a high priority.
There are scattered large eucalypts (mostly Yellow Box, E. melliodora, and Blakely's Red Gum, E. blakelyi) surrounded by grassland over much of the reserve to the east of the forest. Isolated native shrubs such as Bursaria sp. and Cassinia sp. remain, especially near outcrops of boulders or amongst rocky ground. Native clumping plants, ferns, lilies and low shrubs are also preserved near rocks. Introduced grasses and weeds are less numerous in some of these rocky outcrops, while many others are seriously weed infested.
The tree cover of the Reserve was augmented by community plantings in 1984 and 1990/91when over 4,000 trees and shrubs were planted. The plantings are often obvious from their regular nature and the remnants of tree guards around their bases. A range of Acacia species and other native trees or large shrubs were introduced to the reserve at that time. They support foraging native birds and improve the amenity value of the Reserve, although some of the shrub species are not endemic to the area. Further strategic small-scale plantings using species that are local to the area have been carried out by fotpin - see Revegetation.
Introduced grasses are common over much of the Reserve and represent the "pasture-improvement" practices of past lessees and graziers. Open grassland has been invaded by Acacia, forming thickets where fires have stimulated germination.
In the east and south of the reserve boulder areas are also valuable refuges for native vegetation. Here older eucalypts remain, indicating woodland prior to pastoral activity, and there are younger eucalypts closer to Coulter Drive from a more recent planting effort.
Several gullies divide the expanse of grass areas and support sedges and other native wetland plants. A dam captures waters from a minor creek (Deep Creek) draining from the 'reservoirs' area. Gullies in the Stringybark forest are rich in native plants including Sundews and orchids during wet springs.
See Plants of The Pinnacle for a detailed list of the more than 260 native and 100 introduced plant species found in the Reserve, including at least 9 species designated as rare in the ACT.
Wildlife, great and small
Obvious to all walkers on the Reserve are the Eastern Grey Kangaroos, which abound in the area. Less frequently seen are a small number of Swamp Wallabies and Red-necked Wallabies. Echidnas are among the smaller mammals and their population has been thriving in recent years with many sightings and almost no ant nests untouched. Brushtail possums are also present but rarely seen during daytime. Foxes prowl the area, but successful control of the rabbit population over the last few years has reduced the abundance of food for them. There are also house mice and rats as well as the occasional feral cat. If you have seen other animals, please let us know.
In 2019 the discovery of a small pile of uniquely cubic droppings confirmed that at least one wombat had visited the Reserve and other sightings have since confirmed their presence.
Among the 17 species of reptiles identified as occurring on the Reserve, bearded dragons and blue tongue lizards are perhaps the most often seen. Red bellied blacksnakes and eastern brown snakes are present as well, though are usually quick to make their escape when encountered.
The Reserve also has areas of habitat suitable for the officially vulnerable Aprasia parapulchella - the pink-tailed worm-lizard, and their presence has been confirmed.
See Reptiles and Amphibians of The Pinnacle for a complete list, which includes 9 frogs and a turtle species.
Following a successful guided walk led by Suzi Bond in 2018, our members have taken a greater interest in these fleeting visitors. With Suzi's help we have compiled a list of butterflies for which we have confirmed sightings on the Reserve (now more than 25 species).
Thanks to many long years work by dedicated members of the Canberra Ornithologists Group, confirmed sightings of 115 different bird species have been made in The Pinnacle Nature Reserve, an amazing near-50% of all bird species that have been observed in the ACT. These include 4 species listed as vulnerable in the ACT, and a number of others whose populations are declining and of concern.
See Birds of The Pinnacle for a complete list including links to images and information about them.
Other residents of the Reserve
The Flora and Fauna page has links to all the lists mentioned above plus many others, such as fungi, spiders, beetles, insects, flies, moths, etc. Some of the smallest creatures on the Reserve are also some of the most beautiful when captured by our skilled photographers, for example the White-flecked acacia jewel beetle.
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