On the way to Gibraltar Peak, Tidbinbilla

Two Hikes in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve (2024)

While in Canberra, I was dedicated to exploring the nearby national parks and nature reserves through organized meetups with various hiking groups. Thanks to these group activities, one of the memorable hikes was at the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.

Another must-visit nature reserve in the Canberra region is the Namadgi Nature Reserve. My hiking adventures led me to the Square Rock lookout in Namadgi, providing breathtaking views and unforgettable experiences in the heart of nature.

PIN for later reference – Two Hikes in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve

PIN for later reference - Two hikes in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
PIN for later reference – Two Hikes in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve

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About Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve

Situated near Australia’s capital city, Canberra, the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve holds significance as the ancestral lands of the Ngunnawal people. This reserve is the ultimate destination for witnessing Australia’s unique wildlife, including koalas, kangaroos, and other species.

The name “Tidbinbilla” is rooted in the Ngunnawal language, precisely the word “Jedbinbilla,” translating to ‘where boys become men.’ This name reflects the traditional rituals and connections that Ngunnawal men share with the valley. For more in-depth information, one can explore the official Tidbinbilla website.

Operating hours for the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve vary, with the gates open every day from 7:30 am to 6 pm in the winter and from 7:30 am to 8 pm in the summer. It’s crucial to note that the reserve may be closed in the event of severe weather warnings. Stay updated by checking their website for the latest information and updates.


A park entrance fee applies to all vehicles, including motorcycles, entering the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, ranging from AUD 5 to AUD 14 per day. Alternatively, visitors can acquire an annual pass for extended access. These passes are obtainable at the Tidbinbilla Visitor Centre, available for both day and annual passes, or conveniently purchased online for the yearly pass.

It’s important to note that the Tidbinbilla Visitor Centre operates from 9 am to 5 pm daily. Be sure to plan your visit accordingly within these hours.

Tidbinbilla Canberra

Two Hikes in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve

The Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve boasts many hiking trails designed to accommodate hikers of all levels. Among the trails I’ve experienced are the treks to Gibraltar Peak and Nil Desperandum.

These hikes offer flexibility, allowing them to be tackled as individual one-day excursions or combined for a multi-day hiking adventure. The diverse options cater to varying preferences and durations, ensuring an enriching experience for all outdoor enthusiasts.

Hike to Gibraltar Peak

Perched at an elevation of 1038 meters, Gibraltar Peak stands as the 45th highest mountain in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and is a popular trek among the hiking community in Canberra. Accessible through two distinct trails, enthusiasts can embark on the longer 13-kilometre return journey via the Birrigai Time trail or opt for the shorter 8-kilometre return route via Dalsetta Car Park.

My experience includes completing the shorter route from Dalsetta Car Park, offering a captivating and rewarding hiking adventure.

Gibraltar Peak in Tidbinbilla

How to Get to Dalsetta Car Park?

The most convenient means of reaching Dalsetta Car Park is by car. Spanning approximately 41 kilometres, the journey from Canberra Central Business District (CBD) to Dalsetta Car Park typically takes around 40 minutes by car. It’s important to note that the road to the car park has restricted usage, so proper attention to regulations is advised.

Regrettably, there is no public transportation available to access Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.

Logistics (via Dalsetta Car Park)

  • Starting and Finishing Points: Dalsetta Car Park.
  • Total Distance: 8 kilometres return.
  • Total Time: 4 hours.
  • Grade: Hard; The trail is steep.
Gibraltar Peak in Tidbinbilla

Nil Desperandum

Situated within the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, Nil Desperandum is a heritage-listed homestead with a poignant name translating to “never despair.” Constructed in the 1890s by an Irishman, this homestead has evolved into an idyllic spot for a night’s stay amidst the abundant wildlife and natural surroundings. Moreover, it serves as an exceptional location for astrophotography and star gazing.

Interestingly, Nil Desperandum faced destruction during the 2003 bushfires but was resiliently reconstructed to its present state. Initially reserved for staff use, it is now available for rental by visitors. To secure a stay at Nil Desperandum, interested individuals can reach out via the provided email on the Tidbinbilla official website. It’s crucial to note that access to the Nil Desperandum homestead is exclusive to 4-wheel drive vehicles. Additionally, there is no electricity, and the area has limited mobile reception, necessitating visitors to bring all essential supplies for their stay.

Nil Desperandum in Tidbinbilla

How to Get to Greens Picnic Area?

The Greens picnic area is a short distance from the Dalsetta car park. It is advisable to obtain a map from the Tidbinbilla visitor centre since no GPS location marking is available for the Greens picnic area.

Regrettably, public transport is not available for this route.


  • Starting and Finishing Points: Greens picnic area. You can also park your car at Dalsetta car park and start hiking from there to Nil Desperandum.
  • Total Distance: 12 kilometres return. If started from Dalsetta car park, the hike will be 13.4 kilometres return.
  • Time Taken: 4 hours.
  • Grade: Moderate.
Nil Desperandum in Tidbinbilla

Important Information

  • Choose sturdy and comfortable footwear for your trek.
  • Exercise caution around wildlife, particularly kangaroos, when driving through the area.
  • Refrain from littering in the nature reserve; carry your waste with you.
  • Display your pass on the car dashboard when parking or entering the nature reserve.
  • Stay hydrated, particularly during the summer, by carrying an ample water supply.
  • Pack a lunch to savour a satisfying meal after a challenging climb.

Is Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve Safe for Solo Female Hikers?

Typically, hiking is best enjoyed by a buddy for enhanced preparedness in unforeseen situations. Likewise, I recommend undertaking these hikes with a companion or a group for added safety. For solo female travellers, consider joining organized events on platforms like Meetup, where you can connect with others for the hike and ensure a safer wilderness experience. If you find yourself alone without a hiking partner, it’s advisable to register at the Tidbinbilla visitor centre for added security.

Closing Notes

Both hikes in Tidbinbilla offer a rewarding experience featuring challenges and splendid views of the nature reserve. Reflecting on my time in Canberra, I wish I had explored more hikes within the reserve. Nonetheless, I aspire to engage in further hiking and exploration whenever possible.

Have you ventured into these hikes or explored others in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve? I’d love to hear about your experiences. Feel free to share by writing to me at Solopassport@gmail.com.

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    PIN for later reference – Two Hikes in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve

    PIN for later reference - Two hikes in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
    PIN for later reference – Two Hikes in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve