June 2015 (Updated February 2017)
Mt Taylor is a great ACT bushwalk and once you've reached the top you're rewarded with spectacular views, no matter what time of the day or night (Image 1).
Walk Rating: Medium to Low level of fitness required. Basically the walk is all uphill with a couple of very steep parts. It's obviously easier if you're a little fitter, but if you're not that fit take your time. The total distance from the base to the top is just over one kilometre.
Directions to Mount Taylor
Mt Taylor is situated on the south side of Canberra between the suburbs of Torrens (Woden) and Kambah (Tuggeranong). If you drive along Sulwood Drive, there is a dirt area that you can park on, which is located about opposite the intersection with Manheim Street about 1.8km from the Tuggeranong Parkway. If you are coming from the Athllon Drive side, the carparking area is about 1.7km. At this location you walk along a well-defined access road for about 400 metres and you will be at the base of Mt Taylor.
Alternatively, there is an entry road from Athllon Drive to the horse agistement paddocks (about 300 metres from Sulwood Drive northbound). From here, you can take a well-defined dirt access road and it is 1.4km to the base of Mt Taylor. If you drive further along the agistment access road before parking, you could halve this distance.
Image 1 -View from Mt Taylor, west to the snowcapped Brindabella Mountain Range.
Image 2 - Information board at foot of Mt Taylor walk.
Image 5 - One of the several seats along the walking track.
Image 3 - Tawny Frogmouth Owl, Mt Taylor.
The walking path changes to a tarred access road and you continue along this until you reach the top. As you get towards the top you begin to see magnificent views of the Brindabella Mountains, they almost seem to call out to you, encouraging you to explore further afield. As a way to further inspire you, you may notice just before the top on your left-hand side, there is another information sign (Image 8). This sign has a panoramic picture of the Brindabella Mountain Range, with all prominent high points named (Images 8 and 9). If you are unfamiliar with the mountains it is well worth a stop as it allows you to identify some of the well-known mountains such as Mt Ginnini and Mt Gingera (the latter is normally covered in snow at the high point during the winter).
In keeping with Canberra's moto of "The Bush Capital', Mt Taylor is nestled right in amongst suburbs with easy access. For this reason, it is a very popular walk, but the views at the top cannot be underestimated, in terms of a panoramic 360 degrees of the city, something that other locations (Mt Ainslie for example) do not offer.
At the base of Mt Taylor, there is an information board (Image 2), which describes the geographical history of the area and provides information about the native fauna and flora. Mt Taylor is a dedicated nature reserve and over the past two years, I have noticed an increase in the native bird population, particularly the Superb Fairy Wrens. I recently spotted a good number of 'Double-Bar' Finches (also known as 'Owl Face) and they seem to be colonising in the reserve. If you go at night, and keep your eyes peeled, you may spot one of the resident owls (Image 3) and also, keep an eye out for the Wedgetail Eagles during the day (Image 4) .
Mt Taylor is the second highest point in Canberra (not Australian Capital Territory) at 856 metres, behind Mt Majura at 888 metres.
From the base, commence the walk. Although the majority is uphill, there are a couple of flat spots. The path is concreted and/or tarred thanks to the work of volunteers over several years (well done guys!). There are also a number of benches that have been positioned to take advantage of the views over Tuggeranong towards the Brindabellas. I would recommend taking the time to sit and enjoy the spectacular views, so take a break! (Image 5)
Image 4 - Wedgetail Eagle soaring over Mt Taylor
Continue along the walking path and you will reach some stairs. From here to the top is fairly steep, so if you're not overly fit, please take it easy here. This immediate area is fairly dense with trees and shrubs and there are always a number of small birds, so keep your eye out if you're interested. The slow re-growth is gradually returning Mt Taylor back to what it once was. The mountain was heavily de-forrested during the post war depression period, when the local government in its desire to give people work, authorised trees on the mountain to be felled. Coupled with years and years of overgrazing by sheep, it is a testament to those volunteers who have been re-greening the area.
After the stairs and steep path, you will come out onto an open grassed area (Image 6) where there are normally a number of eastern grey kangaroos. Sometimes they are lower down but always seem to move up high as evening commences and if you are there as the sun rises, they are silhouetted against the orange light (Image 7).
Image 7 - An early morning with the rising sun silhouetting an Eastern Grey Kangaroo against the orange light
Image 6 - After the stairs, the open grassed area and path towards the top.
Image 8 above, and Image 9 below - Information on the mountains to the west
At the top of Mt Taylor you will have a panoramic view from the west (Brindabellas) across Weston Creek and Mt Stromlo (ANU Observatory), Black Mountain, Lake Burley Griffin, Woden Valley, Canberra City across to where the Canberra airport is. You can see most other high points from here, including Mt Ainslie and Mt Majura.
You will also notice that there are other information boards which further describe the geography, fauna and flora. If you walked on the walking trail that leads north from the peak (and then winds its way down the eastern side), there are a number of other information boards that are well worth the read.
Mt Taylor is a great example of a successful urban walking track and its proximity to suburbia encourages you to the top. The scenery is constantly changing with the seasons (Images 10 to 16) and the time of day (or night) that you do the walk, so make sure you take your camera if your a budding (or established) photographer!
Image 10 - The tarred walking path that leads to the top
Image 11 - A night view of Canberra, north east from Mt Taylor