Stirling Park is located in Yarralumla, between Alexandrina Drive, Fitzgerald St, and Empire Circuit.
Stirling Park was known to indigenous Ngamberi and Ngunnawal peoples as Gura Bung Dhaura, or stony ground. Evidence of Indigenous peoples' use of the site remains today with scarred trees, stone arrangements, and stories passed down to present day Ngamberi and Ngunnawal people. As Canberra developed in the 1920s, Stirling Park, then known as “Westlake,” was the site of workers cottages. These cottages were all removed by 1965, but some evidence of these former dwellings remains, along with interpretive signage. Following removal of the settlement, the land was left to regenerate.
For more information and pictures of the Westlake settlement visit Canberra History Web.The sites contain woodland of special conservation significance, including the White Box -Yellow Box – Blakely's Red Gum Grassy Woodland and Derived Native Grassland, which is listed as critically endangered under the federal Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, as well as Yellow Box – Red Gum Grassy Woodland, which is listed as endangered under the ACT's Nature Conservation Act 1980 . This type of woodland has a species-rich understorey of native tussock grasses, herbs and scattered shrubs, and is dominated by Yellow Box and Red Gum trees. With this ecological community occurring on some of the best agricultural soils in south-eastern Australia, much has been cleared and very little is protected within reserves, hence any remaining remnants are very important. Stirling Park also contains forest on its upper slopes.
Stirling Park conserves old woodland eucalypts that develop hollows after around one hundred years. These hollows are important homes for wildlife, including birds, bats and possums. This Yellow Box - Blakely's Red Gum Grassy Woodland habitat is critically endangered and remnants are protect under federal environment law. (C) J Pittock, 2009.
The site also contains populations of the endangered Button Wrinklewort. Stirling Park is thought to contain around 49,000 Button Wrinklewort plants, one of the largest remaining populations of the species.
Stirling Park has many species of wildflowers in late Spring and Summer, such as this Yellow Burr Daisy. (C) J Pittock, 2009.
Today, the site is managed by the National Capital Authority, and management is informed by a range of planning documents. The National Capital Plan identifies Stirling Park as zoned for National Capital Use and the area was considered in the 1980s as a potential site for a new Prime Ministerial residence. Although this has not occurred, the site remains zoned to allow for development. The ACT Lowland Woodland Conservation Strategy and the Conservation Management Plan recommends the protection of Stirling Park for its high conservation value. The management of Stirling Park is primarily guided by the NCA's Conservation Management Plans for Sites Managed by the National Capital Authority 2009. Management of heritage values is also undertaken in accordance with the Lake Burley Griffin and Adjacent Lands Heritage Management Plan.
The key management needs of the site are weed control, mowing the open grass areas, and conducting controlled ecological burns. Click here for more information on conservation needs of the ACT's grassy ecosystems, including information about how you can help.
Stirling Park can be enjoyed by visitors all year around. Bush peas can be seen on the rocky ridges from mid Spring, and grassy wildflowers are visible in the flatter areas from early summer. Look out for Hoary Sunrays, Yellow Buttons and Bulbine Lilies, and the threatened Button Wrinklewort. Please note that it is illegal to pick the flowers.
- Birtles, T.G., 2006. Scrivener, Charles Robert (1855 - 1923), Australian Dictionary of Biography [External Link] - 16 December 2010.
- Canberra History Web, 2009. Canberra Memories, Westlake Stories [External Link]. Accessed 17 December 2010.
- Environment ACT, 2004. Woodlands for Wildlife: ACT Lowland Woodland Conservation Strategy, Action Plan #27 [External Link] - 29 October 2010.
- Gugler, A., 1997. Westlake: One of the Vanished Suburbs of Canberra. Canberra, Ann Gugler.
- Gugler, A., 2009. Ngunawal & Colonial Sites, Temporary Camps & Settlements 1922-1965 – Stirling Park, Yarralumla ACT [External Link] - 17 December 2010.
- National Capital Authority, 2009. Lake Burley Griffin and Adjacent Lands Heritage Management Plan
- National Capital Authority, 2010. National Capital Plan - 29 October 2010.
- Sharp, S., 2009. Conservation Management Plans for Sites Managed by the National Capital Authority: Yarramundi Reach Grassland, Stirling Park Woodland, Guilfoyle St Grassland, and Lady Denman Drive Grassland.