Stirling Park (Gurubang Dhawura) is located in Yarralumla, between Alexandrina Drive, Fitzgerald St, and Empire Circuit.
Stirling Park was known to local Ngunnawal peoples as Gurubang Dhawura, or stony ground. Evidence of First Australian's use of the site remains today with scarred trees, stone arrangements, and stories passed down to present day 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.
Stirling Park is a highly valued conservation site and is carefully managed by the National Capital Authority (NCA) with the great help of volunteers, to protect its significant values and characteristics. The area has endangered plant species, an abundance of native animals, many significant First Australians sites and very special links to early Canberra history. The way the area is used can help protect these values and characteristics or damage them. The recent removal of the unsafe pine plantation, and the re-vegetation of that area will further enhance the ecology and its natural attributes.
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 Ecological Management Plan (attached below) 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. For more information regarding conservation needs of the ACT's grassy ecosystem or information on how you can help, click here.
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.
The NCA has been notified that BMX tracks and a tree house have been constructed in Stirling Park. These are not consistent with the conservation management of the area and have the potential to damage what makes this place special. For the protection of the area, the NCA will remove any un-approved construction in Stirling Park.