Sunday, 14 July 2013

Macropod Diversity in the Canberra Nature Park - Mt Taylor

Last Thursday I found myself with a couple of hours to kill on the south side of town, and with most of the Canberra Nature Park closed for the kangaroo cull, I went to Mt Taylor for the first time in years.

Mt Taylor is the large hill south west of Woden, next to the Tuggeranong Parkway.

While there were plenty of Eastern Grey Kangaroos, it was pleasing to see the less common macropods there as well, particularly two pairs of Common Wallaroos, the least common of the 4 local species.

There are four species of macropods in the ACT - the abundant Eastern Grey Kangaroo, the Swamp Wallaby, Red-necked Wallaby and the Common Wallaroo. That isn't counting the severely endangered Southern Brush-Tailed Rock Wallaby, being bred in captivity at Tidbinbilla or the Bettongs recently re-introduced into the Mulligan's Flat predator proof reserve.

The Wallaroo is superficially similar to the Eastern Grey. A little smaller than the largest Eastern Greys, Wallaroos are stockier, have a more shaggy coat and  have a large, hairless rhinarium (nose). Wallaroos are more solitary - often in pairs or small family groups, whereas Eastern Greys form mobs. Eastern Greys have a light coloured tail with a dark tip. Wallaroo tails are more uniformly coloured. In eastern Australia, male Wallaroos are very dark and the females quite light in colour. Wallaroos are usually found on steep, rocky slopes, such as Mt Taylor. The only other place in the Canberra Nature Park that I have seen them is on the slopes of Old Joe Hill, on the northern border of the ACT, in Goorooyaroo Nature Reserve.

Male Wallaroo showing typical stance - wrists raised, elbows tucked.
Note the large, hairless rhinarium (nose)
Eastern Grey Kangaroo - compare the stance,
and the nose.
There appeared to be two pairs of Wallaroos when I was there, although I counted no more than 3 at any one time.
Red-necked Wallaby
There were also a couple of Red-necked Wallabies. While very common in the mountains to west of Canberra, they are less often seen in the drier, more open woodland of the Canberra Nature Park. They aren't always as strikingly marked or as well lit as this one.

Swamp Wallabies are more commonly seen in the Canberra Nature Park, and although I didn't see any on Mt Taylor I would be very surprised if they were not there somewhere, such as densely vegetated gullies.

Mt Taylor should be a good place to see all four local species.
A tired mother showing the strain of raising the next generation of Eastern Grey Kangaroos

Look south west from Mt Taylor towards Mt Tennent

A pair of Wallaroos hop off to the west
More, higher resolution, photos: Google+ Photo Album.


  1. Duncan, I spotted a single swamp wallaby on the top of Farrer Ridge a week ago, munching on a flowering wattle right near the trig markers. Its only a hop step and jump over the road to Mount Taylor, so no doubt some there as well. I've not previously seen swamp wallabies on Farrer Ridge, although I visit there quite often, since its only 10 minutes walk away. sandra h

  2. I was walking up there and spotted a lone "black wallaby" in the middle of the day which I thought was odd goven the obvious signs of a large mob living on mount Taylor. He was no doubt really a male Wallaroo I would guess though.