Mount Gibraltar Heritage Reserve

Misty morning from the summit S Cains

Mount Gibraltar is an iconic landmark of special significance and is also the highest point between Sydney and Canberra. Mount Gibraltar Heritage Reserve encompasses a beautiful mountain area between Bowral and Mittagong. The forest forms part of Gundungurra Country.

Nodding Blue Lily Stypandra glauca Illustration by A Hyman source The Gib

State Heritage Listing

Mount Gibraltar Heritage Reserve was listed on the State Heritage Register by the NSW Heritage Council in December 2013 for both its Endangered Ecological Communities and for the Heritage Quarries Complex, which was the source of the stone known as Bowral trachyte used in historic buildings including for the columns at Sydney's Queen Victoria Building and the foundation stone at Australia's Parliament House in Canberra.

Image: Nodding Blue Lily Stypandra glauca illustration by A Hyman. Source: The Gib.

Mount Gibraltar Forest threatened ecological communities

There are three threatened ecological communities (TECs) found within the reserve. The Mount Gibraltar Forest covers the largest area within the reserve however Robertson Basalt Tall Open Forest and a small amount of Southern Highlands Shale Forest and Woodland also occurs, which reflects the geological diversity within the reserve. 

The Mount Gibraltar Forest was originally listed as endangered in 2001. In 2016, the Mount Gibraltar Forest in the Sydney Basin Bioregion was listed as endangered under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016. This TEC is closely associated with the rock type known as microsyenite (trachyte).

In November 2011, the Mount Gibraltar Forest was listed as a TEC through an amendment to the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (EPBC Act). The forest was described in the Act as an Uplands Basalt Eucalypt Forest (UBEF) Endangered Ecological Community of the Sydney Basin Bioregion.

Geology of Mount Gibraltar 

A comprehensive description of the geology of Mount Gibraltar is found in The Gib (2007), a free e-book which is linked to from this webpage. Contrary to popular belief, there is no evidence that Mount Gibraltar is the core of an erupting volcano (Carr, P., 2007), but the result of an intrusion, uplift, and erosion over millennia.

Injection of a syenitic melt near the bottom of Hawkesbury Sandstone and overlying Wianamatta Shale created the pressure for this uplift. The microsyenite exposed today is a result of erosion exposing it over millions of years.

The Gib has an interesting mix of plant community types because of the presence of microsyenite, sandstone and shale. 

View of township from a Mount Gibraltar Heritage Reserve lookout.
Image: View of township from a Mount Gibraltar Heritage Reserve lookout.


Mount Gibraltar Landcare Bushcare

Image: Mount Gibraltar Landcare Bushcare volunteers in May 2023.

Mount Gibraltar Landcare Bushcare volunteers in May 2023.

The Mount Gibraltar Landcare Bushcare Group has worked cooperatively with Council for more than 30 years to protect and restore the natural and cultural heritage of The Gib.

Monthly working bees on the mountain involve various bush regeneration activities including the removal of non-native weeds like English ivy and planting of local native plants grown from seed at Wingecarribee Shire’s community nursery at Moss Vale.
This group forms part of Wingecarribee Shire Bushcare program. To get involved, register online to be notified of upcoming working bees and other activities.

All equipment including safety gear including gloves is provided to Bushcare volunteers.

To take part in a working bee, you must wear boots, long pants, and long sleeves. You will need to be inducted at the beginning of your first working bee before you can start work.

Learn more about the Wingecarribee Bushcare Rivercare Group

A group of Bushcare volunteers at Mt Gib in 2023.
Image: A group of Bushcare volunteers at Mt Gib in 2023.
The Gib: Mount Gibraltar Southern Highlands - "for all those who come after us"

Blue Flax Lily Dianella caerulea Watercolour paintings A Hyman

Originally a hardcover book, The Gib(PDF, 14MB) was first published in 2007 by Mount Gibraltar Landcare and Bushcare under the auspices of Wingecarribee Shire Council.

The Gib was reprinted in 2009 supported by the Hawkesbury Nepean Catchment Management Authority.

The Gib was re-released under a Creative Commons licence as an e-book with updated appendices. The e-book is now free to be downloaded, shared, and used for derivative non-commercial purposes.

Nodding Blue Lily Stypandra glauca watercolour by A Hyman

The book is an important document that describes the unique environment of Mount Gibraltar, its human history, its location within Gundungurra Country, and the dedicated volunteers who are still working today to maintain this area's natural environment and amenity.

According to its authors, The Gib: Mount Gibraltar Southern Highlands was shared freely "for all those who come after us". 

Images: Nodding Blue Lily Stypandra glauca and Blue Flax Lily Dianella caerulea illustrations by A Hyman. Source: The Gib.

Download The Gib: Mount Gibraltar Southern Highlands

Southern Highlands Netball players in their netball uniforms and bibs.
Image: The Gib editors Carmen Wright, Julie-Rose Moffatt, Jane Lemann, Michael Elphick, Elizabeth Smith, Jenny Simons.


Historic quarries from 1886-1986

Blue Flax Lily Dianella caerulea Watercolour paintings A Hyman - 2 Six distinct quarry locations within what is now Mount Gibraltar Reserve were used consistently for the 100 years from 1886-1986 and reflect an important aspect of Bowral’s industrial history.

Trachyte stone quarried at Mount Gibraltar is known as 'Bowral trachyte' and provided stone for notable buildings in New South Wales, the ACT, and abroad.

Mount Gibraltar Heritage Quarries Complex, 2015.(PDF, 832KB)

Trachyte entrance wall

With support from Wingecarribee Shire Council, a Veolia Mulwaree Trust Community Grant, and funds raised by the sale of The Gib: Mount Gibraltar Southern Highlands, the Mount Gibraltar Landcare Bushcare group recently saw a long-held vision achieved with the construction of a commemorative trachyte entrance retaining wall at the Heritage Quarries Complex.

The wall marks the entrance to the Heritage Quarries Complex circuit walk, from which the unique microsyenite stone known as Bowral trachyte was quarried for 100 years to be used in many heritage buildings and monuments across the state.

Photo gallery: Heritage Quarries Complex

Bushfire management

The Mount Gibraltar Reserve Fire Management Plan provides details of the fire management policies and strategies for the reserve and Council's statutory responsibilities. 

It outlines the history and causes of fire in the reserve, along with the hazard levels and assets that require protection. The plan outlines the fire management objectives, fire management units and prescribed fire management regimes designed to protect the environmental, social and cultural values of the reserve and neighbouring properties. 

The Gib's fire management plan will be updated following the completion of the new generation Wollondilly Wingecarribee Bushfire Risk Management Plan currently in development.


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