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Glenloch Cork Oak Plantation

Environment and Recreation

The Glenloch Cork Oak Plantation is located at the northern end of Stromlo Forest, adjacent to Glenloch Interchange. The area has a pastoral history dating back to the early 1800s. The land was cleared and used almost solely for grazing on native pasture grasses until the Commonwealth resumed the area in 1913. The plantation was part of Walter Burley Griffin's original concept for Canberra to be a self-sustaining city. It was established by Thomas Weston as a trial to evaluate the potential of growing cork for the Australian market.

Walter Burley Griffin obtained the first acorns in 1916 from trees found at Duntroon and these were used to establish the Southern end of the plantation. In 1917, during the First World War, he arranged for a larger supply of acorns to be shipped from Spain on the S.S. Boorara. However, this ship was torpedoed and sunk on the voyage to Australia. A second consignment was successfully shipped in 1918 and by 1920 the northern end of the plantation was established and over 9500 cork oaks had been planted. The separate plantings have resulted in different spacings and tree configurations throughout the plantation.

    cork oak plantation      Corkwood      corkbark      corkharvesting

Cork Oak (Quercus suber)

The Cork Oak Tree is native to the Mediterranean region, with Spain and Portugal being the principal sources of the world's cork. A drought tolerant species, a Cork Oak can live to an age of approximately 500 years, attaining a height of up to 20 metres and a diameter of up to 1 metre. The cork itself is actually the outer bark layer of the tree. Properly harvested the bark can be removed without injury to the tree every 10 years and provided the tree is not damaged, new layers of cork are formed each year. Cork Oaks fruit every two to three years and produce large quantities of acorns. Cork Oak is essentially fire resistant and the foliage results in a relatively non-flammable, low-level ground fuel.

Cork Harvesting

Cork harvesting (or stripping) commenced in the late 1940s with the cork being sent to G P Embleton & Co., Melbourne. The cork was found to be of a high quality and commercially valuable. The Australian Forestry School, Yarralumla, and CSIRO continued harvesting the cork periodically until 1981. ACT Forests, which merged with Environment ACT in 2005, organised four harvests (1981, 1989, 2000 & 2005) with the two most recent harvests drawing upon the expertise of professional cork strippers from Portugal.

The Glenloch Oak Plantation

The Glenloch Cork Oak Plantation is on the Register of the National Estate and the ACT Sites of Significance Register and remains one of the oldest and most significant historic sites in the ACT. It covers 10 hectares and contains nearly 6000 trees. Now managed by Environment ACT, it is continually monitored and patroled for pest and disease infestation, soil degradation, erosion and vandalism. 

A walking trail though the Glenloch Cork Oak Plantation can be accessed via a stile off Caswell Drive in Belconnen.

Contact Details

Street Address
Macarthur House
12 Wattle Street

Contact Number
13 22 81

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