Canberra is basically just one big national park. For walkers, Canberra is truly the “Bush Capital”. In just minutes you can leave the city behind and feel like you’re a million miles away. Bush trails, alluring hills and mountains frame the picture for Canberra’s many many walks.
The choice for wanderers, is HUGE, but never fear, you will find what you’re after in at least one of these 10 tantalising trails.
MT AINSLIE SUMMIT TRAIL (KOKODA TRACK)
A rosy-cheek-producing walk (4.5 kilometres return), that rises up directly behind the Australian War Memorial. There are very steep paths that wind up through shrubby woodland. You can enjoy birdsong as you walk to the summit. At the top, you can enjoy a 270-degree view over the Parliamentary Triangle.
Don’t forget to stop and look around on the way for candid views, plaques commemorating the Kokoda Track and the memorial to Aboriginal soldiers.
ONE TREE HILL
One Tree Hill Lookout is a 90 minute return walk presenting the walker with Brindabella mountain range vistas. It’s remoteness on the Northside is reminiscent of what Canberra’s earliest inhabitants would have experienced, however, the Southside provides a developer’s view with newer suburbs Moncrieff and Taylor creeping closer up the hill. The incline is mostly gentle on the way up, with a steep section toward the end.
The wetlands is a secluded slice of nature only 10 minutes’ drive from the city. Five timber bird hideouts help you get intimate with Kellys Swamp’s 200-plus bird species. Wander along the boardwalk, with popping frogs as your soundtrack, on the look-out for eastern long-necked tortoises, while Black Angus cows graze incongruently nearby.
NAMADGI NATIONAL PARK
The 106,000-hectare Namadgi National Park, borders Kosciuszko National Park and is a trekker’s dream daytrip. Taking up almost half the ACT’s land area, it offers a selection of short and long hikes (up to seven-hour treks) through alpine meadows and snow gum forest.
My favourite trails are:
- Booroomba Rocks (four kilometres return, and STEEP), which provide stunning panoramas of the ACT
- Yankee Hat Rock Shelter (six kilometres return, two-and-a-half hours) which explores an indigenous rock art site that was the first-ever identified in the ACT. It is protected by the Ngunnawal people – refer to my post “N is for Ngunnawal”)
- Gibraltar Peak (four hour, moderate to hard trek) where you can expect to see glades interrupted by spiky grass trees, barely babbling creeks, plus impressively expansive views, once you reach the (somewhat phallic) boulders at the summit.
- Square Rock (8.5 kilometres, 4 hours) where you can explore huge granite boulders, Alpine Ash forests and Snow Gum woodlands. The Square Rock Lookout is around 1400 metres above sea level with stunning views of the Australian bush.
BRIDGE TO BRIDGE
A stroll around the glistening Lake Burley Griffin is always a glorious. This walk takes you 5km around from the Commonwealth Bridge to the Kings Avenue Bridge. Take in the lake views whilst walking by Canberra’s iconic attractions including the National Carillon, National Library, Captain Cook Fountain and more. There are even coffee trucks along the way. It hardly feels like exercise!
MURRUMBIDGEE DISCOVERY TRACK
Taking you around Canberra’s south, this 27km walk takes you via Point Hut Crossing, past Pine Island and Kambah Pool, and finishes at the peaceful Casuarina Sands. Whether you choose to walk a section or walk the entire length, the walk won’t be short of natural riverine, rare plant species, unique rock formations and cascading waters.
HIMALAYAN CEDAR TRAIL
The gorgeous National Arboretum is home to widespread trees, forests and unique plant species. This 2.2km trail starts near Pod Playground, and winds through five forests, past the Wide Brown Land sculpture and onto the majestic Himalayan Cedar Forest. Reward yourself with a picnic at the end with free barbeque facilities. You may like to return the same way or continue onto the Cork Oak Trail.
Walking in Canberra
As with any bushwalk or hike, check weather conditions before you go and let someone know your plans before you leave. There isn’t always mobile reception in the bush, so make sure you’re prepared before setting out.
My husband and I love, and highly recommend, the book “Walking Canberra – 101 Ways To See The Nation’s Capital On Foot.” We are currently working our way through the list to appreciate all the beauty of our nation’s capital.