Trail Tips: Bushwalking Near Canberra
Bushwalking is an amazing way to see local sights, get back into nature, get your heart rate pumping and spot wildlife. For those lucky enough to live in or visit Australia’s capital, Canberra is rich in fantastic bushwalking areas (it’s even known as the ‘Bush Capital’
), allowing you to spend your visit wandering through the iconic bushland to secluded waterfalls, stunning vistas and panoramic viewpoints.
Whether you live in Canberra or you’re just visiting, Marketplace Gungahlin has put together four of the best bushwalks in Canberra and its surrounding areas.
So, pop your hiking boots on and get exploring!
1. The Centenary Trail
The Centenary Trail sweeps through basically all of Canberra
in one flat, highlighted route. It heads to the New South Wales border to the north, and then to the Murrumbidgee River in the south. Along this walk, you’ll pass through several of Canberra’s urban highlights (Parliament House, for example), before quickly retreating into a variety of private picnic nooks and blended urban-wilderness.
The clincher with this walk is that it’s 145 kilometres long. Yes, you read that right - 145 kilometres! The trail ducks in and out of the suburbs, so it’s easy to replenish and refuel at a cafe, or even stay the night somewhere.
If doing the whole thing in one go isn’t really your style, then it’s probably best to try one of two sections at a time. The ‘Murrumbidgee Discovery Track’, the ‘One Tree Hill’ section in the north, or the ‘National Arboretum Canberra’ are all good options.
2. The Central Basin
The Central Basin walk ventures through Canberra’s serene public spaces along the shores of Lake Burley Griffin.
This short five-kilometre walk can be completed in as little as an hour, and is the ideal post-brunch stroll for those visiting Australia’s capital. There are countless charms to spot and explore along the way, including historical cottages and the Australians of the Year Walk
If one coffee at brunch wasn’t enough and it’s definitely time for caffeine hit number two, you can take a short detour to Reconciliation Place along the pathways that lead to the National Gallery of Australia. Drop in here for a caffeine restock and a short break in the air conditioning.
3. Mount Ainslie
One of the most popular bushwalks in Canberra and a favourite with locals and tourists alike, the Mount Ainslie Summit Walk
takes you (you guessed it) to the top of Mount Ainslie! The bush track leads behind the Australian War Memorial, starting at the National Capital Exhibition. It’s about a two kilometre walk each way with plenty of steps and it can get pretty steep in parts, so be sure to check that everyone in your walking party is up for the challenge before venturing out.
However, we can guarantee that once you get to the top, it will all be worth it! The views from the top looking across to Old Parliament House and new Parliament House are definitely worth the effort, offering stunning panoramic views of the entire city of Canberra. There’s also plenty of wildlife in the area, so keep your eye out and you might be lucky enough to spot rosellas, kangaroos or even wombats!
4. Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
is an absolutely stunning area of wetlands, grasslands and woodlands lying just 40 kilometres west of the centre of Canberra. There are about 20 different marked-out walks that you can choose to take in the area, however our favourite is the three to four hour trek up the amazing house-sized boulders of Gibraltar Peak. A moderate to hard walk, you can expect to see expansive views, interesting flora (such as an abundance of spiky grass trees) and some beautiful babbling creeks. The reserve houses 14 different protected habitats, so keep an eye out for kangaroos, emus and rock wallabies.
The trek up to Gibraltar Peak
is approximately 8.2 kilometres long, starting at the Tidbinbilla Visitors Centre. If mountain biking is more your style, you’re more than welcome to put your pedals to the test on the formed mountain bike trails that run through the area.
Tips for keeping safe while bushwalking
Before you venture out into the beautiful Canberra wilderness, be sure to consider how you’re going to mitigate risk for everyone in your bushwalking party.
- Assess the risk - Is anyone in your walking party in the late stages of pregnancy, or suffering from a medical condition? Make sure that everyone has the medicine they need before you set off.
- Wear proper shoes - Thongs and sandals are NOT appropriate bushwalking attire. You need to wear enclosed footwear that will protect you from sticks and snakes, as well as having a grippy sole to prevent trips, slips and falls.
- Be prepared - In many areas around Canberra, weather conditions can change quickly. Even if it’s scorching hot when you first set off on your walk, always remember to bring something warmer and something that will keep you dry.
- Seek advice - Before you set out on your adventure, be sure to have as much information about the area you’re going to and route you’re taking as possible. Visit the local National Parks and Wildlife website for up-to-date weather information, as well as things like track conditions and track closure. This will allow you to be more prepared for any eventuality that may occur.
Grabbing a bite after your bushwalk
After all this physical activity in the sunshine, you’re definitely going to have worked up an appetite. Why not stop off at Marketplace Gungahlin for a quick bite and a relaxing drink? From burgers to sushi, we’ve got something for everyone in your walking party.