I have to admit - the words "Action" and "Canberra" are not often used together often in the same sentence. Canberra isn't exactly renowned for its sporting action - it is more well known for the insults and action from inside Parliament House more than its sporting prowess. However, when visitors come to Canberra they are often surprised by how sporty this city is. One of the reasons for this is that Canberra is the home of the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), so each weekend you see world-class rowers in training on Lake Burley Griffin, road cyclists climbing Mount Stromlo and runners pounding the pavements on the long distance routes around the region. With sports games selling to packed stadiums each weekend, it is clear that Canberrans love their sport in all its forms.
If it's a rush of adrenaline and a challenge that you are after however, there are also a number of adventurous options to try around Canberra. So strap yourself in for this action packed list. Who knows - this could be you this weekend...
Abseiling around the region is a popular sport, with a wide variety of scenic national parks and ranges to traverse down as well as day trips to the Snowy Mountains in the warmer months. K7 Kosciusko Adventures can take you to the highest mountains and teach you the ropes, so to speak, to help you enjoy the experience safely. They also encourage families to join their tours and introduce kids to this fun and active sport. If you are an experienced abseiler or rock climber, get in touch with the Canberra Rock Climbers Association for more information on exploring the region.
Boulder/Rock Climbing is a different sport altogether - testing your strength to climb up the rock face using your bare hands and technical skill. This is a physically taxing and rewarding sport that can also be enjoyed by all ages. There are two indoor rock climbing centres in Canberra to practice on their rock climbing walls and boulder challenges before you attempt an outside climb - see the Canberra Indoor Rock Climbing website for more information. To practice your skills on the granite rocks around the region (both inland and the coast), why not join Canberra Adventure Company in their half day to two days tours and test your skills and strength.
Rock climbing with a view in Nowra. Source: Canberra Adventure Company Facebook
Trail Bike Riding around the surrounding national parks is enjoyed by many Canberrans each weekend. The Forestry Corporation are happy for people to ride their registered dirt bikes along their fire trails in state forests, however ensure you look out for logging vehicles and other large vehicles - see here for more information. Two popular venues to ride are Tallanganda State Forest and Brindabella National Park, however see the Canberra Riders Forum for more ideas. If your bike is unregistered, you can pay for a day of recreational riding at the ACT Motorcycle Club in Majura - also suitable for kids with their own junior trail bikes.
Mountain Bike Riding at Stromlo Forest Park is a popular venue for mountain bike riders each weekend with six cross country paths of varying levels, a downhill track (that was used for Round 6 of the 2008 UCI World Cup and the 2009 UCI World Mountain Bike Championships), dirt jumps and The Playground to test your skills. Mountain bikers from all over the country come to visit this world class facility to have fun and practice their skills. See website here for more details. Other Mountain Bike trails around the region include Sparrow Hill (Kowen Forest) which is also family friendly, Majura Pines Recreation area and Bruce Ridge in the north.
Mountain biking at Stromlo Bike Park. Source: Stromlo Facebook
If you are looking for a long distance mountain bike ride, The Centenary Trail is a 145-kilometre self-guided trail which loops around the ACT. Riders can take in small sections for day rides or the entire trail will take about three days to ride, averaging just over 45 kilometres per day. See the Vimeo video below for a taste of what to expect.
Skiing and Snowboarding are activities that can be enjoyed just 2.5 hours away in Thredbo and Perisher . You can visit Thredbo in both Summer and Winter - each having a large range of activities to enjoy. In Summer you can go mountain biking, bushwalking, abseiling, bobsledding, fishing and more. In Winter there is a host of skiing, tobogganing and snow play options for all ages to enjoy. Plan ahead and buy your lift tickets early online for discounts or look for a ski and stay accommodation deal.
Perisher is the largest ski resort in the Southern Hemisphere and has four resorts - Perisher Valley, Smiggin Holes, Guthega, and Blue Cow. If you are visiting Perisher for the first time, see here for a list of things to know when planning your trip. Perisher has tobogganing, tube town, night skiing, scenic chairlift rides and a host of fun activities for all ages. Alternatively you can stay at the town of Jindabyne and use it as a base to explore the surrounding area.
Cross Country Bushwalking across the Australian Alps is another popular way to experience the scenery of this beautiful region. Canberra is the start or finish of the Australian Alps Walking Track, a 650km remote and challenging cross country walk between NSW and Victoria through the alps - guaranteed to take you through some spectacular scenery and face some physical challenges. For serious walkers only. For a day walk close to Canberra, enjoy the stretch of the track between Namadgi Visitor Centre over Mount Tennent to Booroomba Rocks or Honeysuckle. See here for details.
Both action and adventure in the Snowy Mountains. Source: Perisher Facebook
Indoor Snowboarding can be practiced at PowderPak Park in Fyshwick south of the CBD, inside the same warehouse as Adrenalin Boardstore and Skate Nation Roller Skating. This indoor snowboarding ramp is for experienced snowboarders only who ride "park" - which is a style of snowboarding where you practice trick jumps and have a stiffer board to handle the hard landings.
Skateboarding in Canberra is another popular activity, with several high quality skate bowls around the region. On the north side of Canberra, Belconnen Skate Park at Emu Bank is particularly popular with all ages and levels of skill. When it was upgraded in 2011 it was the largest skate park in Australia at the time. On the south side of Canberra, Eddison Skate Park in Woden is the most popular, with all ages seen here each weekend showing off their tricks. See here for a list of Canberra's skate park locations.
Go Karting in Canberra is an adrenaline-fuelled weekend activity that can be enjoyed by adults and kids over age six (who are 124cm or taller). Power Kart Raceway is a warehouse in Griffith that welcomes you in the door with the sound of loud revving as the electric go-karts speed around on the 320 metre, F1 style indoor circuit. Check out the Virtual Tour to get an idea of what to expect from the track and venue. Why not grab a few friends together and challenge each other in this action sport which is purely for fun. See here for an article on the other family friendly activities at Power Kart Raceway.
In Canberra we are fortunate to have a lot to offer locals and visitors in the form of action and adventure, with the surrounding national parks and natural wonders right on the doorstep. Local tour companies organise trips to go caving at Wee Jasper (or drive there yourself and join a tour), ice climbing, snow climbing, horse riding, hot air ballooning or if you have your own kayak you can traverse some of the small rapids in the river system in the region. There are also groups for Dragon Boating and Sailing on Lake Burley Griffin, both physical sports out on the water.
So why not try out one of these action and adventure sports this weekend either in the city or in the scenic areas of the surrounding countryside. Keep in mind the safety notices for these remote areas, taking into account inclement weather, little phone reception, petrol, travelling alone, snake bite kits and beacons if you are heading further afield. If you after action and adventure, you will find it all in Canberra - where the surrounding region provides all the adventure you have been looking for - and more.
Would you try this? Ice climbing with K7 Adventures. Source: K7 Adventures website