Scenic & flat walks around Canberra's lakes and parks
As parents or carers looking after little ones, sometimes the only exercise that we can fit into our busy day is a walk with the pram. It is a good opportunity to get outside, breathe in some fresh air and have some time to enjoy the city that we live in. For myself, walking with our young daughter in the pram has been an enjoyable way for us to explore this city and for me to clock up the steps on my pedometer at the same time. Now that she is getting older, our walks have become quality mother-daughter time, where we can make up silly songs and talk about the things we see along the way.
We are fortunate in Canberra to have an extensive network of walking paths around the local suburbs to explore, where often the best walks are just outside our front door. If you are looking for something more scenic however, here are our family's favourite pram routes in Canberra's north, city and south to try out this weekend. Which ones are your favourites?
This scenic walk around Lake Ginninderra takes in a number of playgrounds, birdlife, shops, cafes and little sandy beaches full of native wildlife. As it is a 7.2 km circuit, it is too long to walk in one go, so our family enjoys exploring different parts of this walk before returning back the way we came - where we always see something different the second time around.
One of our favourite sections of the walk includes three playgrounds and plenty of natural landscape to see along the way. We park the car at Diddams Close Park and the join the walking path and turn left, heading towards Belconnen Town Centre. Take a moment to look for birdlife at this little bay and your kids will enjoy spotting the ones in the signage along the path. There is a small playground here for the kids to have a play at the start or end of your walk - or both.
Birdlife and a playground - before the walk has even begun
This walk takes you around a curve in the lake, however if you want to shorten the walk, park at the Lake Ginninderra Dog Park at the other end of Diddams Close and start your walk from here (which also has a larger playground). Follow the signs for the Lake Ginninderra Circuit which takes you over the traffic bridge on Ginninderra Drive, where you get a good view of the lake below and Belconnen Town Centre in the distance.
On the other side of the bridge it is a short flat walk to John Knight Memorial Park, which has two playgrounds, a flying fox, BBQ areas and plenty of area for the kids to explore. John Knight Memorial Park has a large red tower playground, which has areas for both toddlers and older kids to enjoy. The long slide in particular is a highlight of this park and the main attraction of this pram walk for our daughter.
To make your walk longer, continue on the path towards Belconnen Town Centre or return the way you came. Our family enjoys this walk around Lake Ginninderra as there are toilet facilities at regular points along the track, flat paths with a few hills to make it feel like exercise, birdlife to watch, remote control planes in the sky and kayakers serenely gliding by.
The R.G. Menzies Walk is a scenic walk along one section of Lake Burley Griffin between Kings Avenue Bridge and Commonwealth Avenue Bridge. Named after Sir Robert Menzies, this 4.5 metre wide walkway is a popular route for exercise enthusiasts and people walking or jogging with prams. It also takes in two parks along the way - both Kings Park and Commonwealth Park which sit next to each other along the lake.
Walk along the lakes edge for a 2km walk, or include some back paths into the walk to extend it further. Our daughter enjoys walking around Nerang Pool, on a back path in Commonwealth Park, which is a wetlands area with plenty of birdlife to watch along the way. There are also automated and public toilets conveniently located along the route and plenty of shady trees to stay cool under in the heat of Summer.
RG Menzies Walk between the two bridges. Source: National Capital Authority website
If you are wanting to extend this walk further, double it in length by crossing one of the bridges and walk the same section on the other side of the lake, before returning back along the opposite bridge. Known as the Central Loop or Bridge to Bridge walk, this 4.9 km scenic loop of Lake Burley Griffin has plenty to see along both shorelines and coffee stops to visit along the other side. We often stop at Dom's coffee outlet located in the middle of the path on the other side, to get a gelato or stop for a break. Allow plenty of time for this circuit, including playground stops. See here for Lake Burley Griffin maps and the RG Menzies Walk.
Make sure you say hello to Sir Robert Menzies along the way
SOUTH CANBERRA - The Sanctuary (2.1 km loop), Tidbinbilla Nature Park
If you are after an enjoyable pram walk in the south, our family can't go past the Lake Tuggeranong Circuit (6.7 km loop) for a scenic and flat pathway, with three playgrounds to visit around the circuit.
On weekends however, Tidbinbilla Nature Park is a favourite destination to escape the city and enjoy some time in nature as a family. Tidbinbilla is located 45 minutes west of the CBD and 30 minutes from Tuggeranong Town Centre. The Sanctuary is a 2.1 km walking track and boardwalk around the wetlands at Tidbinbilla Nature Park, with koalas in the trees and an abundance of birdlife overhead for the kids to spot. It is called The Sanctuary as it has a predator-proof fence surrounding it to keep the wildlife safe and the introduced predators out. It is designed to be wheelchair-friendly, making it an easy walk with a pram and a short walk from the carpark nearby. Stop off at different viewing platforms around the loop and search for platypus, birdlife and koalas. Walk around twice for extra exercise, and also see what wildlife you can find the second time around.
* It is important to note that there is little or no phone reception at Tidbinbilla, so it is advisable to do this walk in company. Also, due to venomous snakes being sighted in the warmer months, our family has found that Canberra's cooler months are the ideal time to visit The Sanctuary.
Stop and look for platypus on the viewing platform
After you have enjoyed The Sanctuary, hop back in the car and visit the Tidbinbilla Nature Discovery Playground for a play in this extensive playground. Spot kangaroos lazing around the play equipment and stay for a picnic or BBQ in the grounds. If you think you will enjoy Tidbinbilla at least a few times a year, why not buy an annual pass or pay for a day pass each visit. See here for entry prices per car to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.
For the parent or carer, these scenic walks can be just as enjoyable for the adults as it is for the kids. If you have a baby that you are trying to get to sleep, then Canberra's lakes all have quiet and smooth paths to walk on, to (hopefully) lull them into slumber while you walk. With so much scenery and wildlife to experience in this inland city, you don't have to travel far from home to enjoy some of the the natural beauty that Canberra has to offer.