Now that winter is loosening its icy grip on us and spring is on its way, it's time to shake off the puffer jackets, beanies and scarves. It's time to celebrate at Floriade, Canberra's biggest festival of Spring.
But there's more to Canberra in the spring than just Floriade and tiptoeing through the tulips. Canberra is not called the Bush Capital for nothing. Nature is everywhere around us. We are surrounded by national park, the countryside and mountain ranges. We have forests and hills and wetlands and nature reserves and urban parklands and ancient rivers meandering their way through our region. Nature is right there on our doorsteps. And if it's not, then it's only just a short car ride or bicycle ride away.
Floriade may be our biggest celebration of Spring, but there are plenty of other places to celebrate this most glorious of seasons. So pack a picnic, gather your loved ones together, and get out there and enjoy the colours and the fragrance and the songs of Spring in our Bush Capital. Here are ten places (other than Floriade!) to enjoy the season in Canberra.
1. Festival of the Forest at Haig Park Haig Park is located within the heart of Canberra City and is home to over 2000 exotic trees. It's also the focus of an exciting urban renewal program. On Saturday August 24, Haig Park (between Lonsdale and Mort Streets, Braddon) will celebrate the end of winter and the return of spring with a Festival of the Forest. From 1pm-7pm, Haig Park will come to life with multiple stages presenting live music and performances, storytelling sessions, interactive activities, light installations, local food and drink, and more. Come along and enjoy an enchanting time in the forest with your family and friends as you say farewell to winter and welcome in the season of flowers and warmer weather.
2. Australian National Botanic Gardens There's no better place in Canberra to delight in the beauties of spring and breathe in its sweet fragrance than at the Australian National Botanic Gardens. This spring the gardens will be blooming with new blossoms, plus there'll be wattle walks and early morning bird watching walks in September, a huge Australian native plant sale in October, and so much more. Check the Gardens' website here for more details and updates on upcoming events.
3. National Arboretum Celebrate spring at the National Arboretum! Enjoy a picnic, a stroll or a spot of forest bathing at the Himalayan Cedar Forest and Cork Oak Forest. Or go on a free springtime wattle walk through the 25 different wattle varieties in the Southern Tablelands Ecosystems Park (STEP), taking place on August 31 and September 1.
4. Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve Head out to the glorious Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and celebrate spring at the Tidbinbilla Open Day. The theme this year is 'Explore, Relax, Recharge' where you are encouraged to explore the Reserve with renewed curiosity and a focus on the many benefits that can be gained from spending a day immersed in nature and culture. It will be a fun-filled day of nature-based experiences, kid's activities, live music, displays, demonstrations and more - held in the greatest venue of all, the great outdoors!
Taking place from 10am-3pm with free entry into Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.
5. Cotter Avenue. Whatever the season-spring, summer, autumn or winter-the Cotter Avenueperfect place to celebrate it! Located along the banks of the Cotter River near the Cotter Dam and about 25 minutes' drive from the Canberra City centre, Cotter Avenue has long been a favourite recreational place for Canberrans, especially for picnics and swimming. The splendid poplar trees and maple trees that line Cotter Avenue will be blossoming with spring buds, filling the air with their sweet fragrance!
6. Fetherston Gardens A secret garden tucked away in Weston Creek. Fetherston Gardens were originally part of the Canberra Institute of Technology (CIT) School of Horticulture that was located on the site. The school opened in 1974, and its gardens were named after the first and longest-serving Head of Horticulture, Tony Fetherston, who inspired their planning. The school closed in 2009, and the gardens ceased being a purpose-built educational facility. Then in 2010, the ACT Government set the gardens aside for use by the Weston Creek community. Spread over 3.5 hectares and linked by pathways and trails, you'll come across many delights, including a small arboretum and woodland gardens. Head on over to the Gardens this spring and enjoy a picnic and a wander with your loved ones. Fetherston Gardens is located on Heysen Street, Weston.
Our wetlands are important. They attract a large diversity of wildlife, like birds and frogs, as well as providing opportunities for recreation and the enjoyment of nature. They also help remove nutrients from stormwater by providing a habitat for water-loving reeds, grasses and trees which use the nutrients to grow. This spring, visit Jerrabomberra Wetlands and Mulligans Flat Sanctuary. Or check out the new wetlands located at Holder. Other new wetlands have also been constructed in Kingston, Narrabundah, Monash, Evatt, Fyshwick and Melba. Check the ACT Healthy Waterways Project website for more details.
8. Canberra Nara Peace Park.
Head out on October 26 to Canberra Nara Peace Park for the beautifully luminous Canberra Nara Candle Festival. The Canberra Nara Festival when we celebrate the sister-city relationship between Canberra and Nara, Japan. Each October the festival brings together a wide variety of Japanese and Australian arts and crafts such as calligraphy, lantern making, origami and ikebana. And as the sun sets, a total of 2,000 candles bathe the park in soft candlelight. Taking place from 4pm – 9pm at Canberra Nara Peace Park in Lennox Gardens.
9. Weston Park.
Like Cotter Avenue, Weston Park is another favourite spot amongst Canberrans, whatever the season. It's a wonderful spot for a spring picnic, BBQ, party, walk, or bike ride with family and friends. There's also the mini train, mini golf and farm animals at the nearby Yarralumla Play Station.
10. Lake Burley Griffin.
Lake Burley Griffin is Canberra's lake. Yes, there are two others, but Lake Burley Griffin is the centrepiece of our Bush Capital. And there's no better place to enjoy spring, with both Floriade and the Canberra Nara Candle Festival celebrated along its shores. For many other reasons to enjoy Lake Burley Griffin in the spring, go here.
There are plenty of other places in our glorious Bush Capital where you and your loved ones can enjoy and celebrate the return of spring and warmer weather (besides Floriade). Go here to find more.
"And Spring arose on the garden fair,
like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth's dark breast
rose from the dreams of its wintry rest."