Farrer Ridge Nature Reserve is located between the two southern suburbs of Farrer and Wanniassa, 20 minutes south of the city. It is part of the Canberra Nature Park network, which includes 33 nature reserves around Canberra's city and suburbs. Farrer Ridge may not be one of the more popular walks, compared to Mount Ainslie for example, however, it is an enjoyable bushwalk with sweeping views from the top of the ridge.
I personally have been exploring some of the Canberra Nature Parks in recent months, as the colder weather makes it easier to tackle some of the harder uphill walks - and the local snake population aren't as active in winter. On my solo walks around the Capital, I have been choosing the reserves with a walk up to the top of a hill, to get some exercise and also experience the best views of the city. This is why I was curious to see what was up the top of Farrer Ridge Nature Park, as I had driven past it regularly and it looked like it had a clear view over the region...
Although there are many entrances to the nature park (see map above), I began my walk at the roundabout on the corner of Gaunson Crescent and Sulwood Drive in Wanniassa. The start of the walk can be found on the ridge just above the roundabout and is accessible through a gap in the fence to literally climb through.
I took this walk in June, on a particularly cold winter's morning with frost still lingering in the shadows and water dripping onto me as I walked under trees. The early morning frost made the walk even more beautiful, with crisp blue sky and the unusual light highlighting the brightness of colour on the hills. When I climbed through the small fence, the path then instantly heads down into a steep - but walkable - ravine and then up the other side. A thoughtful walker has placed a wooden box over the muddy area of the ravine, so you just need to step on and over and up the other side. After this initial rocky start, it is then a clear path to walk for 10 minutes or so, walking past kangaroos and looking over to the higher Mount Taylor on the left.
Climb through the fence and then down and up the ravine
The walk reaches a sign at the bottom of Farrer Hill, with a map showing that the pathway goes over the top of the summit and then returns back around the base of the hill. This is where I saw the only other person on my walk - a lady walking her dog and talking on the phone. After she had passed me with a smile, I then continued on the rocky stairs and vertical path up to the summit. What I appreciated on this uphill walk, was the signage along the way to read and learn about different areas of bushland to look out for - and it was a good excuse to stop and catch my breath! Despite the cold weather and single digit temperatures blowing on my face, I soon warmed up on this rocky and challenging (but enjoyable!) uphill walk.
After almost 10 minutes of walking, the bare summit opens up in front of you and the trees become sparser. I must admit that I enjoy reaching the "Trig" structure on each walk that I have been on, to stand under it and feel a sense of achievement. Unfortunately, even though the map calls the hill Farrer Trig, it appears it has been removed on Farrer Ridge. In its place, however, is a perfectly positioned, hand-crafted wooden bench donated by the Farrer Ridge Park Care Group - which is even better. The view from the bench has 180-degree views over Tuggeranong, the Brindabella mountain ranges and beyond.
As I stood up there quietly to appreciate the view, pink and grey galahs flew all around me, which was a beautiful sight against the wide blue sky. It was also interesting to see them, as most of the birds I have seen on the Canberra Nature Park trails have been rosellas. As well as the active galahs, there were also a variety of small finches flitting between trees, enjoying the cool winter morning.
After reaching the top, the path then continues down the other side of the hill past more signage and views, before the path splits in two. Take the path on the right, which leads down another hill to an intersection of paths. Look for a small arrow on a post and follow the winding narrow path along the base of the hill, which will eventually go back to the start.
Turn right in a fork in the path, then turn right again at the arrow
The path then gets narrow and winding, with a variety of gum trees overhead creating a shady pathway through the bush. The path may be narrow, but it is clear to walk on and there are more signs along the side of the path to let you know you are going in the right direction. After 10 minutes or so, the path opens up into a field of thistle and joins up with a larger path. Turn right again and this will take you back to the beginning of the Farrer Hill path where you started the uphill walk. Once you find the sign, turn left and return the way you came back to the start of the walk in Wanniassa. I would recommend printing out the map and having it in your pocket, like I did, as I found I referred to it a few times to confirm I was going in the right direction.
This walk took me 50 minutes, however I stopped often to take photos, read signs and walk down paths to see where they went. If you are planning on taking this walk, I would recommend taking a picnic to enjoy on the bench at the summit. It is the most spectacular and peaceful part of the walk, to simply stop for awhile, breathe and take it all in. As it is a quiet hill to climb, you are sure to have the view all to yourself.