Pack the snags & scooters and spend the day by the lake
Henry Rolland Park is a new parkland located next to Lake Burley Griffin, on the western side of Commonwealth Avenue Bridge. It officially opened on Saturday, 28th April, 2018 with a public celebration, after 18 months of construction along the lake edge. Before the opening, the people of Canberra were asked to vote for the name of the park and the winning name was Henry Rolland Park, after the architect who oversaw the construction of Canberra during the early years.
The day of the official opening was perfect - the sun glittered off the lake while locals and visitors relaxed on deck chairs, listened to live music, ate pizza from the food trucks, hopped on free boat rides and watched the dragon boats glide by, to the beat of the drums. On a personal note, my family and I were right there in the thick of the fun, enjoying the festive atmosphere in this stunning location. I was curious however, to see what Henry Rolland Park looked like without the people, so I went back a couple of days later to enjoy it all over again...
Sit on a bench along the 150 metre boardwalk and take in the views...
When you take the turn-off from Commonwealth Avenue into the park, there are several parking spots near the BBQ area, to make it easier for people to unload. For everyone else however, at the time of writing, it is just a short drive further along to the car park, then a scenic walk back to the park.
As you enter Henry Rolland Park, there is an attractive picnic area with two BBQ's with large hotplates, which are big enough to fit snags for a family on each one. Nearby there are also picnic tables built-in to a sculptural undercover area, making it an ideal place to sit on a hot summers day.
Large BBQ's and picnic tables, with plenty of shade
Next to the BBQ area, there is a large circular area of grass for the kids to run around on, or play a game or two of cricket - as long as the ball doesn't go into the lake! On the other side of the grass is a dedicated area for exercise equipment which is designed for adults, but kids seem to love the challenge of riding the exercise bike and climbing the hanging ropes! For those who wish to use them, there are instructions on the side of each piece of equipment and an app you can scan for more details.
Exercise equipment, with the Captain Cook Memorial Jet in the background (on the other side of the bridge)
Along the lake there is a 150-metre boardwalk with benches along the water's edge, so visitors can simply sit back and enjoy the views over to the National Museum of Australia and Telstra Tower. There is also a small jetty and pontoon which juts out into the lake, for kayaks to tie up their crafts or for people to throw in a line.
At the end of the boardwalk, there is a much longer jetty that stretches out into the lake, with wide wooden steps for boats and kayers to pull up to and disembark. At the end, however, is the shining masterpiece - a large, sculptural golden chair with a high back, which appears almost throne-like. It is the ideal place for photos and of course, selfies!
The joy of this scenic and landscaped parkland is that it is just the start - there is more to come. Stage 2 of Henry Rolland Park will extend the boardwalk for another 500 metres around to the National Museum of Australia. This long concrete boardwalk will be ideal for walkers, cyclists, kids with their scooters and anyone enjoying the Lake Burley Griffin Western Loop.
On my visit on a quiet Monday, it was uplifting to see that the smooth concrete walkway was getting utilised by many pre-schoolers on their trikes and scooters, with Mums or Dads trailing behind. With plenty of shade, grass to run around on, fitness equipment to climb and picnic tables for lunch, it is a scenic area for families, locals and visitors to enjoy all year around. It is also the perfect place to just simply lie on the grass and catch some glorious autumn sun.