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Highlights of Lake Burley Griffin Circuit - Central Loop

Home > Canberra > Parks | Family | Cycling | Views | Walks
by Sue W (subscribe)
New to Canberra, I love exploring this city and the secrets that it holds with my family.
Published March 25th 2017
See the sights & explore the city by foot
The Lake Burley Griffin Central Loop, also known as the "Bridge to Bridge", is a 4.9km walk between the two bridges that go over Lake Burley Griffin - Commonwealth Bridge and the Kings Avenue Bridge. There are three suggested loops that you can do around Lake Burley Griffin - the other two are the Eastern Loop (9km) and Western Loop (16kms), however the shorter Central Loop is the most popular as it is an easy walking path for all ages. Walkers, bike riders and runners can start anywhere within the loop, however many people like to park their car near the National Library of Australia, close to the Elixer coffee outlet by the water - a handy spot to grab a coffee at the end or start of the walk.

Starting from the carpark, you can walk along Queen Elizabeth Terrace in either direction, however many people choose to walk the Central Loop clockwise and turn left and walk towards Commonwealth Bridge. The first highlight you see as you walk along is the Australians of the Year Walk along the lake's edge, where you can read the plaques of every recipient of the award since 1960 and remember the prominent Australians from our past. From here, take the stairs up to Commonwealth Bridge and walk across, taking in the view over the water with cruise boats, kayakers and Canberra's iconic buildings.

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Flat, wide walking paths and scenery walking towards Commonwealth Avenue Bridge


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Lake Burley Griffin Circuit - the Central Loop is shown in orange. Map: ACT Tourism website


For a closer look at the map, see here.

When you walk down the stairs on the other side of Commonwealth Avenue Bridge, the path follows the lake next to Commonwealth Park, which is where Floriade is held each year. If you time your walk right, you may also see the Captain Cook Memorial Jet in action, which shoots water up 147 metres in the air between 11am and 2pm daily - however you may also see it getting tested at other times of the day. Also a little further along the walk is the Captain Cook Memorial globe sculpture, which shows Captain Cooks voyages around the Pacific. If you feel like a rest or would like to take in the view, there is a grassy hill with an idyllic view behind the jet at Regatta Point - or if it is a particularly cold morning, there is also the Canberra Region Visitors Centre to walk through or grab a coffee at The Deck cafe next door.

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A scenic walk over Commonwealth Bridge and along the lakes edge at Commonwealth Park


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Captain Cook Memorial Jet, Memorial Globe and The Deck cafe at Regatta Point


Further along the walk is Citizen Place, where ceremonies are held for new Australians to become citizens. If you would like to explore the paths of Commonwealth Park, there are many turnoffs from the lakeside path so you can make your walk longer. Further along the path and over a small bridge there is a turnoff to Nerang Pool, which is a wetland area with a wide range of birdlife to enjoy.

If you continue on the path you will meet the impressive statue of ex-Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies, who championed for Lake Burley Griffin to be built. This is the beginning of the 2km RG Menzies Walk which takes in this side of the lake, with scenic views over the water with swans and cormorants, to where you started. From here the National Carillon is in sight as you walk over Rond Terrace towards Kings Avenue Bridge.

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Walk along the RG Menzies Walk towards the National Carillon


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Stop for a rest at the impressive National Carillon


The National Carillon is an impressive sight as you walk closer to it and is even more impressive when the chimes ring every 15 minutes and a tune plays on the hour. Inside the top of the tower are 55 bells that can be played by a carillonist, however it isn't accessible for the public to walk up to the top. You can however, take a short detour over the bridge onto Aspen Island underneath it and read about the next carillon concert to come back for (or see details here). Also in this area on weekends is the Burley Grind coffee cart, which is open between 8am and 4pm on weekends only, for a rest and a cuppa.

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Coffee with a view at the National Carillon


From the National Carillon it is a short walk up to Kings Avenue Bridge and over the top, for another scenic view of the city. When walking down the other side, there is a wide walkway that spirals down to the lake's edge once again and passes the National Gallery of Australia's Sculpture Garden. If you feel like a detour, take a walk through the gardens, which have 26 sculptures dotted around the scenic parkland. If you happen to be walking through between 12:30pm - 2pm, ensure you cool off by walking through the Fog sculpture by Fujiko Nakaya, located inside the gardens. It is an intriguing, interactive sculpture that is particularly popular with kids.

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Walk over the Kings Avenue Bridge and back down to the lake...


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...then detour off to walk through Fog sculpture, by Fujiko Nakaya


From this part of the walk, it is just a short, flat walk past the High Court, along Queen Elizabeth Terrace and back to the beginning. This 4.9km walk takes less than an hour, however you get a real sense of what the city has to offer as you walk by many of Canberra's iconic landmarks and views. This walk is also ideal for those who don't like strenuous walks and hills, as it is all flat ground (except for getting up to the bridges), wide paths and smooth concrete.

I would recommend the Central Loop to energetic visitors to the city, as one of the first things to do when they get to the Capital. It is an ideal way to see the city, get your bearings, see where you want to explore further and also be part of a walk that many Canberra locals use every day for exercise or as a way to get to work. Why not strap on your comfiest shoes and hit the pavement along the Lake Burley Griffin Central Loop this weekend, to see the beauty of Canberra by foot.

Don't forget your camera!

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A scenic detour to Nerang Pool, in Commonwealth Park


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Why? Exercise, scenery & no back-tracking!
When: Open all year around
Phone: Canberra and Region Visitors Centre: 1300 554 114
Where: Start anywhere on the loop. Carparking at the National Library, Commonwealth Park and National Carillon.
Cost: Free!
Your Comment
Be prepared to duck and weave to avoid head-ons with cyclists
by markj (score: 0|4) 300 days ago
Foodi Photoh Classie
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