A tour around Lake Burley Griffin is the perfect way to enjoy the beautiful weather and learn more about the city of Canberra. For tourists it is a great way to orientate themselves and learn where everything is in this interesting city. For locals who also travel on board, there is always something new to learn about the city we live in.
On Lake Burley Griffin, there are two boat companies who provide tours. There is the larger fleet of Southern Cross Cruises (which leaves from Yarralumla Wharf) and there is the smaller Lake Burley Griffin Cruises (which leaves from Acton Park Wharf).
The smaller Lake Burley Griffin Cruises are often our boat of choice for getting out on the water with friends visiting from interstate. With a maximum of 18 on board, there is personal commentary along the way and a few laughs to be had on their one hour cruise.
Lake Burley Griffin Cruises, docked at Acton Wharf.
Lake Burley Griffin Cruises is run by Skipper Jim, who is also the Guide. He takes you on a one hour tour around the outer edges of the lake, pointing out the main attractions as well as telling humorous stories about the city. His commentary is informative from years of practice and his dry humour had us all laughing. Although he jokes to the passengers that if they have any hard questions about Canberra he may not know the answer, I would almost guarantee that we would. With years of local knowledge and funny stories up his sleeve to share, he is the man to ask. He enjoys some banter from the passengers, making this an interactive and fun trip getting to know Jim and the other passengers on board.
On board the Gull, with most seating inside with pull down windows.
From Acton Park Wharf the boat slowly makes it way under the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge, a highlight for the kids on board. He also points out an unusual gift from England under the bridge on both sides, something you don't learn about in the tourist guidebook.
At the end of the Lake we get close to Aspen Island and the National Carillon to listen to the bells and learn about its history. He points out the Kingston Foreshore tells you its background, including some previous residents whose names you will recognise.
You may also see cormorant birds drying their wings up in the trees on Aspen Island, which you can't see from the shoreline.
We then quietly cruise back along the other side of the lake, with stories of the High Court and landmarks on this side of the lake. From the vantage point on the lake you can see straight through the High Courts windows, with Jim explaining it was designed this way to show the "transparency" of the High Court.
The one hour cruise is the perfect length to get around the Lake and learn more about the history of this city. For most of the young children on board, one hour was also enough, so it was time to return to Acton Wharf.
Kids love the pull down windows to enjoy the breeze and view.
If you wish to enjoy a tour during busy times (eg. Floriade), it is best to book online to make sure you get the cruise time that you want, however you can also just turn up and pay cash on the boat. See cruise times and prices here.
It is the personal commentary and slow pace of this older boat that makes this cruise so enjoyable. With wildlife to see, stories to hear, facts to be learn and laughs to be had, it is a relaxing way to spend some time on Canberra's iconic lake.
Swans with their babies can be seen near the wharf in Spring.