The Lake Burley Griffin Circuit is a series of cycling loops which takes in the iconic views of Australia's Capital City. There are three choices of paths to choose from - the 9km Eastern Loop, the 5km Central Loop and the 16km Western Loop - or if you are feeling energetic and want to take on the entire lake in one go, it is approximately 28km's from start to finish.
Last year I wrote an article about the Highlights of the Eastern Loop, as the 9km loop seemed an easier place to start when bike riding around the lake - in comparison to the 16km Western Loop at the other end of the lake. Now, months later, after taking on small sections of the Western Loop in numerous "practice runs", it was time to get up at dawn and do it all in one go. The following are my personal highlights (and exhausting "low" lights!), however, if you ride it for yourself and follow the map, you will find your own favourite sections of the track. If you are feeling adventurous, why not pump up the tyres and give the Western Loop a spin this weekend? Just take plenty of water - and energy!
If you begin your bike ride from Commonwealth Bridge and ride the Western Loop clockwise, the bike path takes you along the lake's edge, past the Lennox Gardens, Canberra Beijing Gardens and around the peaceful Lotus Bay. This scenic and flat pathway is a serene introduction to the Western Loop - so enjoy it while you can. If you are wanting to refill your water bottle or need a toilet stop near here, the Southern Cross Yacht Club is a short detour located on the other side of Lotus Bay. Whilst there, you can park your bike and take a quick rest on the reserve in front of the Club and take in the views and lake breeze. The highlight of this area was the easy-riding flat paths, scenic gardens and views over to Telstra Tower and the other side of the lake - which is where the Western Loop continues to...eventually!
The Canberra Beijing Gardens - a scenic start to the Western Loop
Continuing on, the path meanders through Australian natives and Eucalyptus trees, over hills and past families enjoying the BBQ facilities along the lake's edge. At the end of this section of track, as you leave the water for a short time, there is the option to turn off to Weston Park, which is a peninsula that juts out into the lake with wild kangaroos, mini golf and BBQ areas. The path also goes past the Yarralumla Gallery and Oaks Brasserie café, which has outdoor courtyards to enjoy a coffee or cold drink under the trees. After the Brasserie, the path once again finds the lake's edge and curves through areas of Westbourne Woods, which were planted in 1913 by Charles Weston, who was in charge of establishing trees in the new Capital at the time.
The highlight of this quiet stretch of the loop was leaving the roads and residential areas behind and seeing different views of the lake that can't be accessed by road. The tall, historic woods also created a beautiful speckled light on the pathway and much-needed shade.
The path winds along the lake's edge, over a bridge and past Government House Lookout, Scrivener Dam, over Lady Denman Drive bridge and past the entrance to the National Zoo and Aquarium. If you are feeling weary at this point, as I did, there is a shady BBQ area on the other side of the bridge at Yarramundi Reach to stop and rest. After some refuelling and a pep talk to myself, it was back on the bike and looking forward to the beauty of things to come. The pathway then becomes quite open, with grassland either side of the path and close to the roadway at times - all the while Telstra Tower sits proudly on top of Black Mountain, surveying the city below.
The "low"light, I must admit, had nothing to do with the Western Loop. My aching legs were wondering why they were still pedalling - and I was only halfway!
Stop for a rest on the other side of Lady Denman Drive bridge, at Yarramundi Reach
Eventually, after riding along close to the lake, the entrance to Black Mountain Peninsula goes by (or you can take a detour to explore the peninsula) and then further along the path the colourful National Museum of Australia comes into view. There is a chance to get off the path and spend some time here, or keep going around to Commonwealth Bridge and the starting point. If you had some energy left, you can also detour off to the NewActon Precinct café district or continue on under the bridge and join the Central Loop of the Lake Burley Griffin Circuit.
The highlight of this part of the bike path was that my slowing pace meant I could watch the kayakers and rowers slice through the lake in silent unison and listen to the birdlife in the trees announcing my arrival. Although the second half of the loop may not be as eventful as the first half, it had its own beauty and excitement at every turn.
Take the detour at Acton Wharf, over the pedestrian bridge to the NewActon Precinct
It is fair to say that I experienced some highs and lows on this ride, however one thing that never wavered, was that I was loving every minute. There is a feeling of adventure when you ride a bike path for the first time and this path, in particular, takes you around mystery bends and to areas of the lake never seen before. The other highlight was being part of the early morning parade of riders and walkers, who nod and say "Good Morning" as they pass - as if we were all part of a secret club of early risers. Who else would get up so early on a Sunday morning? I'm not sure, but I can't wait to do it all over again.
The many sights of the Lake Burley Griffin Circuit - Western Loop