New to Canberra, I love exploring this city and the secrets that it holds with my family.
Published May 10th 2017
Scenic views, history & the location of an Australian drama
Mount Pleasant Lookout is located in the suburb of Campbell, with sweeping views over Canberra and Lake Burley Griffin. At 663 metres above sea level, it may not be as high as Mount Ainslie Lookout (843 metres) or Red Hill Lookout (734 metres), however it has a different perspective of the city and surrounding countryside. This unique vantage point is also a little harder to find, as it is only accessible through the property of the Duntroon Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA). To get there, drive along Fairbairn Avenue, which runs behind the facility and into the wide and impressive Duntroon entrance. A short distance along, take the first right onto General Bridges Drive which takes you on a winding path straight up to the top. On the way to the Lookout you will also pass the turnoff to the grave of General Bridges, who led the First Division of the Australian Infantry Forces at the Gallipoli landing in 1915.
Recently, Mount Pleasant Lookout was featured in the Foxtel mini-series "Secret City" (2016) with Logie-award winners Anna Torv and Damon Herriman (2017). This dark mini-series about political life in Canberra was shot in iconic locations all across the city, including a short scene at Mount Pleasant Lookout. After watching this suspenseful Australian drama, it reminded me to go back up to the Lookout and admire Canberra's iconic views from above, once again.
Views over Lake Burley Griffin from Mount Pleasant Lookout
For more details of "Secret City", see the You Tube trailer below, with Mount Pleasant Lookout briefly shown (34 seconds into the clip):
At the top of Mount Pleasant there is the National Memorial to the Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery. This memorial was built with donations from members who belong to the Royal Regiment of the Australian Artillery, who are known as "gunners". At the top there is a memorial to those gunners who have given their lives for their country. Two 64-pounder guns, built in 1820, are positioned either side of the memorial along the sandstone fort, which represents the colonial forts used in early Australia. Today Mount Pleasant is a designated saluting location, with 21 gun salutes fired on the Queens Birthday by the Australia's Federation Guard.
Pay homeage to the National Memorial to the Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery
This Lookout is also part of the Canberra Tracks self-guiding driving route, which takes in iconic views and landmarks around the city. There are numerous signs around the Lookout, explaining Canberra's early beginnings - from the first sheep properties to the creation of Australia's Capital City. If you walk to the side of the Lookout and down a few steps, there is a short path with signs which explain the original design of Canberra, by Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Griffin. One sign points out the first permanent building in Canberra - the old Power House in Kingston, which is now the home of the Canberra Glassworks.
Back up at the Lookout and facing east, there is another interesting sign explaining the history of the Duntroon property below, which was the first grazing property in the area owned by the Campbell family in 1825. Almost a century later in 1911, it became the property of the Royal Military College, with the original "Duntroon House" residence still used today. Looking down, you can see the old buildings harmoniously blending with the new.
Take a walk on the path beneath the Lookout and read the signs
Canberra may be a flat city around Lake Burley Griffin, however all around its perimeter there are small hills and mountains with 360 degree views of the whole region. If you are feeling energetic you can even walk up some, with the Mount Ainslie Summit Walk the most popular of them all. There is also a walk up Black Mountain to Telstra Tower - however the best views are from the Tower itself. If you are in the south of the city, Mount Taylor is also a short walk to try, with views to the city in one direction and the Brindabella mountain ranges in the south.
Mount Pleasant Lookout is more than a stop to admire the view. It is a look back through Canberra's history and it is a respectful acknowledgement to Australia's Defence Force - past and present. Whether you have an interest in history, Australian drama or just want to look at the view, a drive up to Mount Pleasant Lookout will be a memorable one, every time.
Why don't you go for a drive up there, this weekend?