Did you write yourself a New Year's Resolution this year? In my quest to discover more about this fascinating city, I wrote a list of my own - I want to do 12 new walks in 12 months. This is the same goal that I had last year and I have surprised myself to discover that I had ticked them all off (and more!) in the past year. If you have a similar vision for the year ahead, why not put on your walking shoes and tackle some of this list below - which includes some of my personal favourites from years gone by and some from this years wish list. Each walk has been allocated a month of the year to take advantage of springtime flowers and autumn colour - and avoid the summer heat and snakes! I am determined to tick off the 12 on my list this year...I hope you do too. What are we waiting for?
Summer is the perfect time to enjoy a shady walk along Cascades Trail, Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
January - Cascades Trail Cascades Trail is located in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and is a 1 hour walk through a cool rainforest climate. It is the perfect walk to do in the heat of January as the entire walk is under the canopy of ferns and rainforest trees. The walk is classed as "moderate" as it is twists and turns uphill for most of the way and then it travels downhill past tinkling waterfalls and past narrow rock faces. Listen for birds in the treetops and look out for lyrebirds in the area. See here for details. February - Mount Painter
February is the ideal time to do this 15 minute short walk up to the top of Mount Painter and take in the 360 degree views of the city and region. Ensure you start this walk early in the day, before it gets too hot. This is one of my favourite hilltop walks in the city as the top of the hill is covered in grasslands, so you get to see the entire view all the way up to the top. Take a cold drink or flask of coffee to enjoy at the summit. See here for details. For a full article on this walk, see here.
This walk is on my wish list when the weather starts to cool down by the end of March. The start of this uphill, 30 minute walk begins south of the city in Namadgi National Park. The views from the top of the rocks are meant to be spectacular - over the valleys and surrounding mountain ranges. The location is remote, so take a first aid kit and plenty of water with you. See here for details and here for a map to the start of the walk.
April - Mount Ainslie April is the time to enjoy the harder walks around Canberra, as the weather starts to get cooler after the ANZAC Day long weekend. Although you can drive to the top of Mount Ainslie, there is also an uphill walk up to the top that twists and turns up the hill face. This walk is hard, so prepare yourself for an uphill battle - however, the view is worth it at the end! See here for details. For a full article on this walk, see here.
May - Gibraltar Peak (New Year's Resolution) Autumn is the perfect time to tackle this 8-kilometre walk, as the mornings are fresh and the view from the summit will highlight the range of autumn colours in the valley below. This walk is located inside Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and is classed as "hard", with a bushwalking register at the start of the walk to write in your details when you leave and when you get back. This walk is ideally taken with a friend, as mobile phone coverage is patchy in the whole reserve. The view and adventure is recommended by many! See here for details.
Take in the views from Booroomba Rocks. Image: Wikapedia - By Leighblackall
June - One Tree Hill (New Year's Resolution) This 9-kilometre walk starts north of the city in Hall and traverses green countryside until the path reaches the summit of One Tree Hill. According to locals, this is an enjoyable walk to do in the cooler months, with unique views over the new suburbs in north Canberra. See here for details.
July - The Sanctuary The Sanctuary is located inside Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and is a fenced and protected habitat so that foxes and other animals can't harm the native wildlife inside. This 2-kilometre walk is suited for prams and families and the highlight is the platypus pool, where you can witness the occasional splash of a platypus tail as they frolic in the cool water. On weekends, you often find a National Parks volunteer at the pool to help you spot them. See here for details. For a full article on this walk, see here.
August - Yankee Hat (New Year's Resolution) This 6-kilometre walk can be found inside Namadgi National Park, south of the city. This walk is classed as "easy" and at the end of it is the Yankee Hat Rock Shelter, which has a preserved example of aboriginal art. Carbon dating of the floor of the shelter shows that indigenous tribes were using it 800 years ago. This walk is high up on my wishlist in the cooler months, without snakes to look for in the undergrowth! See here for details.
Aboriginal rock art at Yankee Hat, Namadgi National Park. Source: Wikapedia (photo by Martyman)
September - Central Loop - Lake Burley Griffin This 5-kilometre walk is easily the most popular walk in Canberra, as you start at the middle basin and walk in either direction to a bridge and walk back across the other bridge to the start. Along the way enjoy the trees out in blossom, especially along Queen Elizabeth Terrace in front of the Parliamentary Triangle. When you walk past Commonwealth Park, why not detour into Floriade for a spring spectacular like no other. See here for details. For a full article on this walk, see here.
October - Birrigai Time Trail
This walk is located at the entrance to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and travels through grasslands, past kangaroos and emus, to a rock shelter that was used by the indigenous people as far back as 16,000 years ago. The Birrigai Rock Shelter was used by indigenous families through the Ice Age, where temperatures dropped another 8 - 10 degrees from today's winter temperatures. Could your family live in there for the winter? See here for details. For a full article on this walk, see here.
Indigenous history at the Birrigai Rock Shelter
November- Hanging Rock
If you enjoyed the Birrigai Rock Shelter, also take a short walk to Hanging Rock, also at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. This 500-metre walk is suitable for all the family, as it takes a short tour up to the large granite boulders that were used as shelter and shade for indigenous people, over 400 years ago. You can imagine people lying on the cool granite rocks and enjoying the shade, as they rest after a day of walking and hunting. See here for details. For a full article on this walk, see here.
December - Murrumbidgee Discovery Track - Point Hut Crossing to Pine Island
The Murrumbidgee Discovery Track is a 27 kilometre-long walk along the Murrumbidgee River corridor. It can be broken up into smaller, more manageable walks along the way such as the section between Point Hut Crossing and Pine Island, which is a 1-hour return walk. When you get to Pine Island beach, why not take your shoes off and have a paddle in the cold water, which flows straight down from the Snowy Mountains! See here for details. For a full article on this walk, see here.
These are just some of the bushwalks around Canberra to try this year. Will you try a new one each month? Why not try a new one each weekend? The Canberra region is just waiting to be explored - see you out there!
That's a fantastic idea for a New Year's resolution. It's a challenge I'm happy to take on. My husband and I have recently moved out of Melbourne to Victoria's Bass Coast and the area has well established trails throughout, many with amazing seaside views.
Great Article, & goals. There's definitely 12 months of discovery. We are in Sydney, but my husband recently purchased an annual National Park access ticket, so there's a good chance we may do some of these walks. It is an article I will save.
Great article. And a great idea to combine fitness with exploring your home town!! I am not in Canberra but will do something similar in my home town. And you never know - I might join you on the track when I next make it back to the capital.