Lake Burley Griffin is located in the heart of Canberra, as well as being the actual heart of the city. Thousands of people every day ride around it, run past it and go over it on bridges - but how can you actually get on Lake Burley Griffin? There are a number of different ways to experience Canberra's iconic lake all year around - as well as some extra options during the warmer months when the weather in balmy and the water is shimmering. There are sailing boats to hire, SUP's (Stand Up Paddleboards) to balance on, kayaks to borrow, windsurfers to tackle and cruise boats to relax in. If you are learning how to kayak or SUP, Lake Burley Griffin is an ideal place to begin as the quiet lake is reserved for mostly non-motorised watercraft, except for the occasional cruise boat, water police and smaller approved boats. Another feature of Lake Burley Griffin is that it often has cool breezes on a hot Summer's day, so you can be active and feel the wind on your face at the same time.
With so much to do all in the one location, why would you want to be anywhere else?
Sailing and SUP'ing with Canberra Yacht Club. Image: Original photos from CYC website and Facebook
Canberra Yacht Club in Yarralumla have SUP and sailing boat hire so visitors and locals can enjoy the beauty of Lake Burley Griffin from a different perspective. There are two types of sailing boats available for hire, starting at $45 an hour and SUP's cost $25 for 30 minutes or $35 per hour. They are available to hire between Tuesday and Sunday (12pm - 5pm). If you have always wanted to learn to sail, Canberra Yacht Club also have children's and adult classes available all year around. See here for all the details.
When arriving to take out your SUP or sailing boat, the entrance to the boat hire is located next to Snapper on the Lake fish and chips on the ground floor of the Yacht Club. After your sail, why not stay for lunch and enjoy some of the best views of Lake Burley Griffin at either Snapper on the Lake, or the Southern Cross Yacht Club upstairs. See Google map for directions.
Canberra Southern Cross Yacht Club and Snapper on the Lake
Wetspot Water Sports in Fyshwick have SUP, kayak and windsurfer hire that you can use on Lake Burley Griffin, as well as other local rivers, lakes and dams. To hire them you will need roof racks or a trailer to transport them from Fyshwick to the lake. Wetspot offer full day rates, so you don't have to keep checking the time, as well as weekly rates if you wish to enjoy your water sports all week. Prices start from $49 a day, or $149 a week. See here for details. See Google map for directions.
The Paddle Hub at YMCA Sailing School on the lake, have SUP and kayak hire available on weekends only during the Spring and Summer months. It is the ideal way to see the sights and also get fit at the same time. SUP and single kayaks cost $15 for half an hour and $25 for an hour. Double kayaks cost $25 for an half hour and $35 for an hour. See here for more details. See Google map for directions.
Look out for this sign along Alexandrina Drive at Yarralumla Bay. Source: YMCA Facebook
Canberra Southern Cross Cruises have tours starting from the Southern Cross Yacht Club at Yarralumla (the same location as the sailing boat hire at the Canberra Yacht Club). The MV Southern Cross cruise boat has air conditioned indoor seating downstairs as well as outdoor seating upstairs at the front of the boat, for the best views of Canberra. There is tea and coffee on board and entertaining commentary throughout the cruise, to point out the iconic landmarks of this fascinating city. Choose from a variety of cruises such as sightseeing, lunch, afternoon, dinner or twilight cruises and they also host special dinner cruises throughout the year on Australia Day, Valentines Day, Skyfire, Mothers Day and New Years Eve. See here for details. See Google map for directions.
Enjoy a relaxing cruise on the MV Southern Cross, Canberra Southern Cross Cruises
Lake Burley Griffin Cruises is located at Acton Wharf, just a short drive from Commonwealth Park and the CBD. This one hour cruise is held on a smaller, electric boat and has personalised commentary by Skipper Jim. Cruise along and be entertained with fascinating facts as well as humourous stories about the attractions and landmarks along the way. There are cruises held all throughout the week and weekend, with special cruises organised during Floriade. The small historic cruise boat received a colourful overhaul during the Contour 556 festival in 2016 and now cuts a striking figure out on the waterway. Titled "In Plain Sight", this mobile artwork was designed by artist Katy Mutton and is based on the vibrant camouflage used on warships of World War 1, to confuse the attacking submarines and make the features of the ship difficult to see. See here for details. See Google map for directions.
For locals, if you would like to get out on the lake regularly, why not give dragon boating a try. To see whether you like it, they offer three free trial sessions to learn the ropes and see if you would like to join a social, or competitive team. If you have always wanted to learn to row, Capital Lakes Rowing Club also offers learner classes twice a year and then you can join them in social rowing for fitness and fun - or competitions, if you become hooked in the sport.
As mentioned at the start of this article, Lake Burley Griffin is the heart of Canberra. In the peace and tranquility of dawn, you can also hear it beat - as dragon boats go by with drums pounding to keep everyone rowing in time. It is the magnetism of this lake and the variety of ways in which to enjoy it, which draws people back to its shores, time and time again...