A mere 30 minute drive from Canberra's CBD, Shepherd's Lookout is ACT's northern-most viewing point of the Murrumbidgee River, and is named after nearby property owners. It's close proximity to the city centre is in stark contrast with the stunning country views the lookout grants patrons, and is well worth a visit for both locals and travellers alike.
Hundreds of stone tool scatter sites are located in the Woodstock Nature Reserve that encompasses Shepherd's Lookout, which provide evidence for the Ngunnawal Aboriginal people having lived in the Murrumbidgee and Molongo catchments for thousands of years. In addition to fresh drinking water, the Murrumbidgee River was also a food source for these people, with fish, yabbies, and water birds. The deep river pool below is an important habitat for platypus and native fish, including endangered species such as the Macquarie Perch and Murray Cod.
Shepherd's Lookout can be accessed through Stockdill Drive in Holt - follow the road for several kilometres until you see a sign for 'Shepherd's Lookout'. There is plenty of parking available on gravel ground. The walk from the carpark to Shepherd's Lookout is an easy 250m (500m return) through beautiful bushland in Woodstock Nature Reserve. The path can get quite narrow at times, but is very manageable for the average person. There are several forks along the way, but the path to the lookout is well signposted - simply follow these and you won't get lost!
The view from Shepherd's Lookout is spectacular - Shepherd's Lookout provides stunning views of the Murrumbidgee River, with power lines that span the river marking the border between Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales. With rolling country hills littered with green trees that flank the river on both sides, coupled with a cool breeze from being up high, it's like you've stepped right into a painting - one that you never want to leave.
Keep your eyes peeled on the walk from Stockdill Drive to Shepherd's Lookout, because you will be rewarded with stunning views of Canberra's picturesque countryside without even reaching the lookout! These views are different to the ones from the lookout platform at the end of the trail and are equally beautiful in their own way. There are also heaps of wildflowers and other flora and fauna to look out for; it's not always about the destination, so make sure to enjoy the journey too!
Beautiful country view on the way to Shepherd's Lookout.
En route to Shepherd's Lookout from the carpark, you will see a sign post to your left with "Uriarra Picnic Area, 3.5km" written on it. This 3.5km is mostly flat and easy in nature, with one steep rocky section along the Molonglo River before the track leaves the river - allow approximately 2 to 2.5 hours for this walk. The walking trail is well sign-posted, so simply follow the signs to get to the picnic area. The picnic area has toilets, picnic tables, and wood-fired BBQs at Uriarra East and West Picnic areas.
Although dogs are not allowed in the Lower Molonglo River Corridor, Woodstock Nature Reserve and Stony Creek Nature Reserve, dogs are allowed, off-leash, at Shepherd's Lookout, Uriarra East, and Uriarra West. Note: Although they are allowed off-leash at the picnic areas, they should be on-leash on the walking tracks (except from Stockdill Drive to Shepherd's Lookout). It's a great walk to take dogs on, with plenty of shade and soft ground, although you will need to bring your own water and doggy bags. Note: Please make sure your dog is well-behaved and will respond to your commands when off-leash in a public area, especially in areas like Shepherd's Lookout where there is other wildlife around.
On-leash but still having lots of fun at Shepherd's Lookout!
The easy walk from Shepherd's Lookout rewarded us with stunning views of the ACT and NSW border. The fact that dogs are allowed, coupled with its close proximity to Canberra's City Centre and easy access to picnic and barbecue facilities, makes it a perfect spot for a family day out. Plus, it's a bit of a hidden gem and is not as well-known as it deserves to be, so if you're lucky, you might even have the place to yourselves like we did!