Easy walks for little legs, that take less than an hour
As kids get older, families often enjoy going for short bushwalks together, to get into nature and explore somewhere new. If there are small kids in the family, with little legs that can't walk very far, then short walks of up to an hour are a great place to start. In Canberra, there are a number of short walks that can be enjoyed by families with a range of ages, with plenty of nature and wildlife to see along the way. The following are 5 ideas for families to explore around the region - take a scroll through the list and see if there are any your kids would love. With the cooler weather and school holidays upon us, at the time of writing, this is the perfect time to pack up the car, fill up the water bottles and start exploring the city and outer Canberra region. Where will you be exploring this weekend?
1/ The Sanctuary is a 2km boardwalk and concrete path around the wetlands at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. This scenic nature park is located 50 minutes from the centre of Canberra, with an entry fee of $11.50 per car to get in for the day. Once inside, there are longer walks, BBQ areas, an adventure playground, aboriginal sites, koala spotting and the popular Sanctuary boardwalk to explore. As you walk along the boardwalk there are places to admire the birdlife and also stop at a platypus pool, to get a rare chance to observe platypus in the wild. This pool is always a highlight for our family, as we see at least one every time. For a full article on The Sanctuary, see here .
Apart from The Sanctuary, there are also 13 other short walks to choose from with koalas in the trees and aboriginal sites to visit. See the full list here (scroll down to view the walks). Also see here for general information about the reserve. Need directions? See Google map here.
Don't forget to take a picnic to The Sanctuary and enjoy the natural surroundings
2/ Jerrabomberra Wetlands is located surprisingly close to the city, at the eastern end of Lake Burley Griffin and accessed via the industrial suburb of Fyshwick. The wetlands are part of the Lake Burley Griffin Eastern Cycling Loop, so there are cyclists and walkers also travelling through the area. Although there are a few walks at the wetlands, the best one is Kelly's Loop which only takes about 40 minutes to walk around and circles the main wetland area. There are over 170 migratory birds that use the wetlands as a stop over, with 3 bird hides positioned along Kelly's Loop to quietly sit and observe the birds. Kids are fascinated by these little huts - the longer you sit, the more you see. Although this may not be on the top of every tourists list when they visit Canberra, as it is rarely advertised, this short walk is an interesting one for kids and families who enjoy nature. No toilet facilities available. Take your binoculars. For a full article on the Jerrabomberra Wetlands, see here. Also see here for the wetlands website and Google map here, with entry via Dairy Road.
Bird hides to stop off at on Kelly's Loop, Jerrabomberra Wetlands
Map of Kelly's Loop. Source: Jerrabomberra Wetlands website
3/ The National Arboretum is located just 10 minutes from the CBD. This 250 hectare property has been planted with rare and endangered trees from all around the world. Most of the forests aren't mature, as they were only planted in within the last several years, however there are two forests that are over 100 years old - the Himalayan Cedar Forest and the Cork Oaks Forest. Follow the signs to the forests and enjoy two short walks through the trees from one forest to another and then down along a loop, with a short hill to climb back up to the carpark. It will take less than half an hour, but the kids will enjoy exploring. Stay longer and enjoy a picnic at the Himalayan Cedar Forest BBQ area. From the carpark, you can also walk to the 35 metre long "Wide Brown Land" sculpture, at the top of a small hill nearby.
For more short walks, see the National Arboretum map and website, including a short walk to the Dairy Farmers Hill Lookout. Toilet facilities are available at the start of the Himalayan Cedar Forest and the Visitors Centre. See here for opening hours and Google map here.
Explore 100 year old forests at the National Arboretum
4/ The Lake Burley Griffin Central Loop is a 4.9km loop around the middle of Lake Burley Griffin, which starts at one side of the lake and goes over both bridges, then returns back to the start. The whole loop is quite long for younger kids, so you can always just do one section of the lake, or do just a short area around the Queen Elizabeth Terrace - which is a popular place to start. The best part of this walk is that you can ride it, scooter it or walk it easily with kids, as it has flat and wide walking paths with plenty of room for other people to walk by. Stop and say hello to ducks, take a detour to Nerang Pool in Commonwealth Park, run under the International Flag Display or get off the path for a short time and explore the two interactive sculptures (Fog sculpture and Within Without 2010) outside the National Gallery of Australia. Modern public toilet facilities are available all along the route. For a full article on the Lake Burley Griffin Central Loop, see here. Also see here for a map of the Lake Burley Griffin Cycling Loop.
The flat and scenic Lake Burley Griffin Central Loop
5/ Canberra Nature Parks are located on every hill you see around the city - and there are many. They are looked after by the ACT Government and have a network of clear paths and signage to get to the top of each one, using well-maintained fire trails and dirt paths. These walks are suited to older children who are happy to walk further and tackle some steep hills. See here for a full list of the Canberra Nature Park walks.
In particular, Mount Arawang in the south of Canberra is one walk that takes less than an hour return, depending on which way you walk. It is rocky and steep in some places, but generally a good walk for families with older kids. The Mount Ainslie Summit Track in comparison, is a hard uphill walk on a concrete path that takes just over an hour return, however it has steep uphill sections which challenge the most fittest adult. The view from the Lookout is worth the effort, if you have reasonable fitness. No toilet are facilities available on either of these walks.
Mount Arawang, suited to older kids due to rough terrain and hills
If you are looking for more short walk ideas, there are also a range of walks at the Namadgi National Park, Mulligans Flat, Murrumbidgee River Corridor (walk a section of the 27km track), or stay closer to the city and do part of the Lake Burley Griffin Western and Eastern Loops. If you are in the south of Canberra, there is a loop walk around Lake Tuggeranong to do a section of, which also includes a few playgrounds. If you are north of the city, why not enjoy a walk around part of Lake Ginninderra and stop off at the John Knight Memorial Playground for a quick play. Wherever you decide to go, just take plenty of water, suncream and a first aid kit just in case of emergencies in remote areas. Also be aware of snake activity in the warmer months, particularly in the national parks.
So why not get out this weekend and enjoy some quality family time out and about in Capital. It is a good activity for the whole family to ditch technology for the day, get some fresh air and see a new side to Canberra...