Telopea Park is an eight hectare park in Barton, 5 kms south of the CBD. It was named Telopea Park as it was originally part of Walter Burley Griffin's design for Canberra to be one of several parks named after native trees. This planned parkland was to be full of Waratahs (botanical name Telopea), however Griffins' plan never eventuated - but the name still stuck.
A highlight of this park for families is the colourful playground with a number of BBQ facilities and picnic tables nearby. This is a popular area each weekend for BBQ's in the shade and for kids birthday celebrations. Although the playground doesn't have a shade sail, there is plenty of shade provided by the mature trees in the park. In Winter, when some of the leaves fall, it has great winter sun- making this a handy family area all year around.
If you have kids, why not pack the car with bikes or scooters so they can ride the flat bike paths down to Lake Burley Griffin. For those seeking a quieter moment, there are also benches along the pathway to read a book or enjoy the quiet serenity in the shade of the trees. The trees in Telopea Park, planted 94 years ago, are a combination of eucalypts, casuarinas, wattles, poplars and willows, making for a spectacular show of Autumn colour after March.
At the southern end of Telopea Park is the historic, art deco Manuka Pool. This pool was Canberra's first pool, opened in 1931 and is still open during the Summer months. The historic pool itself is a fascinating building to explore before going for a swim in the 30 metre pool. Check out the historical features and signage from the 1930's to 1960's, from a time when this pool was the social hub of Canberra. Manuka Pool also has a toddler pool and pirate ship playground for the kids. For a full article on Manuka Pool, read here.
This history and heritage of Telopea Park is marked by signage in various areas around the parkland for visitors to read. Indigenous people used this land for thousands of years before it was utilised by prominent early settler Robert Campbell in the 19th century. It was then part of his Duntroon cattle grazing property with a primitive house built on the land for local family the Rottenburys in 1880. There are no remnants of this dwelling remaining, after it was made a parkland and the trees were planted in 1922.
At the opposite end of the parkland, on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, is another park called Bowen Park over the busy Wentworth Avenue. Joggers and dog walkers often use the Telopea Park and Bowen Park nature corridor as access to the flat walking paths along the lakes edge. With birdlife and several swans to greet you, this is an ideal start for a lakeside walk or take a short stroll up to the cafes on Kingston Foreshore, minutes away.
Telopea Park is a beautiful walking route, picnic spot, play area and ideal quiet retreat to read a book. On our visit, we got chatting to a couple of visitors to the city who were out for an early morning walk and stumbled across this parkland. They showed surprise at the amount of green parks and gardens in Canberra, which they weren't expecting in such a designed city with urban monuments the main focus. These parks were designed into the urban landscape for this very reason, to 'soften" the clearly designed edge to the city and create pockets of nature for Canberrans and visitors to enjoy - which we still do today.