New to Canberra, I love exploring this city and the secrets that it holds with my family.
Published March 7th 2016
Canberra's outdoor playground on Lake Burley Griffin
Kings Park is located on Lake Burley Griffin, in the northern Canberra suburb of Parkes. Kings Park borders a stretch of Lake Burley Griffin between Rond Terrace and Kings Avenue Bridge, on the northern side of the lake. This undulating parkland attracts thousands of locals and visitors each day, with its scenic walkways and variety of leisure activities to do. Sitting proudly on an island off Kings Park is the National Carillon, an iconic building that can be seen (and heard) all around the lake. There are also BBQ facilities, picnic spots, walking paths, memorials, historical buildings, a playground and views of the lake from every vantage point.
There is so much to do just in this corner of Lake Burley Griffin - what are your favourite things to do at Kings Park?
View of Kings Park and the National Carillon, as seen from Kings Avenue Bridge
The Kings Park walking path alongside Lake Burley Griffin is part of three major walking and cycling routes around the lake. For hard-core exercise enthusiasts, it is part of the scenic 28km Lake Burley Griffin Circuit around the lake. It is also just one section of the 2km RG Menzies Walk and also included in the popular 5km Central Loop between both bridges over Lake Burley Griffin. At any time of the day you will see runners, walkers, rollerbladers, segway tourists and cyclists powering their way along this flat exercise route. This walk around Lake Burley Griffin is by far, in my opinion, the most scenic exercise route in Canberra. If you are up at dawn, you will find half of Canberra pounding the pavement along Kings Park, enjoying the scenery before heading off to work. The lake edge along Kings Park is also a popular route for fun runs, so you may see the occasional tutu tutu-wearing runner (or 100!) beating a path along this busy pathway.
The National Carillon is a stunning sight, sitting proudly on Aspen Island in Lake Burley Griffin. It was a present from the British government to the people of Australia to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Nations Capital. This 55 metre high building contains 55 bronze bells, which chime every quarter of the hour. On the hour the bells are rung to count the time - much to the delight of children who count each one. There is a bridge over to the island, however you can't access the actual building or go up to the top to view the bells. Twice a week they have lunchtime recitals by local and visiting carillonists, see the National Capital Authority website for concert details. On Christmas Eve, Australia Day and other special dates celebrated in the capital, they also hold extended concerts where you can bring a blanket and listen to a Carillonist ring the bells in familiar tunes or carols.
Take a walk over the bridge to the National Carillon
There are a number of Memorials to discover when exploring the beauty of Kings Park. Set amongst the trees there is the National Workers Memorial which honours Australians who have lost their lives in workplace accidents, incidents and disease. Down by the shoreline is the Merchant Navy Memorial and also an anchor commemorating the H.M.A.S Canberra, which sunk in battle in 1942.
On top of the hill overlooking the National Carillon is the National Police Memorial. This memorial is a moving tribute all police officers who have died in the line of duty or as a result of their duties since policing first began in Australia. There are 700 names of police personnel represented on a 27 metre long wall of bronze squares, with each one depicting the name of a police officer and where they came from. Walking along the memorial, the amount of names on the wall is staggering and reminds you of how much the police do for the community and what risks they face every day to protect us. The empty squares, for future names, are unsettling to see. This memorial is a moving tribute and is a highlight of Kings Park for all to visit.
Boundless is Canberra's first all abilities playground and also one of the largest playgrounds in the city. In different areas of the playground, children in wheelchairs can access the equipment with ramps, specialised swings and a moving seesaw. Boundless is a popular park for all ages and abilities due to its colourful equipment, grassy picnic areas and wide variety of play equipment. In the top area of the playground there are ramps, two slides, bridges, spinning equipment, bouncy toys, a wet play area and a hydraulic lift to catch a ride down with a soft landing if kids fall over. In the middle of the playground there is a sandpit with dozers to sit on and move sand, and at the lower end of the playground there is a wheelchair-friendly seesaw and a variety of swings for kids to choose from.
This playground is the setting for many birthday parties on weekends, with a good amount of picnic tables to choose from and free BBQ's to utlise outside the playground. Boundless Playground in Kings Park isn't visible from the lake, however if you walk up the pathways opposite the National Carillon, the park reveals itself behind the gum trees.
This historical cottage is a six roomed stone cottage on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin at the edge of Kings Park. It was built in 1860 by the Campbell family, early settlers to Canberra. They built it for their ploughman William Ginn and his family (who lived there 1860 - 1874). After this, George Blundell, Campbell's bullock driver and his wife Flora made the cottage their home (1874 - 1933) before Shepherd Harry Oldfield and his wife lived there (1933 - 1958). Lastly the Sainsbury family lived there until 1961 before it was preserved for its local history. At the time of writing, Blundells Cottage is be open every Saturday from 11:30am - 2.30pm for general visitors with two scheduled tours at 11:30am and 1pm, bookings essential. For details see here.
Kings Park has a lot to offer as part of Lake Burley Griffin's recreational parks and can be enjoyed in all seasons. On weekends there is a coffee caravan in the carpark outside the National Carillon, which sets up tables and chairs along the lake. Why not stop and have a cuppa and enjoy the water views and activity along the shoreline, in Canberra's outdoor playground.
Cyclists stopping for a coffee outside the Carillon