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Suburb Spotlight: Top 5 Things to Do in Parkes

Home > Canberra > Fun Runs | Galleries | Museums | Parks | Lists
by Sue W (subscribe)
Lover of exploring, family, food and fun!
Published May 3rd 2018
More than just politics in the Parliamentary Triangle
Parkes is a suburb of Canberra which includes the Parliamentary Triangle, Lake Burley Griffin, Commonwealth Park and most of the major museums, galleries and national buildings in the Capital City. Although Parkes is classed as a suburb, it isn't a residential area for people to live in - although interestingly it had a population of 5 people in the 2016 census! It is named in honour of Sir Henry Parkes, who was one of the founders of the Australian Constitution.

There is a long list of things to do in this interesting suburb - many more than just 5 - however see the list below for the most popular. As Parkes is on both sides of Lake Burley Griffin, there are walks to do, museums to explore, galleries to wander and colourful events that will make you say "Wow"! Canberra surprises many people, as it's a lot more than just politics...

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Colour and magic in the Parliamentary Triangle at the Canberra Balloon Spectacular and Enlighten Festival. Image: Original photos from the Events ACT Facebook


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The suburb of Parkes, located on both sides of Lake Burley Griffin. Image supplied by Google maps


1/ The Parliamentary Triangle is located within Parkes and includes the National Gallery of Australia, National Portrait Gallery, High Court of Australia, National Archives, Questacon, National Library of Australia, Reconciliation Place, Museum of Australian Democracy and Parliament House. Although the Parliamentary Triangle is a fascinating area to walk around all year around, it is also the location of some of Canberra's biggest events such as the Enlighten Festival and the Canberra Balloon Spectacular every March. These two events literally light up the suburb of Parkes and turn it into a place of wonder, for all ages.

2/ Lake Burley Griffin is the heart of Canberra, with thousands of people walking and running around it every day. One of the most popular areas to enjoy it is along Queen Elizabeth Terrace, in front of the International Flag Display. Take a walk or ride along the lake front and stop for a coffee at Elixir café, right on the water. Queen Elizabeth Terrace also has Segway Glide Ride and Waters Edge fine dining restaurant, for a decadent meal with a view. Lake Burley Griffin is also the centrepiece for many events throughout the year, such as fireworks for Australia Day, Skyfire and New Years Eve.

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Explore both sides of Lake Burley Griffin, in the suburb of Parkes


3/ Commonwealth Park is located on the other side of Lake Burley Griffin and is the home to Floriade flower festival each spring. For the rest of the year it is an enjoyable place for locals and tourists to visit, with walking paths, playgrounds, picnic areas and outdoor sculptures to admire. Commonwealth Park is 34 hectares in size, so put on your walking shoes and explore the many pathways, or take a picnic and relax by the water. Right next to Commonwealth Park is also Kings Park, with the popular Boundless Playground as one of its highlights.

4/ Blundells Cottage is a historical cottage on the edge of Lake Burley Griffin, that was first built in 1860 to house workers on the Duntroon property - which was the first early settler property in the region. This stone cottage has seen a number of families live in it over the years, with the Blundell family living in it for 60 years. Each weekend there are free tours inside the cottage, so that visitors can step back in time and learn more about the first settlers in the Canberra region and how hard it was for them, in this harsh climate on the Limestone Plains.

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Enjoy all the colour and beauty of Floriade in September/ October each year, Commonwealth Park


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Book in for a free tour of Blundells Cottage


5/ The National Carillon is as large tower that stands tall on Aspen Island, on the edge of Lake Burley Griffin. There is a bridge to walk over to it, however it is usually the sound of the building that you will hear before you get there. Up the top of the tower there are 55 bells, which automatically sound every 15 minutes and on the hour. Every Wednesday and Sunday a carillonist catches the lift up to the top and plays the bells, using a keyboard-type instrument on the level below. Unfortunately visitors can't go inside the National Carillon, except for tours during the Heritage Festival and other events throughout the year, however it is enjoyable to simply lie on the grass by the lake and listen to the melodies. See here for the Concert Schedule.

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Enjoy the bells of the National Carillon


Parkes is a popular place for tourists, however it is also a suburb that the locals of Canberra visit regularly, to spend time by the lake and to see the latest exhibitions. It is also a place where the Canberra community comes together most weekends for charity fun runs, to raise money for causes close to their hearts. Some are more conservative for serious runners, however others are a colourful parade of costumes to cheer on as they run by. For the brave runners of the 6500 Speedo Shuffle in the middle of winter however, it is a race to the finish line to get warm again!

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Parkes - more than just politics! Brisk winter running at the 6500 Speedo Shuffle, to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis ACT. Image: Original photos from Cystic Fibrosis ACT Facebook


* For more Suburbs in the Spotlight, also check out Braddon, Kingston, Pialligo, Acton, Barton, Campbell, Fyshwick, Yarralumla, Dickson, Deakin and Majura.
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Why? Explore all the suburbs of Canberra!
When: See individual websites for details.
Phone: See individual websites for contact details
Where: Queen Elizabeth Terrace, Parkes
Cost: Free to walk around! Most galleries and attractions have free entry
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