Historical homes, stunning scenery & national parks
Tuggeranong is a district of Canberra, 20 minutes south of the CBD. The word Tuggeranong is derived from a local Ngunnawal aboriginal expression meaning "cold place". As a Tuggeranong resident myself, it doesn't seem any colder than anywhere else in Canberra (others may disagree!), however a feature I personally enjoy about the area are the views across to the Brindabella Mountain ranges to the west of the region - a highlight of the Tuggeranong region.
Just like other areas in Canberra, there is a lot to do in Tuggeranong that takes in the local nature as well as city entertainment. There is shopping at Tuggeranong Hyperdome, cafes to catch up with friends, bushwalks up the local hills and nature parks, playgrounds for the kids, swimming at Lakeside Leisure Centre, having a BBQ at local picnic areas and meeting friends at a local historic pub, to name a few ideas. Another feature of the area is its close proximity to the CBD, just 20 minutes up the Monaro Highway and also the Snowy Mountains, 2 hours and 20 minutes away.
The Tuggeranong area has an interesting history, with the local Ngunnawal people proven to have been in the area for 21,000 years before early settlers came to farm the land. One significant homestead that still remains from the mid 1800s is the historic Lanyon Homestead, built in 1859 by the Cunningham family - prominent sheep and cattle farmers at the time. Previous to this, early settlers John Lanyon and James Wright established the property in 1835 and used convict labour to build the original dwellings. There are tours of Lanyon Homestead so you can hear the stories of the families that lived there, walk through the rooms and learn about how this unique property has changed over the years.
When you visit Lanyon Homestead it is free to walk around the grounds and explore the traditional gardens and vegetable plots, used for the historic café at the back of the property. An enjoyable way to spend an afternoon is taking in the view at the Lanyon Café with a ploughman's lunch, pizza or venison pot pie. For kids there is also plenty of room to play and explore on this rural property after enjoying home made scones with jam and cream - always a favourite with the kids.
...and enjoy traditional scones with jam and cream. Source: Lanyon Cafe Facebook
2/ Proximity to National Parks and Tourist Drive 5
From the Tuggeranong suburb of Gordon, it is only a 25 minute scenic drive to the entrance of Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. Once you have stopped at the Visitors Centre and paid the entry fee per car, take a drive through and explore the many bushwalks, lookouts, aboriginal sites, BBQ areas, koala spotting areas, as well as the popular playground there is in the reserve. Another attraction is The Sanctuary boardwalk, which is a 2.1 km flat walk through the wetlands where you can spot a variety of birdlife and platypus in their natural habitat and learn about the aboriginal history of the area. If you are visiting a number of times or live locally, the annual pass is great value so you can return time and time again.
Walk along the tracks in The Sanctuary and learn about how local aborigines used the area
Also close to Tidbinbilla Nature Park is the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex along Tourist Drive 5 - which takes a winding route through the forests to Cotter Reserve Recreation area and swimming holes. Further west into the mountains is Corin Forest Mountain Retreat, which has a snow play area in winter and a fun place for tobogganing in summer - with the Southern Hemisphere's longest bobsled ride winding down the hill with hair-raising turns. Along this road is also where you will find the turn off to the spectacular Gibralter Falls. Also in this rural region west of Tuggeranong is Namadgi National Park , which is popular destination for bushwalking and significant aboriginal sites to visit. This is accessible by driving to Tharwa, the most southern tip of Tuggeranong. This whole region west of Tuggeranong is a fascinating place to explore with camping spots, swimming holes, dirt bike tracks and BBQ areas to discover.
Please note there is little or no phone reception in these areas west of Tuggeranong.
From Gordon, explore Tourist Drive 5 west of Tuggeranong
The Murrumbidgee River winds through Tuggeranong itself and there are three main areas in which to dip your toe in, have a swim, slide in the canoe or try your luck at fishing. At the southern end of Tuggeranong is Point Hut Crossing Picnic Area, where you can walk down to the river or cross the bridge and nab a sandy spot on the shoreline. Point Hut Crossing is also where you can begin the Pine Island to Point Hut Crossing walk along the river (8km return) or continue on to the 27km Murrumbidgee Discovery Track - see here for more details, under Walking Trails.
Another popular recreation area further north is Pine Island Reserve. This large reserve has picnic areas, several BBQs, toilet facilities and it is only a few minutes from the Tuggeranong Town Centre. This is our family's favourite swimming area on the river as the large sandy beach feels like real beach sand. Locals are often seen walking through tracks in the bush with their pool noodles and blow up swimming mattresses to find their own secret riverside location. There is also a small playground (although a little rundown) for kids after the swim.
At the northern end of Tuggeranong is Kambah Pool, which has a short and steep walk down from the carpark but once you are riverside, it is a relaxing place to swim and enjoy the quiet ambience. Kambah Pool has a stretch of sand to sit on, however if these spots are taken (on busy weekends) there are more areas along the river to lay down your towel. Don't go too far however, as there is a nudist swimming area around the bend!
Tuggeranong Town Park is a 10 hectare park located just a few minutes walk from the Tuggeranong Town Centre and on the shores of Lake Tuggeranong. For families it is a popular area to visit in school holidays, weekends and after school. There is also a walk around the lake, birdlife to enjoy, new BBQ areas, events held throughout the year (with a popular Christmas Carols in December) and plenty of grass to play games of cricket. The playground in particular is a popular attraction for families, however if you are after another (huge) Tuggeranong playground, check out the Kambah Adventure Playground less than 10 minutes away.
The popular tower playground at Tuggeranong Town Park
Lake Tuggeranong Circuit is a 6.7km walk around the man made Lake Tuggeranong. The flat path winds past playgrounds, little sandy beaches, Tuggeranong Town Park (above), the Town Centre, houses and sculptures. The circuit is the perfect length for most exercise enthusiasts, who can cycle it in half an hour or walk it in an hour and 20 minutes or more. If you are feeling energetic, you can do it more than once. Our family enjoys taking in parts of the circuit, riding bikes and stopping at playgrounds along the way. If you are walking with a pram or riding with kids, it is a flat concrete path most of the way and smooth for wheels of all types.
Enjoy a flat walk or cycle around Lake Tuggeranong
Tuggeranong has a lot to offer residents and visitors to the area. With nature right on its doorstep and the CBD only 20 minutes away, it has the best of both worlds of Canberra living. As mentioned at the start of this article, the views to the Brindabella ranges are particularly stunning as you drive in or when driving around the region. Ensure you stay for sunset over the hills to capture the beauty of this rural area, just minutes from the city centre.