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Published January 28th 2017
Mini golf, train rides & serenity by Lake Burley Griffin
Weston Park is a 40 hectare parkland in the southern suburb of Yarralumla, just 10 minutes from Canberra's CBD. It is a long peninsula that stretches into Lake Burley Griffin, making it a scenic park with views of the lake from all directions. It was named after Charles Weston, who in 1913 was given the job of propagating the trees that would be used in the new city of Canberra. He worked closely with city designer Walter Burley Griffin, to create a diverse range of trees that would be attractive and also practical, in making Canberra the Garden City that it is today. He chose the Weston Park area for his plant nursery and founded the Yarralumla Nursery in 1914, which still has a nursery on its grounds today.
This popular recreation area also has miniature train rides, mini golf, free BBQ areas, wild kangaroos, a toddler playground and much more. Allow plenty of time to enjoy Weston Park, as there are the following 10 things to see and do - plus more!
1/ Yarralumla Play Station, previously known as Weston Park Railway, is a popular family attraction with a blue miniature train (that looks a lot like Thomas!) that chugs around the property and two mini golf courses in the centre. One course is themed around Canberra's iconic landmarks, so players can putt their way around Parliament House, traverse Telstra Tower and spin their ball around the Australian Institute of Sport. See here for details. For a full article on the Yarralumla Play Station Mini Golf, see here.
2/ Yarralumla Gallery and The Oaks Brasserie is a gallery and café situated close to the entrance to the park. It was part of the original Yarralumla Nursery that was established by Charles Weston. The historical cottage at the centre of this café, was built in 1923 to house the nursery watchman to prevent theft of the fruit that was being propagated. It was then used by the Chief Nurseryman and Superintendent and his family, before being restored and is now used as a leafy café and wedding venue today. See here for details. For a full article on Yarralumla Gallery and The Oaks Brasserie, see here.
Relax and unwind at the Yarralumla Gallery and The Oaks Brasserie
3/ Kangaroos are wild in Weston Park, so visitors are encouraged to drive slowly through the property, especially at dawn and dusk. These Eastern Grey Kangaroos are spread throughout the park and graze in large mobs, however during the day you are more likely to find them in the shade under the trees - watching you just as much as you are watching them!
4/ Free BBQ areas are located all around the park in several areas, with many in quiet, secluded spots so visitors can enjoy the peace and serenity of the parklands. A popular BBQ area is located next to Weston Park Playground (next on this list), with brand new facilities and undercover tables with benches. These tables are particularly popular with children's birthday parties and family reunions in the cooler months. It is a scenic venue, with Telstra Tower a stunning backdrop.
5/ Weston Park Playground is located opposite Yarralumla Play Station, so it is a great place to visit with kids after a miniature train ride across the road. There is water play in the main area of the park - although on our latest visits the water pump hasn't been in operation. The main playground is shady in Summer with musical instruments, bridge, slide and small spinning platform. There is also a climbing frame, diggers in the sandpit, swings and toilet facilities.
6/ The SievX Memorial remembers the 146 children, 142 mothers and 65 fathers who died on the refugee boat SievX, in waters off Indonesia in October 2001. Each pole, decorated by one of 300 schools or community groups from around Australia, represents one person who died - the smaller poles for children and larger poles for adults. In 2005, over 2000 Canberrans volunteered to help raise the poles in the curved pattern they are in today, representing water and the shape of a boat. See here for the disturbing, as well as a touching story of the SievX and memorial.
7/ Bike paths are located around the perimeter of the park, as part of the Western Loop of the Lake Burley Griffin cycle path. This particular loop is a 16km long and takes 1.5 hours to complete in total. See here for details.
8/ Heritage Nursery is located at the entrance to the park, opposite the Yarralumla Gallery and Oaks Brasserie café. This colourful nursery is on the site of the original Yarralumla Nursery that was established by Charles Weston. Everything they sell is suited to the Canberra climate and they also specialise in giftware and accessories. If you have kids with you, take a walk to the back of the nursery and meet their chooks Louise, Black Betty and Rhonda in their organic chicken coop. See here for details.
9/ Weston Park Dog Park is a popular fenced, off-leash dog park located just before the entrance to the parkland. The large park has areas for both big and small dogs, with plenty of shade under the pine trees. See here for details of off-leash parks in Canberra.
10/ Views of the city can be seen from all around the park. Look up to Telstra Tower, see the flag of Parliament House in the distance and sit on the sandy "beach" on the eastern shore and watch kayakers glide by. Rowers from the Australian Institute of Sport and surrounding clubs are often seen on the water, following calls from the vocal coach standing at the end.
The beauty of this Lake Burley Griffin parkland is that it is just 10 minutes from the city, however it feels like the perfect city escape. If you stop and listen, all that can be heard is the quiet chatter of rosellas in the trees, the soft swish of kayakers oars as they slice through the water or the distant sound of a cockatoo, squawking with its flock. Pure serenity, in a typical Australian bushland setting. Why don't you visit it this weekend?