Tuggeranong Hill is located 30 minutes south of the city, surrounded by the residential suburbs of Theodore and Conder. It is part of the Canberra Nature Park, which has 33 areas of bushland around the city to enjoy bushwalks, wildlife and spectacular scenery.
For myself, I was intrigued to climb Tuggeranong Hill after walking up some of Canberra's other hilltop walks - Mount Ainslie, Black Mountain and more recently, Mount Painter. The highest of these is Mount Ainslie at 843 metres above sea level, however I was interested to learn that Tuggeranong Hill was even higher, at 855 metres. Although it doesn't have a scenic lookout that you can drive up to, or a sealed walking path to climb, it does have a walk up to the very top so you can enjoy the views of the mountain scenery and beyond. One Saturday afternoon, armed with my trusty camera, I printed out the map and began my trip to the southern suburb of Theodore to tackle this uphill adventure.
Just like all the other hills around Canberra, Tuggeranong Hill has a number of walking trails around the base of the hill, however it only has one route up to the top. The fire management trail that goes up to the top is also used by maintenance workers to access the "broadcasting translator" tower that is located at the summit. As Tuggeranong Hill is so high, it affects TV transmissions from Telstra Tower to homes on the other side of the hill, so there is a tower at the top of the hill to ensure everyone has coverage.
The easiest way to begin the walk is to park your car near the ActewAGL sub station at Theodore, on Callister Crescent. From here you walk up a path to the gate and read the signage before your walk. When you stand at the sign there are 4 paths heading off in all directions. As I found out (eventually!), you need to continue walking past the sign towards the sub station. On the right there is a non-descript dirt path that leads up to two gates pulled back, one of them bent. This is the entrance to the fire trail going up.
Go past the sign and turn right up the dirt path, which opens up wider further up the hill
From here, the walk can only be described as "rocky". The path is wide, however very uneven underfoot with a variety of rock sizes to walk over and deep gullies carved out from the rain. If you are doing the walk for an aerobic workout, this walk will get the heart pumping as it is just one, straight, vertical path upwards for the first half of the walk.
On my visit, I was walking up one side of the path, when a mountain biker whizzed down the other side - with a look of pure joy on his face. This path can be utlised by bike riders and people walking their dogs, making it popular with locals. What gave me the most joy on this walk, besides the view, were the mobs of kangaroos just quietly grazing away by the path, blending into the thistle and shrubbery. Out of all the hills that I have walked so far in Canberra, Tuggeranong Hill has the most kangaroos in close proximity who weren't threatened by my presence. Although they are a pest for farmers in this region, I find it heartening that they have found a tucked away haven up this hill, to live quietly in nature.
After getting to the top of the first main hill, it levels out and you then catch a glimpse of the tower structure at the top. The path then takes a steep incline down, which saves your legs for awhile, before another steep incline up... and up. The pathway on the second half is winding and extremely rocky so it takes concentration to climb up, and even more so, to climb back down.
The walk up took me approximately 40 minutes, however I was stopping to take photos and appreciate the scenery along the way. At the very top, the broadcasting tower and obelisk announce your arrival at the summit. It is then time to just relax, have some water, explore the hilltop and simply appreciate the stunning scenery in all directions. Allow some time here to really appreciate the views, the play on light as the sun hides behind clouds and the sheer scale of what lies below.
As usual, after witnessing such beauty at the top of one of Canberra's hills, it is disappointing to leave and walk back down. The walk down only takes a short time, approximately 20 minutes, however don't rush as it is easy to slip on the rocks and fall. Although I did this walk on my own, I would recommend walking it with a friend, as walking back down can be quite dangerous with steep, rocky pathways to traverse. I would also recommend doing this walk in the cooler months (as there are no snakes!) and it also means the kangaroos are more active and the birdlife is thriving. On my walk down I was concentrating so much, that I was startled a few times by a creak of a twig and looked up to see a mob of kangaroos watching my every move and rosellas flying overhead.
Tuggeranong Hill is an enjoyable walk to experience. The path may be a little more treacherous than other hills, but it doesn't take long to get to the top. When you get there, the views and wildlife make it an experience to remember.
Why don't you strap on your best walking shoes and give it a try this weekend?