Australia’s capital, Canberra, is a city within a nature park and there’s no better way to explore it than on foot. And with Singapore Airlines’ direct services four times a week between Singapore and Canberra, the city is more accessible than ever.
With more than half of the Australian Capital Territory either a nature reserve, national park or state forest, we’ve put together five must-do walks for people of all fitness levels.
What: For the hardcore walker, this 145km loop passes many natural and man-made cultural icons in the capital. You don’t have to do it all in one go – it’s divided into sections so you can tackle it bit by bit, averaging 20km a day over a week.
Why: Aside from bragging rights, this is the ultimate way to see Canberra and in a manner that few will. Combining urban and rural sights, it’s a walk for people of moderate ability that showcases the best of the territory. You can also complete the trail by bike.
Highlights: Opportunities to spot wildlife abound, so keep an eye out for kangaroos, wombats, echidnas and wedge-tailed eagles. If you see a platypus, you’re lucky as it is shy and nocturnal.
What: There are lots of different walks of various grades. The nature reserve is organised so you can hop into a car to get from one area to the next and do a short walk. The rangers at the visitor centre can help you work out what to do and see.
Why: You’re guaranteed to see kangaroos, while emus are quite likely to be spotted too.
Highlights: There’s a breeding programme for the endangered brush-tailed rock wallaby, so you have a good chance of spotting them in their enclosure. Koalas also inhabit the nature reserve. For the best chance of seeing a wombat or platypus, visit first thing in the morning. The kids will love the Nature Discovery Playground and you’ll enjoy the idyllic picnic spots and fresh air.
What: The expansive national park is abundant with wildlife, scenic views and great bushwalks. Managed in cooperation with local Ngambri leaders, the park is a great place to explore the region’s indigenous heritage.
Why: There are plenty of ancient indigenous art sites to discover, whether you’re hiking alone or with a ranger – find out more at Namadgi Visitor Centre.
Highlights: You’ll feel a connection with your surroundings, which combine natural wonders with human history. If you want to stay overnight, campsites are available.
What: One of the most popular walks among locals, the bush track behind the Australian War Memorial goes to the top of Mount Ainslie. It’s about 2km each way, there are plenty of steps and it’s steep in parts, so check your fitness level.
Why: The views from the top, looking across to the two Parliament Houses, are well worth the effort. If you’re unable to walk up, you can ride your bike or cheat by driving up Mount Ainslie Drive. You’ll see plenty of kangaroos and rosella parrots.
Highlights: The lookout at the summit is perfect for capturing sweeping shots of the capital city.
What: Think of the Arboretum as a living museum of trees. Spread over 250ha, only 6km from the city centre, are 94 forests of rare, endangered and significant trees. There are many trails for you to walk or bike through and there is a popular playground for kids.
Why: Spectacular views across Lake Burley Griffin and an informative village centre where you can learn about the forests and seed-banking project. You can also see living artworks in the National Bonsai and Penjing Collection.
Highlights: After a walk among the trees, relax at Sprout Cafe and The Conservatory Restaurant, which offers contemporary Australian cuisine prepared with fresh, locally grown produce.
This article was originally published by Singapore Press Holdings.