Spring has sprung in Australia’s bush capital. The wattles and flowering peaches are blooming and as the frost thaws and the weather warms up, there are so many things to do in Canberra. There is more to Canberra than just museums and art galleries. Over half of the Australian Capital Territory is a protected nature reserve, so there are plenty of opportunities to get out and enjoy the great outdoors during spring in Canberra
1. Floriade in Commonwealth Park
Commonwealth Park on the foreshores of Lake Burley Griffin is a great place to explore Canberra in Spring. There are nearly 25 hectares of landscaped gardens to explore, with hidden walkways, sculptures and tranquil ponds throughout the park. Either relax for a picnic by the lake, taking in the scenery or talk a rejuvenating walk around the lake.
During September and October, the park bursts into bloom for “Floriade”, Canberra’s annual spring festival. Over one million blooms make up colourful displays, the setting of music and cultural events, horticultural workshops, entertainment and great spring activities. Entry to the Floriade displays is free, with an additional charge for the organised events.
2. Explore Lake Burley Griffin
The man made Lake Burley Griffin is the centrepiece of Canberra. Along the 40 kilometres of shoreline there are cycleways , picnic areas and swimming areas. Take a cruise around the lake, hire a paddleboat or try your hand at kayaking or stand up paddle boarding.
In the middle of the lake you will see the 50 metre tall Carillon on Aspen Island. Regular free Carillon recitals are held on the island, the chime of the 55 brass bells resounding across Canberra. The instrument was a gift to the people of the ACT from the British as a 50th anniversary present.
Also look out for the Captain James Cook Memorial Fountain, nearby which operates between 11am and 2pm daily.
3. Picnic in Weston Park
A picnic in Weston Park was always one of our children’s favourite activities. The 40 hectare parkland in Yarralumla offers many secluded areas where you can enjoy the serenity of the lakeside setting. Kangaroos graze under the shade of the trees, enjoying a spot of people watching, while flocks of rosellas chatter in the gum trees.
Not only does Weston Park provide leafy picnic and barbecue areas, there is also an adventure playground and water playground for the kids as well as safe swimming areas, mini golf and a miniature train.
4. Visit Black Mountain
The Telstra Tower on Black mountain is a major Canberra landmark, providing essential communications for the capital. Take a ride to the top of the 200 metre high tower for panoramic views over the region from either the two open viewing platforms, or the enclosed viewing gallery for those with a problem with heights. Learn about the history of Australian telecommunications in the heritage museum.
From the tower, you can take the 3.5 kilometre summit trail through Black Mountain nature reserve. Along the way you will discover over 100 species of birds and the area is resplendent with wildflowers during spring. A tour with an aboriginal guide can give you a fascinating insight into the local indigenous heritage and culture.
Black Mountain Canberra
5. Visit Mount Stromlo
A fifteen minute drive from the city center brings you to the site of the Mount Stromlo Observatory. The observatory was destroyed by bushfire in 2003, however the site still provides an excellent picnic spot with views over the Brindabella ranges. There are a number of marked walking trails suitable for hikers or cyclists of all fitness levels.
Today you can still take a heritage walk through the relics to discover the history of the site, from a WWII munitions factory, to it’s role in the ANU Astronomy and Astrophysics research schools. There are also interactive displays in the visitors centre. The ANU academic buildings are not open to the public, however the Astronomy School does hold regular stargazing nights for astronomy enthusiasts.
6. Climb Mount Ainslie
Mount Ainslie offers one of the most spectacular views over the Australian Capital Territory. Walk, cycle or drive to the lookout to take in the scenery and experience the local birds and wildlife.
From the Australian War Memorial in Campbell you can take the 4.2km walk to the summit . If hiking is not your thing, you can also drive to the lookout, which is a popular picnic spot, offering great views over Canberra and the Brindabella mountains beyond.
7. Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
Just a 45 minute drive out of Canberra, explore the local wildlife at Tidbinbilla nature reserve. With great picnic areas and an adventure playground for the kids, you’ll also find 22 bush walking trails to choose from. Stroll through the bush on a 15 minute walk, or enjoy a full day hike on marked trails, where you will find kangaroods, koalas, birds and reptiles in their natural environment. During the school holidays, there are organised children’s activities, as well as guided tours where you can learn about the local aboriginal culture, plants and birdlife. “The Critters of the Eucalypts” walk explains the habitats of potoroos, or visit the “Koalas in the Canopy” enclosure.
During the October school holidays, you can also have a “wild night out” at Tidbinbilla, “glamping” in an organised overnight camp under the stars.
8. Namadgi National Park
Head for the Australian alps and discover the region’s Aboriginal heritage at Namadgi National Park. The area provides campsites and picnic areas where you can enjoy the abundant birdlife as you take a guided ranger walk into the rugged Bimberi wilderness. The Bendora Arbetoretum is the last high altitude forest in the region, where you will find some of the oldest conifers in the world.
9. Red Hill lookout
Red Hill lookout in Canberra’s south provides sweeping views over the city. There are a number of walking trails to the summit where you can meet the southern boobooks and white throated treecreepers nesting in the eucalypt forest. A 4.1 kilometre walking trail takes you around the summit. The uphill walk is somewhat rocky, so you will need sturdy walking shoes.
You can of course take a drive to the top to enjoy the views from two lookouts. Signage gives you an insight into the landmarks, as well as Walter Burley Griffin’s initial visions for the city of Canberra.
With so many great outdoor activities in and around Canberra, there’s no excuse not to get out and explore Canberra in spring.