Canberra region, ACT

The best nature walks near Canberra ACT

By Nicole West

September 11, 2020 | 4 minute read

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve - image credit Visit Canberra
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve - image credit Visit Canberra

If you’ve visited Canberra, you’ve likely taken a leisurely stroll around Lake Burley Griffin. The lovely centrepiece of the city offers a 40-kilometre shoreline peppered with parks and gardens for a nature fix. However, Australia’s capital is cocooned by spectacular national parks and gorgeous trails. So, it’s the perfect spot for a bushwalking day out or weekend away. Here are my top picks.  

* At the time of writing, activities and places mentioned in this guide are at varying stages of recovery from COVID-19. Please check government and business websites for specific details on opening times and any restrictions before you travel.

Mount Ainslie Summit Trail

Want to get your heart pumping, with the reward of spectacular views? Also known as the Kokoda Memorial Trail, this trail starts behind the Australian War Memorial. Before you get trekking, check out the information about the Kokoda Track in Papua New Guinea during the Second World War. 

The 4.5-kilometre Summit Trail is fully sealed and winds through woodland ringing with birdsong, right up to a magnificent view across the Parliamentary Triangle.  

Murrumbidgee Discovery Track

This scenic riverside walk stretches for 27 kilometres from Point Hut Crossing through Pine Island, to Casuarina Sands. Explore just part of it or complete the whole trek if you’re up for the challenge. You’ll see dramatic rock formations, rolling fields and bushlands filled with wildlife and rare plant species. 

When it’s warm, swim in the Kambah Pools and get the camera set for Red Rock Gorge Lookout, with the rapids of the Murrumbidgee River churning below. 

Mount Majura Nature Reserve - image credit ABC Canberra
Mount Majura Nature Reserve - image credit ABC Canberra

Gibraltar Peak - Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve

Part of the Australian Alps national parks, Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is just a 45-minute drive from the CBD, yet worlds away from the bustle of the city. As a haven for wildlife, expect to see koalas, reptiles, emus and bounding wallabies, along with wetlands swarming with waterbirds. 

Choose from 22 marked trails, from quick walks to all-day adventures. They include the Gibraltar Peak walking trail across grasslands to Eliza Saddle and fantastic views. Gear up for a steep climb, a great workout and plenty of serenity. 

Black Mountain Summit Walk 

If you love bird watching, take your binoculars for up-close views of fairy wrens, parrots and bronze-cuckoos on this popular urban walk. The nature reserve is decorated with stunning gardens, with orchids and wildflowers peeping through lush foliage. Take the one-hour loop Forest Track to immerse in mossy magic, bright green ferns and mammals coming out to play. 

One Tree Hill Summit

Forming part of the 145-kilometre Canberra Centenary Trail, this 8.4-kilometre trek starts in the village of Hall. Check out the historic buildings and quaint cafes in town before taking the uphill trail in the company of birds and shady tree canopies. Instagram-worthy views keep you stopping for snaps along the way and, once you’re at the top, clear days ensure you can see all the way over Canberra’s town centres. 

Mount Majura Nature Reserve

You’ll find numerous paths to navigate your way around Mount Majura, which is the highest peak in the Canberra Nature Park. Rare and threatened woodland birds take shelter here, like the Regent Honeyeater and the Swift Parrot. Head to the suburb of Hackett to traverse the Casuarina Trail, which zig-zags through open forests. Don’t be surprised if kangaroos hop along on their merry way right in front of your path.

Namadgi National Park
Namadgi National Park

Namadgi National Park

Located just to the west of the city’s suburbs, Namadgi joins Kosciuszko National Park with the Brindabella National Park. With 106,095 hectares, it makes up a whopping 46 per cent of the ACT. Along with natural wonders, you’ll find rock art sites from the Nugunnawal people, some of which are more than 21,000 years old. 

Fragments of stone and animal bone from the last Ice Age still remain in campsites. The history doesn’t stop there though, as you walk in the footsteps of gold hunters and pastoralists.  

To discover remote wilderness, take the Yerrabi Walking Track, and admire the snow gum forests of the Square Rock trail. Namadgi rangers are available to guide you through the eco-systems for an educational journey. When it’s time to hang up your hiking boots, you’ll find plenty of other adventures to dive into. 

Trot along the National Bicentennial Horse Trail and zoom across fire trails on your mountain bike. For heart-pumping thrills, try abseiling down granite rocks, caving or paragliding. When winter hits, Mount Franklin and Mount Gingera are top spots for cross-country skiing. This is wildlife-spotting heaven, so keep your eyes peeled for kangaroos, wallabies, wedge-tail eagles and the northern corroboree frog.  

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