Is Canberra safe to run after midnight?

By 7 January, 2012 34

Hi,

I’ve moved to Canberra recently near the city centre. Due to the nature of my job (and the fact that I cannot get up before 5am…), I would like to go for a run at around 11pm / midnight.

I was considering running around Lake Burley Griffin but some parts of the lake do not seem to be lit up. Is it usually dangerous at night?

What about during weekends? FYI

I am a female of small build in early twenties.

Any other suggestions on safer routes? Thanks.

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34 Responses to Is Canberra safe to run after midnight?
#1
M0les11:50 am, 07 Jan 12

I think the biggest risk there is being an unfit 50+ male, suffering a heart-attack, falling into a bush and not being found for a fortnight.

That being said, it doesn’t seem like a place that represents good opportunities for muggers. They tend to focus on quiet areas between pubs/clubs and suburbia. Some groups of thugs cruise in cars, scouting for likely victims and intercepting at underpasses (So go over-road where practical). Running and being sober will probably rule you out as being a likely victim though.

The only violent public/stranger sexual assaults I can recall of have happened in Civic and the ANU (But I’m not very mindful of this myself).

#2
canberrarunner11:55 am, 07 Jan 12

The lake should be OK but definitely find a running buddy (or an accompanying cyclist) to go with. A torch will help in the unlit parts. I wouldn’t venture through civic too late though. Early morning is better (and cooler).

#3
poetix12:03 pm, 07 Jan 12

Interesting question. Recently I wanted to go star watching (or comet watching) on my own very late at night, but thought better of it as too risky a thing to do. I was half ashamed of myself. Admittedly this was Christmas Eve/Christmas morning so I was very aware there might be drunks around. Perhaps I should just have taken my staffie.

Also, while asking a question like this I would not give specific details of where you want to run and the time. Good luck with the fitness thing!

#4
Bennop12:22 pm, 07 Jan 12

I used to run around LBG at around 3 or 4 am, and the only people I ever (rarely) saw were other early joggers. There are some small unlit areas, but like the other poster said, I think those areas are unlikely to attract crims. Can you imagine how long they would have to wait for a customer! And in all likelihood, if there is going to be anyone “waitin” for you, you will see a car parked nearbye. So you can turn around and jog the other way. Just my 2c.

#5
dpm12:35 pm, 07 Jan 12

poetix said :

Also, while asking a question like this I would not give specific details of where you want to run and the time. Good luck with the fitness thing!

..or mention that you are a slim 20-somthing girl!

As other prople have said, there’s probably a very low probability of an incident, but not 0%. Even still, I imagine you’d be on edge the whole time so it would be no fun at all.

Perhaps check out one of the 24h gyms in town (I know there’s a least 2). While treadmills are as boring as bat sh#t, you’d be much less stressed the whole time!
Also, winter in Canberra is COLD at midnight, so you’d have to be keen for the outside option for half of the year…..

#6
dpm12:39 pm, 07 Jan 12
#7
arescarti421:25 pm, 07 Jan 12

I don’t think I can ever recall hearing about an assault around the lake, statistically speaking I would have thought the chances of running in to trouble would be extremely low.

That said if I were you I’d be keeping alert (e.g. not listening to music whilst running) and carrying a mobile phone to get in contact with police if need be.

#8
Jamie Wheeler1:34 pm, 07 Jan 12

I’d be very careful of running alone in Canberra at midnight in a remote locatlity. Although it’s probably unlikely anybody will be around the lake, you still run the risk of a car full of trouble makers maybe cruising through the area and seeing you. Although there’s not much to do there, troublemakers could go their to drink or muck around in cars. There have been several stories of cars full of thugs cruising Canberra looking for victims. You would be a sitting duck that late at night at the lake and nobody would hear you scream. Why not invest in a treadmill? If that’s not the same, try jogging around the streets. I know somebody who used to work late at a restaurant and they used to run laps around their street at 1AM with no problems. Getting a mobile you could take jogging and also have somebody who knows where you are and when you should be back should also help protect you.

#9
Okwhatever1:48 pm, 07 Jan 12

Well I guess it depends how fast you can run!

#10
deye2:18 pm, 07 Jan 12

I regularly run or walk up till about 10 – 10:30 at night, I will sometimes be out later than that taking photos. You rarely see other people and they are mostly running/walking themselves and minding their own business. Have a mobile with you, keep an eye out, and don’t have music blasting loudly in your ears and you should be fine. Don’t push yourself to the limit and keep something in reserve in case you need it. That said, I am a fairly tall male so people tend to keep their distance.

Most of the track around the central basin is lit apart from a small section between the lake front of the National Gallery through to Kings Av bridge. A small torch is handy, but not necessary if you are okay with the dark – and under the trees it does get dark. The other part that isn’t lit is Rond Terraces, the small section in front of the War Memorial looking across to Parliament House.

The central basin track is around 5km long and mostly flat, though you can take the side track up Regatta point to put a hill into it. It is probably the safest route you’ll find. Weekends there are likely to be more people out that are not exercising, though they should be fairly noisy and noticeable.

@poetix for stars you are mostly better to go out of town as there is too much light spillage in town – especially for the comet. Again you will very rarely see anyone else. Keep your wits about you and you should be fine. Driving out to one of the look outs out of town and if there is already someone there go to a different one, or stop on the side of a quiet road somewhere would lower the chances even more. Just watch out for the drop bears, kangaroos, wombats and possums that sneak up on you.

#11
deye2:35 pm, 07 Jan 12

I forgot to say, during the day on weekends try the Mt Ainslie track for a different challenge. It starts behind the War Memorial. Just be careful of the surface on the way back down. I have done it at night, but don’t recommend it unless you know the track well and have decent lights. It would be very easy to slip and fall on the way down in the dark. It’s also a little freaky with kangaroos and other creatures in the shadows.

#12
Henry823:36 pm, 07 Jan 12

I agree with Deye’s post.

Around the lake is fine, but wear a head torch so that cyclists can see you. Imo run with a phone as well, and if you have any issues like feeling sick, don’t leave the track. Personally i’d avoid Black Mountain at Night, imo its a bit too secluded.

#13
Henry823:47 pm, 07 Jan 12

Jamie Wheeler said :

you still run the risk of a car full of trouble makers maybe cruising through the area and seeing you. Although there’s not much to do there, troublemakers could go their to drink or muck around in cars. There have been several stories of cars full of thugs cruising Canberra looking for victims.

Generally the track is off the road, although you could probably run into those types near the carillon or BM peninsular? ANU campus seems to attract those cars of trouble makers at night, so possibly avoid that area. I regularly see car clubs meeting down near National Museum, but from what i’ve seen they’re very well behaved and seem to be “older” hobbyists, rather than teen hoons (police patrol too)

If OP wants a good run, running back and forth from civic to parliment house is quite safe. You can also climb the parliament house grass upto the fence (about 2/3rds of the way to the top). Obviously if you cut through civic on a thursday-saturday nights you’re going to meet drunks anyway.

#14
Walker4:15 pm, 07 Jan 12

One area I’d avoid late is the Carillion onwards up the river, most of it a bit of a mozzie jungle at night.

You may find some other runners with similar hours. Around sunset and a while after there’s often joggers skaters riders etc, on the main areas, not sure if there’s any later.

#15
Akipk8:49 pm, 07 Jan 12

The 5k bridge run is probably okay, but you really should be careful. I have run in the dark in winter (around 9 or 10pm) around Lake G in Belconnen, Yerrabi Pond (both are dark in places) and around the actual lake, and have been okay. If you can get to run a bit earlier, it is better, and there are some evening groups that you can join, including the Bilbys, where non members can pay around 2 -3 dollars a session to run in a group under lights at Dickson, and Geoff’s group, which is free and is open to anyone, no matter how fast or slow (see http://www.geoffmoore.blogspot.com) By contacting Geoff, he could also put a word out for you to find a running buddy. :)

#16
SupaSal11:46 pm, 07 Jan 12

I walk my dogs after work most nights (after 1am) and find that it is ok in the Belconnen area, although i do have a dog who attacks people if they approach at this time too – and the other barks. I walk/run with phone in pocket, not listening to music just the dogs and me panting. Give it a go with a friend a few random nights and see how it goes i say!
As other posters have said winter is colder I have to walk through a fog but 24hr gym does not help the dogs much.

#17
poetix12:18 am, 08 Jan 12

If I can be forgiven another comment, it strikes me as sad that this young woman has to plan her run like a military campaign. Or give up ona free run and pay for a gym. Or that I can’t just watch stars where I want without driving to where there is no possible other person who just might be a threat. I acknowledge the good intentions of some of those commenting who happen to be men, but the fact that people are two hundred centimetres tall and quick, and strong, or one hundred and sixty (or so) and slight or, like me, in between, but slow (and not slight at all) shouldn’t make a difference to our confidence in getting out to run or watch stars. And yet it does, for anyone on the wrong side of the ledger.

We still have a way to go, methinks. (Another example of stating the obvious in a pretty way.)

#18
bikhet11:11 am, 08 Jan 12

poetix said :

If I can be forgiven another comment, it strikes me as sad that this young woman has to plan her run like a military campaign. Or give up on a free run and pay for a gym. Or that I can’t just watch stars where I want without driving to where there is no possible other person who just might be a threat.

I agree, but that, unfortunately, is the way the world is. We may prefer that it was otherwise, and may work towards making it otherwise, but, as you say, we’ve got a way to go.

And, as plenty of topics on RA point out, being male, tall and fit isn’t always much protection against the mongrels that hunt in packs – and I say “that” deliberately as they don’t deserve “who.”

#19
EvanJames11:53 am, 08 Jan 12

Agree, Poetix. This lady has her freedom to do something normal and unremarkable curtailed by a few possible predators, and she has to cower inside a smelly, noisy gym rather than a really nice run outside in our attractive environment.

Back in the 80s, the feminists at ANU made a rather powerful statement to this effect. There’d been some horrific attacks on campus, and so the university authorities were recommending that women didn’t walk alone after dark, didn’t walk between the libraries and halls of residence etc. Turning half of the population into virtual prisoners.

So the feminists printed up official-looking signs, titled “curfew on men”, stating that due to the violent attacks on campus, all men had to be indoors after dark and must not walk around on campus. They were very effective at getting the message across. And yet, in 2011 we are right where we were then.

#20
Innovation2:36 pm, 08 Jan 12

Not sure where you have moved from so I’m not sure what you are comparing it with. It’s definitely safer than many parts of Sydney say.

As well as suggestions not to listen to music, carry a mobile phone and wear front and rear torches (so cyclists can see you and for you to see better in the poorer lit areas), I suggest you carry a $10-$15 panic/sound alarm also. Depending on where you live, you might also have a neighbour who would be very grateful if you took their large dog on the run with you.

#21
Merle3:06 pm, 08 Jan 12

As a short, slim female in my early twenties, I can tell you it’s not something I’d be doing. I think it’s one of those situations where you’re fine right up until the day that you aren’t.

#22
Henry823:57 pm, 08 Jan 12

Merle said :

. I think it’s one of those situations where you’re fine right up until the day that you aren’t.

Just like driving, marriage, health, job security, etc etc

#23
Merle4:33 pm, 08 Jan 12

Henry82 said :

Merle said :

. I think it’s one of those situations where you’re fine right up until the day that you aren’t.

Just like driving, marriage, health, job security, etc etc

If you would like to get a sex change and probably have your legs surgically shortened (I’m pretty damn short) and go running alone at midnight, you are more than welcome to.

#24
deye6:39 pm, 08 Jan 12

poetix said :

If I can be forgiven another comment, it strikes me as sad that this young woman has to plan her run like a military campaign. Or give up ona free run and pay for a gym. Or that I can’t just watch stars where I want without driving to where there is no possible other person who just might be a threat. I acknowledge the good intentions of some of those commenting who happen to be men, but the fact that people are two hundred centimetres tall and quick, and strong, or one hundred and sixty (or so) and slight or, like me, in between, but slow (and not slight at all) shouldn’t make a difference to our confidence in getting out to run or watch stars. And yet it does, for anyone on the wrong side of the ledger.

We still have a way to go, methinks. (Another example of stating the obvious in a pretty way.)

It’s not like running a military campaign, it’s common sense. I would give the same advice for running or walking to anyone, male or female, large or small. However everyone has their own level of risk that they are happy with and your build can play into that, which is why I mentioned my height. Height is mainly about others perceptions of yourself. I know people who are smaller than me that are faster, stronger or more vicious than I am, but most people when looking at them would think they are harmless. I take all the same precautions when going for a run, and carrying the same items can help with other things.

If I fall and break a leg when there is no one around I can use the mobile to call for help, I can use the light to signal where I am or to get attention if the mobile is out of range. I carry a backpack which I can use the straps from to splint my legs in case of a fall or in case of a snake bite. Keeping a watchful eye out helps to avoid snakes, other creatures, trip hazards, branches at eye level as well as anyone who may not have the best intent for myself. I have a poncho for if I get caught in heavy rain and carry extra water and a bit of chocolate in case I get stuck somewhere for a while. I do this whether it’s day or night. The main reason I restrict where I run at night is to minimize the risk of injury.

Although I do have ear buds in and listen to music it’s at a very low volume that lets me hear runners, walkers, vehicles, skaters, bikes and animals approaching from behind. The main reason to wear them is that a cold wind getting in my ears gives me headaches and vertigo, the secondary reason is to help with running rhythm.

As for the stars, the main reason to drive out of town is so you can see them properly as there is too much light around in town. However doing so gives you the option of avoiding other people if it makes you feel more comfortable.

Frankly the risk of attack is very low and in my opinion worrying about it and letting it stop you doing things you enjoy is the worst thing to do and only encourages those few people who are inclined to do stupid things because they can see the effect it has on people.

#25
deye6:41 pm, 08 Jan 12

I forgot to say, in winter I run in the gym instead of outside as I have asthma and it acts up when running at night in the cold. So once the wheezing gets to a certain point I hit the treadmill where the air is warmer.

#26
I-filed6:50 pm, 08 Jan 12

Definitely not during Summernats – seriously.

#27
toriness8:32 pm, 08 Jan 12

all this talk about carloads of thugs. what about the vampires??

#28
Henry829:17 pm, 08 Jan 12

Merle said :

If you would like to get a sex change and probably have your legs surgically shortened (I’m pretty damn short) and go running alone at midnight, you are more than welcome to.

I’m not sure what your point is? Are you saying men can’t be assaulted?

#29
Postalgeek9:42 pm, 08 Jan 12

If you do decide to go running around the lake at night, wear decent reflector apparel or lights.

Otherwise you’ll turn into a bike rack after the stroke of midnight.

#30
jackthemartin10:16 pm, 08 Jan 12

I have been running or cycling around the lake after 11pm at least once a week for the last three years, mainly between Commonwealth and Kings ave. bridges.

I know there are various parts of Canberra that can be dangerous, but around the lake at midnight I don’t see anyone that appears to be a threat to anyone of any age/sex. Also, as of recently, most the route is well lit.

The only people I occasionally see are:
- canoodling lovers
- other runners/cyclists
- staff leaving the restaurant near the flags;
- well dressed but slightly tipsy looking young people, presumably walking between south and northside nightspots
(i’ve seen more diverse–and perhaps more dangerous–types at earlier hours, but not after 11).

So I believe it to be relatively safe as far as running options in Canberra go (so much so that I don’t think that a head-torch, or running without earphones, are necessary, though they may be useful in getting to the lake from your start-end point).

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