The National Arboretum has a new attraction for visitors with a series of recreational trails opening earlier this month.
The new trails extend throughout the arboretum grounds spanning out from the Village Centre and are perfect for a weekend or after work walk.
The arboretum features more than 44,000 trees from across Australia and the world, with some of the forests nearly 100 years old.
I tested out the new trails on the weekend, starting at the Wide Brown Land sculpture. There’s a road up to the sculpture and plenty of parking. The sculpture itself is worth a look – the words derived from Dorothea Mackellar’s famous poem ‘My Country’.
From here, you can take the Himalayan Cedar trail. The walk officially starts from the Pod Playground, but as I was planning to do all the trails that morning, I decided to start there.
If you start from the Pod Playground this trail is 2.2km return.
From the Wide Brown Land sculpture, you start on a winding trail that leads to a picnic area and viewpoint. Then you start heading downhill on a dirt trail, making your way through towering trees.
This was a good relaxing walk through the cedar forest with only a few hilly sections. This forest was planted between 1917 and 1930. You can continue on through the cedar forest onto the cork oak trail. The cork oaks were planted in 1917 and 1920 by acorns provided by Canberra’s designer, Walter Burley Griffin.
Back up at the Wide Brown Land carpark, I continued down to the Village Centre and the Southern Tablelands Ecosystems Park (STEP) trail, which leads to a community garden created as an educational resource.
Dairy Farmer’s Hill was the highlight of my visit to the arboretum. The path up is a gently sloping winding dirt trail passing a combination of rare, endangered and colourful tress such as the purple leaved smokebush (a plant I’ve never seen before) and Turkish pines.
The signage says it’s a 2km walk up but there are various paths up and some appear longer than others. The path I took was about a 15 minute walk up from the Village Centre.
The panoramic view up the top is spectacular with 360 degrees views of Canberra from Black Mountain, part of the lake, Parliament House, Woden, Tuggeranong and over to the mountains and nearby farmland. This is the best view I’ve found of the Canberra centre so far because you get to see so much of the city.
It’s a great set up at the top of the hill with the trees, timber benches and grassed areas perfect to sit and take in the view.
There were a lot of people up here – many having a picnic while soaking up some sunshine.
I wish I’d discovered this viewpoint sooner – if you only do one of the new trails, do this one.
The suggested timings of the walks are generous to cater for all abilities and would be good for a family outing or a nice spot for a picnic if you don’t want to stray far from the city centre. I did all the trails in about an hour and a half.
Some of the paths are quite exposed so bring a hat and slap on some sunscreen before you head out as the weather heats up.
If you’re heading to the arboretum with children, make sure you pay a visit to the Pod Playground. It made me wish I was a kid again!
Parking is available throughout the arboretum. If you park at the Village Centre, it’s pay parking for $2 an hour from 9am to 5pm. Parking is free up at the Wide Brown Land sculpture.
The grounds are open from 6am to 8.30pm seven days a week during Daylight Savings Time.