I don’t know what it is about looking out over a city from its highest points, but it gets me going. This week I set out to find Canberra’s top five unmissable views – and discovered that ranking them was no easy task.
If you’re a long term Canberran, you’re probably familiar with most of these lookouts. For those who are new to the nation’s capital, however, here’s your opportunity to discover Canberra from a completely new perspective.
5. Red Hill
At number five we have Red Hill. This is probably the best place in the list for viewing Parliament House, with good views of Black Mountain and Mount Ainslie to boot. Red Hill gets brownie points for having a café at the top, but loses some serenity points for the power plant at the first viewpoint.
4. Mount Taylor
This is the jewel in the southside instagrammers crown. Mount Taylor is the only lookout on this list that you can’t access by car, meaning I had to get off my backside and walk up. After a steeper than expected walk, I reached the summit. The chilly weekday morning meant I was the only one up there, allowing me uninterrupted views.
Mount Taylor gives a perspective on Canberra from the south, looking over Woden, with a great view of Black Mountain Tower. It slightly edges out Red Hill only because at the other side of the peak, it looks out over the Brindabellas and Tuggeranong – a better view for nature lovers!
3. National Arboretum
This might come as a bit of a surprise to some, but the National Arboretum comes in at number three on Canberra’s top views. The view from the top of Forest Drive is probably the most tranquil in Canberra. It offers a top-bottom perspective, from the west of the lake. Unbeatable views of Black Mountain and the luscious greenery surrounding Yarralumla are the aesthetic highlights. As you make your way to the top, you can also really appreciate the scale of what is trying to be achieved at the Arboretum. While its relative distance from Canberra’s cultural institutions is a drawback, I highly recommend this view for a picnic on a clear winter’s day!
2. Mount Ainslie
Canberra’s best-known lookout offers unrivalled views down ANZAC Parade and of the Australian War Memorial. Mount Ainslie is also located near the midpoint of Lake Burley Griffin, which really adds to the view. From here, the symmetry of the Kings Avenue and Commonwealth Avenue bridges is more prominent than at ground level. Special mention to the views out to Majura and Pialligo, for a reminder that Canberra is still made up of paddocks in some places. It’s also great for watching planes flying in and out of the airport, if that’s your thing.
1. Black Mountain
Black Mountain narrowly edges out Mount Ainslie for my favourite view in Canberra. The view from Telstra Tower is fantastic, but I decided to keep things all natural, taking the forest trail and a lookout near the top as my viewpoints. It really feels like you are on top of the lake, towering over the city, whilst simultaneously being amongst beautiful nature. Canberra’s cultural attractions feel so accessible from Black Mountain, especially the unique architecture of the National Museum. This recommendation comes with an absolute guarantee that you’ll say the words “How’s the serenity?”
What are your favourite views in Canberra?