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5 unmissable views for those new to Canberra

By Christopher Schimizzi 7 July 2015 18

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.

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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?”

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What are your favourite views in Canberra?  


What’s Your opinion?


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18 Responses to
5 unmissable views for those new to Canberra
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watto23 11:46 am 10 Jul 15

I personally rate them
1. Mt Ainslie
2. Mt Taylor
3. Black mtn
4. Red hill

I’ve walked up all 4 as well, mostly around 30 minute uphill walk, although I once ran up and down Mt Taylor in 30 minutes as part of a football team fitness test. Thinking I did quite well until someone said they did it in 17 minutes.

mmmich 9:09 am 10 Jul 15

John Moulis said :

1967 said :

Mt Tennent is quite a climb but well worth it.
My Corre, as noted by others.
And my own personal favourite, before or after work, Mt Wanniassa, poor cousin to Mt Taylor but just as spectacular.

I think you mean Mt Arawang which looks very much like Mt Taylor.

Mt Arawang is in Chapman in Cooleman Ridge so I doubt it’s been confused with Mt Wanniassa. In saying that, Mt Arawang is a lovely (though easy) stroll with stunning views.

Maya123 8:47 am 10 Jul 15

Big Monks has a great view of southern Canberra.

Milo11 7:47 am 10 Jul 15

Crazed_Loner said :

joingler said :

I’m unsure why Black Mountain is ahead of Mt Ainslie.

Black Mountain is really only worth it if you go up the tower, otherwise there’s too much vegetation in the way. Mt Ainslie is the ‘centre of the universe’ at natural ground level.

The best by a country mile though is Mt Coree (which has been suggested already)

Mt Ginini is very good too for bush views, though not sure whether you can still drive to the top.

You can drive right to the top where the big weather station in however, I would suggest the road will be closed after this weekend if not already with the impending snow storms.

Crazed_Loner 10:02 pm 09 Jul 15

joingler said :

I’m unsure why Black Mountain is ahead of Mt Ainslie.

Black Mountain is really only worth it if you go up the tower, otherwise there’s too much vegetation in the way. Mt Ainslie is the ‘centre of the universe’ at natural ground level.

The best by a country mile though is Mt Coree (which has been suggested already)

Mt Ginini is very good too for bush views, though not sure whether you can still drive to the top.

dkNigs 9:14 pm 09 Jul 15

I don’t know how the arboretum made the list, a view of what will be a nice bunch of tree’s in 20 years isn’t really the best view. I’d rather the rolling hills and paddocks from the pinnacle in Hawker.

KB1971 8:23 pm 09 Jul 15

Booroomba rocks is a cracker so is Mt Rob Roy.

Technically there is no view from the top of Rob Roy but during the trip up and back there are spectacular views to the west, south and north in certain spots with Big Monks a notable spot.

oh_ 7:31 pm 09 Jul 15

Mt Majura has been left out and is a great albeit longer walk (up to 1.5 hr return). The walk through the bushland and changing vegetation, animals and nature, as you wind up, plus the nature reserve at the bottom in Watson/Hackett makes it a gem thats less visited than Mt Ainslie nearby. Also Mt Painter just behind Cook is great and relatively unknown – views across the arboretum, to Brindabellas etc.

John Moulis 5:05 pm 08 Jul 15

1967 said :

Mt Tennent is quite a climb but well worth it.
My Corre, as noted by others.
And my own personal favourite, before or after work, Mt Wanniassa, poor cousin to Mt Taylor but just as spectacular.

I think you mean Mt Arawang which looks very much like Mt Taylor.

1967 1:23 pm 08 Jul 15

Mt Tennent is quite a climb but well worth it.
My Corre, as noted by others.
And my own personal favourite, before or after work, Mt Wanniassa, poor cousin to Mt Taylor but just as spectacular.

joingler 9:54 pm 07 Jul 15

I’m unsure why Black Mountain is ahead of Mt Ainslie.

Mt Painter is another which is frequently overlooked. It’s another you have to walk up but it’s not too long and well worth it. One Tree Hill which is just off the Forde-Hall track is fantastic. Tuggeranong Hill is a nasty horrible climb but well worth it.

The best by a country mile though is Mt Coree (which has been suggested already)

Felix the Cat 6:44 pm 07 Jul 15

Mt Majura is pretty good too

Spiral 12:35 pm 07 Jul 15

Mount Stromlo has some good views, especially of the countryside so the south west of Canberra, though you might have to fight the kangaroos for the best vantage spots. Also has some cool bushfire ruins.

Holden Caulfield 10:35 am 07 Jul 15

A quiet mention for Mount Pleasant too. Although some of the eucalypts are getting a bit too big and starting to interrupt the view over the lake and the Brindabellas beyond.

Raging Tempest 10:28 am 07 Jul 15

Red Hill is great at night with the House lit up.

Ezy 9:39 am 07 Jul 15

One Tree Hill which is part of the Centenary Trail gives you 360 degree views across the northern suburbs of Canberra and into NSW. It can be reached via Hall and is about an 8.5km return trip.

Dame Canberra 9:23 am 07 Jul 15

I’ve lived in Canberra my whole life and only recently discovered Mount Ainslie. I’d always thought Mount Taylor’s views were pretty spectacular, but they pale in comparison to Mount Ainslie. Do the walk up Mount Ainslie if you can instead of driving – the view is much more rewarding!

Milo11 8:57 am 07 Jul 15

For those with a hankering for a little more adventure you can’t beat the view from the top of Mt Coree.

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