4 May 2018

Canberra Day Trips: Take a trip to Tharwa

| Canberra Day Trips
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Tharwa Bridge over the Murrumbidgee River. Photo: ACT Government.

In 2016, Tharwa had a population of just 81 people, but the sleepy rural village only a stone’s throw away from Canberra is a terrific destination for a day trip. If you’re interested in local history or enjoy getting away from it all in nature, this picturesque spot on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River has much to offer day trippers.

Tharwa is the oldest official settlement in the ACT, dating back to the 1860s. At its peak in 1891, it had 38 dwellings and 255 inhabitants, but the village looks much the same now as it did over a hundred years ago.

Why you’ll love it


  • Tharwa is steeped in history, with its historic bridge, pictured above, going strong since 1895. Other historic structures include the Old Tharwa School House and St Edmund’s Church.
  • Tharwa Valley Forge is Australia’s largest bladesmithing school, where you can learn to make a custom knife that will last for generations.
  • Check out the Tharwa Country Store – a treasure trove of antiques and collectables as well as a beautiful spot to stop for pie, coffee, a snack, or beer.
  • Tharwa Sandwash is a great little swimming and picnicking place along the river, where you’ll find scenic views of Mt Tennent and the rolling hills.
  • Lanyon Homestead is one of Australia’s most historic grazing properties, where you can take a stroll in the rambling gardens, bring along a picnic or enjoy a meal in the café.
  • Tharwa is an enjoyable stopover on a day trip further afield to Namadgi National Park or Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.

Getting there


Head south on the Tuggeranong Parkway from most parts of Canberra, continuing when the road becomes Drakeford Drive then Tharwa Drive. As you drive past the southernmost suburbs, you’ll see signs for Tharwa. The village is on Tharwa Drive around 8 kilometres from the edge of Canberra.

When to go

With Tharwa virtually on Canberra’s doorstep, it’s worth visiting in all seasons. Anytime is a good time, but outdoor activities like swimming and picnicking are more pleasant in the warmer months.

Key details

  • Duration: the drive to Tharwa takes less than 45 minutes from most parts of Canberra, and significantly less from many others.
  • Distance from Canberra: Tharwa is 35 kilometres south of the Canberra CBD but just 8 kilometres from Canberra’s southernmost suburb, Banks.
  • Recommended for: anyone wanting to escape the city and immerse themselves in simplicity.
  • More information: Tharwa Country Store.

Do you know of any other activities in the Tharwa region? Let us know in the comments.

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