28 September 2023

Centenary Trail guidebook's second edition opens up a magnificent experience for walkers

| Genevieve Jacobs
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two people bushwalking

Martin Fisk and Genevieve Jacobs walking the southern section of the Centenary Trail. Photo: G. Jacobs.

Martin Fisk had to be talked into writing the second edition of the walking guide to Canberra’s centenary trail, but the former Menslink CEO didn’t need too much of a push.

“I am in love with the trail,” he says. “I’ve walked it four times in full now and I reckon it is remarkable, one of the best of its kind anywhere in Australia.”

The Centenary Trail was opened in 2013 and traverses 145 km around the perimeter of Canberra. Designed for walkers and cyclists, the beauty of it is that you can join the trail from almost anywhere and the vast majority of it is in the bush while being close to urban Canberra’s comforts.

You can walk it in five days (as the Menslink Great Walk participants will do again in November), use short chunks of it for regular exercise or, if you’re particularly intense (or insane), run or cycle the whole thing in a 24-hour stretch.

The guidebook is part of the Woodslane Walking Guides series and is an invaluable guide to the route, beginning at Parliament House and looping through Watson to the Northern Border and Hall, around the back of Belconnen to Black Mountain, the Arboretum, then through Stromlo Forest Park, on to Kambah and the River and finally back through the Inner South.

book cover

The guidebook to Canberra’s Centenary Trail has been reissued. Photo: G Jacobs.

There are multiple alternative routes along the way and if you are the athletic type, plenty of hills to run up as well. Every bit of Canberra’s beauty is showcased along the way, from bush scenery to iconic views and streetscapes. As Martin says, everything is on the trail at some point.

“The first edition of the guide was written nearly 10 years ago by two people who took it on as a labour of love and documented every centimetre of the trail,” Martin says.

“After the first Menslink Great Walk, the publisher thought it needed a second edition and asked the bushwalking community who could do it. All fingers pointed to me and I got talked into it on the basis that I could donate the proceeds to Menslink.”

Martin took a month to walk the trails with the first edition and pen and paper in hand, jotting down changes and additions and taking photos along the way.

There are quite a lot of updates: the Arboretum looks magnificent and the national rock garden, with its 45 million-year-old specimens, was a revelation to Martin.

walkers with dog

The Centenary Trail begins at Parliament House. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Sadly, the restaurant and viewing facilities at both Telstra Tower and Red Hill are closed, but elsewhere, changes, growth and development of all kinds are evident. There are camping spots along the way, urban cafes and lakes, and Martin says walking along the trail will alter your understanding of Canberra.

“I love getting up Isaac Ridge or One Tree Hill at Hall, and wherever you are, you can look back to Black Mountain and see where you came from,” he says.

“It was a real privilege to be asked to update the second edition with photos and text, and I hope people fall in love with it every bit as much as I have.”

The book has more than 150 full-colour photographs, detailed descriptions and maps for every section. A summary table of routes indicating distances, facilities and highlights is also included.

The second edition of Walking and Cycling Canberra’s Centenary Trail is available at bookstores across Canberra.

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