4 February 2016

My favourite outdoor places in and around Canberra

| Lisa Martin
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I’ve done a lot of hiking and exploring in the great outdoors in and around Canberra over the past year as part of my fitness regime and to practice my photography skills. Here’s a wrap up of a few of my favourite places.

Panoramic views of Canberra

My pick of walks for great views of the Canberra centre is an obvious one with Mt Ainslie and is well known with Canberrans, interstate blow-ins and tourists. Getting up Mt Ainslie can be done in about 30 minutes depending on your fitness level and is a great walk before or after work or on the weekends due to its proximity to the city. The lookout has panoramic views of Canberra and is great to take visitors up to so they can clearly see the layout of the city and some of the key landmarks.


Dairy Farmers Hill at the National Arboretum comes a close second due to its 360 degree views across Canberra. It can be done as a short walk from the Village Centre or you may prefer to drive up.


My favourite waterfalls are a road trip away from Canberra. Carrington Falls in the Southern Highlands near Robertson and the recently discovered Forty Foot Falls near Mittagong are spectacular. Both are about a two hour trip with most of the journey along the Hume Highway towards Sydney.

I’ve been to Carrington Falls a few times and it’s a spot for all ages especially during the summer months when you can go for a swim in the waterhole, have a picnic on the rocks or at the picnic tables, and then walk a few hundred metres to admire the falls from the lookout.

Forty Foot Falls is also in the Southern Highlands is a shoot off path from the Box Vale Tramway Trail. It’s about a 90 minute return trip from the carpark. In summer, this would also be a great swimming spot but it’s also a nice walk if it’s too cold to swim. From the waterfall, you can continue to Mittagong or loop back to continue on the Box Vale Tramway Trail and follow the signs to learn about the history of coal transport in the area during the 1800s.



My favourite hiking spots are in the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, about a 45 minute drive from Civic. Gibraltar Peak is my favourite due to its stunning views over the reserve and out to Black Mountain. and the fact you can sit right on top of the boulders at the peak. It will take you around two hours to do the return hike depending how long you stay at the top.


Camel’s Hump comes a close second for its views of the other side of the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. It’s a good hike that will get your heart pumping but it’s all worth it at the end when you sit up on top of the Camel’s Hump section and can see for miles on a sunny day. Depending on your fitness levels, allow 3-5 hours return for Camel’s Hump.

I also really enjoyed Booroomba Rocks in Namadgi National Park. It has a very similar landscape to Gibraltar Peak with equally spectacular views. It’s a further drive out to than Gibraltar Peak but it’s about a 30 minute walk up.


Carrington Falls also rates as my top waterhole but within the Canberra area, Kambah Pools is my favourite.


It’s easily accessible with lots of shady places to sit, take a dip and enjoy the sunshine. There’s walking trails too out to Red Rock Gorge and Pine Island.

Gorge Walks

My favourite gorge walk is surprisingly not far from Canberra Airport. Molonglo Gorge seems to me like a hidden gem of a trail with only a scout group on it when I walked it last year.

The trail starts off Sutton Road in between the airport and Queanbeyan, and takes you three kilometres along the gorge and to a picnic area. There are trails that take you further into Kowen Forest if you’re interested.

The Molonglo Gorge Walk is perfect for a weekend morning walk and great for people that may be just be starting out bushwalking.


For a long time, South Durras Beach to the north of Bateman’s Bay has been my favourite beach stop. It’s a bit quieter than Surf Beach in the south of Bateman’s Bay and is great for children with a slightly sheltered swimming area. I take my niece down here when she visits.

I recently discovered Camel Rock Beach at Bermagui and this is now my new favourite beach. The beach is a beautiful blue with smooth white sand, and Camel and Horse Head Rock makes it unique. Last time I went, I only saw two other people on the long white sand stretch of beach so you may have it almost to yourself. Jervis Bay is also a beautiful spot, especially along the Chinamans and Hyam beaches.


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