2 November 2023

New lakeside path to connect Acton Peninsula and West Basin

| Ian Bushnell
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National Museum

The National Museum on Acton Peninsula. The NCA plans a new path along the foreshore. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

A new shared path for the Acton Peninsula shoreline, including a connection to the Acton Waterfront, is a step closer with the National Capital Authority (NCA) seeking a consultant to develop a master plan for the proposal.

An Acton Peninsula Pedestrian Path will be the first step towards developing the extended 40-kilometre loop walk around Lake Burley Griffin, which the NCA says will allow visitors to fully appreciate the centrepiece lake and surrounds and become one of Australia’s great walks.

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The current popular loop extends 5 kilometres around the Central Basin of the lake and takes in the Commonwealth and Kings Avenue bridges. The proposed new route would incorporate existing tracks around the west and east basins and beyond.

But the NCA wants to start the process with the Acton Peninsula, home of the National Museum of Australia.

The NCA’s request for proposal says the existing pedestrian and cyclist path around the Acton Peninsula shoreline is an informal dirt “desire line” that has been worn down over time.

maps of proposed pedestrian and cycle movement

The shared path aims to make the peninsula more accessible for pedestrians and cyclists. Image: Supplied.

The main objective is to make the peninsula accessible with a dedicated pedestrian and cyclist pathway or pathways that include appropriate user amenities, suitable pathway widths, shade and rest areas, and being able to accommodate things such as mass walking and running events.

The consultant will have to consider how the path can complement and improve the existing pedestrian and cyclist loop around Lake Burley Griffin, as well as resolve cyclist/pedestrian friction and intersection points to ensure a safe experience.

This includes safe separation/designation of pedestrian and cyclist pathways, discouraging pedestrian shortcuts that wear tracks in the landscape and connecting to the ACT Government’s Acton Waterfront project in West Basin.

The NCA wants the consultant to develop the master plan, taking into account stakeholder feedback, budgets and a business case that can support a proposal.

It also has the option of retaining the consultant to refine design options to a final sketch plan through to construction.

The consultant will also have to take into account the preservation and incorporation of the Commonwealth heritage-listed limestone rock outcrop on the north-eastern side of the Acton Peninsula and prepare a Heritage Impact Assessment.

acton waterfront

The Acton Waterfront precinct will be connected to Acton Peninsula under the NCA plans. Photo: Michele Kroll.

It will also need to seek a permanent containment solution for asbestos-affected areas on the site and provide recommendations for trees with heritage significance.

It is NCA policy to replace any removed tree with three trees wherever possible.

The NCA expects master plan options and costings by May 2024 and a business case and proposal later that year.

The NCA outlined its vision for an extended lake walk in a submission to the Federal Government’s Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories earlier in the year.

The all-abilities path would be enhanced by accommodation, such as camping grounds, and hospitality outlets along the way, and would be a joint initiative with the ACT Government.

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NCA chief executive Sally Barnes said the Acton Peninsula Pedestrian Path project showed the NCA’s commitment to helping shape Canberra’s future while working closely with the ACT Government.

“The extended lake loop walk and potential commercial accommodations hold the promise of unlocking the full potential of Lake Burley Griffin and enhancing the National Capital’s allure,” she said.

“Further, the Acton Peninsula Pedestrian Path project builds upon the NCA’s ongoing efforts to enhance accessibility and safety on the iconic Commonwealth Avenue Bridge within the central basin.

“This initiative is poised to advance accessibility for all, thereby solidifying Canberra’s status as one of the world’s most diverse and inclusive modern cities.”

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There’s such a strong case for a well designed high level bicycle and pedestrian bridge between the Museum and the other side just north of Lennox Gardens.

As a regular user of the “informal path” around West Basin to the NMA, I am disturbed by the lack of progress in asbestos remediation on the western edge. It is almost as if this part of the natural lake edge is intended to be closed permanently. Please take note of what local users want, a soft natural lake edge with a wide bike/walk path set back a few metres from the water, retain the mature conifers, clean up the blackberries and other pest species near the limestone outcrop and for goodness sake don’t continue the hard boardwalk any further. Give the wildlife a chance to use the waters edge and let walkers get close to nature. I am very concerned that the NCA and ACT Government are just going to put a waterfront hotel in the south end of West Basin.

Hmmm OK it isn’t the pedestrian bridge they’re bandying here, and better delineation of pedestrian and cyclist routes is a good thing (can’t blame either party, when traffic is low walking abreast is natural, when cycling still need a passing path…)

But the thing that gets me, is the foolishness of
>discouraging pedestrian shortcuts that wear tracks in the landscape

No, you’re going about it ass backwards, there’s a probably apocryphal tale of a university dean and a concreter, goes “where do you want us to put the paths?” “Wait a year and then concrete the beaten tracks that pedestrians have worn”.

“Discouraging” is horseshit, I for one would happily trash any “oh no don’t walk here” impediments to the shortest path, just acknowledge that the mass vote of pedestrians is superior to top down planning, do as the dean did and onboard the vote and make the paths where they’re obviously used, where the population has obviously voted for it.

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