18 May 2023

Plans afoot to extend Lake Burley Griffin's bridge-to-bridge walk into one of Australia's greatest

| James Coleman
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two people walking beside the lake with two golden retrievers

The NCA says the walk should be “comfortable for as many Australians as possible to take in the national capital” – that includes four-legged residents. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

Ever finished Lake Burley Griffin’s bridge-to-bridge walk raring for more? The National Capital Authority is calling for the popular walking route to join Australia’s greatest by extending it around the entire lake.

In a recent submission to the Federal Government’s Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories, the NCA said there was “considerable opportunity to improve the path system around the lake”.

The current 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 to make for a total length between 35 km and 40 km.

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The submission said the entire route would be improved for shared use by pedestrians and cyclists, with campgrounds and amenities to be added along the way.

CEO Sally Barnes said the end result would compare to multi-day walks in New Zealand, Tasmania and “others around Australia”.

“We know Canberrans love the lake, and we know visitors like to do what locals do, so this is a benefit to both locals and visitors,” she told Region.

Ms Barnes said the extended bridge-to-bridge walk would also be for “all abilities”. “Pedestrians, cyclists, people pushing prams or in wheelchairs … It’s a walk that should be comfortable for as many Australians as possible to take in the national capital.”

The Commonwealth Avenue Bridge

Land management is shared between the NCA and the ACT Government, and both parties are motivated to improve access to the lake. Image: NCA.

The idea was formed during COVID, when the existing walk was “extremely popular” among locals trying to keep their steps up. But the same couldn’t be said for other parts of the track.

“We started to think about the potential for upgrading some of these existing tracks to make it so you could multi-day walks.”

When the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories commenced an inquiry into “ways to foster and promote the significance of Australia’s National Capital” on 21 March, the NCA made their formal submission.

“We thought we’d float the idea to see whether there was interest in it,” Ms Barnes said.

“So far, the response has been very positive, so the next step is to map it out – have a look at the existing track to see where it might need upgrading. See what a decent day’s walk would be, and where each day might finish. And see whether there’s existing accommodation options and hospitality outlets along the way and whether we need link the track to more existing ones or consider adding new ones.”

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More interpretative signage would also be added to point out significant landmarks along the way.

“We know there are points of interest that aren’t really interpreted for visitors as well as they could be.”

Land management around the lake is shared with the ACT Government, so the project would be a joint initiative between the two governments. Ms Barnes is confident of a warm reception here too.

“We have a good working relationship with all different arms of the ACT Government, and we all want to improve access to the lake. It fits with where we’re all going.”

Acton Waterfront

The freshly renovated Acton Waterfront in the West Basin will be the first stop for the extended walk. Photo: Michele Kroll.

The submission said the connection between the ACT Government’s new West Basin boardwalk and the National Museum of Australia on Acton Peninsula would be the first step in the full lake-loop project, and that this “be built as a priority”.

The NCA also plans to work with the ACT and NSW governments to improve the water quality of the lake.

“It would be counterproductive to encourage people to walk around the lake if it’s too polluted and there are too many days with too much blue-green algae,” Ms Barnes said. “There’s a lot of work to do.”

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Crazed_Loner1:38 pm 26 May 23

I assume she means ‘not the current shared path’, or what’s the point? If so, first step might be to fix the path on the eastern side of Acton Peninsula where the walking track is currently closed due to asbestos contamination. Get to it!

There has been a very good pathway all around the lake for many decaDES, HAVE DONE IT ON FOOT AND BIKE MANY TIMES PERHAPS sALLY bARNES SHOULD GET OUT MORE OFTEN.

Robert Smits5:36 pm 25 May 23

Getting people up and about is a great idea. But there’s better ways to do that than linking up walks with one another. Better bus timetables, more park-bus links or train links to get people out of their cars would be a start.

Leon Arundell2:57 pm 21 May 23

The heading of this article doesn’t make sense. There are already walking paths around the whole of the lake. If you “extend,” the bridge to bridge section, it will no longer be the “bridge to bridge” section.

Felix the Cat9:07 pm 23 May 23

I think the iidea is to have nice wide road like width and quality paths so cyclists and walkers/joggers can all use together, rather than the narrower bitumen path (often with tree roots trying to break through) used for most of the other areas of the lake.

TruthinMedia10:16 am 21 May 23

Yes Trish O’Connor, there is a real risk of Joni Mitchell’s ‘paved paradise and put up a parking lot’. Used to be plenty of shady spots at Acton and now it’s either a hot wasteland or freezing wind tunnel, at least KF has cafes and shade. I am all for accessibility (I’ve spent time using a walking frame) but in my frequent walks at the Arboretum am yet to see anyone with mobility issues using the tarred over tracks that used to be soft to walk on. Too steep I guess.

Trish O'Connor4:16 pm 19 May 23

As long as it doesn’t go the way of the Acton Waterfront in the West Basin or the Kingston foreshore – a baron waste of treeless, concrete where everything is rigid and offers no opportunity for the kind of randomness like it is all of the rest of the 40kms around the lake – where people can just pull off the path and walk through shady trees, grassy slopes and woodland and sit and play wherever they choose.

“The idea was formed during Covid.” The other idea formed during Covid by the NCA, in collusion with Pedal Power, was to put up multiple orange signs telling us which direction to walk around the lake. Remember ‘Covid Is Counter-Clockwise’. Anyone who dared to walk in the wrong direction risked abuse from passing cyclists, always looking for ways to monopolise public paths for themselves.

Finally Relented2:35 pm 19 May 23

I think at the moment there are better things to spend money on like housing.

TruthinMedia12:42 pm 19 May 23

Massive risk to Canberrans is that most curated and maintained walks charge hiking fees just to use the track and some use permit systems to throttle numbers at peak times. This is our backyard that we pay rates for (it’s not in a National park or on private land like others) and we have to continue to have unfettered access to it. I have no problem charging for any cabins or camping sites but toilets have to be accessible to all.

Jim Berriman9:43 am 20 May 23

Yes, I think charges will go UP. Perhaps a Territory Poll TAX just to catch all pedestrians out for a walk or bike ride. They have smashed and bashed property owners large and small. So they will try to drag net all other non land tax paying residents.

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