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Walking the Centenary Trail in 8 days: Ainslie to Watson

By Heather Lansdowne - 8 June 2016 0

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Have you ever thought about walking the Centenary Trail? The 145km loop was established in 2013 to celebrate Canberra’s Centenary, and passes over our picturesque mountain scapes, rivers, fields and forests.

Not only will you see stunning natural scenery, you will also explore many of Canberra’s suburbs and the Parliamentary Triangle, discovering hidden gems and visiting cultural institutions along the way.

The Centenary Trail was designed to be walked in seven separate legs, or biked in three. However, I have designed a plan that tackles walking the trail continuously over eight days, with recommendations for interested places to eat and sleep along the way.

The trail is set out with markers that will guide you on your way at the turning points, and maps and more information are available on the TAMS website.

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Today we will be looking at the 16km leg from the War Memorial to Watson, summiting Mt Ainslie and Mt Majura along the way. This is one of the steeper legs, so you will need a moderate level of fitness.

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You will start at the War Memorial where you can take some time to explore the exhibitions if you wish. From there you will proceed to the back of the building, passing through the entrance to Mount Ainslie and the following the trail to the top. Along the way you will notice the plaques commemorating battles fought on the Kokoda Trail, which may be of interest, especially having just visited the War Memorial.

When you reach the summit you can enjoy the famous views down Constitution Avenue, across the lake all the way to Parliament House. When you are ready to descend you will find the path past the car park, marked with the distinctive Canberra 100 trail-head.

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Follow the markers down to join the fire trail signposted as Hancocks Rd, which you will follow until you reach the suburb of Hackett. Here I suggest heading into Wilbur’s Cafe at the Hackett shops for some lunch. I had the very on-theme Majura Toastie, which gave me all the energy I needed to tackle its namesake mountain shortly afterwards. There is also an IGA here should you need to stock up on supplies.

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Once you have finished lunch and rejoined the track, you will head up the Casuarina trail to climb Mt Majura. When you reach a four-way intersection, continue straight ahead uphill to the summit. When you get there, give yourself a pat on the back; at an elevation of 890m, you have just reached the highest peak of the Centenary Trail. When you are ready to head down again, return to the four-way junction and take the right-hand turn downhill towards Watson.

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When you reach the end of this track, turn right on to the Majura Horse trail and stay on this path for several kilometres. Follow the markers from here until you reach the Federal Highway and the end of your journey for today.

If you are staying the night, the closest accommodation is the Ibis Budget, which is small but comfortable. On the plus side, they do have a washing machine available to use downstairs, which is super handy if you are walking the trail over a few days.

Unfortunately, the closest place for dinner is the Watson McDonald’s, which is another 2km walk from the Ibis. I felt this was a bit far after a long day’s walk so just grabbed some snacks at the service station.

Happy hiking. Have you walked or biked any of the Centenary Trail? Which part was your favourite?

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