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’ll also explore many of Canberra’s suburbs and the Parliamentary Triangle, discovering hidden gems and visiting iconic cultural institutions along the way.
The Centenary Trail was designed to be walked in 7 separate legs, or biked in 3. However, I’ve designed a plan that tackles walking the trail continuously over 8 days, with recommendations for interesting 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.
Today we’ll be looking at the iconic stretch from Narrabundah to the War Memorial, heading over Red Hill and past many of Canberra’s cultural institutions along the way.
You will start at the corner of Mugga Lane and Hindmarsh Drive. Head off along Dalrymple St until you meet La Perouse St where you will turn left and continue past the shops and up into the bushland at the entrance of Red Hill Nature Park. Follow the track all the way up to Red Hill Lookout, where you can enjoy the sweeping views and grab a refreshment at the Little Brother café there. When you’re ready to leave, continue past the car park along the road and descend the steps downhill to the right. Here you will see the ACTEW utility box which has been painted by Geoff Filmer to resemble Doctor Who’s TARDIS!
Follow the markers until you reach the end of the bushland and meet up once again with Mugga Lane. Here, I suggest taking a detour from the official route, by turning right towards Manuka to enjoy a well-earned FreakShake at Pâtissez!
Once you are fully stocked up on Nutella , pretzels and ice cream, you’ll be ready to follow Canberra Ave towards Parliament House to re-join the official route. After crossing State Circle you will head left along a gravel path through small patches of bush before you come to Surveyor’s Park.
Here you can marvel at the hidden historical gem that is Surveyor’s Hut. This tiny building is over 100 years old, and was used to house Charles Scrivener and the other surveyors’ records of Canberra as they mapped it out. It was these records that would later be used by Walter Burley Griffin to plan our magnificent city!
From Surveyor’s Park you will follow the trail under Capital Circle and through the fancy little gardens and tennis court along the side of Parliament House. When you reach the forecourt, take some time to enjoy the beautifully planned views from the top of the Parliamentary Triangle and take some patriotic selfies.
Follow the markers down Federation Mall, past the Foundation Stone towards the lake. The trail will lead you past a number of other Canberra icons including Old Parliament House, the National Library, Questacon, the Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery.
After checking out any or all of these cultural institutions, you’ll continue along the lakeside, across Kings Avenue Bridge and turn left to continue along the other side of the lake, past the Corrillon, turning right at Blundells Cottage.
Continue under the underpass and turn left at Consitution Ave and then right along Anzac Parade all the way up to the War Memorial, which marks the end of the road for this leg!
If you need a place to stay the night, my number one recommendation is the Mercure Braddon (formally Olims). The rooms are absolutely luxurious with plush bedding, gorgeous bathrooms and adorable little balconies looking out onto the hotel’s charming courtyard. This was definitely my favourite hotel I stayed in on my 8-night trek, and well worth the price tag after a long day of walking!
For dinner you have a huge range of options at your fingertips, only a short walk away in Braddon. I had an awesome wood-fired pizza at Pizza Gusto, but there are a whole slew of choices including the Hamlet, Grease Monkey’s or the Mandalay Bus.
Happy hiking! Have you walked or biked any of the Centenary Trail? Which part was your favourite?