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Hidden nature experiences within the ACT

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Sometimes, you just want to get some fresh air—and with state borders unlikely to open for a few more weeks, we’re looking to our backyards more than ever.

As a lifelong Canberran, I have some favourite spots that I like to go when I want peace and quiet. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it may be helpful for those wanting get back to nature without travelling too far.

Yarralumla Nursery to Government House

This walk instantly transports me to the UK—especially as the planned gardens around the Oaks Brasserie are called The English Garden.

I usually start at the Oaks Brasserie/Heritage Nursery car park and then walk downhill through the English Garden until I reach the bike path that winds between the golf course and lake.

You can walk all the way along to the Governor General’s residence Government House (or, to the gates at least) and then keep going to Scrivener Dam if a long walk takes your fancy.

Look forward to spectacular views of the National Arboretum across the lake and a very sweet wooden bridge.

Find a GoogleMaps pin here.

Pialligo Redwood Forest

This is one of the coolest ‘forest’ explorations you can do in Canberra. We even shot one of our HerCanberra Magazine covers here (pictured above).

Simply drive as if you were heading to Queanbeyan on Pialligo Avenue and follow the signs to the Pialligo Redwood Forest. This place feels particular magical on foggy days.

Birrigai Time Trail

With a circular loop of 3.4km, the Birrigai Time Trail is a short and sweet ‘out of town’ excursion for the weekend, especially now that most ACT Parks have reopened.

To start, drive to the Tidbinbilla Visitors Centre car park (about 40 minutes from Civic) and look for the trailhead.

With a gentle, ambling route that will take you through forests, dense bush and wide open plains, this track focuses on the Aboriginal heritage of the area, including rock formations that once served as snow shelters for local Indigenous peoples.

With plenty of opportunities to spot kangaroos and emus, this track is suitable for all ages and experience levels but note that the visitors centre is currently closed due to COVID restrictions.

Find more information on the walk here.

Mt Majura rise

If you don’t live in Hackett or Watson, it’s easy to miss this wide and gentle track that can take you as far as the Australian War Memorial.

Start at the car park at the base of Mount Majura. Then start walking up the main path before turning off to the right to follow the dirt track along the back of Hackett as it gently slopes around to the back of Ainslie.

This walk is perfect for late afternoon as it gives you stunning views across Canberra around sunset.

If you’re into sunsets, I wrote a whole list of places to catch sunsets and sunrises here.

Dairy Farmer’s Hill Lookout

This spot is no secret, but it’s a stunning place to look over Canberra and there’s plenty of space to stretch out and be physically distanced from friends or others, too.

From here, there are plenty of tracks and trails around the Arboretum to explore—many of which you’ll have all to yourself.

Feature image: Lauren Campbell for HerCanberra, taken pre-ACT lockdown

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