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Eight Outdoor Activities to Try in Canberra When You Want to Cram in as Much as Possible in One Weekend

Who'd have thought a weekend in the capital could feature so many thrillseeking, adrenaline-pumping experiences?
By Hudson Brown
March 16, 2020
By Hudson Brown
March 16, 2020


in partnership with

Who'd have thought a weekend in the capital could feature so many thrillseeking, adrenaline-pumping experiences?

If you love getting active outdoors, but you only have a couple of days spare to cram in as much as possible, a weekend in Canberra is the answer. There's an incredible wealth of outdoor activities that will have you gleefully crisscrossing the city as you attempt to entertain your inner child and squeeze everything in. From cycling around sculpture gardens to scaling giant rockfaces, your next trip to Australia's capital will be anything but boring.

Please stay up to date with the latest ACT Government health advice regarding COVID-19.

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    National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Garden

    The National Gallery of Australia presents some of the country’s best art collections and exhibitions. But the creative genius doesn’t start and finish at the entrance to the gallery — it also sprawls into the NGA’s surrounding sculpture garden.

    Featuring more than 30 major works by celebrated installation artists such as James Turrell, Clement Meadmore and Fujiko Nakaya, the sculpture garden is split into sections that explore each season of the year. The summer area offers a marsh pond and shady canopies, while the winter section is situated close to the slate building, shielding visitors from the occasionally blustery conditions.

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  • 7
    Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary

    With Canberra surrounded by seemingly endless nature reserves and mountain ranges, you can be sure there are some fascinating plant and wildlife species calling the region home. One place that provides you with considerable insight into local conservation efforts is Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary.

    The reserve is where reintroduced species can be supported in a safe environment, while scientists also research the importance of our woodland environments. Visitors can take part in daytime or twilight tours, where volunteer ecologists take you on a journey through the sanctuary. Bettongs are pretty common around here so keep an eye out for the little critters. Plus, 2021 will see the launch of a contemporary visitor centre that combines coffee and conservation in an innovative setting.

    Images: VisitCanberra

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  • 6
    One Tree Hill Lookout

    The mountains surrounding Canberra make for some spectacular hikes when you’re on a tight schedule. A top-notch choice is the One Tree Hill Lookout, which forms part of the Centenary Trail, which is the longest continuous hike in the region at 145 kilometres. Don’t worry though, the One Tree Hill Lookout is a leisurely 8.4 kilometres (return) and takes between two and three hours to complete.

    As you make your way along the trail, you’ll be presented with sights of diverse landscapes that quickly shift between the city and the bush. Follow the path upwards and you’ll be greeted with panoramic views at the summit, plus a 19th-century trig station.

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  • 5
    Australian National Botanic Gardens

    Spread across 35 hectares of vibrant flora, the Australian National Botanic Gardens features over 6000 native plant species. The gardens are free to enter, so you can explore the various zones — including the Red Centre Garden, the Sydney Region Flora Garden, the Rock Garden and the Rainforest Gully — at your leisure. You can also join one of the hour-long guided tours, which depart from the Gardens’ Visitors Centre at 11am and 2pm daily.

    It’s also one of the lushest possible places for a picnic in Canberra, especially when you consider that it’s just minutes away from the city centre. Choose from any of the peaceful sections mentioned above and break out a bougie selection of locally produced cheese, wine and cured meats. There’s also the option of heading to the on-site cafe, Pollen, to enjoy a hot coffee amid the greenery. And if you’re feeling like you need a particularly deep unwind, the Jindii Eco Spa offers a luxe retreat surrounded by tranquil rainforest.

    Image: VisitCanberra

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  • 4
    Majura Pines Recreation Area

    Head just outside the city centre and you’ll soon come across one of the most action-packed destinations in Canberra: Majura Pines Recreation Area. Hidden among a sprawling landscape of pine trees are some of the oldest mountain bike trails in the state. These tracks are suitable for everyone from beginners to seasoned riders.

    The volunteers behind the Majura Pines Trail Alliance have been crafting and maintaining these trails since 2015, which has given rise to a new generation of world-class mountain bike-riding talent. With more than 20 kilometres of mapped and signed paths to race down, Majura Pines is one unmissable spot for thrillseekers.

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  • 3
    Kowen Pine Forest

    For keen bushwalkers, horse riders and orienteers, you can’t look past the Kowen Pine Forest. Regarded as Canberra’s largest commercial pine plantation, it’s also where you’ll find an extensive network of trails that are excellent to explore.

    One of the most popular walks to complete during your visit begins at the nearby Molonglo Gorge Recreation Area. Winding along the river for 2.5 kilometres, this relaxing stroll concludes in a serene picnic area known as Blue Tiles, which is surrounded by towering pine trees. From here, you can soak up the river and its ancient gorge.

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  • 2
    K7 Adventures

    Canberra’s mountainous surrounds are ripe for rock climbing. The best part about the region is that there are loads of places suitable for climbers of all skill sets, including those that are just starting out. Positioned high above the Queanbeyan River, the limestone face of White Rocks is ideal for newbies as there are lots of crags to help climbers get comfortable with the basics.

    K7 Adventures offers a range of courses that teach core fundamentals and safety techniques so you have a memorable visit for all the right reasons.

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  • 1

    Situated 30 minutes from the centre of Canberra, Burnelee is where you can experience horse riding through some of Australia’s most pristine bushland. All are welcome, from beginners to experienced riders, as each ride comes complete with an experienced instructor that’ll show you the reigns.

    Burnelee is set on a 3500-acre property between the communities of Murrumbateman and Gundaroo with terrain that varies as you move through dense bushland into grazing paddocks. Two-hour rides are held most Saturdays, but group bookings and full-day bookings are also welcome at other times.

    Image: VisitCanberra

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To discover more outdoor adventures to have in Canberra, head to Visit Canberra and start planning your next city break.

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