I didn’t know much about the Australian Capital Territory, but I was aware that many people skipped it. I felt fortunate that I was able to visit and could experience how stunning the scenery is there for myself. ACT is so much more than Canberra!
Here are three amazing things to do in ACT, all only an hour from Canberra.
Head to Namadgi National Park to see an unforgettable view over the Brindabella Ranges from Booroomba Rocks. There are two hiking options available – a 2.5km walk from Booroomba Rocks Carpark or a 10.5km return trip from Honeysuckle Campground.
I did the 2.5km version which I’d recommend to anyone who wants to go at sunset – this way it won’t be too dark when you hike down although it’s still worth taking a headtorch. It takes around 30 minutes but be prepared for lots of large steps for sections of the hike – the path is often uphill as it weaves through the forest.
The reward is HUGE. If you’re good on your feet, I recommend taking one of the trails to the viewing area that overlooks the whole of Canberra – it’s around another 500m. At all times ensure you do not approach the cliff edge – it’s easy to keep a boulder between yourself and the cliff edge at all times so choose your trail accordingly.
Tip – wear proper footwear and bring water as you can’t fill it up at the carpark (although there is a toilet).
INTERESTED IN SPACE?
While you’re visiting Booroomba Rocks, stop at Honeysuckle Creek Space Tracking Station Campsite. Did you know that the FIRST ever footage of the MOON came from here in ACT?! Although the site is no longer active, it once held a 26-metre diameter dish and played a huge part in the history of the Apollo 11 mission. There’s now a small outside information centre that’s worth a stop.
TIDBINBILLA NATURE RESERVE
At just a 40-minute drive from Canberra, Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve has a huge range of outdoor activities and a perfect spot for animal lovers and bushwalkers.
Head to the super helpful visitor centre when you first arrive and they’ll provide you with a map and circle the places that you’ll love best. You can head around the main loop in your car and stop off at one of the walking trails or wildlife habitats.
Tidbinbilla has an advanced ecotourism certificate and has breeding programmes and protection for native animals.
According to their website you should look out for: kangaroos, koalas, platypus, potoroos, wallaroos, possums, wombats, echidnas, emus, lyrebirds as well as many other birds and reptile. Learn more about photographing wildlife so you can capture the moment.
Find out more: https://www.tidbinbilla.act.gov.au/home
There are two baby koalas in the photo below, protected by Tidbinbilla. Can you spot them clinging to their mothers?
YANKEE HAT WALK
This easy 6km return walk across the flat grasslands between the mountains is the perfect way to see 800-year-old aboriginal art. Please be respectful in this site – consider the native history of the area and, of course, do not touch the paintings.
This is an enjoyable, easy walk. The National Park suggests it will take 2.5 hours but regular hikers will find it takes more like 90 minutes. You will see lots of kangaroos – we did the walk just before sunset and saw hundreds!
WORTH NOTING: Another popular place to visit is LEGOLAND
We were specifically asked NOT to photograph this area by the visitor centre because, following popularity on Instagram after photography shared by experienced Aussies, tourists kept trying to visit without going to the visitor centre for advice, following directions noted by the photographer’s themselves or even taking a map. Rookie mistake guys, Australia’s a pretty big country. As a result, the National Parks were using resources almost every weekend to find people who got lost there…
The good news is that they’re now making a walking track to Legoland! I don’t recommend visiting Legoland until the walking track is complete. Let me know if it’s been completed so I can update this post! 🙂
Oh, and no… there’s no actual lego here but there IS a large phallus-shaped rock so… enjoy.
when driving back to Canberra after your day out, expect lots of wildlife – like this wombat below – and crazy sunsets! Just drive slow and carefully so they don’t get squished. (The wombat, not the sunset.)
I visited these locations while staying in Canberra from where they were each easy to access by car. Unfortunately, it is difficult to get around ACT by public transport.
Canberra itself has a huge amount of accommodation, restaurants and shops available. If you have time, you can visit one of the large number of cultural buildings, such as galleries or museums or take a stroll along the river. The city was much prettier than I expected and made for a comfortable and practical base for going on these hikes.