The Canberra Centenary Trail was launched in 2013, Canberra’s centenary year. In the main it linked pre-existing walks, paths, fire trails, etc though around 20-30kms of the trail is along new paths, mainly along the Northern section. Walk it all or any part of it, you won’t be disappointed.
At the time the Canberra trail was launched a good friend in London had set out on a walk around that city – a walk of some 245kms called the LOOP or to give it its full name the London Outer Orbital Path. Given that London’s population is over twenty times that of Canberra I was rather surprised when I learned that Centenary trail was around 145kms long. It just goes to show how spread out Canberra is.
The Centenary Trail is open to walkers and all forms of non-motorised vehicles (basically bicycles – unless you choose to use a pogo stick as someone has already done for a short part of the walk). Having now walked the trail I will, at some point, do it again by bicycle.
The cycle / walking routes differ slightly in that the walking route is about 10kms longer as it takes in all the peaks around the city – there are six or more. The paths to the top of these are not suitable for bicycles. The trail track varies from high quality footpaths and walkways to rough walking trails with steps. It passes through both urban and rural areas – from the grandeur of the Parliamentary Zone to the quiet beauty of Canberra’s nature reserves. Very little of it is along public roads.
Maps, gps files (waking and riding), and other useful information (with one important exception) is available, and can be downloaded by following relevant links on the trail website – http://www.environment.act.gov.au/parks-conservation/parks-and-reserves/find-a-park/rural/canberra-centenary-trail.
The one exception relates to the very critical issue of public transport and how to get to/from certain sections of the trail. I rather fear this is the Achilles heel and transport will be an issue unless you are with someone and have access to two vehicles. That said, you can do it relying on public transport but you will have to very carefully plan using bus timetables, given the woeful public transport system in Canberra, especially at weekends and on holidays.
The trail guide/ website divides the trail in seven walking sections of roughly 20kms each, suggesting seven days to complete the full trail.
The trail sections (which will mean little to you unless you know Canberra) are:
Section 1 – Parliament House to Watson
Section 2 – Watson to Northern Border Campsite
Section 3 – Northern Border Campsite to Hall Village
Section 4 – Hall Village to Black Mountain
Section 5 – Black Mountain to Stromlo Forest Park
Section 6 – Stromlo Forest Park to Tuggeranong Town Centre
Section 7 – Tuggeranong Town Centre to Parliament House
With some slight variation to the above I covered the walk in seven sections.
While the trail nominally starts and ends at Parliament House, you can start and leave the trail where you like and walk as long or as short as you like (subject to transport) in each visit.
In terms of maps an overall map is available (picture 3 attached – no use for walking) as is a more detailed map for each section. As mentioned earlier, a gps file is available for download should you have a gps unit or mobile phone. I used this and it was great. While the signage is good, though oddly there are no distance markers along the trail, and you could in theory rely on it, some has been vandalised and markers are far apart in parts. You would not get irretrievably lost just relying on signage but you may veer of track here and there wasting valuable time.
My second picture of one marker post shows all the used symbols on one signage post (thus the most complicated signage you can encounter) – so a useful one to look at.
What does it mean? :
• Centenary Trail Markers are all on brown metal posts
• Top symbol is that of the centenary trail and is on all posts. If it is just a general marker post this will be the only item on the post
• Brown name marker signifies a named offshoot from the cycle trail to walking trail only
• Blue directions arrows signify direction you should go
• Cycle in red circle signifies bicycles not permitted – or walkers only
• Green cycle means cycle route which, of course anyone can you.
All in all, a great walk and one I would recommend it to everyone. I will over time add entries on what you can expect to see along the trail!
Remember to wear sensible footwear, bring water and importantly for Australia, wear sunblock.
I know very few readers will be able to do the complete trail and indeed it would not be the best use of seven days of valuable holiday time unless you are an avid walker or, like me, you live in Canberra or visit with sufficient frequency that you can walk the trail over a period of time. If you are just visiting Canberra, pick a section, sections or part of a section that appeals and go for a walk.