I had lived in Canberra for some 14 years and the last place I would have thought of going for a walk, let alone a walk to see modern sculptures, would have been the grounds of the Australian National University.
By chance, I came across a brochure entitled ANU Sculpture Walk (download it from the link below) and then an Ipad app of the same name. From this I found out that there were 55* separate sculptures on the ANU Acton (main) campus all (bar a few – inside buildings and accessible only in standard office hours) located in beautiful grounds and many with views to Lake Burly Griffin and Black Mountain Tower.
I decided that I better go and have a look and this is exactly what I did one beautiful clear, sunny, late winter Canberra day.
I started my walk at the Australian National Museum and quickly realised that I would not be able to do the full walk and see all the sculptures in one visit (this would take about 4-5 hours assuming little in the way of stops). As such, on day one I visited just less than half the sculptures – in two hours – and at the same time enjoyed a great walk in the University grounds – the first part of it though bush-land with beautiful views to Lake Burley Griffin and Black Mountain.
The sculptures are all modern and will not be to everyone’s taste – but given the variety it is almost certain that a few will appeal. I have to say I wasn’t overwhelmed with the sculptures but was sufficiently impressed to want to go back and see the remaining half. From other reviews you may be aware that I am not a big fan of modern art, generally. I did, however, very much enjoy the walk and the University grounds which also has some beautiful old houses and some interesting modern architecture in addition to the well maintained gardens and bush land.
Some of the sculptures are a little tricky to find though the map in the brochure and the GPS linked one in the App are both excellent in helping to find them. Ensure you take a map with you.
As my visit was on a Sunday morning none of the University coffee shops or restaurants (which are of good quality) were open. If you go on a weekday you should consider allowing a bit extra time for a coffee or indeed lunch.
In terms of my pictures, the number in the captions is that used in the brochure I referred to above. You should refer to the brochure (or the App) for further detail on these and all the other sculptures. My third picture is a full size statue of Churchill – the actual sculpture referred to on the walk is a bust of Churchill nearby and No 16 on the walk map. My main picture above is –.
I returned the following Sunday for the second part of the walk around the remaining 34 sculptures. This took me around 2.5 hours and, to be honest, was much less interesting both from a sculpture and quality of walk perspective than the previous weekend walk. This part of the walk takes you by many more modern buildings and is much duller from a scenery perspective. The sculptures, while there were a few interesting ones, were also much more obtuse and uninspiring – what I generally expect from modern art, actually.
A pleasant enough walk but if you are stuck for time or don’t want to do the full walk which takes around 4.5 – 5 hrs (assuming no coffee/ eating stops) then I recommend you do the first part, finishing close to University House – a hotel run by the University.
Everyday all day (noting that a few sculptures are inside buildings – 18 (viewable through a window) 26 ( which you can sort of see though a side window) , 40,41 and 43.
Entrance Fee: Free
* There are in fact a few more.
Website: https://services.anu.edu.au/campus-environment/trails-tours/sculpture-walk (linked checked 2 September 2017)