Many rides run by the ACT region don’t spend a lot of time in the Territory. Having spent 18 months not allowed to ride, when I finally got the OK I wanted to start with some smaller permanent rides to build back, thus the Canberra Lake and Parliament was born. A simple 50km ride from Dickson (an inner north suburb, and home of Canberra’s China Town) through the city, around Lake Burley Griffin, into the Parliamentary Triangle and back to Dickson. An urban 50km, take in some of the sights that make Canberra such a great place to ride and visit, and stay completely within the capital – and importantly provide access to good coffee and beer.
The route takes advantage of Canberra’s pedestrian / bicycle paths, and on-road bike lanes. With only about 360m of climbing it’s relatively flat, and visitors with a morning to spare could grab a bike-share and complete a brevet.
All good in theory, I had to remember how to use the Garmin and bike computer. That meant actually downloading the manual. I’d planned to ride it Saturday but the 75km/h wind predictions put me off, so I registered for the Sunday. It wasn’t 75km/h but the flag on Parliament House gives some indication of the blustery conditions, the only consolation was it limited the number of dog walkers – something to be aware of on shared paths.
Leaving Dickson the path goes past the artificial wet-lands in Lyneham. The path winds through O’Connor and Turner, inner suburbs known for their European tree lined streets, and then skirting the Australian National University through the trendy New Acton precent, over the pedestrian bridge and into the parkland on the northern shore of Lake Burley Griffin. There were so many sailing boats out, and boy were they moving. Following the shared path counter-clockwise out to the National Museum and then out to the end of Black Mountain Peninsula where the first photo-checkpoint is. 9km in and take a photo to prove you rode to the end.
Riding out to the peninsula afforded great views of the boats racing, but in a world away I stopped for my photo proof. Across the lake the Canberra Yacht Club. I was going to ask the guy fishing to sign the brevet card but he seemed so relaxed in the quiet I decided not to disturb.
Continuing on the wind across the lake was pretty strong, and there’s some very exposed sections. Nearing Scrivener Dam I could make out the home of the Governor General across the lake. My favourite groves of trees lead into Weston Park. So many people out picnicking, and kids enjoying the playgrounds. It may be the first time I’ve ridden through and not seen kangaroos.
Another really quick stop to grab a photo to prove I’d made Yarralumla Point (and not taken the short-cut).
The ride continued past the rowing club sheds, and Canberra Yacht Club before reaching the edge of the Parliamentary Triangle.
Here the ride has its most “significant” climb, from the shore of the lake up to Parliament House, passing by the National Library. Took the obligatory pic or the Parliament House, but it’s more interesting turning around to look across the lake.
A protest group in the foreground, with the Old Parliament House (Museum of Australian Democracy) in the background, and across the Lake to the Australian War Memorial at the bottom of Mt Ainslie.
From here it’s back down down the hill past the Old Parliament House, Senate Rose Garden, National Library and Questacon. The route follows the lake to the new developments of Kingston Foreshore, a good spot for a (quick) coffee.
The next bit of the ride is through the Jerrabomberra Wetlands, which were formed in the 1960s when the Molonglo River was dammed. It’s a home to much birdlife and there’s even bird watching hideouts not far from the cyclepath. Through the wetlands and a right turn onto Dairy Road. It’s interesting here to note the cattle, a farm only a few kilometres from the Parliament. On Dairy Road if the coffee at the foreshore wasn’t your thing you can sample the local offerings of Capital Brewing, the penultimate checkpoint. There were many cyclists here. What was a light industrial area is being reshaped into a community supporting creatives artisans and craft.
Back down Dairy Rd and rejoining the cycle path the route crosses the Molonglo River close to the airport, then heads east back towards the city centre. following close to the lake edge. The National Carillion (Bell Tower) is currently closed for maintenance adding an additional 2 bells to the current 55, preparing for its 50th anniversary celebrations in 2020. Looking to the right towards Mount Ainslie there’s the large mall with memorials to individual conflicts leading up the Australian War Memorial. Continuing along the cycle path it skirts Commonwealth Park, a series of gardens which host the annual Floriade festival.
The final 5km of the ride cross the pedestrian bridge into New Acton and largely trace the outbound route, except for a brief detour into Turner near the ANU, following excellent cycle paths. In Dickson the friendly guys at Folks Gallery Café (right at the finish) were happy to sign the brevet, and make a pretty good coffee.
If you’re in Canberra and want to see the sights, and get a brevet completed there are a number of bike shares in operation, and many hotels now have bikes available. Link direct to this permanent