TOP THINGS TO DO AROUND
LAKE BURLEY GRIFFIN IN CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA:
Lake Burley Griffin in Australia is a breezy charming place and definitely one of the top places to visit in Canberra, Australia. There is a lot to do here which can keep you occupied for an entire day. It is great for kids, families, elderly and even solo travelers like me.
Of all the places I had seen in Canberra, the capital of Australia, I had enjoyed the Lake Burley Griffin the most. The open wide spaces, huge water body, interesting activities to do, beautiful art installations, 2 Parliament buildings etc made for a great walking tour. I was lucky to visit Australia in September last week. The breezy weather was amazing making it apt for long leisurely walks. Can you believe it is an 11 kilometers long lake and it is as wide as 1.2 kilometers at one place?
A BRIEF HISTORY ABOUT LAKE BURLEY GRIFFIN:
The Lake Burley Griffin is an artificial lake named after Walter Burley Griffin, who was the architect of Canberra city. Due to the political disagreements and financial crisis spurred by Great Depression and World War II, the construction of the lake didn’t take off for nearly 50 years. But once its construction began, the large lake was finally completed within 4 years on 17th October, 1964. It was inaugurated with much fanfare and fireworks. Located in the heart of the city, it is surrounded by many Government buildings such as Parliament, National Library, National Museum, Australian National University etc. My local guide took me to points where I could see important buildings of Canberra city aligned in perfect symmetry on either side of its shore. That sight spoke volumes to me about the genius of the American architect. The neat lines, flawless symmetry and simple designs make it a visual delight.
Here are some of the Top Things to do around the Lake Burley Griffin.
TAKE LONG LEISURELY WALKS AROUND
LAKE BURLEY GRIFFIN, CANBERRA
It was the perfect place for long leisurely walks not only on the periphery of the lake but also in the streets and roads around the lake. When I visited, the trees were blooming, which added more color to the place. There were benches at some places for passer byes to sit on.
Not one to sit idle, I explored some of it on foot. Seagulls and cockatoos had claimed their respective territories. The cool breeze gave wings to the fallen leaves. The sunrays made pattern on the calm waters. It was a pleasant day!
You will come across many interesting structures such as the National Carillon on Aspen Island. The bells ring periodically.
LAKE BURLEY GRIFFIN IS GREAT FOR
Lake Burley Griffin is where many Australians congregate to socialize, picnic or work on their fitness. As I walked solo and observed people, it gave me a glimpse into the local lifestyle. I was surprised to learn that most Australians do not smoke. The general health consciousness reflected on people. I found most of the locals fit. Many of them were jogging or cycling around the lake with passion. This was also the trend in Melbourne and Sydney, two other cities which I visited.
It was also interesting for me to observe small kids and their interaction with their parents. The adolescents were in the world of their own while adults looked busy and uninvolved.
TAKE A SEGWAY RIDE AROUND LAKE BURLEY GRIFFIN:
I took an exciting Segway ride during my solo visit to Canberra. It was my first Segway ride and I was more nervous than many kids there who had lined up for the same. The moment I stepped on it, I thought I would fall. Injury was not my concern, embarrassment was. A dozen kids in a foreign land laughing at me was not my idea of fun! That would have been a ‘first’ for me as well.
As soon as I stepped on the segway, the instructor caught me goofing around and ran to me horrified. It was like primary school again. Though, I would give credit to myself for being able to master it within few minutes. The thing with segway is simple. You bend forward it goes straight. You lean backward, it stops. You need to do it in a relaxed and erect posture. One goof up and you end up on floor, attracting laughs.
I moved around with confidence. I must have looked incongruous, what with mostly adolescents giving me company (I was 34 then). But I didn’t really care as it was so much fun! We soon left the lake and continued to streets, lanes and even main roads. The cars at some places gave us the way by stopping.
At one point I did go fast and panicked as I thought I was about to fall but I managed to gain control in the nick of time. Oh the perils of overconfidence.
Once you return from the ride, do not forget to visit the nearby Queen Elizabeth Terrace. Just relax and enjoy a gelato here. This is also where most tourists start their Canberra tour from. You can book a segway ride around Lake Burley Griffin here
It was a very unique experience to see a city on a segway. In my country India, Goa is the only place I know where you can do this around Fontainhas.
TAKE A WALK AROUND THE LAKE BURLEY GRIFFIN:
There are so many interesting buildings to be seen if you walk a bit away from Lake Burley Griffin. The new Parliament building is located just behind the old Parliament building. Both of these are at walking distance from each other and from the lake. You can visit inside the Parliament buildings during the day and can even watch a live session.
And if you are an Indian, you will be pleasantly surprised to see a statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Glebe Park. My guide had told me about the same
BIRDS’ EYE VIEW OF LAKE BURLEY GRIFFIN
AND THE ENTIRE CITY.
There is a secret place called Mount Ainslie Lookout from where you can soak in the panoramic view of the entire Canberra city. As we drove up the winding hill, my guide told me that people even arrive here by cycle or even walking. Locals even jog here every day. She asked me to keep my eyes peeled for kangaroos in the roadside bushes. I did but could not spot one. If you have patience and time, you can spot many birds and other wildlife here.
The sweeping views of the city from here are not to be missed. A visit here gives you the perspective of American architect Walter Burley Griffin’s plan for the city. You can clearly see the symmetry and alignment of different important buildings in a backdrop of Mount Stromlo. Lake Burley Griffin snaking through the city adds to the charm.
It is a must visit place especially during sunrise and sunset. There is no entrance fee for the same. It is free. Check out the map here
Another nice place to see panoramic views of Canberra City is the new Parliament building. Yes, you read that right. You can reach the roof of the Parliament building via an elevator from where you can see the city from another angle. The tall Telstra tower is also visible from here. The Australian flag which is the size of a double decker bus will wave above your head as you absorb the spectacular views.
KEEP YOUR EYES PEELED FOR ART INSTALLATIONS:
There is art in every nook and cranny of this area. On most turn you will see display of public art on streets and roads. I am not much of an art connoisseur but still was intrigued by some of the art installations. From quirky to political, the themes of the displayed art are varied. Do check out the National Sculpture Garden which is at the start of Lake Burley Griffin. This place boasts of 26 sculptors made by important artists. I will let the pictures do the talking.
P.S.: Don’t miss the Fujiko Nakaya’s Fog sculpture.
OTHER THINGS TO DO NEAR LAKE BURLEY GRIFFIN
If you are lucky, you may as well see a live concert and musical performances by the lake. You can even take a cruise on the lake. There are many parks and playgrounds which is apt for kids and families. Or you can choose to sit and laze at one of the coffee shops by the lake. Some of the nice gardens here are Canberra Beijing Gardens, Nara Peace Park and Lennox Gardens. If you are visiting in the month of October, please make sure that you attend the amazing Canberra Nara Festival at Nara Peace Park.
WHERE TO STAY IN CANBERRA:
Canberra has many hostels and hotels for all budgets. Do check out Kayak where you can find nice hotels to stay at for different budgets.
HOW TO REACH CANBERRA:
I arrived at Canberra from New Delhi (India) via Singapore. It was a long flight made comfortable for me by the business class of Singapore airlines. The food and service in the airlines was par excellence. Canberra has a small airport which is connected to many of the major airports of the world. In case you are reaching Canberra from Sydney or Melbourne, rest assured, there are good quality train and buses available.
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