Lake Burley Griffin Self-Guided Walking Tour
Walking is one of the best ways to experience your National Capital.
On this self-guided walk, explore the landmarks, special places and memorials along the shores of the central basin of Lake Burley Griffin. Take time out to visit the national institutions along the way.
The ornamental Lake Burley Griffin is the centre of the Griffins’ plan for Canberra. It consists of three water basins – the formal central basin and the more recreational west and east basins. It was created by damming the Molonglo River with Scrivener Dam. Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies officially inaugurated the lake on 17 October 1964. It is 9kms long and the lake shore is 40.5kms in length.
1. National Capital Exhibition
Go inside to discover the story of Australia’s National Capital. Free guided tour at 11am each day. An international competition to design the city was held and the Griffin design was announced as the winning entry in 1912. The proposed city was named as ‘Canberra’ at the laying of a Commencement Stone on 12 March 1913.
2. Walter Burley Griffin Terrazzo
This is a mosaic of the 1913 amended design by Walter Burley Griffin set in the pavement outside the entrance of the National Capital Exhibition. Created in 2000 by Australian artist, David Humphries, this mosaic depicts the design as a page torn from a book.
3. RG Menzies Walk
The walk is named in acknowledgment of Sir Robert Menzies’ crucial contribution to the development of the Nation’s Capital, and in particular, the lake. During his second term as Prime Minister (1949–66), he committed his government to the task of creating a capital worthy of the nation.
4 & 5. Captain James Cook Memorial
Comprising a water jet and terrestrial globe, this was constructed to commemorate the bicentenary of Captain Cook’s landing on the east coast of Australia in 1770, and was dedicated by Queen Elizabeth II in 1970. The three routes of Cook’s voyages, with explanations of ports of call, are inscribed on the surrounding handrail. The jet is a stunning example of hydraulic engineering, sending water into the air at 260kms per hour to a maximum height of 152 metres.
6. Grey-Headed Flying Foxes
A colony of bats has moved in to Commonwealth Park. These mammals play a vital role in ecosystem health and growth, pollinating and dispersing the seeds of native tree species. Flying foxes are becoming more common in urban areas as their natural habitats are destroyed.
7. Commonwealth Park
An integral component of the Griffin design, it first took shape in the 1960s with official gifts such as the Canadian flagpole. In 1965 Dame Sylvia Crowe, well known British landscape architect, prepared a master plan for the development of the park, which now covers 34.5ha. Many concerts, community activities and celebrations are held at Stage 88 and other sites within this park.
8. Citizenship Place
This place consists of a timeline mounted on a metal sculptural wall and inlaid patinated brass lettering in the top of the nearby retaining wall. The lettering records the Citizenship Affirmation which can be made by all Australians.
DETOUR - Nerang Pool
Part of the landscape design of Commonwealth Park this has always been popular with families. Several sculptures can be spotted nearby, including: ‘Untitled sculpture’ by Alan Gauir 1991 - this metal flock of birds was one of the prize winning entries in the 1991 Floriade sculpture competition, ‘Seated Lady’ by Herman Hohuas, ‘Dance of the Secateurs’ by Bruce Radke, 1988 and ‘Two Figures’ by Dame Barbara Hepworth, 1976.
9. RG Menzies Statue
This life-sized statue by Peter Corlett, whose other work include Simpson and His Donkey 1915 at the Australian War Memorial, depicts Menzies walking along the lake he saw constructed. Sir Robert Menzies was Australia’s longest serving Prime Minister.
10. Site of Murray's Bakery
A plaque denotes the site of the bakery and grocery store operated by the Murray family, including nine sons who helped deliver bread in the local area. A fire destroyed the premises in November 1923. Nearby is the Trafalgar Oak, honouring the British Navy, and further along the bike path is a plaque honouring Prime Minister Stanley Melbourne Bruce, whose ashes were scattered over Lake Burley Griffin.
11. Pioneer Women Memorial
This memorial consists of a plaque, a small stone wall and a bench. It is dedicated to the pioneer women of Australia and their contribution to the growth of the nation.
12. Sybil Howy Irving Memorial
Miss Sybil Howy Irving, MBE was an outstanding Australian, prominent in the Girl Guide movement and many other national organisations.
13. Commemorative Oak
Planted in 1964 by Princess Marina, Duchess of Kent, this was the first gift to Commonwealth Park. The seedling was propagated in Canberra from one of 1000 English oak acorns.
14. Rond Terraces
Originally designed as parade grounds for military events, this is on the central Land Axis of the Griffin design. The red gravel here is the same as used along Anzac Parade and creates a sound of marching troops when walked upon. Across the lake Commonwealth Place, Old Parliament House and Parliament House form a vista reminiscent of Marion Griffin’s original image of the capitol buildings.
15. Gallipoli Reach
Named on Anzac Day 1985 after the battle site in Turkey where Australian and New Zealand forces fought in 1915, this is the shoreline of the lake, between Nerang Pool in Commonwealth Park and Aspen Island in Kings Park. In return, Turkey named the landing site at Gallipoli ‘Anzac Cove’. The plaque commemorates the valour of the men of ANZAC and the Turkish defenders, led by General Kemal Ataturk.
16. National Emergency Services Memorial
Dedicated in 2004 in honour of the thousands of men and women who serve and have served in Australia’s emergency management and service organisations. The memorial provides a place to reflect on those who have been injured or died while carrying out their duties for the benefit of the Australian community.
17. Blundells Cottage
Open 10am – 2pm Saturdays. Built in 1860 as a home for workers on the Duntroon Estate. It was occupied for about 100 years, by three tenants: the Ginns, the Blundells and the Oldfields. It also housed extended family and boarders as the new capital grew.
18. Indian Ocean Tsunami Memorial
A memorial to the Australian victims of, and the emergency services who responded to, the Boxing Day 2004 disaster. A place to reflect on these events, Australia’s contribution and those who were lost.
19. Merchant Navy Memorial
Commemorates the contribution of the Merchant Navy during both World Wars. Both naval memorials are located at the lake edge because of their association with water.
20. HMAS Canberra Memorial
A five-tonne anchor and chain of the type normally carried by a naval cruiser, commemorating the sinking of HMAS Canberra during the Battle of Savo Island in 1942. The memorial was designed by the ACT Naval Historical Society.
Public concerts are played each Wednesday and Sunday at 12.30pm. This bell tower was a gift from the British Government to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the National Capital. The tallest of the three triangular towers reaches 50 metres and the 55 bells range from seven kilograms to six tonnes. The bells are played via a keyboard called a clavier.
22. National Police Memorial
This commemorates the service and sacrifice of Australian police officers, with those killed on duty or as a result of their duties identified by bronze plaques. A large stone-paved area tilts downwards to reflect the uncertain path that police face each day.
23. National Workers Memorial
The National Workers Memorial honours Australians who have lost their lives in work-related accidents, incidents or disease and celebrates the vital contribution of Australian workers to building this nation.
24. Boundless Playground
A playground where children of all abilities and all ages can play, socialise, explore, challenge their limits and make new friends.
25. Kings Avenue Bridge
Called Federal Avenue on the Griffin plan, it was renamed in honour of the monarch. Capital Avenue on Griffin’s plan became Constitution Avenue. Constitution, Kings and Commonwealth Avenues form the great triangle at the centre of the Griffin design.
26. Bowen Place Crossing
This multi-use area completes the pedestrian circuit of the central basin. As a beautiful space that contributes to place making and is highly functional for cars, cyclists and pedestrians, it has won national and international design awards.
27. Sculpture Garden
Over three hectares in size, the garden was designed to complement and soften the geometric lines of the National Gallery building. Earthworks and entirely Australian native plantings provide physical and psychological comfort allowing visitors to be guided through a sequence of varying outdoor galleries.
28. Reconciliation Place
This location, in the parliamentary area and on the traditional land of the Ngunnawal people establishes the Reconciliation process physically and symbolically at the heart of Australia’s democratic life. It consists of a central circular mound and pathways extending in three directions, linking it to Commonwealth Place, the High Court of Australia and the National Library of Australia.
29. Commonwealth Place
A community venue in the heart of the Nation’s Capital. The 10m square pavement artwork was a gift from the Canadian Government to mark Australia’s Centenary of Federation in 2001. The design depicts the northern and southern hemispheres’ September skies, featuring both the North Star and the Southern Cross. Commonwealth Place Forecourt – the timber jetties – reinforces the Griffins’ Land Axis, acting as a gateway to the parliamentary area.
30. International Flag Display
Over 110 flags are displayed here, representing those nations that maintain a diplomatic presence in Canberra. It is possibly the largest display in the world and further acknowledges the international aspect of the National Capital.
31. Peace Park
Nestled between a grove of trees and bushes, this park was commissioned by the National Consultative Committee on Peace and Disarmament, during the 1986 United Nations Year of Peace. It is a lasting symbol of Australia’s commitment to peace and provides a place for contemplation.
32. Australians Of The Year Walk
This is a permanent record of those people selected as Australian of the Year, Senior Australian of the Year, Young Australian of the Year and Local Hero - all symbols of our national aspirations and achievements. The design of metal strips in the pathway and the plinths themselves represent part of the music score of Advance Australia Fair.
33. Commonwealth Avenue Bridge
Opened in November 1963, before the lake was filled, sewer mains were cleverly incorporated into the superstructure and the south-east decorative pylon is actually a vent. When London’s Waterloo Bridge was demolished in 1936, some of the large, flat stones from it were donated to the Australian Government. These are now displayed under the bridge, on the northern shore.
34. Japanese Cherry Trees
These trees were presented by the Japanese Government when their Prime Minister visited in 1980. Nara was the ancient capital of Japan and is one of Canberra’s sister cities.