Canberra from on high
Canberra Panorama - Mt Ainslie at dawn (Canon MK III, with 17-40mm f4 Lens)

Canberra from on high

If you want to really take in Canberra’s urban design you need to seek out the many vantage points around the city. These are all easy to access and allow you to take panoramic views of the city. The view from Mt. Ainslie is the most iconic and features on many postcards and tourism websites. The top of Mt. Ainslie can be easily accessed via Mt. Ainslie Drive, a short drive from the city centre. Or, if you are feeling energetic there is a path behind the Australian War Memorial that winds its way to the summit.

Mt Ainslie’s main lookout provides direct line of sight over the Australian War Memorial, across Lake Burley Griffin to both the old and new Parliament Houses in the distance. To the left is the suburb of Kingston, the new Foreshore precinct and Manuka Oval, home to Big Bash Cricket and Australian Rules Football. Then to the right of ANZAC Avenue, you can cast your gaze across the central business district, known as Civic. Then further west of Lake Burley, there is Black Mountain and the Telstra Tower.

The last glimpse of sunset over Canberra, looking from Mt. Ainslie.
The view of Canberra at sunset from Mt. Ainslie (Canon 5D MK III with 24-70mm f2.8 lens)

Black Mountain is another vantage point, home of the award-winning Telstra Tower, which was built in 1980. It is otherwise known by the locals as Black Mountain Tower. For seven dollars fifty you can access the Towers three different viewing decks, one of which is enclosed. If you are game you can venture outside. However, even on a calm day at more than 800 meters above sea level the wind can buffet you when on the open-air viewing decks. Be rest assured the Tower has been designed to flex by 1.5 metres to cater for all weather conditions. All the viewing decks provide 360 degree views of Canberra and its surrounds. There are also numerous paths in and around Black Mountain that enable you to take in the native wildlife, these can be accessed from the lookout car park.

View of Canberra from Black Mountain
View of Canberra from Black Mountain (Canon 5D MK III with 17-40mm Lens)

Red Hill is another good vantage point for appreciating Canberra’s award winning design which resides on the southern side of the city and Lake Burley Griffin. The top of Red Hill can be accessed via Red Hill Drive, or again for the energetic there are several trails that can be explored. At the top of Red Hill there are two choices of dining, Onred which offers a finer dining option of tapas and share plates, or the Red Hill Lookout café which is suited to more casual dining.

Mt. Pleasant is another lesser known spot to the north east of the city, which a small peak within the precinct of Duntroon and the Australian Defence Academy. The public can access to the area and is easily accessed via General Bridges Drive and again you can walk up from the base.

Finally, from every one of these vantage spots you can view sunsets and some sunrises, and each will give you a different perspective of the city and its design. Explore each one and see which ones inspires you the most.

More images can be found in my Australian Capital Territory Gallery

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