Two weeks after I returned from France, I suddenly got a job and found myself moving to Canberra. For a while I was pretty flat out just finding a place to live and adjusting to full-time work. Then I started studying part-time as well, and between work and assignments and basic things like shopping and cooking, I couldn’t seem to find much time left over to get out and explore my new home town.
Finally, I started getting a bit more used to my new job. Then I finished the last set of assignments for the semester, and suddenly I had some free time on my hands, and a perfect idea for how to spend some of it! As I’ve written before, my second year in France re-affirmed my love of hiking, and I knew that wherever I moved when I got back to Australia, I hoped to be able to go for some nice long walks on weekends or holidays. So I was quite excited to discover that there are loads of nice walks to do in and around Canberra, and looking forward to having lots of walking adventures.
One hike in particular caught my attention: it’s called the Canberra Centenary trail, and seems to be the ACT’s equivalent of Île de France’s GR1 (which, sadly, I never got to finish – I’ll have to go back!) in that it’s a big loop around the area, for hikers and cyclists. This time I’m relying on a handful of electronic maps on my phone instead of big blue topographical paper maps, and following signs with the Centenary Trail Logo (a black or white road on a green and blue background) instead of the red-and-white stripes of the GRs. And of course, I’m back in Australia, instead of in France. Yet still the process feels kind-of familiar – I’m definitely getting the hang of how to make hiking work for me!
The Centenary trail is 145km long, officially divided into 7 sections for hikers. I decided to follow a slightly modified break-down of the route by another hiker who’d figured out how to make it work on public transport. Her first stage went from Parliament House to Mt Majura. I ended up doing this stage over two weekends, extending it a little bit by starting from my house in Turner and stopping at several attractions along the way.
I really enjoyed combining experiencing some of the beautiful nature in and around Canberra with visiting some important sites like Parliament House and the National Portraits Gallery. I discovered some museums and galleries that I never even knew existed, like the Australian Museum of Democracy (which I loved!!!), and learned more about Australia’s history, culture and art. It was also an opportunity for me to reflect a bit more on my own identity (as a Christian, Australian, traveler, worker, student etc). I had a great time on the first section of the trail, and am very much looking forward to seeing what the rest of the trail has to offer!