Canberra Airport is Australia's only inland international airport, just to the east of Canberra. East of the airport is home to the large Kowen Forest as well as bits of Queanbeyan in New South Wales that creep into the Australian Capital Territory.
Where does the border straddle?
If you look on a map, Oaks Estate might seem like this is another Tweed Heads-Coolangatta situation, but instead in Queanbeyan. In many ways, both are very similar, but there are a few noticeable differences:
Otherwise, you could be indeed wondering which jurisdiction you're in.
This area is as boring as it could get. If you had to ask a Canberran for one specific region or district to visit, none will ever recommend this region. There is only one suburb: Pialligo (excluding Beard and Oaks Estate which although residential, is not officially a suburb), and Pialligo only has a population of 120 (2016).
Nevertheless, if you're the kind of person who likes exploring new places and are into nature and local history, this area will certainly impress you. While there are a few homesteads scattered here and there, there are several long-distance bushwalking trails that pass some pretty impressive forests. While Canberra's history is relatively short, here you can find Walter Burley Griffin's longest-living legacy; the Pialligo Redwood Forest, albeit small was planted by Burley Griffin in 1918 along with arborist and horticulturalist Charles Weston.
This article covers the districts of Majura and Kowen and a little bit of the district of Jerrabomberra. Although the primary way to access Queanbeyan is through the ACT, since it is in New South Wales, it is not covered in this article.
Get in and around edit
If you're arriving in Canberra by plane, you'd probably have guessed already that 1 Canberra Airport is in this district. The good news is that you don't need to travel to visit this district; the bad news is that unless you're going to rent a car, you're going nowhere but west towards North Canberra as most of this region is rural.
The R3 line (Civic via Russell in North Canberra, though the line only goes as far east as the airport and Majura; elsewhere, there is no public transport. To get further afield, you are best to rent a car. All major national brands operate from the airport or have nearby pickup locations.) connects the district to
Since airports generally need to be well-connected (and it'd be strange for an airport to have limited road access), there is good road access from, well, most of Canberra with freeway access (M23 Majura Parkway) from Gungahlin, parts of South Canberra and Tuggeranong and while not served a freeway, North Canberra and Civic are within 5-10 minutes from the airport via Parkes Way and Morshead Drive.
Although getting to and around this region except to the airport on a cycle is not advised, there are two cycling routes in this district:
- South Canberra suburb of Parkes and terminates at Queanbeyan, briefly passing through this district (well south of the airport). However, the route it uses makes it inconvenient and indirect to reach the airport – if you are visiting the airport or the nearby business park on a bike, a separate path diverges at Kingston (in South Canberra) – follow the signs to the airport. From Queanbeyan, you'll have to take the long way. – this route starts in the
- Gungahlin, this bike freeway follows parallel to Horse Park Drive and Majura Parkway (M23) and terminates at the airport. – from
See and do edit
There aren't a whole heap of things to see or do in this section of Canberra – the many hiking trails are used more by locals than travellers. But if you're still determined, the district does have a few things to see or do.
- 1 Historic Glenburn Homestead, 325 Charcoal Kiln Rd, Kowen. It's one of those places where you can still get a next-to-realistic feel of what the land area which makes up Canberra during the times when Canberra was just farmland. There are also short bushwalking trails nearby.
- 1 Kowen Forest. It takes up the entirely of the District of Kowen in Canberra's northeast, and is Canberra's largest commercial pine plantation. The park has a network of mountain bike trails, but also a good place for bushwalking, horse riding, and orienteering. There's also a campground too, but it requires you to go on 10 km of unsealed dirt roads, and you must have a 4WD to enter the park.
- 2 Molonglo Gorge Recreation Reserve (Molonglo Gorge), Sutton Road, Queenbeyan East, ☏ . A small reserve that has a couple of scenic walks, picnics, camping, swimming. It's best known for its gorge (that's why the park was named as such), stretching over 15 km.
- 2 Pialligo Redwood Forest, Pialligo Ave, Pialligo, firstname.lastname@example.org. Walter Burley Griffin's longest legacy lies here; the site where Burley Griffin and arborist and horticulturalist Charles Weston planted a redwood forest. Whilst Weston wasn't in favour, they still went ahead but only 3,000 trees survived – around 2.4 per cent of the original 122,000. Whilst it may be a failed project, the forest is now a national heritage site and you can explore the forest on a short 3-km walking trail.
There are few places to eat here outside the airport. Of the few places to eat, most, or nearly all, are within Majura Park Shopping Centre. The few eateries outside do have a special feel; often, these pride themselves by marketing themselves as "organic" or deliberately set up to resemble a rural feel. That said, there are a few restaurants in Oaks Estate, the bits of Queanbeyan that've crept north of the border that generally look like any typical restaurant you'd find in a rural town in New South Wales.
- 1 Pialligo Farm Shop Cafe, 12 Beltana Rd, Pialligo, ☏ . W–F 8:30AM–2PM, Sa Su 8:30AM–2:30PM. One of the few organic cafes of Canberra, what you get from this cafe is mostly homegrown from its backyard.
- Majura Park Shopping Centre has several eateries, but almost all of them are chains.
In the airport edit
As Canberra Airport is quite small, options are fairly limited, but this list should give you an idea of what it's like.
- Baker's Cut. Daily 5AM–7PM. Has an extensive range of specialty sandwiches from as little as $9. There is also a coffee menu too, but Baker’s Cut isn't really known for its coffee.
- cityhill coffee, Level 2, Departures. Daily 5:30AM–7PM. Has delectable coffee and lots of good pastries and breakfast items. There's a strong emphasis on locally supplied products too, making it a real Canberran cafe.
- Capital Brewing Bar, Departures in Level 2. Su–W noon–7PM, Th F 9:30AM–7PM (closed Saturdays). A great brewery with all sorts of beers consumed in NSW/ACT including some of Canberra's favourites such as Coast Ale, Trail Pale Ale and XPA.
- 1 Mount Majura Vineyard, 88 Lime Kiln Road, Majura, ☏ , email@example.com. 10AM–5PM. Located in the northeast of Canberra in Majura is perhaps one of the few places where you could go wine-tasting and still be in a capital city and surprisingly, what you'd get is not expensive, but rather on the mid-range side.
There is only one place to rest your head in the vicinity of the airport, but it shouldn't be a surprise given Canberra Airport isn't even that large in the first place.
- 1 Vibe Hotel Canberra, 1 Rogan St, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: 11PM. A mid-range hotel that is perhaps the most prominent hotel as soon as you leave the airport terminal. The rooms are said to be spacious, however the bathrooms may not be the best. Includes private parking and breakfast. From $249.
There are no campgrounds within the few parks and forests in the east.
|Goulburn ← Gungahlin ←||N S||→ Fyshwick → Tuggeranong|
|Civic ← North Canberra ←||W E||→ END|
|Parkes ← Fyshwick ←||W E||→ NSW/ACT border → Queanbeyan|
|Gungahlin ←||NW S||→ END|