Country ACT (or Country Australian Capital Territory for those unaware of what "ACT" stands for) is just a large rural area surrounding the urban areas of Canberra in all directions by the north, where the kookaburra's head hits the New South Wales border. The countryside is mostly farmland filled with an alpine landscape and while most people think that Canberra is just often a city with just museums, government buildings and historic sites but like the rest of Australia, the city is never short for those wanting to escape the city – and why Canberra gets the name "The Bush Capital". For travellers wishing to uphold Canberra's slogan, it's where you can truly explore the bush capital of Australia.
Tuggeranong is a large district to the south of Canberra, meaning "cold place" in Ngunnawal (the local Indigenous language). It is not really a popular travel destination, but a base for the Australian Alps and the southern areas of Country ACT. Tuggeranong also has a couple of markets and some shops, but it is not known much for that but instead reflects "residential Canberra".
Tuggeranong is obviously the large district that this article covers, which is also one of Canberra's prime seven districts. Apart from that, all but one rural town (Hall) are in Country ACT. Many are just small towns or even villages (a term seldom used in Australian English) of little interest to travellers, but some have some significant historical significance.
- 1 Tharwa – one of the only settlements in the ACT (excluding Canberra) that get a reasonable number of tourists. It's a historic town that was established in 1862, making it the oldest settlement in the ACT, but the town is slowly on a decline.
- 2 Uriarra Village – the only village that has the title of "community village" in Australia, established in 1928 (which was well after Canberra was established, but a reasonable distance away)
- 3 Williamsdale – a small settlement of 21 in the southeast of the ACT, alongside the New South Wales border.
Get in edit
By car edit
As the region is huge, getting from one point does not exactly mean you will get to the other and car is the best way to get into most of country ACT as public transport only goes up to Tuggeranong.
If you are going to Tuggeranong or Tharwa from the central or northern parts of Canberra such as the city, Belconnen or Gungahlin, get onto Gungahlin Drive which starts at the very south of Gungahlin is a mostly freeway-grade road passing through the southeast corner of Belconnen (where one can enter the freeway) passing through Woden and Weston, before the road changes its name to Drakeford Drive and becomes just an urban road. If you're coming from places like the city, head west onto Parkes Way west and then enter onto the freeway. Once on the freeway, continue until the end of Drakeford Drive, where you'd have reached Tuggeranong.
Tharwa Drive branches out from the end of Drakeford Drive which heads down to the historic township of Tharwa, and from Tharwa, the road splits into two, Tidbinbilla Road heads northwest out to the outer edges of the western Country ACT.
If you are coming places like Fyshwick or the airport, getting to Tuggeranong is a piece of cake due to the rather newly built M23 Majura Parkway which is a good freeway with a speed limit of 90–100 km/h (56–62 mph). There are several entry points into Majura Pkwy, and once the freeway ends, continue onto B23 until Johnston Drive. Once on Johnston Drive, immediately turn left on the roundabout until you eventually reach Tuggeranong. If you do eventually continue, you'll reach the Tharwa Drive/Drakeford Drive intersection where you can head off down southwest to Tharwa.
However, if you are going to places due west of the city such as Stromlo, you do not have to go around to Tharwa and then come back up northwest through Tidbinbilla Road and Paddys River Road. Instead, you can use either Cotter or Uriarra Road. The former heads directly west, while the latter heads northwest.
By bus edit
The two most important bus routes that come to Tuggeranong are the R4 and R5 lines. Both of the lines head to Civic and pass through Woden, but they stop at different locations in Tuggeranong. The last point where both run parallel to each other is up to Wanniassa, where the R4 line heads southwest on Athllon Drive and terminates at the Tuggeranong Interchange, where you can connect to bus lines 70 to 81 while R5 from Wanniassa heads southeast passing the Calwell Shops (and where you can connect to bus lines 76, 79 and 182) terminating at the Lanyon Marketplace from where you can connect to lines 80, 81, 180, 181 and 182.
Get around edit
As the rural areas of ACT isn't really "one district", nearly all of the time, if you are intending to get around from one place to another, you will be heading through the urban areas of Canberra, owing to the fact that there is no public transport connecting each of the several districts in Country ACT, and also the fact that all roads will head through some urban bit or another.
If you are getting around Tuggeranong, there is a bus network, which its map can be found here[dead link]. Most suburbs and areas are covered one way or another, but it may not be the most direct route.
Outside Tuggeranong, there are no other bus routes that circulate within the district.
Historic sites edit
- 1 Lanyon Homestead, Lanyon Drive, firstname.lastname@example.org. 10AM-4PM (closed Mondays). Historic homestead of early Canberra settlers, guided tours, walks and a maintained garden. Cafe for lunch, coffee and cake. A three-house pass for $15/10/30 covers Lanyon, Calthorpe's House and Mugga Mugga house in Symanston. $7 adult, $5 concession, $15 family.
- 2 Mugga-Mugga (Mugga-Mugga Cottage), 129 Narrabundah Ln, Symonston, ☏ , email@example.com. 10AM–2PM (first weekend of every month). A perfect example and remnant of what Canberra was in the 1830s! (yep, that's the 1830s, not the 1930s). This former workers cottage now has regular tours, and occur during 10AM, 10:45AM, 11:15AM, 12:30PM and 1:15PM when it's open.
- 3 Tharwa Village (via Tharwa Drive, accessible from the Monaro Highway south of Canberra or at the end of the Tuggeranong Parkway). A small village, one of the original settlements in the ACT area. See the old bridge over the Murumbidgee River, visit Lanyon Homestead (see above) and Cuppacumbalong Pottery. Tharwa is also the gateway to Namadgi National Park and Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.
- 4 Tuggeranong Homestead, 51 Johnson Dr, Richardson, ☏ . One of the most notable homesteads that was owned by a succession of prominent pastoralists over the last century before ownership was transferred to the government. Today it is used as a venue for special events, conferences and weddings. .
- 5 Tuggeranong Schoolhouse Museum, 34 Enid Lorimer Cct, Chisholm, ☏ . 10AM–4PM on every second Sunday of the month. Although Canberra's historic homesteads are often only found within its rural areas, this 130-year-old schoolhouse has furniture, artifacts and antiques from the pastoral times of Canberra.
Art, science and geology edit
- 6 Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, 421 Discovery Dr, Tidbinbilla (off Paddys River Road), ☏ . Daily 9AM–5PM; closed Christmas day. The Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (often called the "Tidbinbilla Tracking Station") is part of a network of three NASA facilities worldwide used to maintain contacts with probes launched from Earth. The facility is visually impressive, and claims to have "the largest antenna complex in the southern hemisphere". It also has an interesting visitors centre. The complex is about a 45 minute drive from Civic. As of 2022, the visitor centre and the cafe are temporarily closed due to staffing issues, but it is expected to reopen in 2023. . Free.
- 7 Geoscience Australia, 101 Jerrabomberra Ave, Symonston, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M–F 9AM–5PM (closed weekends and public holidays). An education centre with some great explanations of Australia's geology and science. Displays include minerals, rocks, fossils and plenty of historical items. Parking is available outside, and the centre is wheelchair-accessible. Free.
- 8 Tuggeranong Arts Centre, 137 Reed St N, Greenway, ☏ . Tu–F 10AM–5PM, Sa 10AM–4PM, closed Su M. An art centere featuring a 110-seat theatre, 2 galleries, 2 dance studios, a workshop space, and a digital media studio. A list of upcoming events can be found here.
Natural attractions edit
The national park that was established for a strange reason...
Nearly every single national park throughout the world was established in preserving the local environment and as Namadgi protects nearly all of the ACT's wilderness, it'd be easy to think that it was originally established to protect the ACT's wilderness, right? Strangely, the answer to that is no.
When the boundaries of the ACT were established during the early 20th century, the boundaries were drawn up so convoluted for one reason – water supply. When snow melted from Mount Franklin and nearby mountains, any pollution and sewerage issues from up the top would be "NSW's problem", while the dams in the ACT were protected so Canberra's water supply wouldn't be affected. Today, as conservation groups have risen, the park is now a popular hiking destination, and a national heritage park as part of the Australian Alps National Parks.
- 9 Gibraltar Falls, Corin Rd, Paddys River. One of the largest waterfalls in Canberra with a drop of over 50 metres. While it is part of the Namadgi National Park, many travellers visit the falls on a separate trip as it's a separate destination in its own right. Facilities at the waterfall include a lookout, a barbecue area and a picnic area. For bushwalking enthusiasts, there are some bushwalking trails too!
- 10 Lake Tuggeranong. An artificial lake sourced by the confluence of Tuggeranong Creek and stormwater discharge. There's a nice small walk around the lake, but otherwise the lake itself is somewhere where you can just sit down and relax by the water.
- 11 Mount Wanniassa. A 809-metre mountain peak nestled between the suburbs of Wanniassa, Farrer, Isaacs and Fadden. The mountain is part of the Wanniassa Hills Nature Reserve providing excellent views of Woden and Tuggeranong. The mountain can be climbed via the established walking trails on the east and west slopes.
- 12 Namadgi National Park (via Tharwa Road and Naas Road (some parts accessible via Weston Creek, Cotter Dam Road and Brindabella Road further north)), ☏ , email@example.com. The national park making up about 47% of the entire ACT and the most northerly of the Australian Alps national parks. Lots of walking tracks, including scenic views over the Brindabella Ranges, mountain bike trails and scenic drives (on unsealed roads), rock climbing at Booroomba Rocks. Inside the park are Honeysuckle Creek and Orroral Valley, the former sites of tracking sites for the Apollo Moon Landings. Enquire at the visitors centre on Naas Road or see the website for further details. In winter roads in the park may be closed because of snowfall. The park is a good place for those who'd like a bit of snow. Free (charges apply for camping).
- 13 Tuggeranong Hill. Tuggeranong Hill is sometimes incorrectly referred to as Mount Tuggeranong due to its prominence, surrounded by Lanyon Valley – a valley completely surrounded by hills and mountains.
Parks and resorts edit
- 1 Pine Island Reserve. A small reserve along the Murrumbidgee River containing quite a lot of pine trees. The reserve has plenty of facilities, and popular recreational activities include swimming, fishing, and kayaking.
- 2 Corin Forest Mountain Resort (Corin Forest Resort), 1268 Corin Dam Rd, Paddys River, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. M–F 10AM–5PM, Sa Su 9AM–5PM. If you cannot leave the ACT during winter, and don't want to miss the snow, this place gets a bit of snow, enough to be a ski resort and a recreation centre with an alpine slide, ski and snowplay area, and a lodge along with an alpine dining area. It is the only ski resort in the ACT, and it receives surprisingly good amount of snow (on top of the snow machines).
- 3 Southern Cross Stadium, 7 Pitman St, Greenway, ☏ . A multi-purpose indoor stadium primarily used for basketball. The venue has hosted the Canberra Roller Derby League, but it is not one of the major stadiums in Canberra.
- 4 Viking Park, 4 Amsinck St, Wanniassa, ☏ . A stadium with a capacity of 7,000 (1,000 seated), multi-sport stadium which has a rectangular playing surface which is used primarily to host rugby union matches but additionally has hosted rugby league, soccer and baseball. It is home to the Tuggeranong Vikings and all matches of the ACTRU Premier Division finals, the Canberra Vikings who compete in the National Rugby Championship and the Tuggeranong Vikings Baseball Club.
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve edit
5 Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve can be said to be the Australian Capital Territory's second most important park, after Namadgi. Some would argue that Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is more important since it attracts more visitors, especially families. The nature reserve is a part of the national heritage-listed Australian Alps National Parks and Reserves[dead link]. Whatever you consider to be "more important", Tidbinbilla is a "must-see" when you're in Country ACT.
There are a large number of walks which offer stunning views of the Brindabella Mountains. You can also take ranger-guided walks or have fun with the hands on displays such as the interactive computer program on Tidbinbilla's bird species and look at the live animal displays. The gift shop sells an interesting range of clothes, toys, books, cards and souvenirs. Coffee and light refreshments are also available. The nature reserve also contains a 25,000-year-old rock shelter, and is the world's oldest inhabited rock shelter.
But first, before you go bushwalk any of the park's trails, you'd want to check out the park's visitor centre; 1 Tidbinbilla Visitor Centre. It's open 9AM–4:30PM daily during winter, while during summer, the visitor centre is open till 5PM only on weekends. The centre can be found at Tidbinbilla Reserve Rd in Paddys River, just along the T-junction with Gilmores Road – look to the south. There is parking available, and the visitor centre has some maps for you to pick up before you start bushwalking. If you need to call the visitor centre, call ☏ .
It's also worth noting that there are fees to enter the reserve too, but it's not much. For a day pass, you'll need to pay $11 per vehicle (up to 8 seats), or if you want an annual pass, it's $32 – the latter is often targeted at Canberrans rather than non-Canberrans, but if you're going to stay at the park for three or more nights, it may well be worth it. Note that New South Wales national parks passes are not valid in Tidbinbilla or any other ACT park.
A full list of all walking trails can be found at the ACT Parks website, but some of the most notable trails as follows:
- Birrigai Time Trail – a 3-km walk that will set you back in back in time giving you a better understanding of the Indigenous history of Tidbinbilla. This trail is a predominantly flat walk, starts at the visitor centre and ends at the Birrigai Rock Shelter, which is the world's oldest inhabited rock shelter with artifacts dating to over 25,000 years!
- Congwarra Trail is a trail more family-oriented and takes around an hour to complete. The trail covers a distance of 3–4 km (1.9–2.5 mi), starting at the visitor centre, and terminates at the nature discovery playground.
- Church Rock Heritage Loop – a short 2.5-km trail taking you through ruins of the late 19th century where many historic remnants remain to this day.
- Gibraltar Peak is a hard and steep 8.2-kilometre trail taking 2–3 hours to complete. However, once you get up the top, you'll get a full panoramic view of Canberra and the nature reserve.
- Sanctuary Loop is one of the best trails to see Australian wildlife such as brush-tailed rock-wallabies, platypus, echidnas, and many different kinds of birds in their natural habitat. It's an easy 2.5-km loop, and is wheelchair accessible.
- Turkey Hill Trail – a short 500-metre trail (1,600-ft) up Turkey Hill. You'll see some excellent granite boulders and panoramic mountains, so make sure to have a camera with you. The walk is only 15 minutes, but you will need to take your car from the visitor centre 2 km southwest to the 1 Dalsetta Carpark.
- 1 Tuggeranong Market, Webber Cres, Calwell. First Sunday of every month in the lovely Tuggeranong Homestead opposite the Calwell Shops. Lots of stalls, selling amazing stuff.
Malls and shopping centres edit
- 2 South.Point Tuggeranong (Tuggeranong Hyperdome). A major enclosed shopping mall in the Tuggeranong town centre. The mall features a K-mart, a Target, supermarkets, a food court, and numerous specialty clothing stores.
- 3 Erindale Centre. A mid-sized shopping centre located on the former site of the Erindale Homestead with 76 stores, restaurants, cafes, and entertainment venues. It was intended to be the primary shopping mall for Tuggeranong, but instead South.Point (which was constructed two years later) took that title instead.
|This page uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:|
Unlike in many parts of Canberra where you can get a different range, the range in Tuggeranong is pretty much similar to what the range you can expect to find in a normal regional New South Wales city – both in terms of the range of food, and the price range (which is usually about ≈$15-20). Unusually though, there are many Turkish eateries, and so you can never be short of pide!
Most of Tuggeranong's eateries are located within or near 2 Tuggeranong Town Centre, and are within a few minutes walk.
Budget eateries are fairly limited in Tuggeranong and non-existent in Country ACT, but there are several budget eateries in the town centre and in South.Point's food court. Fast food chains like Maccas, Pizza Huts or KFCs can be found throughout Tuggeranong, but as there aren't any "budget" eateries in Country ACT, that also means no fast food chains in the rural areas.
- 1 Asian Noodle House, South.Point Tuggeranong, ☏ . Daily 11AM–2:30PM, 5PM–9:30PM. Some lower-range Asian noodles. Known for its laksa. However, it doesn't have a great reputation and there have been several reports of overcooked meals, but if you're on a budget, it's one of your few options available.
- 2 Manoosh Pizzeria, 15 Limburg Way, Greenway, ☏ , toll-free: 1800 626 667. Su–Th 11AM–11PM, F Sa 11AM–midnight. A pizzeria that sells just what you would find in any other pizza shop in Australia.
- 3 That Pasta Place, Alfredo's, 10/341 Reed St S, Greenway, ☏ , email@example.com. M–Th 6AM–9PM, F Sa 6AM–10PM (closed Sundays). A long established restaurant in Tuggeranong that specialises, in well, pasta. There's not many options on the menu, but if you couldn't pick, perhaps try That Bolognese which has got 24 ingredients (yep, you read that right, 24!). Dine-in, delivery and takeaway available.
- 4 Johneys Kitchen, in Erindale Shopping Centre, 68 Comrie St, Wanniassa, ☏ . Perhaps a good place to get some Chinese food if you're looking for some Chinese food. The food may not as good as what you may get in Dickson, which is Canberra's de facto Chinatown, but is still worth trying.
- 5 Little Istanbul, 9b/210 Anketell St., Greenway, ☏ . Daily 9AM–9PM. A Turkish restaurant known for the very tasty pide and dips. But Little Istanbul is not known just for its pide, it's known for its tasty and flavourful albeit expensive kebab platter. What more, despite being located in an inland city, the seafood banquets and platters are also worth trying.
- 6 Master Kebabs Erindale Wanniassa Canberra, Shop 2/50 Denigan St, Wanniassa, ☏ . Possibly on the very lowest end of "mid-range" food you could find, this kebab shop specialises in Italian and Turkish (or Mediterranean food in general). From its colourful signs on the outside, to its food, finding a mix of Turkish–Italian restaurants is generally not common in Canberra.
- 7 Street of Asia, Shop G15, South.Point (in ground floor of South.Point), ☏ . M–Sa 11:30AM–2:30PM, 5:30–8:30PM (closed Sundays). A Thai-Chinese restaurant that serves excellent chicken, beef and pork meals, but also serves great seafood. Something that's usually hard to find in Canberra is the Chowkoon Sweet Chilli Crispy Fish, a sweet and sour crispy fish that can be found.
- 8 Thai Som Tum Restaurant, 17 Sidney Nolan St, Conder, ☏ . Su Tu–Th 5–10PM; F Sa 5–10:30PM. Another classic Australianised Thai restaurant that isn't really known for anything in particular.
- 9 Turkish Grill, 9a/20 Gartside St, Wanniassa, ☏ . 5PM–9PM (closed Mondays). A very Australianised version of Turkish food. A good place to get pide and many Turkish specials which would otherwise only be available in the city.
- 10 Canberra Southern Cross Club Tuggeranong, cnr 39 Pitman St. and Holwell St., Greenway, ☏ , firstname.lastname@example.org. Su–Th 9AM–2AM, F Sa 9AM–4AM. An RSL club with three restaurants, which includes some good music, a bar and pretty much many different varieties of Western and Asian cuisines.
- 1 Calwell Tavern (Calwell Grans C3 Family Bar and Bistro), 1 Webber Cres, Calwell, ☏ . Su–Tu 11:30AM–6:30PM, W–Sa 11:30AM–10PM. A family run bar and bistro with some great food and drinks. Staff are known to be very friendly, and the tavern can give a cozy setting. Prices average between $10 and $22..
- 2 PJ O'Reilly's, 78 Reed St North, Greenway, ☏ . M 11:30AM–10PM, Tu 11:30AM–10:30PM, W 11:30AM–11:30PM Th 11:30AM–midnight F Sa 11:30AM–1AM Su noon–9PM. An Irish themed pub with a good deal of burgers and pizzas. Happy hour (3–5PM) is just $5, with lots of specials on and a jug of beer is just $20 on Fridays and Saturdays.
- 1 Abode Tuggeranong, 150 Anketell St, Greenway, ☏ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. A reasonably sized hotel/motel with most of the amenities one would find in a normal Australian hotel. Includes free parking and convenient if you want to do some shopping at the South Tuggeranong Shopping Centre. from $148.
- 2 Alpha Hotel Canberra, 46 Rowland Rees Cres., Greenway, ☏ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. A large hotel with plenty of facilities and amenities. The back of the hotel is pretty much all bushland and the so going out to the bush from here is as easy as it sounds. from $163.
- 3 Sundown Villas, 205 Narrabundah Ln, Symonston, ☏ . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. Though it's a bit of a distance to both Tuggeranong and the rest of Country ACT, it's in a quite tranquil location which includes a pool and a dining facility. The rooms are large, but the building is a bit dated and maintenance is an issue here.
- 4 Nil Desperandum, Paddys River Rd, Paddys River (in Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve), ☏ , email@example.com. While Country ACT has many historic huts and buildings preserved from the pastoral colonial times of what is now Canberra, there is nowhere else like Nil Desperandum – because you can actually sleep inside it. It's located inside Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, so not only do you get a real feel of historic Canberra, you also get some great mountain scenery. However, only 4WDs and AWDs can access the property, and only a maximum of six guests are allowed. From $187.
There are several campgrounds within the two primary parks of Country ACT – Namadgi National Park and Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. Campgrounds in Namadgi National Park can be found at Namadgi National Park § Sleep, while this page covers all campgrounds outside Namadgi National Park, including Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.
All campgrounds require a booking, which can be made on the Parks ACT[dead link] website.
- 5 Cotter Campground, 1691 Cotter Rd, Stromlo, ☏ . A wheelchair-accessible riverside campground by the Murrumbidgee River with plenty of bushwalking trails nearby. It's one of the more developed campgrounds in the region with barbecues, firepits, and picnic tables, but what it also has is some good hot showers! Yep, you read that right, hot showers, something that's nearly impossible to find in campgrounds in NSW/ACT. There is also dishwashing facilities and portable water. Access to the campground is easy, and can be done entirely on sealed roads, and there's a sign along Cotter Road, so look out for the sign towards the southeast.
- 6 Woods Reserve, Corin Rd, Paddys River, ☏ . A mid-sized wheelchair accessible campground that is a good base for exploring Canberra's only prominent waterfall; Gibraltar Falls. There's a walking trail from the campground to the falls, so you don't need to take your car out further west. Toilets and showers can be found here, but they aren't the best you could find. Strangely, dogs are allowed, but only within the campground – taking your dog anywhere outside is a finable offense.
There is Wi-Fi available at the major malls and shopping centres in Tuggeranong. Some parts of the airport may have some too.
5G connection exists pretty much everywhere where you're inside the urban areas of Canberra, but fades out once you head out into the bush and non-existent in much of Namadgi National Park.
|END ←||S NE||→ Woden → Civic|
|Gungahlin ← Belconnen ← Woden-Weston Creek ←||N TUGGERANONG PARKWAY S||→ END|
|END ←||S NE||→ Woden → Parliamentary Triangle|
|Belconnen (continues as ) ← Weston Creek and Molonglo Valley ←||N S||→ END|