Australian Hiker is a website for bushwalking but there are interesting reviews of Canberra Nature Park. As routes are often along management trails they can be ridden as well. In the worst case of ‘walking only’ trails, the review may provide inspiration for further investigation what is possible along management trails.
The Canberra cyclist is many things: some are fit and some are not, some are old and some are young, both men and women. There are different types of bikes, and people ride for many reasons.
Mount Stromlo Forest is a large reserve on the slopes of Mount Stromlo. West of the mountain, many creeks run off undulating hills into the Murrumbidgee River, and have cut into the clay to form deep creek beds.
You are permitted to ride Mount Stromlo Forest on the management trails. This is generally true in all Canberra nature reserves with few exceptions. Mount Stromlo is famous for the network of “single tracks” on the east side at Stromlo Forest Park. These trails are specifically meant for mountain bikes but do not be surprised if you find walkers there too.
The Canberra Nature Park reserves seem to be endless and the view is obstructed by the forest and hills. The management trails and paths meander their way around the hills. This network of trails and paths has grown historically. There is a surprise around every corner.
The recreational use of nature reserves is balanced against preservation. The Canberra Nature Park Draft Reserve Management Plan 2019 includes all the details for each of the 37 nature reserves, but the document is too big to carry with you.
If you are unfamiliar with a reserve, the smartphone app Komoot with OpenStreetMap would be a good start to help you find your way. The information relating to cycling in the Management Plan has been captured in OpenStreetMap. The rideable nature reserves will be reviewed in this post.
In 2019 the Environment, Planning and Sustainable Development Directorate (Environment) released the Canberra Nature Park Draft Reserve Management Plan. The Murrumbidgee corridor, the Molonglo River Reserve, the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and the Namadgi National Park are not part of Canberra Nature Park. The Canberra Nature Park reserves are ideal for recreational cycling.
The ACT Government goals found in the ACT Climate Change Strategy 2019-25, the Molonglo River Reserve Management Plan 2019, and the Active Travel Framework conflict and are difficult to reconcile. These strategies show commonalities but as with any specific project, there will be trade-offs. In the Molonglo Valley, active travel is poorly served.
The ACT Climate Change Strategy 2019-25 goals cannot be met with Recreational Routes, and that is all the Molonglo River Reserve Management Plan 2019 is likely to produce. The Active Travel Framework describes both Recreational Routes and Community Routes. Riding to work must be attractive, direct and safe, if we are to achieve the ACT Climate Change Strategy 2019-25 goals for active travel. We need cycle highways and more Community Routes. Only 3% of Canberra’s commuters currently ride to work – and this is actually a downward trend!
The Molonglo Valley Development demonstrates the tensions that arise in urban development. The Molonglo Special Purpose Reserve and Whitlam Residential Estate show no clear benefit for the active traveller. This should be a reason for concern. A good overarching network of cycle highways will not occur by accident.
“I recently moved to the northside and I don’t know the area”. We want to start riding but it is hard to know where to ride. The first steps are always the most difficult.
Drivers tend to be familiar with the routes that are best for cars. If you walk your child to school, you will know that route best. But there are other possibilities that you are probably not aware of.
Some cyclists will just ride road or single trails. Both require a specialised sports bike. The majority though just want to get from A to B, whether it be for commuting or recreational riding. Recreational riding is like recreational walking – it is done for relaxation and well-being. It is not competitive and not about going fast. It is the normalisation of cycling as something everybody can do. You don’t need to be young or fit to do it.
Fat and off-road tyres can make a city bike better suited for recreational riding in Canberra and its many gravel trails.