Nothing has made me want to travel more than being housebound for most of this year due to the 19/20 Bushfires, COVID and a spinal injury.
With border restrictions in place, I wanted an activity that gave the same sensation of travelling with the least amount of friction – Hiking.
ACT is the Bush Capital and the local government has tried to make sure that Canberra has as many reserves, sanctuaries, and national parks to stay deserving of the title. So why not take advantage of what you have in your backyard.
There is not one complete list of combing trails from all the ACT Nature reserves, sanctuaries and national parks. Those spaces only contain information about their specific areas.
Instead, australianhiker.com.au compiled a lot of these trails including the authors, Tim, and Gill Savage hiking experiences into a field report format on their website. I figured that this would be a great reference to start from.
Due to spinal injury from my volunteering efforts for the 19/20 bushfires, I am physically restricted to 5km distance per day for a few months and will expand the distances over the next year. The Australian hiker website has a lot of trails under 5km. I was able to copy the ACT trails a list from their website and organise the data by distance in an excel spreadsheet.What I found was that they had over 40 trails under 5km.
However, considering that parts of Namadgi are still closed due to fire damage, how many trails are open to the public? There are 37 trails under 5 km now open. That is when I realised that this would be an interesting challenge to complete.
Starting from the 1st of August, I planned to complete 2 to 3 trails (5km most) per weekend. Hiking all 37 trails across the next 14 weeks until 31st of October. Note: that most, if not, all these trails are well-marked and many within the suburbs of Canberra. By the end of August, we will have completed about 13 trails which are roughly 40km.
When planning trails on the weekend there a few things to consider:
- Check the weather forecast in the areas you might be interested in to ensure the conditions are safe.
- It is always good to have a plan B option for when there are road closures or timing restrictions.
- Notify multiple people not hiking with us of our intended hiking place and rough return time.
- For areas where there is dodgy reception, I will take my Garmin Inreach which is a subscription-based satellite texting GPS.
What do you hope to gain in the end?
Fitness and improved health. A chance to visit different places within the ACT border and explore different micro climates. Once I’ve completed this challenge I will add the details on my website so I can offer more notes and maps of the trails that weren’t included or have changed since being posted on ‘Australian hiker’ website.
Can others do this?
Anyone can take on this challenge or even use the spreadsheet that I will include in this article as a reference when exploring Canberra.
You can follow for my under 5km challenge on Instagram.