Section 1 – Parliament House to Watson

Back to the Canberra Centenary Trail

Map of Section 1 from Parliament House to Watson (PDF  959 KB)

Cycling map of Sections 1,2 & 3 from Parliament House to Hall Village (PDF 5MB)

If you would like a large detailed hard copy map please contact and leave your name and postal address.

Walk 20.6 kmapprox 7 hours*
Ride 16.4 kmapprox 1.5 hours**

*Approximate walk times are calculated at 3km/hour.  Allow more time for stops if required. 
**Approximate ride times are calculated in accordance with the terrain and rates vary from 8km/hour to 12km/hour.

Section 1 takes walkers and cyclists through the Parliamentary Triangle and past Canberra's national institutions including:

  • Parliament House
  • Museum of Australian Democracy
  • National Gallery Australia
  • National Portrait Gallery
  • High Court of Australia
  • War Memorials of Anzac Parade
  • Australian War Memorial

Enjoy the following nature reserves that form part of Canberra Nature Park along this section:

  • Mount Ainslie
  • Mount Majura.

Summits for walkers only:

  • Mount Ainslie
  • Mount Majura.


Scriveners Camp

This location, near the site of the Capital's early surveyors' camp, is a good place to think about the thousands of workers who built the new Capital out of its isolated bush beginnings.

With no housing available, the workers who came to Canberra lived through the extremes of summer and winter in tented camps. Several labour camps were located nearby on Capital Hill, close to the major work sites of Parliament House and Hotel Canberra.

By 1927, most of the tented camps across Canberra were replaced by simple pine huts, with many evolving into hostels. The Hillside Hostel, built nearby on Capital Hill, housed the post-war migrant tradesmen who found work in Canberra in the 1940s. Once a familiar part of the landscape, the Capital Hill camps disappeared in the 1960s.

old photo of Scriveners Camp

After the surveying work was done, the workmen arrived. The No. 1 Mess, Labourer's Camp on Capital Hill, housed 1,200 men during the 1920s. This was a camp for single men, but other camps across Canberra housed married workers and their families.
Credit: Image used with permission of Canberra & District Historical Society.

old photo of The Provisional Parliament House

The Provisional Parliament House was completed in 1927 but Canberra lacked trees after many decades of grazing. Large numbers of workers were involved in building the landscape and infrastructure of the Capital for decades to come. This image shows the landscaping around Parliament House, underway in 1926.
Credit: Photo taken by William James Mildenhall, Parliament House landscape development with horse teams, 1926. From the collection of the National Archives of Australia. NAA: A3560, 863.

Canberra's Designed Landscape

This section of the trail passes through Canberra's most significant designed landscape—the sweeping vista linking the Australian War Memorial to Parliament House.

In recent decades, the War Memorial and Parliament have become defining elements of the city's grand land axis. Walter Burley Griffin, in his original 1912 plan, imagined the central national area as a space symbolising the democratic relationship between the Australian people, their government and their capital city.

Over the last 100 years, Australia's key national institutions have been constructed within this carefully designed and highly symbolic space, though not in the positions that Griffin had placed them. The monuments, mounds and walkways within the vista commemorate important national events, issues and individuals, including war and reconciliation.

Canberras Designed Landscape

The 1912 Griffin plan for Canberra featured a land axis, a water axis and a Capitol building (at the top of Capital Hill) intended to recognise Australian aspiration, achievement and ideals. The Parliament was situated further down the hill. For Griffin, the people in a democracy must always take precedence over their elected representatives.
Credit:1953 map based on Griffin's design, White, Canberra: A Nation's Capital.

Protecting Canberra Nature Park

This part of the trail passes through the Canberra Nature Park. An interconnected nature reserve within and around the city, these parks are what make Canberra unique.

Nature reserves were a key part of the city's early planning. Before the city began, the Commonwealth had determined that the hills of the Capital should be wooded. Led by horticulturalist, Charles Weston, a comprehensive planting program was mobilised across the city and Canberra's hills were progressively reforested.

Over the last 100 years, the rich natural ecosystems have progressively improved and today places like Mount Majura are a haven for native wildlife. The work of Volunteer ParkCare groups plays an important part in protecting these reserves. Here at Mount Majura, a small group of dedicated volunteers with the help of ACT Parks and Conservation Service, actively manage invasive pests and replant native species.

ParkCare members at work in Canberra Nature Park

ParkCare members at work in Canberra Nature Park.
Credit:Photo taken by Margaret Clough, image reproduced courtesy of Mount Ainslie Weeders

Canberra Centenary Trail logo


For the latest weather conditions on the Centenary Trail view the BOM website.

Fire risk

For information on fire risk in the region view the Emergency Services Agency website.

Stay safe

All trail users should consider the following:

  • your fitness level and that of others with you
  • tell someone where you are going
  • carry plenty of water
  • take healthy snacks such as fruit, nuts and seeds
  • carry a map or information sheet
  • carry a mobile phone
  • take a waterproof jacket
  • wear comfortable and sturdy walking shoes
  • wear a broad brimmed hat, long sleeves and sunscreen
  • make transport arrangement for the start and end points.

Contact Us

Canberra Centenary Trail is managed by Parks and Conservation Service.
Telephone: Access Canberra 13 22 81
Postal Address:
Centenary Trail Officer
ACT Parks and Conservation Service
GPO Box 158
Canberra ACT 2601
To report a maintenance or land management issue please visit Fix My Street.