Acton Park consists of 10.4 hectares along the foreshore of Lake Burley Griffin's West Basin. It is a peaceful beautiful lakeside park with a historic grove of she-oak trees that were planted in 1927.
Acton Park is popular throughout the week and weekend during daylight hours particularly in warmer months. It enjoys some protection from the prevailing winds. Tourists, particularly those who seek to take a lake ferry ride, or hire a small boat or cycle will find it a great place to be. Enjoy also its natural beauty, particularly in the autumn and spring.
The park is located on Barrine Drive with access off Commonwealth Avenue and Lawson Crescent. It is adjacent to the shared path encircling Lake Burley Griffin, making for a great walk or bike ride before stopping for a picnic or barbecue. A sign near Commonwealth Avenue Bridge provides information on five different tourist drives in Canberra and the Australian Capital Territory which commence in the park.
Designed as a centre for ferrying, boating and cycling
The design for the park was prepared by the National Capital Development Commission in the early 1960s. Vehicular access is from Commonwealth Avenue. The largely deciduous landscape planted then is dominated by willows and a variety of poplar species. Some of the latter are special varieties raised by the Australian National University. The eastern shoreline comprises vertical stone-walling, which is popular for those who fish. The remainder is a sandy beach. There is ample parking, some of which is time controlled. The water is not suitable for swimming.
Park management emphasises the importance of the park for tourism and recreation. A ferry terminal and concessions for boating and cycling and associated cafe have been established. The park is on the cycle path encircling the lake which is linked to the urban cycle path system.
The protected northern foreshore of West Basin is an important starting point for tourists and residents seeking to enjoy Canberra's chief natural asset, Lake Burley Griffin. Its name links it to the early days of European settlement in the 1820s and the founding period of the federal capital in the 1910s and 1920s. A ferry terminal and boat and cycle hire facilities are located here.
Linking European settlement with modern Canberra
The name 'Acton' has been associated with the area since early last century. It was given in 1843 by Lieutenant Arthur Jeffreys, RN to the Canberry estate he acquired at that time. The name is believed to be after a town in Wales. The estate, centered on a homestead where the Museum of Australia is today, was the first to be established at 'Canberry' in the 1820s. It was also the first estate to be resumed by the Government as an initial step in the creation of the federal capital. It became the point from which the federal territory and the capital were first developed and managed.
Construction of Acton Park commenced in the late 1910s under the direction of Walter Burley Griffin, whose competition winning plan for Canberra had been adopted in 1913. He carried out earthworks for a 'West Basin Boulevard' roughly on the present shoreline of the basin. In 1922 Charles Weston, Canberra's first Superintendent, Parks and Gardens, planted trees nearby. The area now covered by water was for many years a place for sporting activities. Further park construction proceeded in the early 1960s when the National Capital Development Commission built Lake Burley Griffin.
There are a number of places of historic interest. The grove of Casuarina sp. trees in the vicinity of the picnic shelter is part of an official coppice planting by the then Governor-General Lord Stonehaven on 8 June 1927. Nearby are remnants of Weston's planting in 1922. Fifty meters east of the ferry terminal, is a memorial seat commemorating planner and architect Grenfell Rudduck (1914-1964) who helped to plan and build Canberra. The park is included in the National Trust of Australia (ACT) listing of the foreshores of Lake Burley Griffin.
Gray, J (1997) The Historical and Cultural Background of Selected Urban Parks in Canberra - Volume 2.
Facilities and activities
- Electric/gas BBQs
- Drinking water
- Picnic shelter
- Picnic tables
- Dogs allowed on leash
- Boat ramp
About urban parks
Transport Canberra and City Services manages urban parks and open space in Canberra. There are three main types of urban parks in Canberra: town parks, district parks and neighborhood parks. Other landscaped components of the park system include:
- Pedestrian parkland which are corridors of open space provided for pedestrian movement within and between suburbs.
- Semi-natural open spaces which are areas of remnant grazing land or native vegetation, and include creek corridors, hilltop areas, ridges and buffer areas between suburbs.
- Native grassland or woodland sites which contain endangered plant species.
- Major road verges and medians.
- Informal use ovals which are non-irrigated open dryland grass areas for informal sport and recreational use.
- Special purpose areas which are large open spaces dedicated to specialised recreational activities or sporting events.
Plans of management
Plans of management for urban parks identify what is important about the areas and how they are to be managed. A plan of management is intended to provide direction and guidance to the land custodian, management staff, visitors, neighbours, volunteers, and others with an interest in the area.
More information and feedback
For more information or to provide feedback, contact Access Canberra on 13 22 81 or complete an online feedback form.