Bowen Park is a six hectare lakeside park on Lake Burley Griffin’s East Basin. It is popular for quiet enjoyment of the lake, distant view of the Canberra landscape and aquatic birds, and during spring it features a spectacular show of blossoms.
The park is located in Barton, with access off Bowen Drive, and is linked to the urban cycle path network.
Although created as part of the construction of Lake Burley Griffin in the 1960s, the origins of Bowen Park go back to beginning of the National Capital. The 5.9 hectare park enjoys a pleasant outlook to the north east over East Basin and its predominantly exotic deciduous landscape is colourful particularly in the spring when the crabapples are in flower. It is related to the State of Queensland in its naming. It has a strong attraction for pedestrians and cyclists from nearby residences in the Kingston and Manuka area and it is on the main path system accessing the Parliamentary triangle.
A Walter Burley Griffin influence
The origins of this park can be traced back to Walter Burley Griffin's 1918 plan for Canberra in which he planned a small 'Grevillea Place' terminating Brisbane Avenue, one of the ten avenues planned to radiate from the centre of Capital Hill. Most of the other state capital city avenues planned by Griffin were terminated similarly with a park named after the generic botanical name for a native plant from that particular state.
Griffin's name was lost however and the name of Bowen Place was adopted. Sir George Bowen was the first Governor of the new Colony of Queensland from 1859 to 1868 successfully organising the infant colony. The name also commemorates John Bowen (a Tasmanian pioneer) and Richard Bowen (an early sea captain). The name 'Bowen Park' was adopted in 1963 during the construction of Lake Burley Griffin, although the area of the park is much larger than the original Grevillea Place.
Designed to emphasise the change in seasons
Charles Weston, Canberra's first Superintendent, carried out some planting in the area in 1922 as part of a program of lakeshore planting initiated by the Federal Capital Advisory Committee. Weston covered the entire slope (which he called Rottenbury Hill) facing east across the future east basin with planting, predominantly exotics, to an informal design.
With the completion of the lake shore in the 1960s, the exotic theme and informal design was continued using a range of species with emphasis on deciduous spring flowering species including Prunus sp, Malus sp, Pyrus sp and Crataegus sp. In the late 1980s there was a special planting of a cherry blossom tree in the area by the then Japanese Cherry Blossom Queen visiting Canberra.
Gray, J (1997) The Historical and Cultural Background of Selected Urban Parks in Canberra.
Facilities and activities
- Electric/gas BBQs
- Dogs allowed on leash
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.