Molonglo Reach

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Molonglo Reach is located off Morshead Drive, opposite Duntroon. It is a narrow strip of riverside parkland between the Molonglo River and the Royal Military College, Duntroon. For many visitors arriving in the National Capital through Canberra Airport, the drive along Molonglo Reach is a much enjoyed introduction to Australia's most famous garden city.

The area provides opportunities for people of all ages to appreciate a quiet reach of the Molonglo River. The river's name is of Aboriginal origin. The park has good access to the bank of the river, making it great for picnicking, fishing and canoeing. It is filled with non-native deciduous species which make for attractive displays in autumn.

The cycle path along Molonglo Reach connects with the walking/cycle path encircling Lake Burley Griffin. The Water Ski Club and ski ramp are located on the eastern side of the park.Molonglo Reach photo



Linking the historic Duntroon homestead to the river

The second European settlement established at the Limestone Plains in the 1820s was adjacent to the present day Molonglo Reach. The Duntroon estate, named by its founder Robert Campbell, fronted the Molonglo River. The naming is derived from Campbell Castle in Argyllshire in Scotland. A short distance north of this reach of the river Campbell built Duntroon House, the main homestead of the estate. Commenced in 1832 and subsequently extended, the homestead and its garden remain to the present day. They are listed by the National Trust of Australia (ACT) and entered into the Register of the National Estate.

In 1910, as the development of the federal capital commenced, the Royal Military College was established in the vicinity of the homestead, which became the Officer's mess. It remains so today.

Further development of the federal capital in the 1960s, led to the construction along the river reach of Morshead Drive and its adjacent parkland. This broke the link between the river reach of Morshead Drive and its adjacent parkland. This broke the link between the estate and the river, which was important to Campbell when he established Duntroon 140 years previously. Morshead Drive is named for Lieutenant-General Sir Leslie Morshead (1889-1959), who commanded the 33rd Battalion AIF 1916-1919, and the 9th Division of World War II.

Molonglo Reach is included in the National Trust of Australia (ACT) listing of the foreshores of Lake Burley Griffin.

Designed as a parkway entrance to the Federal Capital

Molonglo Reach was designed and developed by the National Capital Development Commission in the early 1960s. Park facilities were added later. The informal planting design emphasised the need to soften the visual impact of the Royal Military College and to provide pleasant views to the river and places for recreation. The emphasis is on the use of deciduous species, with poplars, oaks, elms and willows dominating. Some pines have been used. Mixed species of eucalypts and wattles have been used particularly on the boundary of the area with the Royal Military College.

The design ensured access to the river for picnicking and other riverside recreational activities, including fishing and canoeing. The water is not suitable for swimming. The cycle path along the reach connects with the park encircling Lake Burley Griffin.


Gray, J (1997) The Historical and Cultural Background of Selected Urban Parks in Canberra - Volume 2.

Facilities and activities

Facilities and activities

  • BBQs
  • Boat launch
  • Canoe entry point
  • Drinking water
  • Fishing
  • Picnic tables
  • Toilets
  • Cycling
  • Dogs on leash
  • Water skiing permits available (visit

For more information about water skiing please read the Molonglo River Water Ski FAQs (Word 40KB), PDF version (PDF 26KB).



Molonglo Reach is located off Morshead Drive, opposite Duntroon. It is a narrow strip of riverside parkland between the Molonglo River and the Royal Military College, Duntroon.

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.

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