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Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Lake Burley Griffin – 10 Amazing Things to Do!

Lake Burley Griffin is situated in the capital of Australia, Canberra. It is an artificial lake, which was completed in 1993. The lake was named after an American architect, Walter Burley Griffin. He designed and won a competition related to the city of Canberra.

Griffin’s design of the Lake Burley Griffin was linked with various geometric patterns. So that his design can match up with the natural landmarks in that area.

However, the government administrators made changes to his original plans. And no related work was done till 1920. At that time, when he left Australia. In 1960, the excavation work was started after the delay. It was because of the Great Depression imposed due to World War II.

All the work related to dams and bridges was completed in September 1963. However, it was not inaugurated because of a drought. The drought prevented water from the target level.   

1. Lake Burley Griffin – Things To Know!

Lake Burley Griffin was inaugurated on the 17th of October, 1964. It was backed by Robert Menzies, the Prime Minister of Australia.

On the shores of Burley Griffin, various national institutions were made here. Further, it includes the National Museum, National Gallery, Australian National University, and the High Court. 

Also, the Parliament House is a short distance away from the lake. The lake’s surroundings are full of parks and gardens backed by recreational visitors, especially in the summers.

The lake has become a part of leisure activities that include uncommon swimming, fishing, rowing, and sailing. Besides all these things the lake’s dimensions are around 11 kilometers long. The widest width of 1.2 kilometers, with a highest depth of 18 meters near the Scrivener Dam

Scrivener Dam was designed to regulate the flow of water in case of flood. In any case of drought, the lake is leveled by releasing water from Googong Dam. It is a tributary of the Molonglo River.

1.1. History

In 1909, Charles Robert Scrivener provided the idea of this land for the planned capital city of Canberra. The probable reason for selecting this location is its capability to store water. Scrivener demonstrated through his work that this land can be used to keep a lake from flooding. 

In 1911, a competition regarding designing the city of Canberra was held in which various architects participated. All the competing participants were provided with Scrivener’s survey of the area.

His survey marked the area in which the lake was later created. The architect Walter Burley Griffin, who won the competition, was invited to Australia. He overlooked and supervised the construction process of the new planned capital city.

Griffin’s design has plenty of geometric patterns including the octagonal and hexagonal streets. The lake was situated at the heart of the capital and constituted a Central, an East, and a West Basin. 

lake burley griffin
Image by nca.gov.au

Scrivener, as part of the government design authority, made the required changes in Griffin’s model. He changed the shape of the lake from Griffin’s design. It included many geometric shapes. Scrivener proposed the use of a single dam instead of a series of mounds.

 Later, a new plan was formed backing Griffin’s Basin design and he was invited to Canberra. A meeting regarding the plan matter between Griffin and the government was held. It led to Griffin’s appointment as the Federal Capital Director of Design and Construction for the period of 3 annum.

 In later years, the plans again changed but the Lake Burley Griffin’s remained constant as authority’s original plan. However, in 1926, based on the 1918 plan it was legally protected by the federal parliament.

1.2. Official Layout

The official and final layout of the lake contains 33,000,000 cubic meters of water and an approximate surface area of 6.64 square kilometers. The widest dimensions of the lake are 11 kilometers long and 1.2 kilometers wide.

The average depth near the Scrivener dam is about 4 meters while it is 1.9 meters near the East Basin. Lake Burley Griffin contains a total of six islands, out of which three are small and unnamed.

Canberra's Iconic Lake Burley Griffin

The three larger islands include Queen Elizabeth II Island at Central Basin, and Spinnaker and Springbank Island at West Lake. Out of all these, one more seventh island was constructed at East Basin as a part of Kingston Foreshore development. 

1.3. Construction Work

The data collection work was initiated in 1958 by the engineers, who conducted a detailed study of the structural requirements of the dam. Further studies were done keeping in mind the consequences of change in climate, land quality, and water quality.

Based on the data collected it is advised to keep within a meter of the water level in case of floods. However, the intended water level was 556 meters above sea level. The authority for beginning the construction work was granted in February 1959.

lake burley griffin
Image by cs.mcgill.ca

But, Menzies was not there, so some officials of the Treasury Department convinced the authorities to hold money needed for the lake. All this was done by the officials to delay the construction process. At the peak of the construction process, the number of people working on the lake was around 400 to 500.

The Commissioner of the NCDC, John Overall, made a promise to Menzies. It was to complete the work in about four years. John Overall succeeded in completing the construction work despite the disbelief of the Prime Minister. 

Finally, after the long political dispute over the design and the criticism of the scheme reduced to last.

1.4. Ways To Explore Lake Burley Griffin

Lake Burley Griffin’s sparkling water and peaceful shorelines make it no wonder it is known as the centerpiece of Canberra. But for locals, it needs no other description than the Lake. Lake Burley Griffin’s includes all the way right from air adventure to lakefront restaurants and live leisure time.  

1.4.1. Paddle Around Lake Burley Griffin

This place is referred to as an aquatic playground with wide opportunities to enjoy endlessly on water. Among various ways, one of the ways is paddling by paddle boards on the calm water. It also facilitates group paddling for beginners.

lake burley griffin
Image by Andre Furtado at pexels

But if you are confident enough, then you can go on your own for paddling. Moreover, challenging individuals can go for water poses on Lake Burley Griffin.  

1.4.2. Take A View With A Hot Air Balloon

The lake’s beauty can be viewed from any angle and all offer a long-lasting experience. One of the convenient and exploring ways is to take a look from an air balloon. Individuals serving air balloon facilities will take you to fly and float over the lake which gives a soothing experience.

1.4.3. Sail On A GOBOAT

Being a picnic hotspot for citizens and tourists, it also lets them enjoy meals on water. Electric boat facilities are widely available there that enable people to carry their vessels and enjoy meals on water.

lake burley griffin
Image by Szelei Robert at pexels

The sailing experience with crew and meals will not let you forget soon. GOBOAT is an agency that offers electric boats with a maximum limit of eight people. 

1.4.4. Cycling Along the Shore

The peaceful shorelines with sparkling waters attract individuals to move on the shores. Cycling is the most common way of looping around the lake shores. There are many paths ranging from five kilometers to fourteen kilometers. Either you can tackle the entire lake distance of around thirty kilometers.

lake burley griffin
Image by Daniel Frank at pexels

 If you don’t have a cycle you can also hire it from the individuals serving this facility. During cycling, you will surely find some gems on the way, like a traditional Chinese gate, and others.  

1.4.5. Explore the Lake through Bridges

The bridges made on the lake are perfect for the locals to have a walk. While walking through the bridges you will encounter several cultural and traditional attractions.

lake burley griffin
Image by HONG SON at pexels

In Commonwealth Park and Australian of the Year Walk, you will see a chronologically ordered showcase. In the showcase, you will find the name of every individual who has won the Australian of the Year accolade. 

1.5. Things to Do in Lake Burley Griffin

Lake Burley Griffin is an artificial lake in the central place of Canberra. It is used by the local people and visitors in different recreational ways. Now after more than 50 years, the traditional means of sailing boats, dragon boats, and rowing boats can be seen.

Gliding over the sparkling water and walking through the shorelines from day to night offers a peaceful feeling. It is a perfect place for a picnic in summer under the shade and a sunny spot in winter.

lake burley griffin
Image by unlimphotos.com

Whether it is summer or winter, the locals utilize it in many ways. Following are the most prominent things to do at Lake Burley Griffin.

1.5.1. Queen Elizabeth Terrace

One of the main attraction points for tourists. Queen Elizabeth Terrace offers a cozy walkway under the International Flag Display. The display can be seen from many parts of the lake. You can enjoy the meals available on street sides and feel the lake. In the back of Queen Elizabeth Terrace, there is a parliamentary triangle to look at while going through.

1.5.2. Cycling Paths

Cycling around the lake perimeter of five kilometers, and if you want more than can go through the East and West loops. This flat walkway is taken by locals and visitors for cycling, jogging, and even walking. Especially in the morning and night the number of visitors usually increases.

1.5.3. Nara Peace Park and Lennox Gardens

Both places are placed on the opposite sides of the Commonwealth Bridge. These places are perfect for hanging around with traditional and cultural sculptures. It also includes plantations and pagodas throughout the garden.

lake burley griffin Canberra ACT

It is also a perfect picnic hotspot with BBQ area facilities near the lake. Every year the Canberra Nara Festival is held there in October. This is also a main spot of attraction.

1.5.4. Western Park

It is about a 40-hectare recreational area full of bike paths and Heritage Nursery. However, its slightly sandy beaches, BBQ areas, and Yarralumla Play Station are also included. This play station offers a ride on a miniature train that is much liked by the children and a mini golf. The area is quite large for hanging around with your family and loved ones.  

1.5.5. Government House

There is a Government House along the lakeside where Governor-General Peter Cosgrove resides with Lady Cosgrove. This historical house can be explored with a guide on Thursday’s Government House Cruise. The tours generally run every year from September to November and February to April.

1.5.6. National Zoo and Aquarium

This zoo is located on the opposite of the Scrivener Dam. You can hear the lion’s roar if the wind is coming from that direction. It is open all seven days and is a perfect place to explore with family and friends. The newly opened Jamala Wildlife Lodge offers sleeping and meals with lions outside your window.

lake burley griffin
Image by unlimphotos.com

1.5.7. Scrivener Dam

At the Yarramundi Reach the lookout of Scrivener Dam is very fascinating and makes it famous with a few BBQs under the shade. During the summer season, you will often find people fishing from the Dam wall.

It is a more spectacular sight during monsoons. There is a viewing point for visitors from where they can witness how the water pours through the Dam walls.

1.5.8. The Commonwealth Park

This park is located on the lake and is popular for its Florida festival during Spring. This festival is much liked by the visitors. It also resembles explorable places while walking through.

You can witness Sculptures, birdlife, playgrounds, and Regatta Point which is a visitors center. There is a pool inside the park where water is pooled from the lake for wetland birds.

1.5.9. Kings Park

This park is alongside the lake with national memorials such as the National Police Memorial, Boundless Playground, and others. Also, you will find their National Carillon, where 55 bells play every 15 minutes. With this sound, you will also witness some musical performances which are held regularly.

Lake Burley Griffin: A Water Bird Wonderland in Canberra

1.5.10. National Sculpture Garden

This sculpture garden is at the start of the lake route. It is situated on the opposite of Kings Avenue Bridge. It is in front of Australia’s National Gallery. Further, it contains about 26 sculptures from the most prominent artists.

This includes the most viewed Fog Sculpture. Fog Sculpture is daily operated between noon and 12:30 to 2:00 PM.

1.6. Environmental Issues in Lake Burley Griffin

Water quality is a prime issue on Lake Burley Griffin with a common occurrence of Toxic blue-green algae. It is warned about the water whenever an algal bloom is detected. Authorities are trying to limit the phosphate level in the water so that water quality can be improved.

Swiss colours on The National Carillon, Lake Burley Griffin

Blue-green algae are responsible for producing harmful toxins. It may affect animals and humans when they come in contact with contaminated water. Many cases have been revealed about dogs. These dogs were affected by drinking or being in contact with water.

Lakes must be clean enough as they contribute to the ecology of the city and country as well. Besides, the shiny blue and bright green colors of lake water attract worldwide visitors. Moreover, we can contribute our part by maintaining the cleanliness around the lake.

1.7. Fishing and Aquatic Life

Another popular thing to experience is fishing by the locals and visitors near the lake. The common fish species include carp, redfin, European Perch, and golden perch. Along With these, some less common species are also there including western carp gudgeon and Murray cod. Rainbow trout, brown trout, and others are also included.

Fish monitoring is also done annually to determine their population. More than half a million fish have been released since 1981 and many changes have been made in the fish population. There has been fish stocking since it was filled in 1980 and various other species are also included in the following years.

lake burley griffin
Image by unlimphotos.com

Stocking of rainbow trout has been stopped due to their lower survival rate, but the reason for the problem is still unknown. Regarding this problem, the dominance of carp species for food competition is a suggested theory. Besides, the aquatic life is incredible here.

2. Conclusion

Lake Burley Griffin is the center of attraction in Canberra, Australia. It is a perfect playground of water for visitors. The lakes are amazing places to explore and spend a day out. You can enjoy holidays with your family and friends as well.

Its dazzling water lures the visitors here to traverse the lake. Meanwhile, you can enjoy various distinct activities at the lake. These activities include cycling, visiting the zoo and scrivener dam, etc. However, there are many things to explore around Lake Burley Griffin.

It is an adventurous place to visit, you can dive in the water here. So, take a walk around the sparkling shoreline of the lake. People often visit this lake to admire its beauty and enjoy vacations with family. Also, it’s a good place to bring kids along with you.

Whenever you visit Canberra, visit this artificial lake. Also, this is among the amusing peaceful places in Canberra. As Lake Burley Griffin is one of the centers of attractions in the city of Canberra in Australia. So, don’t forget to visit beautiful Lake Burley Griffin.


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