ANU walk directions
The Australian National University features some of Canberra's oldest and newest buildings, quirky sculptures and beautiful green spaces - this walk shows you the highlights. There are some good off leash opportunities but considerable on leash walking may be required depending on traffic and if sports games are in progress. However the grounds and roads are virtually deserted on weekends, public holidays and outside university term time. With so much to explore, you could easily spend over 90 minutes on this walk. To find out more about the ANU's heritage buildings, go to the ANU heritage site. To find out more about ANU's sculptures, download the ANU sculptures brochure.
Start/Finish - End of Marcus Clarke Street (nearest the lake)
Time/Distance - Allow 90 minutes/approx 4.5 km
Off lead rating - ♥
Parking - Parking off Marcus Clarke Street
Dog friendly cafés - Marcus Clarke St cafés, café at Old Canberra House
Public toilets - At cafés, School of Arts courtyard
Bins - South Oval, School of Arts courtyard
Distractions - Rabbits: the semi-bush areas are infested!
Playgrounds - None
Photo gallery - See photos taken on the ANU walk.
Note - All our dog walks assume you are a responsible dog owner with an obedient and well-socialised dog. See our Important Stuff page before starting any of our walks.
Use the navigation tools to zoom in or out for different views of the route or click on the 'view larger map' icon on the top right hand corner of the map to view in google maps.
Marcus Clarke Street to Old Canberra House (15 minutes)
Before starting, or at the end of the walk, explore the courtyards full of quirky modern art located just behind the Marcus Clarke Street cafes.
1. From the end of Marcus Clarke Street (closest to the lake) walk on the footpath away from the lake past the cafes to the traffic lights (at Edinburgh Ave). Cross here, continuing on the left hand side of Marcus Clarke Street. Turn left into Gordon Street.
On the corner of Marcus Clarke Street, Edinburgh Avenue and Gordon Street is Ian Potter House (originally Beauchamp House) built in 1927 to house female public servants.
2. Continue on the left hand side - past the round-about where Gordon Street becomes McCoy Circuit and crossing a small street - until you reach a four-way intersection.
The Academy of Science passed on the left (aka the Martian Embassy) was designed by Roy Grounds. The Film and Sound Archive passed on the right is worth a visit, sans dog. An interesting sculpture is also passed amongst shrubs on the left - Raised Pinnacle by David Jensz.
3. Cross at the intersection (Liversidge Street, Garran Roadd and McCoy Circuit), and turn left (onto Liversidge Street).
On the corner of Liversidge Street and Garran Roadd is University House. Opened in 1954, it was the first official building on the newly-formed campus, housing all ANU research students and professors. It now operates as a hotel and function centre and has a very pretty inner courtyard worth a look (accessed from the rear car park behind the brick wall through the archway just ahead on Garran Road).
4. Continue on the right hand side of Liversidge Street, crossing Balmain Road.
After crossing Balmain Road, on the right in a clearing there's a huge statue of Sir Winston Churchill commemorating the 1965 Churchill Trust established to fund overseas research Fellowships. The statue has no attribution.
5. Continue ahead on Liversidge Street which changes name to Lennox Crossing Road shortly before reaching Old Canberra House.
The weatherboard and brick cottages around this area are known as the Acton Cottages, built between 1913 and 1927 for middle to high level public servants moving from Melbourne.
Old Canberra House to South Oval (15 minutes)
6. Turn right into the (sign-posted) Old Canberra House entrance. Walk to the left of the 'reception' sign to the paved terrace area, where a café is sometimes open.
Old Canberra House, built in 1913, is a mish-mash of architectural styles. It is distinguished by being: commissioned by King O'Malley, the Minister for Home Affairs; designed by John Smith Murdoch, the Commonwealth's first architect; built as the Residence of the first Administrator of the Federal Territory, Colonel David Miller; and was the first substantial brick house constructed in the new Territory. If that's not enough, the tennis court and surrounding gardens were planned by Thomas 'Charles' Weston, Canberra's 'first' gardener. The house has since been the residency of the first four UK High Commissioners, the Commonwealth Club premises, the ANU staff centre and is currently occupied by the Crawford School of Public Policy.
If open, the café here is worth a visit. As well as tables on the terrace, there are large wooden 'picnic' tables on the lawn which are very inviting and dog friendly.
7. Directly below the raised terrace area, there is a path passing between prostrate junipers and eucalypts. Follow the path, from beneath the terrace, towards the lake and then to the low stone retaining wall ahead.
There are outstanding views south and west across the lake. The low sculptures in the grass here, by Anne Rochette, Common Food, represent traditional bush tucker. There are more sculptures close by in the grassy area between here and the Canberra Museum (to your left if facing the lake) if you'd like to explore further.
8. From the stone retaining wall, retrace your steps just past the sculptures and turn left through the grass to skirt around the rear of the very modern extension constructed behind Old Canberra House. Keep walking through the grass with the building on your right until you reach a concrete apron adjacent to the buildings.
9. Walk across the grass away from the building to the bitumen bike path within view. Cross the bike path, giving way to cyclists, and follow another bike path straight ahead that crosses over the top of the very busy and noisy multi-lane Parkes Way.
10. The bike path terminates at the end of a quiet street (Balmain Lane). Follow this street uphill on the right hand side under the pine trees.
11. At the intersection turn left (onto Mills Road).
12. Cross the private driveway to the Vice Chancellor's residence, then take the next left on a small road. The turn left is opposite fenced tennis courts.
13. After passing the cottage on the right, veer left off the road into the grassed, wooded area.
14. Walk downhill towards the park bench and picnic table in amongst the trees but veer right so that you skirt around and behind the buildings, walking under tall pines. Keep circling the building to your right, and as you approach the car park, walk uphill keeping the car park and road on your left.
Cross the road (Mills Rd) to see the sculpture Magnetic Power. It's made from the remains of a homopolar generator developed and used by the ANU physics research department between 1951 and 1964.
15. Continue right on Mills Rd passing the old John Curtin Medical School building (signed) on your left. At the end of the building, turn left to walk past the side of the building, following a small road. Once behind the building, don't follow the road as it turns hard left but continue straight ahead taking the concrete footpath downhill that leads to another road (Garran Road). You will see a large playing field ahead.
Note the ultra-modern extension behind the old John Curtin Medical School.
16. Cross Garran Road at the pedestrian crossing to the large playing field, South Oval.
Off leash opportunity at the oval.
South Oval provides a large green space for ball chasing and other games with your dog if not being used for sports competitions. There are bins on two sides of the oval.
South Oval to School of Arts (20 minutes)
17. Walk across to the far side of the oval heading towards the band of trees slightly to the left. Sullivan's Creek is just out of sight behind the trees.
Dogs can enter the creek for a paddle if you follow it a little further to the left.
18. At Sullivan's Creek turn right and walk either on the grass or on the gravel path with the creek on your left until it reaches a road (Fellows Rd). At Fellows Rd, cross at the pedestrian crossing.
Immediately after crossing Fellows Rd, turn left to mount the bridge to read the brass plaque about the origin of the name Canberra and enjoy the pretty vista of the creek through the willows. Return to the gravel path on the right side of the creek.
19. Continue ahead on the gravel path with the creek on your left and another large playing field, Fellows Oval, on your right.
Off leash opportunity at the oval.
Fellows Oval provides another off leash space if not being used for sports.
There are bins at each corner of the oval adjacent to the gravel path.
20. When the gravel path meets a paved brick path, turn right and follow the paved brick path keeping the oval on your right.
21. Just after passing stairs (to the Chifley Library) on your left, the path diverges in multiple directions. Take the composite pebble path heading off to your right at a 45 degree angle that is bordered by a small number of immature narrow cypress.
22. At the end of the pebbled path, take the wide paved concrete path uphill that is lined with palms and immature eucalypts (passing between the Pauline Griffin Centre on the left and the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies on the right).
23. Continue ahead across the pedestrian crossing (over Ellery Crescent) and up the stairs on the other side. Continue until the path terminates at a small car park.
24. Turn right up some steps to pass in front of the (Baldessin Precinct Annex) building. Continue on the narrow concrete footpath on the right of the road (Baldessin Crescent).
The white art deco style building on the left started life as the Canberra High School in 1939, but was taken over by the School of Arts in 1976. An opening on the left between two wings leads to several small courtyards worth a detour if you have time. The courtyards contain interesting student sculptures, a café open on week days and access to public toilets and bins.
School of Arts to Marcus Clarke Street (20 minutes)
25. Continue along the concrete footpath until it terminates at a road (Ellery Crescent).
26. Cross the road and walk ahead across the grass to a dirt track passing beside some buildings. The dirt track runs between the buildings (on your right) and a road (Liversidge Street) on your left.
27. Keep following the dirt track beside the buildings until you reach a four-way intersection. This is the same intersection you encountered near the beginning of your walk.
28. Turn left (onto McCoy Crescent) and retrace your steps past the Film and Sound Archive and the Martian - whoops - Shine Dome to Marcus Clarke Street.
If you'd prefer to join one of our regular guided group walks, find out more at our guided walks page.