Watson walk directions
Modest Watson is a quiet, older suburb unjustly overlooked. This walk follows a pleasant, flat, simple to navigate, and relatively short walk that still provides ample off leash opportunities for dogs. The route follows a series of interconnecting informal parks and includes a large, green sports ground for energetic ball games at the beginning and end of the walk. It can be completed easily in around 40 minutes but some additional meandering could stretch it to an hour. The walk starts and ends at the small but inviting Watson shops where there are several dog friendly coffee/eating options including The Knox cafe/bar, a bistro and takeaway joint - all with outdoor tables. If you're a Cockatoo House guest, see the extra notes at the end of these directions.
Start/Finish - Watson shops, Watson Place
Time/Distance - Allow 45 minutes/approx 2.5 km
Off lead rating - ♥♥
Parking - Watson Place and Gwynne Street
Dog friendly café - The Knox, and other options with outdoor tables, at the Watson shops
Public toilets - None; you'll need to ask the cafe or bistro proprietors
Bins - Watson shops and Watson Neighbourhood Oval
Distractions - None
Playgrounds - One in the parks running between Watson Neighbourhood Oval and Piddington Street, and one between each end of Irvine St
Photo gallery - See photos taken on the Watson 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.
Watson shops to Watson Neighbourhood Oval (10 minutes)
1. From Watson Place facing the shops, walk to your right to reach a street (Knox Street). Cross the street at the pedestrian crossing (near the intersection of Knox and Windeyer Streets).
2. Turn left after crossing the street and follow the paved footpath a short distance to reach a sports ground (Watson Neighbourhood Oval).
Off leash opportunity here.
This oval is an off leash area when sports games aren't in progress. Spend some time walking around the oval or throwing a ball to let your dog burn off excess energy.
There is a large green bin next to the grey amenities block on the far side of the oval to where you entered. Sometimes the bin is over by the road.
3. When you're ready to continue, head towards the bowling practice nets (in black netted wire) that are to the left of the blue painted building on the edge of the oval. Pass to the left of the nets (so they are on your right) to exit the oval and enter an informal park.
Off leash opportunity ends here.
Watson Neighbourhood Oval to Piddington Street (5 minutes)
4. Walk through this informal park until it terminates at a quiet neighbourhood street (Piddington Street).
There is a children's playground near the beginning of the park.
Piddington Street to Irvine Street (15 minutes)
5. Cross this street and continue a short distance until you reach an open space extending to your left and right. Don't follow the paved footpath going straight ahead to reach more houses and streets. Instead turn right to walk parallel to the rear of the houses.
Off leash opportunity starts here.
This long informal park, separating 'old' and 'new' Watson, is an off leash area. In my teenage years, when there were no houses past Piddington Street and no such thing as on or off leash areas, I used to gallop Searle (Jono) Johnson's polo ponies (of Bendora Riding School) flat chat along here from the Federal Highway to Antill Street. Heaven!
You can walk along the dirt/gravel track under the very attractive eucalypts close to the back of the houses if you prefer shade or follow the dirt track thought the middle of the park if you prefer some sun.
If you wished to extend the walk a little, instead of turning right, you could turn left and walk to the end of the park (where it reaches Knox Street), then retrace your steps to continue the rest of the walk.
A few minutes after turning right, after the houses end on your left hand side, you will see a fenced bush park - the Justice Robert Hope Park - where some remnant eucalypt and other native species are preserved in around 5 hectares. Go to the North Canberra Community Council to learn more about the history of the community fight to preserve the area. There are too many kangaroos in the park to enter with dogs but it's a pretty area to explore without one.
6. After 5-10 minutes walking along this park, look out for a gap in the houses to your right. Ignore the first, very narrow walk-through, but turn right at the later wide gap to reach a quiet neighbourhood street (Irvine Street).
Off leash opportunity ends here.
If you continue straight ahead without turning right you will reach the end of the off leash park at Antill Street in only a few minutes.
Irvine Street to Watson shops (10 minutes)
7. Cross the street, and continue following the paved footpath through the park until it terminates at another street (still Irvine Street).
There is another children's playground just before the second Irvine Street.
8. Cross the street and turn left to walk on the paved footpath on the right hand side of the street. After a short distance you'll reach a t-junction (with Knox Street).
9. Turn right here to return to the Watson shops or continue a stone's throw further for a last off leash opportunity back at the Watson Neighbourhood Oval.
In compensation for no public toilets, there are a couple of picnic tables in a pretty, shaded green space adjacent to the shops near the corner of Knox and Windeyer Streets. There's even a drinking fountain designed with additional (lower) dog access.
Cockatoo House guests
(See our blog on Canberra dog friendly accommodation for more info)
If you're staying at Cockatoo House, you are only a few minutes walk from the beginning of this walk. To get to there:
i) turn left out of Cockatoo House and walk approximately 1 minute on Woolcock St until it meets a park (the park is an on leash area but many locals walk their well-behaved dogs off leash here)
ii) turn left to follow the park for a few minutes until it terminates at a street (Knox Street)
If you cross the street, you will reach the Watson Neighbourhood Oval (no. 2 in the walking directions). If you turn right at the street, you will reach the Watson shops about 50 metres away (no. 1 in the walking directions).
If you'd prefer to join one of our regular guided group walks, find out more at our guided walks page.