I know what you’re thinking… Canberra? Why would I want to go there?! There’s nothing and no one there! Having already spent a year here, I can tell you that Canberra actually does have a lot to offer! When I got off the plane in February last year, I thought to myself Oh no, why did I commit to 4 years in this place?! Why am I here?! It took me a day or two to get over that feeling, but soon settled in and realised that this was just the place for me.
A list of my top 10 places to see/experience in Canberra…
- Parliament House
One does not simply come to Canberra and not visit Parliament House 😉 I always find it interesting whenever I visit Parliament house. It’s only a 10 minute bus ride from the centre of civic and it’s free to get in. I’d recommend you have a look at whether or not your visit coincides with the Parliamentary sitting period or not. If so, then you may go into the House of Representatives or the Senate and watch, maybe even spot a familiar face or two! However you may not take phones or cameras in. Whereas if Parliament is not sitting at that time, you can still go in, but you are allowed to take pictures inside.
You may or may not have heard about this place, home to the infamous Freakshakes! And the good news is, they have just opened up a new store in the centre of Canberra, so you no longer have to spend ages on a bus to get there! The prices are fairly steep, but definitely worth it! The former My Kitchen Rules contestants opened up their café, selling decadent cakes and pastries that belong in a patisserie in France! Be prepared to wait an hour (possibly 2) though!
- Lonsdale Street
Lonsdale Street is a favourite amongst locals, and even our Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull has been spotted grabbing a coffee from one of the many cafes along the street! It is often called the Melbourne of Canberra due to its great coffee and all-round hipster vibe. On Friday nights, The Hamlet has live music and makes a great place to go an enjoy dinner from one of the handful of gourmet food trucks there.
The ever popular Brodburger is a must for any foodie passing through the capital. From its roots as a food truck, Brodburger is extending its reach to Sydney due to the enormous popularity of the place, so be prepared for a long wait. I recommend ordering over the phone before you get there. Brodburger is about 10 minutes south of the city centre by bus.
If you have a car and are keen to see some Native Australian Animals, Tidbinbilla is the place for you! Walk around the nature reserves and see Pelicans, Kangaroos, Snakes, Koalas and maybe even a Platypus if you’re lucky! If you’ve just come from Sydney, Tidbinbilla provides a stark contrast, with only the noises of animals, the rustling of trees and the rippling of the water to be heard.
6. Tocumwal Lane
Sometime last year, some comic book enthusiasts got together to graffiti an area in the city centre with Superheroes and Stormtroopers. Nestled in an alleyway amongst garbage bins, Tocumwal Lane is a great place to let your inner superhero fan out!
- National Library of Australia
Impressive to look at, if you find yourself needing some quiet time or a cup of coffee with a nice view, head over to the national library of Australia. Located a couple of minutes’ walk from Questacon, or about 20 minutes from Parliament House, the NLA is a nice place to gather your thoughts.
- Black Mountain
Located just a couple of minutes’ walk from the Australian National University, behind CSIRO, take the 30 minute hike up the national park, maybe spotting a couple of kangaroos along the way! When you’ve reached the top you can choose to spend around $8 to take the lift up to the top of the Telstra Tower where you will be rewarded with stunning views of Canberra! A
At the base of Black Mountain, you will also find the National Botanic Gardens, a great place to see wildlife and native Australian plants. There are also famers markets held here every Friday afternoon.
- War Memorial/Mount Ainslie
One of my best experiences from last year was attending the ANZAC day dawn service at the Australian War Memorial. It was amazing to be amongst so many people and moving at the same time. After the service, we all went into the memorial where we were give poppies to place next to a family member’s name, or just a random person’s on the honour roll. I also found out then that I have a descendent who served in Gallipoli too, so it was moving to see names of people who were in his battalion up there. The Australian War memorial also has a great view all the way down to old and new parliament house.
Behind the War Memorial is Mount Ainslie which, like Black Mountain, has very impressive views of the city, arguably even better.
Bring out the inner child in you by going to Questacon, the science museum. Experience optical illusions, cool science tricks and an earthquake simulator! There are also Adults only nights from time to time, where you can experience everything without hundreds of kids around!
Other honourable mentions:
The Cupping Room
Cockington Green Gardens
You may have noticed that the things at the top of my list were mostly food related, now you know where my priorities lie! 😉
Of course you can even head over to Perisher Valley during winter if you are keen to do some skiing or snowboarding!
To wrap things up, I have listed a couple of the main events that happen in Canberra throughout the year, along with links for more information:
February: Multicultural Festival
March: Balloon Spectacular
April: ANZAC Day
July: Curry Festival