Travelling to Canberra for business or pleasure? Canberra has had a bad rap over the years, a place full of never-ending roundabouts and stodgy bureaucrats. This certainly is not the case as the Nation’s capital has, and is still undergoing a rebirth as a centre of great food, wine, coffee, and restaurants, and plenty of cultural offerings – so there is plenty to see, do and experience. And what is also great about Canberra – designed by architect Walter Burley Griffin in 1911, is that it is so much easier to get around than its East Coast cousins – so here are some experiences that are sure to make your next trip to the ACT, that little bit richer.
1. Visit the big national icons
Canberra is home to many fantastic national attractions, and they deserve a visit. Not just out of a sense of duty but as a real and fascinating insight into our quintessential ethos and culture. Be sure to give your self a good couple of hours or so to soak up the magnificent art collections and exhibitions at the National Gallery of Australia. From Monet to the ultra modern, the National Gallery is an exemplary world-class venue of which we Aussies should be very proud and appreciative.
Then try another soaking, this time of the democratic kind, in Australia's Parliament House. Then in recognition to the bravery, both past and present of our tenacious defence force, do spend perhaps a reflective moment at the Australian War Memorial. Finish a day of icons with a walk around Lake Burley Griffin - it truly is a great space that is surrounded by galleries and museums and historical collections that are interspersed with parks and open spaces as well as very pretty walking and cycling paths.
Another visit to a big icon that is often overlooked, is the Treasures Gallery at the National Library of Australia, a particualr favourite of the local Canberrans. Here you can really immerse your self an astonishing collection of material, including Captain James Cook’s diary, the original manuscript of Waltzing Matilda and the papers of native title campaigner Koiki (Eddie) Mabo.
2. Canberra's secret epicurean side
Not many people realise that Canberra’s three cool-climate wine regions offer some incredible Australian wines plus a spectacular range of experiences, from wine-tasting and fine dining to truffle hunting. A wonderful array of Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Shiraz varieties can be found at the 140 vineyards and 33 winery cellar doors in this little wine region. Once again most of these lesser known vineyards are within 30 minutes’ drive of the capital.
3. Wine, dine and dessert… and coffee.
Seguing nicely from wine to food, be sure to indulge at some of the capital’s top-rated restaurants for incredible culinary experiences. Wander through foodie precincts like Braddon, NewActon and the Kingston Foreshore for an eclectic mix of cafes, restaurants, bars, pop-up stores, galleries and people watching. Explore Canberra's thriving cafe culture and hit up some of the city's many hot spots, designed specifically for a caffeine fix.
Then head into the city centre and take your pick of the groovy cafés dotted throughout, and you won’t find your usual caffè lattes and cappuccinos at the growing coffee mecca The Cupping Room on University Avenue. Try something new with a different type of seasonal coffee blend produced by award-winning local baristas. Then order the Milennial favourite of smashed avo but with a twist - pomegranate seeds, goat’s cheese, poached eggs on sourdough and lime. And, if you want to know more about the café’s blending methods and ethically sourced beans, join a cupping session, to be exposed to the Black Art of the Bean...
Images courtesy of Getty.