Canberra is cold, especially in winter. But that doesn’t mean it's a place to be avoided between June and August each year.
The nation’s capital is about 600 metres above sea level and more than 150 kilometres from the coast. The average high temperature is 13 degrees and at night the temperature gauge always seems to slip into the minus territory.
But don’t despair. Rug up, then add another layer, and head to the ACT to test out these seven cool things to do in Canberra during winter.
1. Cosy QT
You will need a base for your travels and QT Canberra (1 London Circuit) is one of the cosiest. The funky and spacious designer rooms offer everything you need: cable TV, Nespresso coffee machine, free Wi-Fi access and lots of snuggly bed covers.
The Capitol Bar & Grill is one of Canberra's 'it' places to dine with a menu that not only surprises, but inspires. The steaks in particular are unbelievable. If you've arrived in town looking a bit shabby and in need of a trim, make an appointment at QT's onsite old-fashioned barber. It’s a real treat.
2. Museum Of Australian Democracy
You can’t go to Canberra without getting a little political. Take some time out from winter grumblings to visit the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, currently displaying 'Behind the Lines 2015: The year’s best political cartoons' exhibition.
Behind the Lines 2015 celebrates the role of satire and political cartoonists in Australia, and highlights the power that their drawings have in contributing to our daily political and social discourse. There are 80 cartoons on display by 39 of the country’s best cartoonists.
3. The Hamlet
If you are walking down Lonsdale St in Braddon, beware the enticing smells coming from The Hamlet, a collection of food trucks. There’s also an eclectic mix of pop-up stores and uber-cool market stalls. But the best thing is the food.
The menus change constantly, but you are sure to find something to warm you up on a cold winter day. My favourite is Soul Cartel, and if it's on the menu, try the Cue box with smoked brisket, pulled pork, wings, slaw and soul fries.
More Canberra holiday inspiration
4. The Truffle Festival
Feel like a party? Canberra has its fair share of festivals planned this winter. The Truffle Festival, which pays homage to the highly prized black winter truffle, will run throughout the ACT region until 31 August. Truffles are a foodie’s delight, so you might also want to visit The Truffle Farm and go hunting yourself.
The family can also enjoy the Winter Festival in the City, which starts 23 June and ends 17 July. This festival will offer open-air ice skating, toboggan rides and European food stalls. “Imagine ice skating on an open-air ice rink with falling snow dusting your hair – blink and you’ll feel like you’re in Austria not Australia,” event organiser Andrew Lemon said.
5. Fireplace Hangouts
For some, winter conjures visions of sitting by the fire, glass of wine in one hand and a good book in the other. Feeling toasty? Here’s a list of some of the region’s best fireplace experiences for you to try out:
- Monster Bar - Hotel Hotel, 25 Edinburgh Ave
- George Harcourt Inn - Gold Creek Village in Nicholls, 12 kilometres north of the CBD
- Old Canberra Inn - Canberra’s oldest pub, built in 1857 in Lyneham, nine kilometres north of the CBD
- Rose Cottage - Gilmore, in Tuggeranong, 17 kilometres south of the CBD
6. Cellar Doors
It’s perhaps Canberra’s best-kept secret that there are more than 30 boutique cellar doors just a short drive from the city. You could spend an entire day exploring the Hills of Hall, dropping into vineyards like Surveyor’s Hill, Pankhurst Wines and Brindabella Hills Winery, which produces seven types of wine including a delightful Pinot Gris.
7. Snowy Mountains
Canberra is a three-hour drive to the Snowy Mountains, so you could even consider escaping for a day on the slopes at either Thredbo, Perisher or the family-friendly Mt Selwyn resort.
If you leave early, you can collect all your ski gear in Canberra before driving to the mountains, test your skills on the slopes, and be back in Canberra for a warming Max Brenner hot chocolate. The perfect end to a day skiing or boarding.