By Markos Hasiotis
State borders are down and domestic travel is back on the cards! While you may already have a list of places you want to go, I’m here to tell you why Canberra should be on it. I’ve holidayed in Canberra 3 times and each time I found it an awesome experience for the mind, body and taste buds. It’s time for you to experience it as well.
The best way to get to the capital of Australia is on the Spirit of Australia, Qantas. Flights are direct and reasonably priced. If you want to hire a car, I find Avis are easy and have great customer service. Not that cars are a must in Canberra, the city does offer highly convenient public transport. In fact, their bus stops are a tourist attraction in themselves.
My lodging of choice is Hotel Kurrajong, a lovely place that seamlessly combines coziness with Art Deco elegance. It’s also steeped in history, our 16th Prime Minister Ben Chifley lived at that hotel for the entirety of his political career.
The hotel is a stone’s throw away from Parliament House which is an excellent place to begin your Canberra adventure. Even if you don’t care about politics, it’s hard not to feel awe when you’re standing outside of it or stepping inside the Senate and House of Representatives. It’s best to book a tour guide who will briskly take you around the building and drop mind-blowing facts along the way. If you’re still at Parliament House by lunchtime, a bite to eat at the Queens Terrace Café is recommended.
Parliament House. Photographed by Markos Hasiotis
After Parliament House, it’s only a 10 minute walk to Old Parliament House. This was where the Australian government sat from 1927 to 1988. It has since been converted into the Museum of Australian Democracy and is chockful of fascinating artefacts and history. You can even visit the old office of the Prime Minister!
Old Prime Minister’s Desk. Photographed by Markos Hasiotis
From Old Parliament House, there’s a range of iconic sites nearby: Questacon (if you like cool science), the National Library of Australia (if you like books), the National Gallery of Australia and National Portrait Gallery (if you like art) and the High Court of Australia (if you like law and justice… and the vibe).
Canberra’s a gorgeous place to walk. Photographed by Markos Hasiotis
If you’re still craving interesting info after all that, it’s worth jumping in the car and visiting the Royal Australian Mint. There you can see where the coins in your pocket are made and learn the history behind them. I also recommend the extraordinary National Museum of Australia where you can see everything from a 1955 Holden to Phar Lap’s heart.
Although if you’d prefer something more outdoorsy, you can’t go wrong with a walk up Black Mountain. It has flora and fauna galore and the iconic Telstra Tower offers a panoramic view of the whole city. From there, head around for fish and chips at Snapper on the Lake, right beside Lake Burley Griffin. It’s beautiful.
No trip to Canberra is complete without a visit to the Australian War Memorial. It’s a truly moving experience to explore this shrine dedicated to every Australian who has served in conflict. There’s also a special Last Post Ceremony every day at 4:45pm which pays tribute to one Australian veteran. If you’re interested in seeing the memorial’s many informative exhibits, you’ll need to get there a few hours before 4pm.
As for dinner, I personally enjoy a sumptuous pub meal at Grease Monkey in Braddon. If that’s not your thing, head to Braddon anyway - it’s Canberra’s food precinct and offers a variety of yummy options.
What I love about Canberra is that there’s so much to do but it doesn’t take much time (or driving) to do it. It’s possible to tick every major Canberra box in a couple of days, and still have time leftover to enjoy a drink at the hotel’s bar or some downtime in your room.
If you’re wondering whether you can enjoy yourself at the nation’s capital, I’m here to tell you: Yes, you Can-berra.
- It’s best to avoid visiting Canberra when Parliament is sitting because it gets very busy and the prices go up.
- You will need to check-in at every place you visit (it only takes a couple of seconds) so have the app ready.
- Canberra has amazing events throughout the year, check this calendar to see what’s happening when you’re there.
If you’re heading on a trip and need a backpack, Oberland has your back! https://oberland.com.au/collections
Written by Markos Hasiotis