Canberra is an amazing place. Long gone are the days of a soulless city of bland bureaucrats. Today the nation’s capital is a vibrant metropolis where creativity and innovation thrive, surrounded by the proud symbols of what it means to be Australian.
Here are ten moments not to miss on your next visit.
1. Enjoy a feast for the senses at Pialligo Estate
Located just outside Canberra, the magnificent 86-acre Pialligo Estate incorporates an olive grove, vineyard, orchard, market garden and the award-winning Pialligo smallgoods smokehouse.
Take a stroll in the grounds before heading to the estate’s ultra swish Farmhouse Restaurant for a true paddock to plate dining experience.
2. Hand feed a giraffe from your room's balcony
The Giraffe Treehouses are just one of the luxury accommodation options at the newly opened Jamala Wildlife Lodge, located right inside Canberra’s National Zoo & Aquarium.
Whether you choose to wake up with Hummer, a pride of lions or perhaps a brown bear, the African-lodge style surrounds, all-inclusive packages and animal encounters will make this a once in a lifetime experience.
Ask your Travel Associates consultant for the best value rates.
3. Share a seasonal plate at Temporada
Located in the CBD, chef’s hatted Temporada may be the new culinary offering from the team behind Canberra’s fine-dining stalwart Aubergine, but there’s more than a dash of face-pulling going on at the capital’s dining establishment.
Themed around shared plates and tapas, Temporada is breaking all the rules with ingenious pairings of ingredients.
4. Get arty at the NGA Contemporary
This pop-up gallery, located a short walk from the National Gallery of Australia proper, is said to be the first step in the establishment of a permanent contemporary space for the NGA. It comes and goes, so check the website before you visit.
There’s a new exhibition opening on December 12 – The Last Temptation – The art of Ken + Julia Yonetani – described as a ‘provocative response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident’.
5. Wine and dine along the Poacher’s Way
The Canberra wine region features more than 30 boutique cellar doors and 140 vineyards, but that’s only part of the story. There are producers working across a whole spectrum of industries here – including artists, artisanal chocolate makers, truffle farmers, bed and breakfasts and more.
The Poacher’s Way is a self-drive itinerary where you choose the options to visit that are of particular interest to you.
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6. Hang with the hipsters at The Hamlet
It’s described as an ‘urban village’, and it’s, like, totally the spot to hang with the inner-city hipster crowd for tasty, cheap-eats and great coffee. The Hamlet is actually a disused warehouse, now permanent home to many of the city’s food vans.
There’s also a bunch of groovy pop-up boutiques out back. Check it out Wednesday to Sunday.
7. Explore the art of glass at Canberra Glassworks
There are forty-plus galleries, museums and exhibition spaces dotted around the nation’s capital. This option might not necessarily jump out at you from the list, but the Canberra Glassworks is well worth a visit.
It’s Australia’s only arts space dedicated to contemporary glass art, and it has, amongst other attractions, a fabulous boutique stocking works by local artists.
8. Enjoy fine Chianti at Bacaro
You can enter Bacaro through the Italian and Sons ristorante in Braddon, but it’s much more fun (and far more discreet when its needed) to head around the back to the car park and look for the unmarked door.
This chic wine bar will keep you well away from prying eyes in the main restaurant. The fine wine list and wood fired pizzas make this a superb bolt hole from which you may never want to escape.
9. Hug a tree at the National Arboretum
The 250-hectare National Arboretum was established on land devastated by the Canberra bushfires of 2003. The site was first planted in 2005 with 100 forests featuring many rare species from both Australia and abroad. Many of the trees won’t reach maturity for years to come, but when they do, this will truly be the most magnificent place.
With its undulating hills and lookouts, public art works and extensive calendar of events, it’s worth seeing now – and making a date to return in the future.
10. Get your freakshake on
They may be as ugly as sin and capable of blowing a week’s kilojoule allowance in one sitting, but these globulous gargoyles of the milkshake world are absolutely taking Canberra by storm. You’ll find them at Patissez in Manuka, which is co-owned by former My Kitchen Rules contestant Anna Petridis, who represented the ACT with mum Gina.
There’s a whole family of freaky shakes to choose from.
Adam travelled as a guest of VisitCanberra.