Canberra: Suggested Itinerary
Australia's Bustling Capital
Day 1: Start your Canberra visit with a trip to the National Museum of Australia for a non-conventional (and some might say haphazard) take on the country’s history. Before you head off, drop into one of the museum’s cafes and pick up a few things for a picnic lunch. If it’s a nice day, go down to the river. Out by the New South Wales border on the north-west side of Canberra, Uriarra Crossing is the spot where the Uriarra Road meets the Murrumbidgee River, and in Canberra it’s what passes for a beach. If you’re super organized you can cook your own barbecue down here – there are basic grills, and piles of wood scattered around the place. If the weather is a bit chilly for a swim, the Australian National Botanic Gardens is a great spot to visit, with a secluded rainforest gully, towering eucalypts spotted over sweeping lawns and a very nice café. Head back into the city in the late afternoon, wash off the river water and frock up for a visit to one of Canberra’s secretive suburban restaurants.
Day 2: Today is ‘big ticket items’ day, when you’ll get to check off some of the city’s must-sees. The Australian War Memorial is Australia’s most-visited museum. It’s easy to spend a whole morning at the War Memorial, but try to drag yourself away by lunchtime so you can head to Silo Bakery at Kingston for some of the best pastries you’ve ever tasted. Spend the afternoon at the National Gallery of Australia. There’s always some kind of fancy international exhibition on here, but for free you can visit the Australian galleries and get a great overview of Aboriginal art. The Children’s Gallery shows themed exhibitions with exercises and activities for kids, making a visit to the gallery less of a boring chore for the littlies. If it’s a Friday, you’re in luck. Wander from the gallery up to Old Parliament House where, between 5 and 9pm, the ‘Café in the House’ puts on its immensely popular happy hour. Any other evening, head back into the city for a couple of post-sightseeing cleansing ales. Finish off your evening with dinner at one of Garema Place’s sidewalk cafes.
Day 3: If you’re lucky enough to be waking up on a Saturday today, you should get yourself to the Gorman House Markets. These markets - at the city’s arts centre – have acted like a drop-in centre for Canberra’s ‘alternative’ set since the 1980s. Spend an hour or so at the markets and you’ll see a different side of the city to the politicians and public servants Canberra is known for. You can also browse great vintage clothes, antiques, crafts, second-hand books and all kinds of food stalls. At Craft ACT, near the Canberra Theatre, you can see exhibitions from jewellers, ceramicists and textile artists, with many selling pieces through the centre’s shop. Pick up a few bits and pieces, have a bite to eat then head south to Namadgi National Park. Dinner tonight is in Dickson, Canberra’s Chinatown to the north of the city. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from, but only a fool would go anywhere but the Dickson Asian Noodle House. Try the laksa (a spicy Malaysian coconut milk and noodle soup) and you will understand what taste buds are for. If you still have some energy, slump into a couch at nearby Trinity – one of a growing range of stylish cocktail bars in Canberra – and down a Szechuan beekeeper cocktail for dessert.
Day 4: Home-time I’m afraid... snap up any last minute items and depart for either your next city or from where you came.