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GoSeeAustralia sets out to see Canberra in 2 days and fails badly

April 19, 2006
GoSeeAustralia sets out to see Canberra in 2 days and fails badly

GoSeeAustralia set out to see Canberra in two days and failed badly. We found there was much more than we could hope to handle in that limited time in Australias Capital Territory so we will put a week into the next attempt at doing the town.

Canberra is unique among centres in Australia and is one of the worlds few planned cities 150 kilometres inland and 571 metres above the Pacific Ocean with a population of 324,000 people.

Canberra is a thriving modern city with fun for the kids, a busy calendar of events and festivals, and stylish restaurants, bars and shops.

The whole concept is a one-off and this brilliant balance of city and bush is set against the dramatic peaks and ridges of the Brindabella Mountains.

For caravans and Recreational Vehicles it is mostly flat, easy going with a road system which makes getting about logical and direct.

There are caravan parks between four and seven kilometres from the CBD.

Crestview is a modern quiet, landscaped park offering a high standard of comfort to caravanner and campers at budget prices.

It is on the southern entrance to Canberra, at Queanbeyan; just 10 minutes from the city

Crestview has Budget to Deluxe fully self contained air-conditioned cabins. Bedding is not supplied. Bookings are essential. There is a City bus stop at the caravan parks entrance and it is close to shops and clubs.

Eaglehawk Holiday Park is in a quiet landscaped country area, just off the Federal Highway, at Sutton about 10 minutes from the centre of Canberra and close to all major attractions. It offers Deluxe Villas, Cottages, Cabins, Powered Caravan Sites, Ensuite Sites and Camping accommodation.

The caravan park is pet friendly.

Parliaments New and Old
Parliaments New and Old

Editors note: GoSeeAustralia does not have full details on the following caravan park and cabin accommodation.

The White Ibis Holiday Village is also at Sutton, it is a Family Parks of Australia member. Canberra Carotel Federal Highway, Watson Dickson. Canberra Motor Village Kunzea Street, O'Connor. Canberra South Motor Village Canberra Avenue Symonston. Narrabundah Long Stay Caravan Park, 88 Wollongong St Fyshwick.Queanbeyan Riverside Tourist Park 41a Morrissett Street QueanbeyanNSW. The Village Cabins 43 Canberra Avenue QueanbeyanNSW.

Getting about in the ACT is a short learning curve, as Canberra is a clever plan based on the CBD and its surrounding satellite cities being easily linked through roundabouts. For example coming in from Cooma most things can be reached off the Monaro Hwy. A local joke is when you come off the Monaro at the first roundabout The Tharwa you go, the closer you get.

Blundells Cottage is hands-on history
Blundell's Cottage
is hands-on history

Tharwa Drive links Banks, Historic Lanyon Homestead, Tuggeranong and Drakeford Drive which becomes Tuggeranong Parkway and heads north leading to Canberras most helpful landmark for visitors, the Telstra Tower which pierces the sky on Black Mountain. The 195m Telstra Tower can be seen from most places in Canberra. If you can see this amazing piece of towering architecture you are not lost.

From central Canberra Commonwealth Ave becomes Northbourne Ave at Vernon Circle which becomes the Federal Highway and the main route to Sydney. There is also a neat bypass via the Monaro Hwy past Fyshwick and onto the Onaro Hwy near Canberra Airport and then Majura Rd which picks up the Federal Hwy bound for Sydney.

Or to head south turn left onto the Barton Highway off Northbourne Ave in Lyneham near the ACT Netball Centre and head for the Hume Highway.

Shining symbol for Australia
Shining symbol
for Australia

There is a lot more than politics about Canberra an eclectic mix of restaurants, wineries, shopping, entertainment, galleries, museums and world-class monuments and attractions. The Canberra region has about 2.2 million visitors annually. As GoSeeAustralia found visitors could easily spend several days exploring Canberra's national attractions, many of which are located near Canberras centrepiece, Lake Burley Griffin. The Captain Cook Memorial jet shoots water more than 140m into the air and the National Carillon bell tower on Aspen Island can be heard across the lake. Both were given to the people of Australia by the Queen.

Over 40 per cent of the Australian Capital Territory is national parks and bushland. There are 140 kilometres of bike and roller-blading paths which meander through parks, woods and forests; there are quiet waters to canoe, and romantic secluded spots to picnic under the willows.

Take a picnic to the Cotter Reserve to relax beside the bubbling Murrumbidgee River; visit Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve to feed the wildlife; or venture further a field to Namadgi National Park for an unforgettable day of bushwalking. History buffs will love historic Lanyon homestead, with the Nolan Gallery in its grounds which is approached via Tharwa Drive through Banks.

Lanyon is one of Australia's most historic grazing properties on the banks of the Murrumbidgee River. The big, cool homestead is surrounded by gardens. It is beautifully restored and dates from the 1850s. Remarkable pines are included in the garden and the nearby Nolan Galley houses Sir Sidney Nolan's first Kelly painting.

Canberras attractions showcase Australias art, history, culture sport and lifestyle through vibrant and interactive displays, an exciting blend of exhibitions, performances and local activities and events.

Blundell's Cottage in Wendouree Drive, Parkes is a notable historic experience. It is one of the only hands-on historic homes in Australia. Here visitors can touch artefacts which have been in the Blundell family since 1860.

Telstra Tower reaches for the sky
Telstra Tower reaches
for the sky

When you visit Canberra, GoSeeAustralia recommends you:

Take in a blockbuster exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia (admission to the permanent collection is free) or the National Museum of Australia (free admission to the general exhibition areas).

Learn about Australians at war and understand the value of peace at the Australian Tourism Award winning Australian War Memorial (admission free).

Make your own coin at the Royal Australian Mint. (Free entry, parking and barbecue facilities).

Take time to visit Parliament House both Old ($2 adult $1 children $5 family) and New (free admission).

Take the lift to the roof of the new Parliament House (free guided tours) and try and photograph the 81m flag pole.

See the National Archives of Australia (admission free).

War memorial
War memorial

See the National Portrait Gallery,

See the National Library and the High Court of Australia.

See caged lightning or;

Shake yourself up with an Earthquake just some of the exhibits at Questacon, the National Science and Technology Centre. (Admission fees apply).

Immerse yourself in the world of movies at National Film and Sound Archive.

See Australia's largest collection of big cats at the National Zoo and Aquarium.

Take the interactive Sportex tour of the Australian Institute of Sport.

Simpson and his donkey
Simpson and
his donkey

Editor's Note also see:

Children will love Cockington Greens charming miniature world.

Photograph stunning 360 degree views of the city from Telstra Tower.

A visit to Canberra isnt complete without a visit to the three times Australian Tourism Award winning Australian War Memorial. Admission is free. Wander through the state-of-the-art museum, regarded as one of the most impressive war museums in the world.

There are fighter planes, view dioramas that show the significant battles Australians have fought, and spend hours pouring over military memorabilia.

See Striking by Night. This impressive exhibition uses a sound and light show to recreate a night raid over Berlin in 1943 and features the Lancaster Bomber G for George.

The GGs Rolls Royce Phantom V1 1970 model
The GG's Rolls Royce
Phantom V1 1970 model

Reflect by the eternal flame and find familiar names on the Roll of Honour, often dotted with scarlet poppies. At the Australian War Memorial the whole family can learn about Australians at war and understand the value of peace.

While the theme of Cockington Green Gardens may be little the display is huge and it continues grows each year. For 25 years Cockington Green Gardens has been one of Canberras best-known family attractions. There is a little bit of everything at Cockington Green, fascinating architecture, stunning gardens and humorous scenes.

While many people know Cockington Green as a miniature English village, the international display has added a multicultural focus with many countries from around the world featuring in the display including Indonesia, South Africa, Croatia, Venezuela, Norway, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Colombia, Spain, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Lithuania, and the Czech Republic.

They came in thousands
They came in

Tour the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and be guided around this world-class facility by an elite athlete who can show you where they train and give a unique insight into the life of a top Australian athlete.

You can watch up-and-coming gymnasts in training or see some of Australias top swimmers doing their laps. The tour also includes a visit to Sportex, an interactive exhibition where you can measure up to an athlete or test your skills as a rower, golfer or wheelchair basketballer.

Sportex also includes memorabilia such as Don Bradmans cricket bat, Kathy Freemans running shoes and Michael Klim's medals from the 2000 Olympic Games.

Questacon The National Science and Technology Centre is one of Canberras most popular attractions.

Children love Questacon because it is so much fun, and parents and teachers love to bring them because Questacon is packed with science information.

Questacon makes science fun and relevant for everyone. Even the Questacon building is fun, as visitors walk up one huge circular ramp, past six different exhibition galleries packed with exhibits.

Questacon contains over 200 exhibits, and every one of them is an interactive experience. Questacon is not only hands-on science, but often provides a whole body learning experience.

At Questacon visitors can sit in a shuddering room and experience an earthquake, or they can try out a simulated roller-coaster ride.

GGs Open Day Government House Canberra
GG's Open Day
Government House

There is also caged lightning on display, and a scary six-metre drop, for those who want to really test themselves. There are plenty of quieter activities too. Questacon has life-sized holograms, an air harp, computerised colouring-in, and all sorts of other hands-on exhibits.

Questacon even has a dynamic team of performers The Excited Particles, whose explosive science shows are on every day in the theatre.

Built in 1927, Old Parliament House is one of Australias most treasured landmarks. Celebrating 79 years of Australias political and social history, the House is of great cultural significance as the site where our political past was shaped.

Today the House offers a constantly changing program of events and exhibitions. You can sit in the original parliamentary chambers where some of the greatest Australian personalities of our time decided the countrys future.

Be sure to explore the grounds and enjoy the delightful blooms in the rose gardens.

Canberra City Band
Canberra City Band

Old Parliament House is also home to the National Portrait Gallery. At the gallery you will find a large collection of portraits significant to the history and culture of Australian life. Portraits range from scientific and political greats, to Australian personalities and sporting heroes. Learn more about Old Parliament House as history is brought to life by daily-guided tours.

Old Parliament House made headlines for more than 60 years as home to Australias Federal Parliament from 1927 to 1988. Today, this much-loved heritage building offers the visitor a unique glimpse into Australias fascinating past. Decades of politics and passion echo through the corridors of Old Parliament House, making it one of Australias most memorable heritage attractions. Visitors can experience an atmosphere steeped in history, revisit dramatic events, get behind-the-scenes on a tour of the original Parliamentary Chambers and Prime Ministers Suite, and enjoy the architecture and fine design.

Old Parliament House also offers an exciting program of exhibitions and other engaging activities and is also home to Australias National Portrait Gallery. Australias National Portrait Gallery celebrates the achievements of people who have helped to shape Australia. The permanent collection, in beautifully renovated gallery spaces, includes Nora Heysens self-portrait, Howard Arkleys portrait of Nick Cave, and works by Arthur Boyd and David Moore.

Visitors can enjoy dining at the Cafe in the House and find a souvenir at the Old Parliament House Shop.

Shady trees cool Lanyon Homestead
Shady trees cool
Lanyon Homestead

Canberra district wineries rate as some of the best in the country. The region now has 37 wineries (and 140 vineyards) spread over four distinct areas ACT, Hall, Lake George and Murrumbateman.

Producing about two million bottles of premium wine annually, the region regularly wins major wine show awards for classic cool climate varieties Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Pinot Noir.

For pure pleasure nothing beats a leisurely wineries tour. Join an organised tour or devise your own wineries trail. Visitors can grab a map and head off to visit other wineries. Most cellar doors are only 25 minutes from town, all in beautiful rural surroundings. Despite the sophisticated product, the wineries are small and friendly.

The Murrumbateman area is about 40min along the Barton Hwy. There are 12 wineries in the Murrumbateman area and regional produce. Around Canberra and out to the village of Hall on the Barton Hwy there are six cellar doors about 10 min from the CBD with great views of the city and there is a cluster of wineries in the hills around Hall.

On the Federal Hwy to the north Lake George wine makers get it right and there are wine bars in and around the historic villages of Gundaroo and Collector.

The high altitude wineries can be found along the Federal Hwy too at Bungendore and Wamboin.

Set against the Brindabella Ranges, Canberra has many areas of natural bushland to explore. Tour operators offer outdoor fun, including 4WD tours through the spectacular surrounds of the ACT and tours from Canberra to the Snowy Mountains and back, with regular departure dates.

Big old Bunya-Bunya Lanyon ACT
Big old Bunya-Bunya
Lanyon ACT

There are half and full day tours to the Brindabellas, Namadgi National Park and other bush trails.

Take a leisurely stroll through native plants, a vast eucalypt lawn and lush layers of a simulated rainforest at the National Botanic Gardens. Discover the wild side of Canberra on walking trails through Canberra Nature Parks, which include Mount Ainslie, Black Mountain and Mount Taylor.

Theres an abundance of birds in the national capital, from yellow tailed black cockatoos to endangered white winged choughs, to scarlet king parrots. If youre a serious bird watcher head for the Jerrabomberra Wetlands bird hides and watch the natural life as it unfolds in the lake shallows.

Canberra has plenty of outdoor activities to make a holiday exciting. Test your outdoor adventure skills with abseiling, caving and canyoning. Soar high over the foothills of the Brindabellas as you paraglide with the Australian Paragliding Centre at Murrumbateman or drift over the city in a hot air balloon.

Cruise on Lake Burley Griffin or hire a bike and ride around the lake. There is more than 140km of bike and roller-blading paths, which meander through Canberra.

Play golf on one of many excellent golf courses, go horse riding along trails near the city, or enjoy sailing, rowing or sail boarding on the lake.

Have a close encounter with a family of otters, and see Australias biggest collection of big cats at the National Zoo and Aquarium.

Broad verandahs on broad acres  Lanyon ACT
Broad verandahs
on broad acres
Lanyon ACT

The aquarium houses an impressive range of sharks, tropical fish, frogs, eels and turtles. It is Australias only combined zoo and aquarium.

Handle a python at the Australian Reptile Centre or see a wide range of bird life at The Bird Walk; both are located at Gold Creek Village.

Canberra offers capital dining at regional prices. With over 300 restaurants, cafes and bars, Canberra offers wonderful dining experiences for all tastes and budgets. Dine out in one of many restaurant precincts. Visitors are spoilt for choice in Kingston, Manuka or on Canberras eat street, West Row in the city, where the choice ranges from contemporary Italian to Asian, several fine dining restaurants, and an Irish Pub. Dickson is a must. Regarded as Canberras China Town, the selection of restaurants reflects the capitals cultural diversity.

Trendy, techno, retro clubs and pubs are the place to have fun and be seen after dark. Most nightspots are concentrated in the inner city, Manuka, Kingston and Dickson.

Canberra has its fair share of good pubs offering hearty meals, entertainment and a selection of ales guaranteed to satisfy any beer drinker.

Have a flutter at Canberra Casino, which offers games, entertainment, karaoke, comedy and a nightclub upstairs.

Canberra has plenty of choice when it comes to shopping. There are several major retail centres, markets and specialty stores. Civic is an ideal place to begin a shopping spree. The Canberra Centre has 200 shops, regular lunchtime entertainment and an up-market atmosphere. Theres an abundance of stores just outside in City Walk and Garema Place.

A battered seeder at Lanyon Homestead ACT
A battered seeder at
Lanyon Homestead ACT

If markets are your thing, the award winning Old Bus Depot Markets in Kingston are a must. Held every Sunday, the markets remain a firm Canberra favourite with stalls selling jewellery, clothing, furniture, plants and specialty foods many offering tastings.

The fresh food theme continues at Fyshwick (Thursday to Sunday) and Belconnen (Wednesday to Sunday) Markets which both have an extensive range of fresh produce and delicatessen items.

For pure bliss, head to one of Canberras day spas - services include massage, hydrotherapy, holistic treatments, skin and body treatments and aromatherapy.

The National Museum of Australia on Lake Burley Griffin is an architectural landmark in Canberra. With its controversial striking colours and odd shape, the museum is a place for sharing stories and understanding the many cultural histories of Australians.

For more than 20 years, the museum has been collecting rare and unique objects, which help to tell these stories, and interpret the complex origins of the Australian continent and the nation.

Begin at Circa, a rotating cinema that introduces the museums three main themes of land, nation and people. Do not miss Eternity, this gallery tells stories from the emotional heartland of Australia and is divided into 10 areas, each devoted to a feeling or sensation. The museum also has an engaging childrens gallery, a broadcast studio and a temporary exhibition space for visiting exhibits.

Designed by Ashton Raggatt McDougall it sits on the stunning site of Action Peninsula on Lake Burley Griffin. Inspired by the idea of a jigsaw puzzle, arranged in many configurations, the vision of the architects is for a building which expresses the many tangled stories which make up Australias history.

Wool press Lanyon ACT
Wool press Lanyon ACT

The National Museum opened as the centrepiece in the celebrations of the centenary of Federation in March, 2001. From convicts to politicians Australias often ambiguous attitude to the trappings of nationhood are explored in the museum. Its a place for sharing stories and understanding the many cultural histories of Australians.

Object of interest rotate but the museum has everything from heritage caravans, the first Holden, the heart of the horse racing legend Phar Lap, the old Bentley beloved by former Prime Minister Robert Menzies, the swords of Governor Macquarie to the black baby garments worn by dingo victim Azaria Chamberlain in its extensive collections.

On the ancient lands of the Ngunnawal people Canberras name is thought to mean meeting place from the Aboriginal name Kamberra. Europeans first settled in the 1830s and the area was chosen for the federal capital in 1908.

Down on the farm at Lanyon Homestead  ACT
Down on the farm at
Lanyon Homestead ACT

Chicago architect Walter Burley Griffin won an international design competition to plan Canberra. More information on Canberras history:

The Ngunnawal people met in the Canberra area for thousands of years before European settlement for ceremonies and to eat Bogong moths. The Yankee Hat walking track in Namadgi National Park leads to an Aboriginal rock art site. At Mt Namadgi an arrangement of stones is thought to be from the ceremonial life of the Aboriginal people.

Along the Birrigai Time Trail at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, the life of the Ngunnawal people can be found in rock art, boulder shelters, camps and toll making areas.

Australian Institute of Sport
Australian Institute of Sport

Editors note: GoSeeAustralia will feature Canberra again in the spring, Sept 17 to Oct 16, for the annual spectacular floral explosion, Floriade. More than a million bulbs and annuals provide a visual riot of patterns, sweeps of colour tones, and delicate fragrances wafting throughout Commonwealth Park. There will be outdoor entertainment, cafes craft and music.

With the help of local knowledge from Australian Capital Tourism GoSeeAustralia offers these thoughts on having fun in our National Capital -

See your family having fun

With so many attractions and fun things to do, even the big kids can get away with being children in Canberra. Here are just some of the great things to do for families.

Tidbinbilla Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex
Tidbinbilla Canberra Deep
Space Communications Complex

See tigers, Lions, giraffes, cheetahs, bears, monkeys, the shark tank and much more on the kids tour at Australias only combined zoo and aquarium. For adults and bigger kids, hand feed lions and tigers and let a bear lick honey from your hands or pat a cheetah on the Meet-a-Cheetah tour.

National Zoo Aquarium
Lady Denman Drive, Yarralumla

See where champions train, and test your athletic skills on a tour with an elite athlete see how fast you can throw a ball, challenge someone to a simulated rowing race, try your hand at wheelchair basketball and find out how you measure up against famous athletes.

Deep space and back to horseback
Deep space and
back to horseback

Australian Institute of Sport
Leverrier Crescent, Bruce

Take a ride on the mini steam train around a miniature village and tower over tiny versions of famous buildings from around the world. Watch the kids bring the exhibits to life with interactive mechanical animation and enjoy a barbecue, picnic lunch or meal at the old English style cafe.

Cockington Green Gardens
Gold Creek Road, off the Barton Highway, Nicholls

Experience an earthquake; brave the simulated guillotine or freefall six metres down a vertical slide. The kids will love the zany science theatre shows, and the littlies will never want to leave Mini Q, where they can play water games and pretend to be builders, shop assistants, vets and mechanics in the imaginative play spaces.

Questacon the National Science and Technology Centre
King Edward Terrace, Parkes

Feed a Tiger National Zoo & Aquarium
Feed a Tiger
National Zoo Aquarium

Put on a lab coat to conduct your own experiments, win a lolly by making enough energy to power a mechanical arm, see facial recognition software at work and experience the strange sensations of 3D cinema.

CSIRO Discovery
North Science Road, off Clunies Ross Street, Black Mountain

Take a nostalgic ride on one of the 52 beautiful wooden horses at the Civic Merry-go-round that were hand carved in Germany and are named after Melbourne Cup winners

Civic Merry-go-round
City Walk Petrie Plaza, City Centre

Create a house or vehicle of the future in K-Space and watch your creation come to life in a 3D cinema. Take a ride on the revolving Circa theatre, settle in for some storytelling inside the Boab tree, watch the kids play in cubby houses from around Australia and let them run wild in the Garden of Australian Dreams. Free general admission.

National Museum of Australia
Lawson Crescent, Acton Peninsula

Cockington Green Gardens delights young minds
Cockington Green Gardens
delights young minds

Hire a paddleboat or family bike to really enjoy Lake Burley Griffin. Hydro bikes, tandems, canoes, kayaks and surf skis are also available for hire.

Lake Burley Griffin Boat Hire and Mr Spokes Bike Hire
Acton Ferry Terminal, Barrine Drive, Acton

Help the kids place a red poppy on the Roll of Honour wall, watch them play dress ups, experience a sound and light show of a Lancaster Bomber night raid over Berlin, and see tanks, aeroplanes, submarines and the Red Barons joystick on display. Free general admission.

Australian War Memorial
Treloar Crescent, Campbell

National Museum of Australia
National Museum of Australia

Let the kids mint their own $1 coin, check out counterfeit coins, learn where the spare key to Parliament House is kept and see the Sydney 2000 Olympic medals that were made in Canberra. Free general admission.

The Royal Australian Mint
Denison Street, Deakin

Walk through a fog sculpture; see your distorted image reflected in giant silver cones and lie in the grass in the outdoor Sculpture Garden. Free general admission.

National Gallery of Australia
Parkes Place, Parkes

Hold a friendly python at the Australian Reptile Centre, be amused by the antics of the bearded dragons and see the worlds most poisonous snake, the inland Taipan. Check out the fantastic prehistory gallery with amazing fossils and the largest Tyrannosaurus Rex skull on display in Australia. Admission charge.

Hold a Lizard Australian Reptile Centre
Hold a Lizard
Australian Reptile Centre

Australian Reptile Centre
Gold Creek Village, OHanlon Place, Nicholls

Hand-feed over 50 varieties of birds from colourful finches to parrots and lorikeets, as they fly around this large walk-in aviary.

The Bird Walk
Federation Square, Gold Creek Village, OHanlon Place, Nicholls

Learn all about NASA at the Visitors Centre at the Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex, which for 40 years has played a key role in the exploration of space as part of NASA's Deep Space Network. Free general admission.

Canberra Deep Space Communications Complex
Discovery Drive, Tidbinbilla

Find an ancient Aboriginal cave where Bogong moths gathered, picnic with the emus, visit the koala enclosure and join the exciting program of ranger-guided childrens activities during school holidays. Free general admission.

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
Paddys River Road, Tidbinbilla

Emma Holds a Python Australian Reptile Centre
Emma Holds a Python
Australian Reptile Centre

National treasures

See our nation reflected in its capital

Many of the treasures of our nation await discovery in Canberra. Showing our journey from an ancient Indigenous continent to a modern multicultural nation, the many national attractions here hold and share the essence of Australias culture, democracy, history and way of life.

National Museum of Australia
Acton Peninsula, Acton

Take a ride on the rotating theatre exhibit, be enthralled by the stories of unique Australians, and leave your own story on videotape in the Eternity Gallery. Use an Aboriginal grinding stone, smell the aromas of different bush foods and see anything from Phar Laps heart to the first official Holden to roll off the assembly line. The stunning and symbolic architecture of this building also makes a perfect shot for your photo album. Free general admission.

Australian War Memorial
Treloar Crescent, Campbell

See what makes us proud at the Australian War Memorial, which commemorates the commitment, camaraderie and sacrifice of Australians in war. See some of the worlds most significant military relics, such as the Lancaster Bomber G for George, and experience a 1943 night raid over Berlin. The Hall of Memory, with its Tomb of the Unknown Australian Solder, is the commemorative heart of the memorial and a must-see. Free general admission.

Across the road Emma makes friends with Lorikeets in The Bird Walk
Across the road Emma
makes friends with Lorikeets
in The Bird Walk

National Gallery of Australia
Parkes Place, Parkes

Experience Australia through the eyes of our artists, see world-class exhibitions and stroll through the sculpture garden with its drifting fog sculpture. Home to the famous Blue Poles and more than 100,000 works of art, including a renowned Indigenous art collection, the National Gallery of Australia is an ever-changing delight. Free general admission.

Parliament House
Capital Hill, Parkes

Regular free tours will guide you through Parliament House, one of the worlds most acclaimed buildings. Dont miss the excellent views of Canberra from the roof, marvel at the 81-metre flagpole with an Australian flag bigger than a double-decker bus, stroll through the beautifully landscaped gardens and enjoy the renowned collection of Australian contemporary art. Watch parliamentarians in action at Question Time from 2 pm on sitting days. Free general admission.

Paddle boating on Lake Burley Griffin
Paddle boating on
Lake Burley Griffin

Old Parliament House
King George Terrace, Parkes

This beautiful and iconic 1920s building was the home of the Australian Parliament for 61 years. Stand where former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam announced his governments dismissal in 1975, check out Bob Hawkes modest prime ministerial suite and see the tiny office space of a backbencher. The excellent exhibitions program and recently re-opened Rose Gardens make a visit to Old Parliament House an absolute must. Admission charge.

National Portrait Gallery of Australia
Old Parliament House, King George Terrace, Parkes

Exhibition space at Commonwealth Place, Parkes
Home to Ned Kellys death mask, here you can study the portraits of people whove had a significant impact on our country. Based in Old Parliament House and with an additional stylish space on the edge of Lake Burley Griffin, the gallery collects and displays paintings, drawings, sculptural works and photography, and offers a diverse exhibition program of portraits from around the world. Admission charge to Old Parliament House.

National Library of Australia
Parkes Place, Parkes

With the personal papers of 13 prime ministers and people like Lindy Chamberlain, as well as rare books, photographs, maps, letters, sheet music and other valuable historic documents, this is a must for book lovers and those with a penchant for research. Browse the beautiful bookstore and exhibitions of precious items in the collection and relax in the cafe with views over the lake. Free general admission.

Make your own dollar at the Royal Australian Mint
Make your own dollar at
the Royal Australian Mint

National Archives of Australia
Queen Victoria Terrace, Parkes

Canberras original general post office is now the place to research your family tree and discover a treasure trove of fascinating records, including Australias birth certificate Queen Victorias Royal Commission of Assent and our first Constitution. Delve into original government records on immigration, transport, politics or Indigenous affairs, or explore one of the ever changing exhibitions. Free general admission.

National Film and Sound Archive
McCoy Circuit, Acton

Laugh and cry with Australians on screen and radio at the National Film and Sound Archive, a division of the Australian Film Commission. Housed in a beautiful art deco building, the archive holds 100 years of Australian film, radio and television history. Wander through the exhibition, catch a classic film, watch early Australian television commercials and browse in the shop. Free general admission.

Canberra has a Kangaroo or two  or three or more
Canberra has a Kangaroo
or two or three or more

Questacon the National Science and Technology Centre
King Edward Terrace, Parkes

Questacon makes science fun! Watch a lightning bolt, make music with your feet on a giant floor piano, and catch some hilarious science theatre. Mini Q, a great new exhibition for little kids, provides fantastic play spaces for under sixes. Admission charge.

High Court of Australia
Parkes Place, Parkes

See Australia's highest court of appeal in a striking building that features a stunning waterfall and a seven story high public hall. When the court is in session, visitors can observe from the public gallery if seating is available. The Great Hall often features exhibitions and performances. Free admission.

Australian Institute of Sport
Leverrier Crescent, Bruce

Home to some of Australias current and future Olympians, the Australian Institute of Sport celebrates Australias proud sporting culture. Take a tour with an elite athlete to get a unique insight into the institute, and test your athletic skills in the Sportex exhibition. Some tours even offer the chance to go underneath the AIS pool for a new perspective on swimming. Admission charge.

Australian National Botanic Gardens
Clunies Ross Street, Acton

See whats in flower of some 90,000 plants from across Australia, take a guided tour, listen to native birdlife, stroll through the rainforest and browse the visitor centre and botanical bookshop. Free general admission.

Excitement at Questacon - the National Science and Technology Centre
Excitement at Questacon the
National Science and Technology Centre

Royal Australian Mint
Denison Street, Deakin

See where two million Australian coins are made each day. Take a guided tour or wander through the gallery to see coins being made, strike your own $1 coin and learn about coinage history. At the Coin Shop, you can buy the latest collector coin issues. Admission charge.


See the parks that hide a city

Canberra is a city in a park, a landscaped capital carefully designed to transform with the four distinct seasons. But beneath the golden autumn leaves and spring blooms is a vibrant city, spread amongst gardens and stretches of green open space that are perfect for relaxing and enjoying the fresh air.

Original design National Museum of Australia
Original design National
Museum of Australia

Inner city parks and gardens

Commonwealth Park
Parkes Way, City

Take a walk or have a picnic in beautifully landscaped Commonwealth Park in the city centre, and find interesting sculptures, hidden walks and tranquil ponds. In spring, Commonwealth Park blossoms into Floriade, Australias largest floral festival. Visit the National Capital Exhibition at Regatta Point and have a bite to eat in the cafe.

National Gallery of Australia Sculpture Garden
Parkes Place, Parkes

Dont miss the Sculpture Garden with its Rodin masterpieces and enormous modern sculptures set amongst native landscaping. Take a break at the stylish outdoor restaurant and watch the Fog Sculpture drift across the pond while you hear the elegant sounds of the National Carillon bell tower playing across the lake. Telephone 1300 554 114 for times.

Commonwealth Place, Parkes

Giant waves of grass between the High Court of Australia and National Library shelter the upmarket Waters Edge restaurant as well as exhibition space for the National Portrait Gallery. Its a great spot for walking, rollerblading, cycling or enjoying live music on summer evenings.

Lennox Gardens
Flynn Drive, Yarralumla

On the shores of Lake Burley Griffin behind the Hyatt Hotel Canberra, Lennox Gardens are a beautiful place to ride a bike, cook up a barbeque, wander through the peaceful Japanese garden, watch the boat craft or admire the view of the National Museum of Australia across the waters.

Great for families National Science and Technology Centre
Great for families National
Science and Technology Centre

Australian National Botanic Gardens
Clunies Ross Street, Acton

Take a spot the species walk amongst some 90,000 plants from across Australia. Have a picnic on the manicured lawns or a coffee in the cafe, stroll through the deliciously cool rainforest, enjoy the native birdlife, watch water dragons sunbaking in warmer months, and listen to live jazz concerts in summer. Free general admission.

Old Parliament House Gardens and the National Rose Gardens
King George Terrace, Parkes

The historic rose gardens around Old Parliament House, which provided a place for politicians to relax and roses to decorate their offices, reopened in late 2004 after extensive restoration. Amongst the stunning displays are rose bushes that commemorate Australians from all walks of life and unusual plants from other countries. The tennis courts, bowling green and cricket pitch are all open to public use.

Nature parks

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
Visitors Centre, Paddys River Road, Tidbinbilla

Forty-five minutes drive from the city, Tidbinbilla offers walking trails, ranger-guided activities, and Australian animals in their natural habitat, delightful wildflowers during spring and rich Indigenous and pioneer heritage. Learn about the captive breeding programs for the endangered brush-tailed rock wallaby and the northern corroborree frog, and meet Lucky the koala, the only survivor of the Tidbinbilla koala colony during the 2003 firestorm. Free general admission.

Namadgi National Park
Visitors Centre, Naas Road, Tharwa

Venture into Namadgi at the northern end of the Australian Alps, 45 minutes drive from the city. Take a picnic or bushwalk on the numerous marked trails, experience native flora and fauna and enjoy spectacular wildflowers in spring. The Indigenous rock art and Aboriginal shelters are easily accessible. Camping is available in pleasant bushland settings with fishing and horse riding permitted in designated areas. Take a ranger-guided walk, or escape into the rugged Bimberi Wilderness. Free general admission.

Parks and reserves

Admire colourful wildflowers in spring and early summer and enjoy native forests and woodlands that are home to significant native plant and animal species such as the small purple pea, grassland earless dragon and the Perunga grasshopper. Mountain bike riding and horse riding are permitted in designated areas along the formed fire trails. Enjoy a picnic at the Cotter Dam while the children negotiate the new playground equipment. For more information, pick up a copy of Get out there a Guide to the Australian Capital Territorys parks and reserves from the Canberra and Region Visitors Centre. Free general admission.

Great views

Original thought National Museum of Australia
Original thought National
Museum of Australia

Telstra Tower
Black Mountain Drive, Acton

The 195 metre Telstra Tower, a high-tech transmitting station, offers spectacular 360 degree views of Canberra and the region, as well as a souvenir shop and revolving restaurant. Follow one of the walking tracks on Black Mountain for picture perfect views over Canberra, and see habitats for many native plants and animals including the ringtail possum. Admission charge.

Red Hill
Red Hill Drive, Red Hill

South of the city centre, Red Hill offers a lookout over many of our national icons. In autumn, the brilliant reds and browns of the deciduous trees in the suburbs below are stunning. Relax in the kiosk and restaurant or do some bbird watching. The eucalypt hollows are the favourite nesting places of white-throated tree creepers and southern boobooks.

Mount Ainslie
Mount Ainslie Drive, Ainslie

Drive, cycle or even run up Mount Ainslie to get a magnificent perspective of how architect Walter Burley Griffins plan for Canberra has come to life through the buildings and monuments. Small native flowers such as bluebells and everlasting daisies add beautiful colour to the bushland in spring and early summer, and many small mammals such as sugar gliders and ring-tail possums find shelter in the hollows of the old scribbly gums on Mount Ainslie.

Pilot of Microsoft Balloon
Pilot of Microsoft Balloon

Mount Pleasant
Morshead Drive, Duntroon

Not far from Mount Ainslie, Mount Pleasant offers beautiful views over Lake Burley Griffin, the Duntroon Royal Military College and Jerrabomberra Wetlands. Visit the grave of General Bridges, Australias highest ranking soldier in World War I, who is the only Australian soldier killed at Gallipoli to be buried in Australia.


See whats on the menu

Canberra is a great destination for food lovers. Relax in a stylish cafe, dine with a lake view, or taste award-winning wines and fresh produce at a vineyard cafe or restaurant. With over 300 restaurants, cafes and pubs, the dining scene just gets better and better.

The inner south

Close to the city centre, the Kingston and Manuka shopping centres have many fantastic cafes and restaurants, gourmet food stores and bakeries. Find modern Australian, Vietnamese, Portuguese, Turkish, Spanish, Malaysian, French, Thai, Chinese and Italian. In Barton, try modern Turkish at the famous Ottoman. Aubergine, Element and Rubicon, all at Griffith Shops, are well known for modern Australian cuisine.

Microsoft Balloon ready for lift off
Microsoft Balloon ready for lift off

City centre

Some of Canberras best restaurants line West Row in the Melbourne Building, where you can find Anise, Mezzalira, Dijon, the Asian Cafe and the Charcoal Grill Restaurant. Many other great restaurants are located in Garema Place and along City Walk and Bunda Street. At the upper end of the market, try east meets west at the Chairman and Yip. Family restaurants in the city include Australian Pizza Kitchen, Babars, Antigos, Woodstock and Hogs Breath Cafe .


Dickson offers a small flourishing Chinatown and much more. Find Fekertes Ethiopian Cuisine, Pho Phu Quoc Vietnamese Restaurant, the Asian Noodle House, as well as Korean, Malaysian, Turkish, Italian, Indian and Thai food all within a short walk.

Great breakfasts

Start your day with a great breakfast in one of Canberras many cafes, such as Milk Honey or Loui in the city, Pizzazz or Silo Bakery in Kingston, Chill at Campbell shops, or Beess and Co Cafe, Yarralumla.

Lake Burley Griffin By Balloon
Lake Burley Griffin By Balloon

Parliament House from Balloon
Parliament House from Balloon

Family dining

With menus to delight even the choosiest of children, there are many great family eateries in Canberra. Enjoy fast, tasty Chinese/Malaysian at Timmys Kitchen in Manuka or Sammys Kitchen in the city. The Zeffirelli Pizza Restaurants, in Belconnen, Kingston and Dickson, produce a huge range of pasta dishes and delicious pizzas. Try the extensive tapas menu or traditional Spanish fare at Legends in Manuka, or enjoy Turkish at the Turkish Pide House in the city.

Pub food

Canberra has lots of pubs serving inexpensive, hearty meals, such as the Durham Castle Arms or Little Brussels beer cafe in Kingston, Debacle in Braddon, Edgars Inn at the Ainslie shops, and King OMalleys, the Wig Pen Tavern and Brewery or PJ OReillys in the city. You can cook your own steak at the Kingston Hotel or drive out to George Harcourt Inn at Gold Creek Village for good pub food. Canberras many licensed clubs also offer good value, tasty meals.

Dine with a view

Canberras Lake Burley Griffin and our famous landmark buildings provide a beautiful backdrop for many stylish restaurants and cafes, including Waters Edge at Commonwealth Place, Axis in the National Museum of Australia, the Boat House by the Lake, Tower Restaurant atop Telstra Tower, and the Sculpture Garden Restaurant at the National Gallery of Australia in warmer months. For something more casual, drop into the Deck at Regatta Point or grab some fish and chips from the Canberra Yacht Club in Yarralumla, both on the edge of Lake Burley Griffin.

Winery dining

Dine with a vineyard view at Kamberra Wine Company on Northbourne Avenue, Pialligo Estates Cafe in Pialligo, grapefoodwine on Lake George, Lambert Vineyards near Bungendore, or Shaw Vineyard Estate near Murrumbateman. Other outstanding country restaurants in the wine districts include the Lynwood Cafe in Collector, Grazing at Gundaroo, Barrique Cafe and Restaurant at Murrumbateman, and Poachers Pantry Smokehouse Cafe near Hall, where you can try delicious gourmet smoked products.


See yourself amongst the vines

Capital region cool climate wines are now receiving worldwide recognition for their elegant bouquet and flavour. The peaceful rural countryside around the ACT is home to 140 vineyards with more than 30 boutique cellar doors, and most are only 30minutes from the city. The wineries are small and friendly and you may even get to meet the winemaker at the cellar door.

Fast Facts

Wine has been made in the Canberra district for 160 years. Our wine makers are becoming renowned for the high quality of their authentic, hand crafted cool climate wines. The region's three main grape growing areas are Murrumbateman/Yass, Canberra/Hall and Bungendore/Lake George. The district's vineyards cover a large altitudinal range of 300 to 800 metres, and produce exquisite, award winning cool climate wines.

Viognier, Shiraz and Riesling

The Canberra District is renowned for producing outstanding examples of Viognier, Shiraz and Riesling. The area's climate and conditions combine to bring out distinctive, unique characteristics in these varieties.

National Museum of Australia By Balloon
National Museum of Australia
By Balloon

Viognier is well suited to blending with other varieties to create unique styles such as Shiraz Viognier. The famous Clonakilla Shiraz Viognier is produced in the Canberra District. The influential Langton's Classification of Australian Wine awarded Clonakilla's Shiraz Viognier an 'outstanding' rating, classifying it in the top 33 wines in Australia.

Murrumbateman and Yass

A pleasant 40-minute drive along the Barton Highway brings you to the picturesque Murrumbateman area, where you can visit more than 10 wineries, admire historic buildings, and try regional produce at the delicious cafes and restaurants.

Canberra and Hall

No more than 10 minutes drive from Canberras city centre are three cellar doors offering high quality wines and great views of Canberra. To explore the cluster of wineries in the rolling hills around the village of Hall, take a 20-minute drive along the Barton Highway.

Bungendore and Lake George

Along the Federal Highway to the north of the city, the Lake George vignerons produce fabulous wines, and there are plenty of award-winning restaurants and great wine bars in and around the historic villages of Gundaroo and Collector, where you can relax and meet the locals. The high altitude wineries around the historic town of Bungendore offer beautiful scenic outlooks, as well as outstanding wines and delicious restaurants.

Wining and dining

If you cant make it to a winery, you can taste Canberra district wines at the following restaurants:

  • Anise, City
  • The Chairman and Yip, City
  • Mezzalira, City
  • Cafe Barocca, City
  • Axis, National Museum of Australia, Acton Peninsular
  • Benchmark Wine Bar, City
  • Green Herring, Hall
  • Grazing, Gundaroo

Wine festivals and events

Canberra District Wine Harvest Festival, March
Fireside Festival, August
Canberra Region Wine show, September
Hyatt National Riesling Challenge, October
Wine, Roses and all that Jazz, November


See yourself out and about

Tucked away in the city and surrounding suburbs are lots of traditional pubs, stylish cocktail lounges and pumping clubs offering live music, beer gardens and live sport, as well as cinemas and performing arts. Heres where to find them.

City and Braddon

Many of Canberras best cocktail bars, clubs and pubs can be found around Garema Place and nearby City Walk. Dont miss spectacular Academy with its glamorous cocktail lounge, the ever cool Hippo Bar upstairs in Garema Place, King OMalleys Irish pub in City Walk and the Church Bar underneath Canberra City Accommodation on Akuna Street. Off City Walk is gay club Cube, with its pumping techno music, and just around the corner in Bunda Street, find Afro-Caribbean beats at Club Mombasa. Binara One, on Binara Street near Casino Canberra, is a stylish cocktail bar.

The 1920s Sydney and Melbourne Buildings boast lots of night spots, including Mooseheads, In Blue, the grungy Phoenix Bar, the Muddle Bar, and PJ OReillys Irish pub. Not far away, try an award-winning brew from the Wig Pen Tavern and Brewery, or make your way along Northbourne Avenue to find Benchmark Wine Bar, Northbar and Three Degrees. In Braddon, find the Knightsbridge Penthouse cocktail lounge and Debacle, a great little bar serving ales, wines and good food.

Black Mountain and Telstra Tower from Balloon
Black Mountain and
Telstra Tower
from Balloon

Kingston and Manuka

With a young apartment population, its no surprise that there are plenty of bars here. Around Green Square, find Filthy McFaddens Irish pub, the Durham Castle Arms and the Holy Grail, all offering live music, or cross the street for fine beers at the Little Brussels beer Cafe. On Kennedy Street, B Bar boasts great cocktails and DJs, while nightclub Lot 33 starts and ends late. In Franklin Street, Manuka, find Minque with its fashionable crowd and live DJs, the stylish mellow Julep Lounge as well as FMs and El Rancho. In Flinders Lane nearby is the newly opened Kartel.

Dickson, Lyneham and OConnor

Tucked amongst Dicksons Chinatown area are two great bars: Trinity, with its endless cocktail menu, and ONeils Irish pub. Just a suburb away in Lyneham is Tilleys Devine Cafe and Gallery, while popular pub All Bar Nun Beer Garden is at OConnor shops.


Catch a movie in the city, Manuka, Woden, Tuggeranong and Belconnen. The National Film and Sound Archive and the Canberra Museum and Gallery also regularly show classics, while Electric Shadows specialises in art house films. In the summer, watch outdoor movies in Garema Place and in the parks on the lake edge. The Tropfest short film festival takes place in February in Commonwealth Place.

Performing arts

See the Bell Shakespeare Company, the Australian Ballet or great drama at the Canberra Theatre Centre, Canberras premier performing arts venue. Catch locally produced professional theatre at the Street Theatre, Childers Street in the city. Enjoy a first class performance at the School of Music, part of the Australian National University.


Have a flutter at Casino Canberra on Allara Street, or drop into one of the many licensed clubs, where you can try your luck on the poker machines.

Carillon bells  From Balloon
Carillon bells From Balloon