After we touched down in Sydney, we immediately headed to Canberra. My parents live in Canberra now, the capital of Australia. It’s not somewhere I had thought of visiting before I moved and I know a lot of people don’t rate it – but I think it’s a really beautiful city and definitely worth a visit. A long weekend would be ideal, especially if you live in Australia and want somewhere new to explore.
Unfortunately our first weekend in Canberra mainly consisted of sleeping and feeling rubbish due to all of the jetlag. Luckily, after a few days in Sydney, we headed back with my best friend Hannah and her husband for a few days to relax and spend Christmas. None of the rest of the group had been to Canberra before so it was a good chance to explore the city again. If you do decide to go, then these are my top 5 things to do in Canberra.
1 Visit Parliament
It’s definitely true when they say that Canberra is pretty much made up of people who work for the government or students. But hey, that means you get to visit Parliament! I love visiting different countries parliaments as it’s always so interesting to understand how the country works. Like most places, other than the UK – you can wander in and wander around yourself as long as it isn’t in session (after you go through some security of course). There are usually a few exhibitions on and you can go into both the House and the Senate. There are set tours which you can do too which I really recommend – they are super informative and you can learn more about the issues what are affecting Australia.
2 Drive up to Red Hill Lookout and view the city
This is a guaranteed event if we have any visitors coming to Canberra! The city itself was actually a designed city as they couldn’t agree on whether the capital should be Melbourne or Sydney – so they built somewhere new instead. The lookout shows all the exact lines from the War Museum across to parliament with the bridges either side. The lake was actually man made as well and you can get the scale from up here. Canberra is such a green city with wide roads and pretty much no traffic which you can really appreciate from the look out. You can also walk up to it if you feel you need a bit of exercise!
3 Explore the musuems – especially the National War Museum
Canberra is home to all of the National museums and they are a great way to spend some time in the city. I highly recommend the National War Museum which is attached to the National War Monument. Canberra has a long drive up to this which is full of all the different war memorials and tributes which is well worth a walk or drive up. The museum itself is really big, interactive, and full of information about the various wars and the role Australia has filled in them. It also has a really large display of different tanks, planes and other artefacts from the war.
If war museums aren’t your thing then there are a load of others – the art galleries are really great, a lot of them focusing on Australian artists. I really recommend going to see some of the Aboriginal art as it’s some of my favourites with the bright colours and dotted styles.
4 Get out to the wineries
Australia is known for wine but it’s not often you think of Canberra as a wine region! But it is home to the Murrumbateman cold climate wine region (even though it’s usually boiling there, Canberra does get chilly in the winter). There are a load of really lovely wineries and cellar doors all in the little collective – we usually drive to them but there are tours offered too.
A lot of the wineries are really small and only sell to the local area but all offer really great tastings – they are known especially for their Rieslings and I can attest that they are great – we even lugged a couple of bottles home with us! If you are planning a trip then I really recommend visiting Helm, Shaw, Gallagher, and Clonakilla which are the 4 we most recently tried on the trip. That said, there are so many others to try too so you can always come back for more!
5 Explore nature at Tidbinbilla
On the outskirts of Canberra is Tidbinbilla, a nature reserve. Of course, you can’t go to Australia without seeing some the wildlife from koalas to kangaroos – you will see them here! Essentially it has a giant ring road which you can drive around then stop at various places to go for a walk. If you fancy a more strenuous hike then you can do these from the centre as well.
The highlights are definitely the lake walk, full of boardwalks and a giant lake full of different birds and of course, the eucalyptus forest where they usually have some koalas in the enclosure at the front but you can try your luck trying to spot some in the wild trees too. On our latest trip we saw many a kangaroo, wallabies, koalas, emus, pelicans, turtles and a heap of different birds – plus it’s nice to get out and see the lush wildlife and have a bit of a walk!
I know Canberra isn’t always top of the list of places to visit in Australia but I think it’s definitely worth a visit – even if just for some lovely wine and to learn a whole lot more about the country.
Have you been to Australia? Where was your favourite spot?