Canberra

Australian War Memorial, Melissa Krafchek

Canberra really is the bush capital – kangaroo-dotted nature reserves are scattered throughout the city, and the Brindabella mountain range bounds the south-western edge. As the national capital, Canberra claims some of the nation’s most significant institutions, including a magnificent art gallery and a remarkable war museum. Grand public buildings and monuments complement the order and beauty of the city’s original design, and the landmark flagpole of Parliament House can be seen from many parts of the city.

Many visitors are attracted by Canberra’s national collections or the experience of federal politics, but the city has much more to offer. The capital also boasts cool-climate wineries, top-class restaurants and bars, attractions for children and a full calendar of cultural and sporting events.

With a population of about 367, 000, life in Canberra moves at a comfortable pace; and with the snow and the sea both only two hours away, the locals have the best of both worlds. The city’s creation solved the debate between Sydney and Melbourne over the location of Australia’s capital, and Canberra is now one of the world’s few completely planned cities.

Visitor information

Canberra and Region Visitors Centre

330 Northbourne Ave, Dickson (02) 6205 0044 or 1300 554 114

www.visitcanberra.com.au

Getting Around

Canberra is an easy city to get around if you have a car and a map. The road infrastructure is probably the best in Australia, with wide, well-planned roads, and visitors will find that they can cover long distances in a short time. Certainly in the central area of the city it is very easy to travel from one attraction to the next by car or public transport. Walking between the attractions in the Parliamentary Triangle is also very pleasant.

Buses are the only public transport available in Canberra, but these services can be variable at off-peak times. For a convenient way to get around the main attractions, catch one of the sightseeing buses that depart regularly from the Melbourne Building on Northbourne Avenue. Canberra is a city full of cyclists, and major roads have on-road cycling lanes, often marked with green where roads merge. Take care, as cyclists have right of way on the green lanes.

Public transport

ACTION Buses 13 1710 or www.action.act.gov.au

Motoring organisation

NRMA 13 1122, roadside assistance 13 1111.

Car rental

ACT Car Rentals (02) 6282 7272; Avis 13 6333; Budget 13 2727; Hertz 13 3039; Rumbles (02) 6280 7444; Thrifty 1300 367 227.

Taxis

Canberra Cabs 13 2227.

Bicycle hire

Mr Spokes Bike Hire (02) 6257 1188.

Experience

Australian National Botanic Gardens

A picnic in the Australian National Botanic Gardens


Parliament House

A visit to Parliament House


Manuka and Kingston

Fine dining in one of Canberra’s many restaurants


Australian War Memorial

Discovering Australia's unique war history at the Australian War Memorial


National Gallery of Australia

A wander through the National Gallery of Australias Sculpture Garden


Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre

Fun science activities at Questacon


Mount Ainslie Lookout

City views from the top of Mount Ainslie


Australian Institute of Sport (AIS)

Watching Australia's elite athletes train at the Australian Institute of Sport


National Museum of Australia

A trip to the National Museum of Australia


Royal Australian Mint

Counting the country’s dollars at the Royal Australian Mint


Shopping

Canberra Centre, City

Recently expanded, this stylish mall has department stores, a wide variety of smaller shops and speciality stores, in the heart of the CBD.


Kingston

Old-fashioned speciality shopping and restaurants.


Manuka

Up-market fashion and homewares, streets lined with cafes, and a supermarket open till midnight.


Westfield Woden

One of Canberra’s largest shopping malls with department stores, over 200 speciality shops, Hoyts 8 cinemas and plenty of parking.


Other suburban malls

These include Westfield Shopping Centre Belconnen, Tuggeranong Hyperdome, Gungahlin Marketplace and factory outlets in Fyshwick.


Walks & Tours

Anzac Parade Walk

Follow the war memorials set along the regal Anzac Parade on this self-guided walk (2.5km). Brochure available from the Canberra Visitor Centre or download a tour podcast (www.nationalcapital.gov.au).


Australians of the Year Walk

On the lake foreshore in front of the National Library, this walk honours the award’s recipients, with plaques for each year of the award.


Balloon Aloft!

Experience the beauty of Canberra as you float above the city in a hot-air balloon. Bookings on (02) 6285 1540.


Burley Griffin Walk or Ride

This self-guided walk takes in the north-eastern shores of Lake Burley Griffin, from the National Capital Exhibition to the National Carillon (4.6km). Brochure available from the Canberra Visitor Centre.


Canberra Tracks

Drive one, or all three, of these fascinating, signed road trips. Track 1 explores the path of Canberra’s original Indigenous peoples; Track 2 takes you through the pastoral era; and Track 3 gives you an overview of Canberra’s layout, via lookouts. Brochures available from the Canberra Visitor Centre.


Lakeside Walk

This self-guided walk begins at Commonwealth Place and passes the National Gallery, the High Court and the National Library (1.8km). Brochure available from the Canberra Visitor Centre.


Sport

If a visit to the Australian Institute of Sport leaves you wanting more, then there is plenty of sport to see in Canberra. Watch a game of basketball as the Capitals go head-to-head with interstate teams at the AIS. Enjoy the baseball and the accompanying entertainment with the Canberra Cavalry playing in the Narrabundah Ball Park, known as 'The Fort'.

See Canberra’s Rugby League side, the Raiders, take on the rest of the nation at Canberra Stadium. The ACT Brumbies, the capital’s Rugby Union team, also play at Canberra Stadium, to partisan capacity crowds. Canberra doesn’t have an AFL (Australian Football League) team of its own, but one Melbourne team plays a couple of ‘home’ games a year at the picturesque Manuka Oval.

If cricket is more your thing, visit in summer to see the Prime Minister’s XI take on one of the touring international sides at Manuka Oval.

Entertainment

The big suburban malls of Woden and Belconnen have Hoyts multiplexes, but for arthouse and independent cinema try the Dendy Canberra Centre in the city, Palace Electric Cinemas in New Acton or Limelight Cinemas in Tuggeranong. Manuka Greater Union has a wide range of interesting new releases. See the Canberra Times for details of current films.

Day Tours

Namadgi National Park

Namadgi is part of the Australian Alps and the informative visitor centre is only a 45min drive from the city centre. Walking the 160km of marked trails is a popular way to explore the park. Beautiful scenery can be enjoyed in the rugged Bimberi Wilderness in the western part of the park. Namadgi has a wide range of natural environments, an abundance of native wildlife and a rich Aboriginal heritage evidenced by several rock-art sites in the park. 


Lanyon Homestead

South of Canberra is one of Australia’s most historic grazing properties and a beautiful 19th-century homestead. On the banks of the Murrumbidgee River, the homestead and its gardens provide a glimpse of the 1850s. The homestead’s outbuildings (the kitchen, dairy, storerooms and workers’ barracks) were built from wood and stone – the stone was cut and quarried by convict labour. Parts of the homestead have been restored and furnished in the style of the period.


Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve

South-west of Canberra is the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, which includes dry and wet forests, subalpine areas and wetlands. Enjoy a bushwalk or picnic, play with the kids in the Discovery Playground at Tidbinbilla, or marvel at the free-ranging wildlife at The Sanctuary. Near the reserve is the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, one of three facilities in the world that form NASA’s Deep Space Network. Here you can view a genuine piece of moon rock that is 3.8 billion years old, astronaut suits, space food, spacecraft models and photographs. Just south of the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is Corin Forest, which has an 800m bobsled alpine slide, a flying fox, a waterslide and some great bushwalks and picnic areas. Admission fee applies to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.


Canberra wine district

Canberra district wineries have established a sound reputation for their cool-climate wines. With numerous vineyards and wineries within 35 minutes’ drive from the city centre, making a winery tour is a must. You can pick up a guide to the wineries from the Canberra Visitors Centre or from cellar doors around the region. In addition to cellar-door sales, some wineries offer excellent dining facilities and entertainment, with the annual Wine, Roses and all that Jazz Festival proving popular each November. 


Historic towns

A number of towns within easy driving distance of Canberra are noted for their heritage buildings and are filled with a sense of the area’s farming and goldmining history. These towns include Captains Flat, Gundaroo, Goulburn, Braidwood, Bungendore, Yass and Young; most are within an hour or so of the capital. Historic Bungendore, full of craft galleries and antique shops, is a great daytrip, although at only 30min away it is easy enough to visit just for a fine meal or an enjoyable shopping expedition. 


Cafes & restaurants around town

Cape Cod

In the well-off suburb of Deakin, Cape Cod is a beacon of simple style, with the frisson of excitement that turns a good restaurant into a great one.This is the best dedicated seafood restaurant in town. Expect... Find out more


Ellacure Restaurant and Bar 5 km

If you’re in town for a game at the Canberra Stadium or to visit the Australian Institute of Sport, make time for Ellacure, right on the doorstep of the AIS. It is located in a bland apartment block development,... Find out more


Flint Dining Room and Bar

The owners of this restaurant moved from Darlinghurst in Sydney in 2008 to take on the Canberra fine-dining market. The result is Flint, in a new top-end development, where they serve beautiful food in rather sleek, if... Find out more


Iori Japanese

Iori is anything but a standard sushi bar. Its style is exuberant, and the food is fresh and fascinating. A small, relatively unadorned and quite casual restaurant, it is near the bus interchange in the centre of town.... Find out more


Italian and Sons

Italian and Sons is a relatively new eatery set to transform the car yards beside the city centre into dining heaven. This is ‘butcher’s paper and charcuterie cool’, owned by the Trimboli family of... Find out more


Mecca Bah 4 km

Mecca Bah is proof that dining out is much more than food. Here, it is also about mood – lush colours, low lighting, a central fire. The Middle Eastern cuisine offers reliable and tasty dishes, and the best way to... Find out more


Mezzalira

This is a really lovely restaurant at the higher quality end in Canberra, perfect for soaking up nice service, great wine and an elegant Italian menu. In the historic Melbourne Building in the city, Mezzalira has been... Find out more


Ottoman Cuisine

Experience the food of the Ottoman Empire with vine-leaf dolmades, dips, skewered meats and other Turkish staples extending to more complex dishes like artichoke hearts filled with goat’s feta and pine nuts, or... Find out more


Parlour Wine Room

This is the spot for a very cool night out, complete with plush couches, low lighting and Toulouse-Lautrec prints. This place makes you feel Canberra finally has something going on to match Sydney or Melbourne. Rather... Find out more


Pulp Kitchen 3 km

This is not the place for silver service. Not even tablecloths, in fact. It is quite a casual spot among the Ainslie shops, and is one of Canberra’s best dining experiences. The food has great flair, lots of... Find out more


Rubicon

In one of Canberra’s plush inner-south suburbs, Rubicon is a favourite among foodies. It keeps things simple, with nothing too fussy, but is nevertheless adventurous and the results are so very delicious. Abalone... Find out more


Silo Bakery

Silo brought good bread to Canberra, and while good bakeries are no longer so scarce in the capital, Silo still shines above the rest, particulary with its addictive stirato loaf. But the drawcard here is not only the... Find out more


The Chairman and Yip

The Chairman was the most exciting place to eat in Canberra when it opened back in 1994. Locals have since become accustomed to its unique take on Asian fusion cuisine, but it remains popular and is a great place for a... Find out more


Waters Edge

It’s a peculiarity of Canberra that you struggle to find a chair anywhere near the lake. Waters Edge, on the lakefront in front of old Parliament House, is one of the few. Since 2008, it’s been in the sure hands of James... Find out more


Nearby breweries

Wig & Pen Brewery/Tavern

Canberra may well claim to be the real ale capital of Australia on the strength of this single brew-pub, which sees more pints of hand-pumped ale pulled than any other joint in the land. From the well-balanced and... Find out more


Five Islands Brewing Company 188 km

Started by local Illawarra rugby league legend Michael Bolt in 2001, the Five Islands Brewing Company has travelled a markedly different course to most other craft-beer enterprises. FIBC began life as a beachside bar and... Find out more


Tooheys Brewery 237 km

Tooheys remains the last of Sydney’s long-running mainstream breweries still currently operating. Founders James and John Toohey were cattle farmers before they entered the beer game, buying the Darling Brewery (it... Find out more


Paddy's Brewery 238 km

There may be more unlikely venues for a craft brewery but, offhand, I can’t think of one. The Markets Hotel is a 24-hour pub opposite Sydney’s Flemington fresh produce market, where you’re more likely... Find out more


St Peters Brewery 242 km

Matt Donelan is someone who marches to a different drum from most other craftbrewers. He doesn’t have a website or own a mobile phone and doesn’t believe in cardboard packaging. He matches his keg prices... Find out more


Malt Shovel Brewery 243 km

US-born Dr Charles ‘Chuck’ Hahn has enjoyed two separate craft-beer careers over two decades, operating out of the same Camperdown brewery. In the late ’80s he opened it as the independent Hahn Brewery,... Find out more


Schwartz Brewery 246 km

Tucked away in the basement of the heritage-listed Macquarie Hotel in Surry Hills, this 8-hectolitre microbrewery is the hub of a burgeoning craft-beer empire run by owner Dr Jerry Schwartz. Apart from supplying the pub,... Find out more


Redoak Brewery 247 km

Redoak burst onto the craft-beer scene by winning a swag of medals at the 2004 Australian International Beer Awards before they had sold even a single drop. And they have continued to collect an impressive array of... Find out more


Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel 247 km

Sydney’s longest-running brew-pub is many things rolled into one fine watering hole – an institution for ale lovers, a tourist magnet and a haven for homesick Poms. The historic sandstone pub is as comfy as a... Find out more


Zierholz Premium Brewery 7 km

Alphabetically, the last word in Australian craft beer belongs to the Canberra-based Zierholz Premium Brewery. A champion home brewer and soil-andwater boffin, Christophe Zierholz took the plunge to setting up a... Find out more


Fish Rock Brewery 150 km

Craft beer is a sideline for winemakers Anton and Mark Balog, who operate Mundrakoona Estate outside Mittagong. Despite the decidedly inland location, the fish-themed beers include Leatherjacket Lager and Red Emperor... Find out more


Scharer's Little Brewery 183 km

Country publican Geoffrey Scharer was one of the first people in decades to apply for a new brewing licence in New South Wales in the early 1980s. By 1987, he was producing an unfiltered Bavarianstyle lager from a... Find out more


St Arnou 247 km

This beer-marketing company takes its name from the Belgian patron saint of brewing and was launched in 2001 with a range of draught beers, produced under contract at various breweries (latterly, Australian Independent... Find out more


Hotels, motels & B&Bs around town

Crowne Plaza

The Crowne Plaza sits next to peaceful Glebe Park in the heart of the CBD and boasts Canberra’s only casino. Colourful art and political caricatures brighten the walls throughout the hotel. The small casino has a... Find out more


Diamant

A stylish super-modern hotel in a heritage complex close to the National Museum and Civic, the Diamant is part of a ‘heritage village’ that has been refurbished to include fine dining, classy bars and a... Find out more


Hyatt Canberra 2 km

With Art Deco glamour and doormen in traditional Highland dress, this heritage-listed hotel is the grand old lady of Canberra. The Hyatt sits in the shadow of Parliament House, with parkland and Lake Burley Griffin as a... Find out more


Kurrajong

Once a favourite gathering place for Labor politicians, this 26-room heritage hotel in the Parliamentary Triangle is now popular with tourists and business travellers. The hotel is built in a garden pavilion style and... Find out more


Mantra on Northbourne

Mantra offers a mix of hotel rooms and serviced apartments to cater for families and groups. Rooms are comfortable and decorated in warm red and purple tones. The one- and two-bedroom apartments have fully equipped... Find out more


Manuka Park Apartments

These one- and two-bedroom serviced apartments are conveniently placed between the parliamentary hub of Manuka and Kingston. Private balconies look out over a tree-lined street and parkland or the oval-shaped swimming... Find out more


Hotel Realm 3 km

This sleek modern five-star hotel, located in the Parliamentary Triangle. With gunmetal and silver decor complementing a huge light-filled central atrium, the hotel is slated to become the heart of a shopping and cafe... Find out more


the Brassey of Canberra

Set in the leafy streets of Barton close to the National Press Club, the Brassey is a modest older-style hotel with plush 1920s charm. Heritage rooms are decorated in muted traditional style with brass fittings, and the... Find out more



The Griffin Hotel & Spa 4 km

This boutique hotel in the heart of trendy Kingston boasts contemporary one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments in a cottage garden setting. Kingston’s specialty shops, cafes and lively restaurants are just across... Find out more


Country Guesthouse Schonegg

At this purpose-built, award-winning contemporary guesthouse, the six guest rooms have private decks from which you can gaze out at the peaceful rural landscape. Set on 8 hectares of undulating hills in the wine region... Find out more


Ginninderry Homestead

The homestead is a spacious, faux-Georgian manor in Canberra’s north-west. Set in a 70-hectare property, it has views of the Brindabellas, four friendly dogs and Galloway cattle. The lush gardens and stone fountain are a... Find out more


Last Stop Ambledown Brook

A B&B with a twist – you get your own vintage tram or train carriage in a rural property at Hall, 15 minutes outside Canberra. A refurbished 1929 Melbourne tram and a Sydney train carriage feature comfortable... Find out more


Redbrow Garden

A private lakeside retreat in Canberra’s wine region, this luxury B&B also serves as a wildlife haven and farm. The four country-style bedrooms open onto wide verandahs with sweeping views of the lake and... Find out more


The Old Stone House

This beautifully restored Georgian home is in the village of Bungendore, half an hour south of Canberra. Classic gardens provide a peaceful retreat, and the elegant stone house dating from 1861 offers intimate luxury.... Find out more


Popular events around town

Summernats Car Festival

Canberra becomes a ‘cruise city’ full of street machines. January.... Find out more


National Multicultural Festival

A showcase of cultures in food, art and performance. February.... Find out more


Canberra Balloon Spectacular

An nine-day festival with over 50 hot-air balloons launched daily from the lawns of the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House. March.... Find out more


National Folk Festival

Hundreds of performers and thousands of spectators create one of Canberra’s biggest parties. Easter.... Find out more


Fireside Festival

Warm up winter with fireside food, wine and arts. August.... Find out more


Floriade

A celebration of spring, flowers and fun. September–October.... Find out more


Wine, Roses and all that Jazz

Open weekend of the cool-climate vineyards, with music, food and much wine-tasting. November.... Find out more


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