The inner north-west of Canberra is a hub of activity, with the leafy suburbs of Turner, O’Connor and Lyneham particularly popular with students from the nearby Australian National University. Canberra Nature Park’s Mount Ainslie and Mount Majura lie on the edge of the city centre. Further out is Belconnen, which is the main centre for northern Canberra. It offers a large shopping mall, a top-quality sports and aquatic centre, and many other facilities. Also in Belconnen you will find Lake Ginninderra, a favourite recreational and picnic spot.
Australian National Botanic Gardens
At the base of Black Mountain, these magnificent gardens (roughly 90 hectares, with 40 hectares developed and the remainder bushland) have the largest collection of Australian native flora in the world. The gardens are organised into sections representing Australia’s various climatic zones and ecosystems. Follow the Aboriginal Plant Use Walk for an understanding of the species used for foods and medicines by the country’s Indigenous inhabitants. In summer, people flock here for evening picnics and weekend twilight concerts. Clunies Ross St, Acton; (02) 6250 9540; open 8.30am–5pm daily; admission free.
Black Mountain Tower
One of Canberra’s landmarks, the communications tower rises 195 metres above the summit of Black Mountain and offers superb views of Canberra. It has two open viewing platforms, an exhibition gallery and Alto, a revolving restaurant with a growing reputation. Black Mountain Dr, Acton; (02) 6219 6111; open 9am–10pm daily.
Australian Institute of Sport (AIS)
Providing world-class facilities across a broad range of disciplines, the AIS is the training ground for many elite athletes. The Sports Visitors Centre is the entrance point for visitors and has exhibitions and displays of sporting memorabilia. Tours of the AIS are led by athletes and give visitors an insight into the life of an elite athlete. The tours include Sportex, an interactive exhibition where you can test your sporting skills against those recorded by our Olympians and see the latest in sport technology. Leverrier Cres, Bruce; (02) 6214 1010; open 9am–5pm daily; general admission free.