Oh, Canberra. You’ve got it quite rough from tourists, but especially from locals who seem to wonder why it would ever be on anyone’s Australia itinerary. It certainly doesn’t have a big party scene, or hot beaches to laze away on, but it does have the charms and merits needed to warrant a stop. It is, after all, the nation’s capital, and it is always an interesting peek into a culture by seeing where the country is being run.
Besides that, there are national monuments and historical museums to learn from, the Floriade Festival that takes place every year, and just a slew of multi-cultural restaurants to dine at. You may not stay for a week, but a couple of days in Canberra is not hard to fathom at all.
National & Historical Things to Do
Australian War Memorial – Being the capital city, one can only expect a lot of history and national pride to be displayed throughout. This monument was unveiled in 1941, and it used as a memorial for all veterans of war fought for Australia. It is a monument that can be seen from Parliament House, and vice versa, and it contains three main parts: the shrine, museum and records sections.
Australian National Botanic Gardens – The Botanic Gardens anywhere in Australia are always a pleasant place to get away from the city. That in Canberra, which was opened in 1949, currently covers 40 hectares of land. It includes such wonderful escapes as the Rainforest Gully, the Rock Garden and the Eucalypt Lawn.
National Museum – This museum was opened in Canberra in 2001 and features exhibits on indigenous culture and that since settlement in the late 1700s. Set in unique architecture, the National Museum is a unique treasure to be explored, one so great it was even named Australia’s best major tourist attraction back in 2005 and 2006.
Parliament House – The Parliament House is named so as this is where the Australian Parliament meets. Visitors are welcome to the Parliament house, with free tours, from 9am to 5pm on days when Parliament is not sitting.
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National Gallery of Australia – The National Gallery features a lovely mix of art from both Australian and foreign artists. There are over 10,000 pieces in this gallery to peruse, and it is open daily from 10am to 5pm.
Family Friendly Things to Do
Questacon – So, Questacon is typically a kid-targeted place where they go to learn about all the fun and interesting bits of science, but I think it is a great place for anyone that is young at heart. Yes, even I went to Questacon just this year, and I had heaps of fun playing with all the exhibits. Of course, you should try to go on the weekend when all the school groups won’t be there as well.
National Zoo and Aquarium – In Sydney, I often recommend that visitors go to both the zoo and the aquarium, but in Canberra you can actually get two in one. This National Zoo and Aquarium features both Australian and foreign animals, and it also participates in breeding programs for those that are endangered.
Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex – This complex is part of NASA’s Deep Space Network. Visitors are welcome to the complex daily from 9am to 5pm for free where they can learn about this organization’s role in exploring space. You can hang out in the cafe, see the latest images from Mars or take a virtual ride into space.
Black Mountain Tower – Black Mountain Tower is a telecommunications tower located on Black Mountain outside of Canberra. You can eat in the revolving restaurant, or just come here to get the perfect view of Canberra area from high above.
Lake Burley Griffin – Lake Burley Griffin is a man-made lake that sits in the middle of the city. It is a great place for walking, relaxing and picnicking, although some even use it for rowing and fishing. This lake was created in 1964 by an American architect.
Dining & Drinking Things to Do
Wig & Pen – This British inspired pub is now one of my favorite places. Not only does it offer affordable pub food, but it also has a wide selection of beers to choose from – most of which were brewed on the premises. If you can’t make up your mind, you can simply try the tasting tray, which gives you 4 small glasses of beer for $8.
>> Read about my experience at the Wig & Pen
King O’Malley’s – King O’Malley’s is a very popular Irish pub where you can get live music most nights of the week. The best part of this pub is the name, as it was taken from that man that actually tried to prevent drinking in Canberra.
Photo credit: 1.