Canberra Destination Guide
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Home to the nation’s finest galleries, museums and monuments, Canberra has evolved into a clever and sophisticated city where local produce-driven fine dining, creative retail, trendy bars and deluxe accommodation ensure visitors an exciting experience.
When the New York Times described Canberra as “a city with natural beauty and a decidedly hipster underbelly”, it was a major wake-up call for Australians. The nation’s capital has reinvented itself in recent years and there are now more funky bars, clever hotels and top-end restaurants than you can shake a parliamentary review at. Even the airport has had an artistic makeover. The iconic institutions are all still there – headlined by the soulful and stunning Australian War Memorial – and a visit to Canberra is something all Australians must make if they want to fully appreciate the nation’s heritage.
- Country: Australia
- Currency: Australian Dollar (AUD)
- Offical Language: English
- Visas: International visitors need a visa to enter Australia and different types apply depending on country of origin, your travel agent can advise
- Tipping: Voluntary, tips of around 10 per cent are optional for good service
- Electricity: Australian outlets run on an average 230 volts and use Type I plugs
Often overlooked in favour of its bright-light neighbours, Australia's capital is a beautifully laid-out city intertwining cultural and political roots and a modern outlook.
Canberra’s recent renaissance is due in no small part to its born-again culinary expertise. The region’s soil and weather yield unique local produce with the capital's surrounding countryside home to some of the nation's finest food and wine trails. Discover boutique cellar doors, sample the region's highly regarded cool-climate wines and enjoy some of the best country fare around.
As a relatively new, fully planned city (construction began in 1913), Canberra is well laid out and very easy to navigate so you can easily access all areas worth visiting from wherever you stay. Public transport is regular and efficient during the day and taxis are affordable as most attractions are close to the city. This means you are free to focus on the style and quality of accommodation rather than the location.
Canberra may not be top-of-mind for retail therapy but the nation’s capital has plenty to offer the discerning shopper. The easy-to-reach Canberra Outlet Centre offers discounts of up to 70 per cent off retail prices and is popular with local bargain hunters while quirky boutiques and arts and crafts shops provide a cornucopia of classy couture and curios you won’t find in Melbourne or Sydney.
Canberra like a Local
Housed in a charming art deco building on McCoy Circuit, Acton, the National Film and Sound Archive bills itself as “Australia’s living archive” and has amassed more than two million audio-visual heritage items over 30 years. Sample some of the television, radio and sound collections on portable CD and DVD players or catch a classic movie at the Arc cinema.
1: Make it fresh
The Capital Region Farmers Market is held every Saturday from 7.30am to 11.30am at Exhibition Park, corner Flemington Road and Northbourne Avenue, Watson. More than 100 stalls open for business and welcome more than 6000 customers each week. Watch cooking demos and pick up recipes based on the region’s fresh produce.
2: Free wheel it
A picturesque way to keep fit on two wheels, Stromlo Forest Park on Uriarra Road, offers an exciting range of challenging and easy trails for mountain bikers, road cyclists, BMX riders and bike-loving families. Just 15 minutes from the city, Stromlo is also an excellent venue for equestrian, cross-country running and bush walking.
Did you know...? American architect Walter Burley Griffin won an international competition to design the city of Canberra. His plan was chosen from 137 entries. The original plans were produced on cotton cloth by his wife Marion Mahony Griffin, also an architect. He proclaimed: “I have planned an ideal city – a city that meets my ideal of the city of the future."