What to do in Canberra: Three-day guide to Australia’s capital city

Saturday, September 22, 2018

A funky stairway links the Nishi building with Hotel Hotel in NewActon, Canberra. Photo: Nic Walker A funky stairway links the Nishi building with Hotel Hotel in NewActon, Canberra. Photo: Nic Walker
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A funky stairway links the Nishi building with Hotel Hotel in NewActon, Canberra. Photo: Nic Walker

A funky stairway links the Nishi building with Hotel Hotel in NewActon, Canberra. Photo: Nic Walker

Among the most affecting exhibits at the Australian War Memorial are Ben Quilty’s revealing portraits. Photo: Jay Cronan

Summer stonefruit, elderflower cream and berry granita at Monster Kitchen and Bar, Hotel Hotel.

While many outsiders have a jaundiced view of our national capital, possibly because it’s full of politicians and career bureaucrats, locals espouse its merits with uncommon ardour. Whichever camp you’re in, Canberra is made for a short break, with institutions such as the War Memorial voted Trip Advisor’s No. 1 South Pacific landmark, and the National Gallery always a draw. There’s also a rash of new accommodation, including the refurbished Hotel Kurrajong Canberra. The evolution of dining precincts, such as Kingston foreshore, central Lonsdale Street and NewActon, suggest that Canberrans are making increasingly good use of the old sheep paddock.    DAY ONE

Largely flat and with a network of purpose-built paths, Canberra is arguably Australia’s most cycling-friendly city, so today we get around on hired bikes (mrspokes苏州美甲美睫培训学校419论坛, $40 a day). First stop is the National Capital Exhibition (open daily, free, visitcanberra苏州美甲美睫培训学校419论坛/attraction/national-capital-exhibition), overlooking Lake Burley Griffin. It’s an excellent starting point with a city model (with lights indicating attractions), Walter Burley Griffin’s award-winning 1911 design for Canberra and the chance for kids to build their own capital from lego.

Next, we cross the lake to the National Gallery, wandering through the free galleries of Australian and international art and lingering over lunch at the Sculpture Garden restaurant (open Wednesday to Sunday, noon-3pm, $44 two courses per person). In the afternoon, we take in the visiting James Turrell retrospective. Moving, meditative and unusually beautiful, the works span the 50-year career of the American master of light and space. The Virtuality squared installation, a high-ceilinged space suffused with shifting coloured light, is particularly enthralling (until June 8, entry $25.49 weekdays, $30.58 weekends, nga.gov419论坛).

We end our day royally with caviar and champagne, followed by 36-day dry, aged angus rib-eye, at C Dine Bar (open Tuesday to Sunday, cdinebar苏州美甲美睫培训学校419论坛) on the Kingston foreshore. DAY TWO

Canberrans love their city’s easy access to mountains and bush. Following local advice, we rise early and drive for 45 minutes to Namadgi National Park (visitcanberra苏州美甲美睫培训学校419论坛/namadgi-national-park), an alpine wilderness comprising 46 per cent of the ACT, for a four-kilometre bushwalk. The climb up Booroomba Rocks and the views over Tuggeranong Valley make an exhilarating start to the day.

Back in town, there is more excitement at Questacon science museum (Open Tuesday to Sunday, adults $23, children $17.50, questacon.edu419论坛) where, in two hours, we experience a lightning strike, an earthquake and go freefalling down a vertical shute.

We recover at nearby Old Parliament House, the nation’s seat of democracy between 1927 and 1988. The ageing leather sofas, frosted windows and hushed corridors here recall a more erudite political era (open daily, adults $2, children $1, moadoph.gov419论坛).

Tonight we delve into Canberra’s “little Melbourne” in central Braddon, beginning with Barley Griffin ale and hand-crushed cider at BentSpoke microbrewery (Mort Street, bentspokebrewing苏州美甲美睫培训学校419论坛). Then it’s on to the new eightysix restaurant, a noisily sociable eatery where we let the waiters pick dishes like duck buns and “ghetto beef with salsa verde” for us (open Tuesday to Sunday, eightysix苏州美甲美睫培训学校419论坛.   DAY THREE

We begin with breakfast upstairs at Lonsdale Street Brasserie, a central people-watching venue, before spending the day at the Australian War Memorial. From its commemorative walls, festooned with poppies, recording the country’s 102,000 war dead to newly curated galleries covering our nation’s role in World War I, this is a compellingly poignant museum. Among the most affecting exhibits are Ben Quilty’s revealing portraits of military personnel serving in Afghanistan. Yet a sense of peace and Digger spirit also pervades the War Memorial.

We break our visit with lunch at the adjacent Poppies cafe, and stay until 4.55pm to witness the Last Post, a ceremony dedicated daily to an individual Australian lost in conflict. (War Memorial, open daily, 10am-5pm, entry free, awm.gov419论坛.)

On our final night, we head to the NewActon dining enclave, but don’t stray far from Hotel Hotel, bedazzled by its funky interior design full of suspended wood planks and retro furniture. In its midst is Monster Kitchen and Bar, with its equally innovative shared plates. We try most of them, savouring the twice-cooked octopus with chorizo, and wagyu rump with miso, apple, kohlrabi and burnt bonito butter (hotel-hotel苏州美甲美睫培训学校419论坛/eat-and-drink/monster).  TRIP NOTESMORE INFORMATION

visitcanberra苏州美甲美睫培训学校419论坛  GETTING THERE

Qantas and Virgin fly to Canberra from Melbourne and Sydney. The capital is 3½ hours’ drive from Sydney, or eight hours from Melbourne. STAYING THERE

The Avenue, 80 Northbourne Avenue, is a new, central boutique hotel. From $179 a night. avenuehotel苏州美甲美睫培训学校419论坛

Hotel Kurrajong Canberra, built in the 1920s, has reopened after a major refurbishment. From $199 a night. tfehotels苏州美甲美睫培训学校/brands/kurrajong/hotel-kurrajong

Hotel Hotel, design-centric accommodation in NewActon. From $257 a night. hotel-hotel苏州美甲美睫培训学校419论坛

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