With the distinct honour of being Australia’s only completely land-locked state or territory, the ACT and Canberra (Australia’s capital) have a distinctly different feel to much of the rest of Australia. But just because Australia is known for it’s sweeping coastlines, there is no reason to think that the ACT lacks excitement and thrills.
In fact there is plenty for you to do. Whilst you could easily spend a number of days in Canberra exploring Museums (The National Art Gallery for the serious art lover, The Australian War memorial for the history buff or Questacon for those with a love of the scientific and quirky), eating great food and catching some great live music, there is plenty to do outside of Canberra which you should investigate.
Off the bat, lets assume you have started your trip in the city of Canberra’- Australia’s Capital city. If you are here during Spring or Summer, do yourself a favour and see if you can force yourselves to get up early and go for a hot air balloon ride. From on high you can enjoy the sunrise over the Territory and can take in the views of the surrounding Australian Alps, Canberra and depending on where the wind takes you, maybe see into NSW or Victoria.
Once you’ve landed, jump back in your campervan and head for the Namadgi National Park, also known as the Australian Alps which extend through Victoria, The ACT and NSW. Not only do the Alps supply Canberra and surrounds with its drinking water, but it is home to
- 160Km of walking tracks
- Aboriginal Rock Art sites such as Birragai Rock Shelter
- Extensive picnic and camping grounds such as Cotter Reserve, the highly reviewed Honeysuckle Campground and Casuarina Sands which is perfect to stop off at for a swim during Summer.
You can choose to go for a walk on the signed paths (you can buy maps), or can choose to get off the beaten track with a guided tour. We recommend allowing around 2-3 hours of time to take it all in, stop for a swim and a bite to eat before heading back to your vehicle.
Once back in the car, head over to Nicholls to check out the Walk in Aviary, which as the name suggests is an aviary you walk through. Home to some 600 birds from around the world, this is a fantastic way to get up close and personal with some of the most unique, beautiful and interesting birds in the world. Reasonably priced at $13 for an adult ticket, you can spend a couple of hours here easily and see great value for your money.
However, if birds are not your thing, then you could instead head to the Mount Stromlo Observatory where you can hear talks on everything from String theory to Aliens, to planet discovery. And depending on the time of year, you can organise to stay around to star gaze through the telescopes at predefined space phenomenon. To do so, we recommend you check the Stromlo Calendar out.
If you’ve not stuck around to star gaze, then it will likely be time to think about food and a drink for the evening. There are some amazing options dotted around the city which are really worth checking out – so take a look below for our list of top picks.
Day two is about a culinary journey and seeing the best of what the ACT has to offer.
Start with breakfast at Box Diner Café in Fyshwick (or see other options below) and make sure you get your fill as today is going to be a big one. On the agenda is wine tasting at a number of wineries and perhaps time for a beer tasting too. )We do ask you to taste and drive responsibly though. One designated driver is the safest way to go).
Sure, we know that when you think about wine tasting in Australia, you probably think of the Hunter Valley, Margaret River or the Barossa. But Canberra should not be overlooked as it is home to some of Australia’s top wines, and no less than some 30 wineries.
To start the day head North out of Canberra city for about 30 minutes to Gundog Estate. This winery is technically in NSW, but with much of their fruit sourced from within the ACT and with wines which deserve to be taken notice of, it is definitely a winery we recommend you visit first. Not only so you don’t miss out, but because it is the furthest from the city.
From there we suggest heading West to another NSW based cellar door at Clonakilla. With their Shiraz Viogner often lauded as one of the best in Australia, and with no fewer than 12 wines sold, it is another winery worthy of high praise.
We now recommend heading back into the ACT and heading to McKellar Ridge wines. Rated as a 5 star winery by James Halliday. With almost a dozen different varietals in their catalogue – from whites, through Rose to Red, there is something to enjoy for everyone.
By now you have probably had enough wine for a bit and want to satiate the senses in a different way – the perfect time to head to the Truffle Farm Canberra. Whilst it is not a low priced option it is something which few people get to experience which is why we do recommend it so strongly. In fact we are not the only ones, with Australian Traveller Magazine rating it one of the top 10 ways to live like a gastronome. If you finished wine tasting early, or if you have headed straight here and want an experience to remember, try the Truffle hunt and degustation lunch. You won’t regret it.
With that done, there may be time for a quick palette cleanser at BentSpoke Brewing co. which is home to 20 beers and ciders. From there who knows where the night will take you, but with a belly full of food and alcohol, we are sure it will be fun.