A very Canberra weekend
Driving around Canberra, the tree lined streets look like a colonial watercolour. Clusters of snow gums and eucalypts, with their soft shades of sandy bark and teal green leaves brush across the landscape. As Australia’s capital, it’s a sentimental view to take of the city, whose skyline is centered around the soaring pinnacles of Parliament House. There’s plenty to do in this city of national treasures, so with just a weekend ahead of you, here’s our quick guide to Canberra and seeing the best the city has to offer.
Art of war
The tributes to Australia’s war efforts starts on the grand drive to the steps of the memorial. In a truly beautiful display, the horses of the Boer War trot down the grassy embankment towards the roadside. The halo floating above the names of the Vietnam war soldiers enshrines them in eternity. These are the statues, carved into memory, that line the road towards the Australian War Memorial. Welcomed by warm and knowledgeable guides, the experience of the AWM is more than a walk through a museum, it’s a delicately treated journey through time, artistically capturing the scale of war and the sentimental stories of those left behind to tell them.
Canberra falls on two sides of Lake Burley Griffin. The southern side is flanked with a line of international flags that on a crisp clear day, are a stately display of colorful unity. Open green spaces line the lake with roller bladers, segways and cyclists zipping along the walkway. You can walk across the bridge and get close to the fountain shooting from the lakes’ centre. Restaurants, the occasional coffee bar or a boat ride make this the natural tourist hub of the city. It’s just a short stroll from here to the Galleries, the National Library, Questacon, the High Court and National Archives. From these adjoining buildings you can walk to the grounds of Old Parliament House, making Canberra an easy city to see on foot.
The people’s gallery
If you’re being selective about which of these national treasures you’ll visit, both the National Gallery and Portrait Gallery are a must. With international exhibitions regularly on display, you’ll get up close and personal with some of the world’s most illustrious classic and contemporary artists. On any given day, the Portrait Gallery is an intimate portrayal of some of Australia’s best loved characters and the photographs and paintings are the work of masters. Next, the National Gallery hosts the Matisse and Picasso exhibition from December 13th2019 – April 13th2020.
While the big questions are being posed on Capital Hill, for the kids, a couple of hours at Questacon will spark their curiosity. As the National Science and Technology Centre, this is the go-to spot for everybody interested in the world we live in. Here, you can immerse yourself in hands- on exhibitions. Discover interesting science phenomena, understand the interplay between humans and machines, see the moon up close and walk through the science garden. Or simply let the kids become mini scientists exploring the world through their eyes.
Festival of flowers
With its leafy streets lined with English firs and Australian natives, the cooler climate creates an abundance of evergreen and springtime foliage. There are established gardens like Lennox Gardens and the Nara Peace Park but once a year, Canberra bursts with a dazzling pop of springtime tulips for Floriade. Blooming beneath parkland trees, the vibrant patchwork of chilli red, tangerine, plumb and buttercup yellow flowers awe visitors. Floriade is on from mid-September to mid-October each year and makes early Spring a wonderful time to visit.
Getting out and about is easy in Canberra, with broad streets and oversized roundabouts. The best spots for a generous breakfast or corner pub meal are Braddon and Kingston but great cafes are found in most tourist spots. Everything is open every day, except Christmas Day and though we haven’t specifically mentioned Parliament House, judging by the steady flow of crowds, it’s first on everyone’s must see list. Canberra is a bit of a foodie city too; Gourmet Traveller’s guide will help you sample the best of its tastes and flavours.
Check out more great weekend escapes in Australia here.