Masterpieces from around the world, floating picnics on Lake Burley Griffin, museums showcasing Australian stories, mountain biking trails weaving between suburbs, and kangaroos that graze on the grass outside the Australian War Memorial.
Perfectly positioned between Melbourne and Sydney and easily accessible to the Snowy Mountains and South Coast of NSW, Canberra is a great destination for a weekend away.
Surrounded by New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory is its own territory, containing the Australian capital city, Canberra. The name Canberra was derived from a local Aboriginal word for “meeting place” so given it’s home to Australia’s Federal parliament, it was an approach choice when the city was being named. Politicos will rejoice because you can visit Australia’s parliament on a guided tour.
You can either go with their school or take the Yeribee tour, which offers an Indigenous experience of Parliament House. You’ll hear the stories about Indigenous parliamentarians, explore the site and gain an insight into how Aboriginals have participated in Australia’s democratic process.
On display are many art works from celebrated Indigenous artists. The tour will also delve into the Great Hall Tapestry, The Great Hall Embroidery, The Barunga Statement, The Apology to Australia’s Indigenous People as well as the Yirrkala Bark Petitions and many other items of interest. The tour is free however it’s recommended that you book in advance to ensure you don’t miss out.
After you’ve stopped by parliament, you can keep learning about Canberra’s diverse art, culture and history by visiting the city’s many museums, galleries and theatres.
Opened to the public in 1982, the National Gallery is Australia’s premium national visual arts institution, in Parkes. The gallery has influenced visual arts culture in Australia.
The collection features a massive 160,000 pieces of art and boasts the world’s largest collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, plus a collection of modern international art, European and American art; and Pacific art.
The gallery features classic masterpieces from the likes of Van Gogh, Rembrandt and Botticelli. Entry to the gallery is completely free.
If you’re not finished and want to see more pieces of art, but want to mix it up, take a trip to the National Portrait Gallery, which is also in Parkes. The National Portrait Gallery is fairly young, only opening in 19999 after being conceived in 1988 and modelled on the National Portrait Gallery Washington.
National Portrait Gallery Washing Director, Alan Fern, had a vision for an Australian equivalent so that people could admire beautiful portraits.
The gallery features 116 portraits representing different topics such as politics, the arts, science, business, sport and exploration.
History lovers should take the time to go to the Australian War Memorial Museum. It’s one of Australia’s top tourist attractions and pays respect to the Australian men and women who sacrificed their life to serve the nation.
You’ll feel peaceful when you visit the Pool of Reflection, the Eternal Flame and you’ll be dazzled at the 26 sandstone sculptures that represent Australia’s people and animals. Inside the courtyard you’ll see a Roll of Honour that’s been inscribed with over 102,000 names of those who have lost their lives serving the country.
There is plenty of street art in Canberra that is worth taking the time to see. Tocumwal Lane in the CBD was brightened up by street artists in 2015.
On display you’ll see amazing use of colour and super-hero style imagery, plus people in battle. Petrie Plaza and Braddon are other notable places, with their painted beaches, murals and walls.
If you’ve got a love for moving arts, you’ll want to check out Canberra Theatre Centre, which is located in Civic Square and has been the ultimate performing arts destination for Canberrans since it first opened its doors in 1965. You’ll be able to pick from a raft of diverse shows, suitable for all ages and tastes.
Whilst dinosaurs no longer roam the earth and haven’t done so for millions of years, you can step back in time when you’re at the National Dinosaur Museum.
It has the largest collection of pre-historic life in the country and offers an exciting day out for the whole family. The National Dinosaur Museum is an outdoor museum giving you the chance to enjoy the weather at the same time.
The Australian Capital Territory’s attractions aren’t limited to the indoors or Canberra City. Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is 40 minutes south-west of Canberra and is a sanctuary of five ponds and weirs with an abundant amount of wildlife.
You’ll most likely see emus, kangaroos, koalas and many bird and reptile species. Tidbinbilla runs a breeding program with a focus on the Corroboree frog, Southern Brush-Tailed Rock-Wallaby and the Eastern Bettong. The rich landscape dates back over 25,000 years and is the traditional country of the Ngunnawal People. You can also learn all about the European history of the area when you visit.
If you’re interested in wildlife, or birds in particular, visit the Canberra Walk in Aviary, where you’ll see Rainbow Lorikeets, which is a small brightly coloured Australian parrot.
Pierces Creek Forest, which is managed by the ACT Parks and Conservation Service was established in 1928 and is an ideal destination for anyone who loves hiking, exploring and getting back to nature.
Black Mountain Nature Park is another place that is popular with hikers. It is 812 metres above sea level and located in northern Canberra so you’ll have magnificent views from the peak.
It’s also home to over 100 bird species, 500 plant species and 5,000 insect species. The most popular trail is 2km return so it shouldn’t take you too long, depending on how long you stop to take photos and admire the natural beauty.
Square Rock Trail has an excellent lookout where you will be able to view the horizon and just take in the sounds of nature. It may take you three hours to finish the trail, but when you do you’ll feel so relaxed and at one with nature.
Near Port Macquarie, Lake Innes Nature Reserve is a great place for anyone who loves cycling, fishing, swimming or kayaking. You can also simply watch the birds or walk along the Googik Heritage walking track, which at 2 kilometres in each direction, should only take you an hour to complete.