No trip to Australia would be complete without a visit to the capital. You've admired the most impressive artwork in the country at National Gallery of Australia and pondered why Australia's politicians work in a building built into a hill at Parliament House. You reflected on the sacrifice of past Australians at the iconic remembrance pool at the Australian War Memorial and then lightened the mood by taking the kids to Questacon. But did you know there are many activities you can do that don't feature on the itinerary of your typical school trip to Canberra.
The great thing about the capital is that there's so much free stuff…
Including an awe-inspiring view of the whole city from Red Hill. Get the blood pumping with a hike up to the top and then see if you can spot Canberra's famous landmarks whilst enjoying lunch at the two restaurants at the summit.
The kids might have been pestering you to take them to Questacon, but why not save on the admission fee and go to the equally entertaining Australian Deep Space Complex. Not only is it free, but you'll get to discover about space in a hands on way – from the mind-blowing – a piece of the moon that's 3.8 billion years old – to the mundane – the food that astronauts eat in space.
You might have been expecting the typical array of gum trees and blossoming flowers when you visited the Australian National Botanic Gardens. And it's true you can see them – but why not check out the Red Centre Garden. See the iconic landscape of Central Australia come to life with sweeping sand dunes, rocky cliffs and all manner of shrubs and desert oaks. At the heart of this unique garden is the Central Meeting Place with an Australian landscape-inspired artwork by Indigenous artist Teresa Pula McKeeman.
Get an ice-cream cone for the umpteenth time…
Or visit the tiny bakery Pâtissez that is getting all the locals raving over its diverse menu. Gaining a reputation for 'freak shakes' on social media, this café might have long queues but it is well worth the wait for these stunning concoctions made with brownies, pretzels, puff pastry and toasted marshmallows.
After that sugar overload and subsequent sugar crash, you might be craving something a bit healthier. Luckily, the Old Bus Depot Markets has just what you need with organic, fresh produce and wholefoods along with an eclectic range of cuisines including Ethiopian, South-East Asian, Spanish, Mexican and Indian. There are even a few dessert stalls in case you're still yearning for some more sugar. Apart from food, the markets are a great place to pick up an authentic souvenir including handcrafted jewellery and homewares and don't worry about the kids being bored: they can get their face painted while you browse.
Staying in the capital was cheaper than you expected
So it's time to treat yourself to an exceptional fine dining experience. Why not splurge on the seven course degustation and wine package from Rubicon, touted as Canberra's best restaurant. Serving Modern Australian cuisine in an intimate setting with candlelight, this restaurant is the perfect way to round off your trip to Canberra with that special someone.
But if you have a few days to spare – and you really enjoyed the wine last night at Rubicon – you might decide to stick around the area a bit longer. Why not hire a car and take a day trip to the Murrumbateman wineries. This region is home to some of the best wineries in the country including Four Winds Vineyard and Kyeema Vineyard so if you really are a budding connoisseur, why not stay for a few nights and learn all there is to know about wine.
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