Margaret Wade has thrown Canberrans a challenge. To experience a new Canberra secret at least once a month.
It’s true that we sometimes get into a rut with our social activities but now there’s no excuse, with the third edition of Canberra Secrets: Your Key to the Capital, which Margaret has just released.
So much has changed since the 1999 and 2003 editions. Indeed, this release is 100 pages larger, reflecting so many more wonderful aspects of our colourful, spirited city (and surrounding areas).
The 250-page book begins with special places, both inside and beyond the Parliamentary Triangle. It then moves into adventures, walks and jaunts, offering options for seeing Canberra from the air, or on water, bike, foot and even horseback. The ‘out and about chapter’ covers music, dance, stage and theatre, literature, special events and more. Gallery secrets are then revealed, as are bush capital secrets. Canberra’s food, wine and shopping scene gets mega-profile, with more than 70 pages.
To take up Margaret’s challenge, I sat with the book, first ticking off what I’d done (quite chuffed with myself) and then deciding what I’m going to tick off from now until the end of the year. Here’s a totally random list of six secret choices on my secrets list.
The Gallery of Small Things in Watson is Canberra’s tiniest (six square metres) and newest gallery. It focuses on—you guessed it—all things small (and affordable). GOST showcases the work of emerging and established artists and sells quality jewellery, photography, paintings, textiles and more.
Hops & Vine in Hall, which stocks many boutique wines that don’t have a cellar door, as well as heaps of other yummy products like handmade chocolates, cheeses and salamis. Wine and craft beer tastings are regularly held in the rustic building (circa 1900).
Royal Australian Mint, specifically to meet the family of robots, Titan, Robbie and Penny, and watch them work on the factory floor. Titan even takes a bow when he finishes his tasks for the day. I might even strike my very own $1 coin in the Mint’s special coin-minting machine.
You can opt for several options to see Canberra by water, with GoBoat being the newest. These self-drive boats, made from 80 per cent recycled PET bottles, accommodate up to eight people and feature a central picnic table so you can enjoy a floating picnic as you take in sights of the shoreline of Lake Burley Griffin. Canberra Urban Adventures is another great option. Their pedal kayak tours are ideal for beginners.
Shepherds Lookout, an easy 45-minute walk starting at the rear of Holt, offers a wonderful vista of where the Murrumbidgee and Molonglo Rivers meet. No doubt you’ll encounter plenty of roos and birdlife. If you’re a serious walker you can continue past Shepherds Lookout down to the Molonglo and then to East Uriarra.
Visit Urban Providore Australia, in Fyshwick. A treasure trove of high-quality gourmet foods sourced from producers in Canberra and across Australia. Saturdays are the best day to visit because Urban Providore offers tastings. Think spices, jellies, smallgoods, pasta, puddings and more. A large selection of gluten-free products is also on offer.
Margaret is a passionate Canberran who you’ll often hear on local radio talking about the city she has called home since 1979. She also runs Canberra Secrets Personalised Tours.
And just in case you’ve already ticked off every secret in the book and have some of your own to share, Margaret says to get in touch through firstname.lastname@example.org
You can buy Canberra Secrets: Your Key to the Capital online for $35 (plus $15 postage and handling).