25 December 2014

No family, no friends? What to do in Canberra if you’re a Christmas orphan

| Lisa Martin
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Thinking at the time that it wouldn’t be so bad, I volunteered to be on call for work from Christmas Eve until December 29 – meaning I have to stay within half an hour of the office just in case something happens. As my colleagues count down the days until they finish work for the year, I realised it was looking like a lonely and boring Christmas.

So what do you do when you have no family in Canberra, most of your friends are leaving to spend time with their families and you can’t go far? There are only so many TV shows you can watch before it starts to wear a little thin.

Go for a walk or drive

You can do this every day of the year and a lot of people do, but a hike up Mt Ainslie or Mt Majura is a good way to enjoy the great outdoors. If you’re of reasonable fitness, the walks take between 45 and 90 minutes return – Mt Majura being the longer one. A walk or run around any of the lakes such as Lake Burley Griffin and Lake Ginninderra are other options.

Depending on where you live in Canberra, it may be a bit further than 30 minutes away but the Casuarina Sands Reserve at Cotter Creek is a good place to relax, take a dip, sunbake or have a picnic. Gibraltar Falls near Corin Dam is also a nice spot. Or you could just explore a part of Canberra you haven’t been to before and take a walk around.

See what your friends are doing

Check with your friends to see if anyone is saying here over Christmas and plan your own get together. It’s not fun being alone during the festive season particularly on Christmas Day but there’s often a couple of people in the same situation. Have a picnic by Lake Burley Griffin – Weston Park in Yarralumla is a good option. If you’re really stuck to find people here over Christmas, try looking on the Meet Up website or create your own event.

You can also take advantage of friends leaving for Christmas who live in an apartment complex with gym or pool facilities. My gym is closed over Christmas and one of my friends has kindly offered me the keys to his complex.

Additionally, most of Canberra’s pools are open every day over the Christmas period except Christmas Day.

Declutter at home

I’m the first to admit it’s a bit lame, but take the opportunity of all your spare time to declutter at home. Donate anything you don’t want or if you’re so inclined, there’s plenty of markets around Canberra outside of the festive season such as the Fash n’ Treasure Market to sell clothes and make a bit of extra money in the new year.

Boxing Day sales

Boxing Day sales in any other capital cities are usually chaos. Take advantage of not so many people being around and snap up some bargains.

Check out Canberra’s attractions

The Australian War Memorial is open every day except Christmas Day. Same goes for the National Portrait Gallery, National Museum of Australia and the Australian National Botanic Gardens. Use the holidays to visit those places in Canberra you’ve always have been meaning to – or revisit them.

While researching this topic I found there’s a session at the National Portrait Gallery described as drawing while listening to music. The free event (including materials) is on 28 December from 1pm, and is for all ages and abilities. I can’t draw but sounds like it’s worth giving it a go.

Are you in a similar situation? What are your suggestions for activities to do over the festive season?

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Thank you Lisa, a good read and some great ideas.

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