Ten places to stay cool during a Canberra heatwave

Charlotte 11 January 2017 7
Rainforest Gully Walk at the National Botanic Gardens. Photo: ANBG Fujiko Nakaya's Fog Sculpture at the National Gallery of Australia. Photo: NGA

Feeling cooler after looking at those photos?

It’s HOT. By 9am today our house was like an oven. Our lone aircon unit is struggling to cope, but at least it’s working. Just before Christmas we had to get it serviced and the repairer found a dead mouse stuck inside it. Eeek. Picture at the end of the story if you’re game to look. Glad we sorted that one out before this week’s heatwave.

So how do you cope when you’re stuck in Canberra and the temperature is soaring? I’m looking at you, residents of parts of Hughes and Hawker, given ACTEW will be turning off your power for a few hours on Friday, a day on which the temperature is set to reach 38 degrees.

My advice is to plan ahead now. Book tickets to see or do something inside, or get your swimming gear, hat, sunscreen and some frozen bottles of water organised if you’d rather brave the outdoors.

These are my top recommendations for beating the heat in Canberra. Got some of your own? Please share in the comments.

10. If you’re not completely over shopping (or flat broke) following the Christmas rush and Boxing Day sales, head to one of the town centres’ shopping malls. They’re an excellent place to be during a heatwave, and there are still plenty of sales about.

9. Grab your laptop, a good novel, a colouring in book and pencils or a notebook for some uninterrupted list-making and settle in for several cups of tea and lunch at your favourite air-conditioned cafe. Our pick? BeyondQ at Curtin, so you can browse the books in between all that tea. Let us know your cool cafe pick below.

8. Speaking of books, why not take a big bag to your local library and spend a few hours browsing for summer reads? Just remember to return them by the due date to avoid fines. Most of our libraries are conveniently located near our public pools (see 4.), so you could choose one of the books to read poolside afterwards.

7. Buy your tickets in advance for back-to-back sessions at one of our newer cinema complexes. Dendy and Palace Electric get our vote. We’re a bit wary of Manuka on hot days because the air-conditioning has been known to struggle just when it’s needed the most. There have been three problems with aircon that we know of there in recent years, so it’s a fair consideration.

6. Book to see the National Museum of Australia’s A History of the World in 100 Objects exhibition. It’s already the most successful exhibition ever mounted by the National Museum, and the institution is extending its hours to cope with the demand. The show opens at 8am daily, and closes at 6pm from Monday to Saturday and at 7pm on Sundays. It finishes January 29. Bookings are recommended, as is taking public transport or being patient while you wait to find a spot to park.

5. Grab that aforementioned stash of frozen water bottles, some sandwiches, a book and your cozzie and head to your favourite swimming hole. Pick a shady spot by the Cotter or the Murrumbidgee and picnic with your feet in the water. Where do you head for a river swim?

4. Take that same basket of goodies to your local pool. We’ve copped it lately on social media for talking up Manuka Pool over the alternatives, but we still reckon you can’t beat the art deco icon for a summer dip in Canberra. Do you have another favourite pool? Let us know where, and why.

3. Pack a picnic and eat among the mists of Fujiko Nakaya’s fog sculpture in the Sculpture Garden at the National Gallery (it operates from 12.30pm till 2pm). Any of the national institutions offer a cool place to see out the heat at this time of the year, and there is no need to spend any money. The permanent exhibitions are typically free, and the National Gallery in particular will keep you (and the kids) occupied for hours at no cost. The Versailles exhibition is ticketed, but younger kids are free and they’ll enjoy the free Play Zone at the main entry even more having seen the exhibition.

2. The Rainforest Gully Walk at the National Botanic Gardens is one of the coolest places in the capital, literally, taking you down a boardwalk into a haven of fern fronds and light sprinkler spray. You won’t be able to spend the day here, but a soothing wander is recommended. It takes about ten minutes and is near the main carpark.

1. You’re never too old to skip through a sprinkler. Move your garden hose to a shady spot ahead of time so the water already in the pipeline is cooler and find a sprinkler fitting so you can run through the spray or even settle in underneath it for a while. Living in an apartment? Could you invite yourself to a friend’s place? This one is always a winner with the kids.

If none of these options are possible and you are stuck inside in a virtual sauna, remember to drink plenty of water, take a cold bath or cooling shower when it gets too hot and take it easy.

What are your recommendations for cooling down on a hot Canberra day?

Pictured above are the Rainforest Gully Walk at the Australian National Botanic Gardens and Fujiko Nakaya’s Fog Sculpture at the National Gallery of Australia. Photos: ANBG/NGA

Pictured below is the unfortunate mouse.

A mouse in the aircon. Photo: Charlotte Harper

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7 Responses to Ten places to stay cool during a Canberra heatwave
John Moulis John Moulis 11:50 am 14 Jan 17

How about going to the gym? The gym I go to is right next to Lake Tuggeranong so sweating is a problem but the fans counter that. And I’m not talking about the fans who look at me doing my training, I’m talking about the electric variety on the wall 😉

Suzanne Kiraly Suzanne Kiraly 4:13 pm 12 Jan 17

Thanks, Charlotte. Great suggestions here – personally I am drawn to the movies in the hottest of weather – and doing laps at Dickson pool is a daily event right now too. I like your comment about never being too young to run under a sprinkler. Let me add to that – you are never too young to drink “spiders”!

TuggLife TuggLife 9:49 am 12 Jan 17

Corin Forest, or anywhere up in the Brindabellas, can be quite nice when the weather’s hot – it’s 5-10 degrees cooler up in the hills.

Jane Speechley Jane Speechley 7:06 pm 11 Jan 17

A great reminder to spend more time in Rainforest Gully! Oh, how I love it there 🙂

Poor mousey 🙁

Holden Caulfield Holden Caulfield 2:22 pm 11 Jan 17

The cork forest plantations at the Arborteum and just over the road near the lake (access from Barrenjoey Drive) are also excellent places to spend time protected from the heat.

Maryann Mussared Maryann Mussared 2:17 pm 11 Jan 17

All excellent suggestions! All the National Institutions have good aircon and cafes and mostly free wifi. I have been to Manuka Greater Union and the aircon was on the blink. It was a couple of years ago and it was over 40 degrees. We were told if we came out of the cinema within 10 minutes we could have our money back. The people coming out from the previous session were as red as beetroots so we didn’t even go in!

dungfungus dungfungus 1:35 pm 11 Jan 17

The Botanic Garden Rainforest Gully Walk was all but closed last week after several large trees were felled by a storm at Christmas.
Parts of the boardwalk were totally destroyed and no remedial works had commenced.

I don’t know if it has been re-opened yet but I doubt it given the time of the year.

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