19 June 2020

Ten things to do in Canberra this weekend (19 - 25 March)

| Hayden Fritzlaff
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Banksias are a focal point for celebrations during the National Botanic Gardens’ 50th anniversary. Photo: Supplied.

It’s safe to say that this weekend in Canberra looks a little different from the last.

As the vast majority of public arts and cultural events are postponed or cancelled altogether, a weekend in the capital suddenly begins to take on a whole new form.

It’s far from doom and gloom though, with plenty of events and activities on offer that you can get involved with while still practising social distancing.

The Canberra Symphony Orchestra is posting a video recording of their cancelled Lewellyn series concert on Friday evening, and The Social Distancing Festival is taking place all across the weekend linking live streams of concerts from around the world.

This weekend could also be the perfect chance to get out on a solo or small group walk in Canberra’s stunning natural surrounds. A number of walking trails and reserves have recently opened up following a devastating fire season, and the National Botanic Gardens is celebrating 50 years.

All in all, Canberrans are set to get creative with their happenings for the foreseeable future. Let’s dive in and explore some ideas you might not have considered before.

All Weekend


The Canberra Symphony Orchestra won’t allow event cancellations to hold them back from an exciting 2020 program. Photo: Supplied.

Canberra Symphony Orchestra: Organ Symphony

Where: CSO YouTube channel
When: Anytime from Friday evening, 7:30 pm

Last week, the CSO was forced to cancel the Llewellyn One: Organ Symphony concert. This week, they’re sharing a recorded version of that night’s program via their YouTube channel. Specifically, the orchestra has performed Saint-Saens’ Organ Symphony, conducted by Dr Nicholas Milton AM. Take this chance to experience the CSO in a non-conventional concert setting. You never know, you might be inspired to grab a season ticket in the future.

Rainforest Gully Walk

The National Botanic Gardens are celebrating 50 years. Photo: Supplied.

Take a walk through the National Botanic Gardens

Where: National Botanic Gardens, Clunies Ross Street, Acton
When: 8:30 am – 5:00 pm every day

The Gardens are getting ready to celebrate their 50th birthday, meaning that this sanctuary of flora has been invigorating the Canberra community for half a century. Although some events have been cancelled or postponed, the opportunity is still there to wander through Rainforest Gully, the Eucalypt Lawns and everything in between.

Uriarra Crossing

A number of the ACT’s reserves and national parks have reopened. Photo: Supplied.

Experience the ACT’s National Parks

Where: Canberra and the region
When: Check for area-specific opening times

Canberra and its surrounds are blessed with some of the most stunning landscapes you’re likely to find. A number of reserves and national parks around the region have reopened in the wake of a devastating fire season and the new growth is making for some truly beautiful scenes. Uriarra, the Lower Cotter Catchment, and Stony Creek are just some of the areas that are now accessible to the public once again. Besides, what better way to isolate yourself than by going bush?

Matisse, Seated odalisque

Henri Matisse, Seated odalisque, 1926. Image: Supplied.

Explore the National Gallery

Where: Parkes Place, Parkes
When: Open daily, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm

Currently, the National Gallery of Australia remains open and acts as an enticing option for those looking for their arts and culture fix. Wander through the national collection as well as Matisse & Picasso and Hugh Ramsay, which are both heading into their final weeks.


Enjoying the GoBoat experience on the lake. Photo: Lean Timms.


Where: Jetty 1 & 2, Kingston Marina
When: Variable, head to the booking page for more info

Social distancing on the Lake! Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats (or so Kenneth Grahame thought). GoBoat has a range of craft on offer, available for one, two or three-hour cruising sessions. Getting out on Lake Burley Griffin is a fantastic chance to experience the city from an all-new perspective. Better yet, it’s something you can do in a small group. Head to goboat.com.au for more details.

Slagatha Christie

Slagatha Christie is just one of the local bands who’s live performances have been captured in video form. Photo: CBR DIG.

Host your own online music festival with twohandsonlyonemouth

Where: Anywhere with internet access
When: Any time you like

Using superhuman stealth powers, twohandsonlyonemouth has managed to capture live footage from virtually every local Canberra gig dating back to 2012. It’s all here, every act from early 2010s scene staples like Pocket Fox and Cuddlefish through to today’s up-and-comers. There are simply too many highlights than can be mentioned here. This archive is both an invaluable historical resource and the best place to discover your new favourite local band.

National Gallery of Victoria Virtual Tour

Where: Your phone, tablet, PC, or laptop
When: Available anytime

Melbourne’s beloved gallery is temporarily closed. The silver lining? They have shared virtual versions of several exhibitions, giving you access to the NGV collection without leaving the house. Explore the Collecting Comme exhibition in 3D space, delving into works from the iconic Japanese fashion house that date back 70 years.

Build Canberra landmarks in Minecraft

Where: Available on your phone, computer, tablet, or video game console
When: On your own time

If you have family or friends in the age range of six to sixteen (or up to the mid-30s as the case may be) you’ve probably heard mention of an unassuming video game called Minecraft. Part virtual Lego set, part choose your own adventure story, Minecraft’s charming simplicity has led it to become one of the best-selling video games of all time. There’s no time like the present to jump onto a server by yourself or with the family and reconstruct Telstra Tower, Parliament House, and Dickson Woolies block by block. The CSIRO has handy instructions on how to get started.

Canberra author Jack Heath

This weekend could be the perfect time to dive into the work of Canberra author Jack Heath. Photo: George Tsotsos.

Read a book by a Canberra author

Where: Any location
When: At your leisure

Canberra has always punched above its weight when it comes to the written word. Alan Gould, Dorothy Johnston and Marion Halligan have all called the capital home at various times over the years, and young novelists like Jack Heath, Andrew Hutchinson and Annabelle McInnes are all active in the writing world today. If you can’t get your hands on a physical copy, e-readers, reading apps for your smartphone, and audiobooks are all worthy options.

Artwork for The Social Distancing Festival

The Social Distancing Festival offers up a unique performance experience. Photo: The Social Distancing Festival website.

The Social Distancing Festival

Where: The internet
When: Check for times

This online music festival compiles live streams from events all around the world. Experience everything from opera to electronic music, puppetry to experimental theatre, all in real-time. There are only a handful of listings currently, but the stream will be populated by more and more intriguing gigs throughout the week.

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