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Top places to take visitors to Canberra

By Lisa Martin - 7 May 2015 12

I’ve met a lot of people overseas who end up travelling to Australia. While Canberra is not on the must do lists of all tourists (the Gold Coast, Sydney, Melbourne and the Great Barrier Reef are usually the top tourist spots among the people I know), Canberra sometimes gets a look in for those interested in seeing Australia’s capital.

So where do you take visitors to showcase what Canberra has to offer apart from the landmarks such as Parliament House, Lake Burley Griffin and the Australian War Memorial?

I recently had my sister visiting as well as a friend from Canada. These are a few of the places we went that achieved top marks in their eyes, as well as a few sights and restaurants suggested by colleagues and friends.

Of course this is only a small sample of places to visit and I’m sure there are many more great places to visit throughout Canberra.

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve

My Canadian friend was desperate to see kangaroos, and I knew just the place to go. You don’t have to even step out of your car to see kangaroos here. My friend was ecstatic to get up close to lots of kangaroos.

I took my friend out near the Tidbinbilla visitor centre. There’s a short, grassy walk there that takes you past mobs of kangaroos. For any overseas tourists, this is a highly recommended spot.

If I had friends visiting who were also interested in hiking, I’d also take them up to Gibraltar Peak.

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Questacon

A popular one more for the kids but can be enjoyed by accompanying adults. My sister and niece went to Questacon and my four-year-old niece was enthralled for hours (and she is quite hard to please!). Also for kids, the merry-go-round in Civic which dates back to 1914 seems to be another popular attraction.

Mt Ainslie lookout

My sister and my Canadian friend loved the view of Canberra from Mt Ainslie –  you can walk or drive to the top. I see many a tourist up on Mt Ainslie so it seems a popular choice. It’s also a great place for newcomers to Canberra to get a good idea of the layout of the city and point out the landmarks. This is a good lookout any time of year but I really like it at around the middle of autumn when all the trees are starting to change colour. Black Mountain is also another great lookout for visitors.

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Flint in the Vines, Murrumbateman

The Flint in the Vines restaurant at Shaw Vineyard seems to be a popular choice among Canberra residents and has come up a few times in comments on The RiotACT and in conversations with friends. I haven’t been there yet but would consider heading out there when friends visit with a penchant for wine. The Canberra District has more than 30 cellar doors to cater for all tastes so it’s a good choice for visitors.

Sample great food and coffee

Canberra has some fantastic cafes and restaurants and I’ve had some excellent meals throughout my time in the capital. I live in Braddon so I would most likely take visitors to some of my favourite spots throughout the area. Top picks would be Lonsdale Street Roasters or Eighty/Twenty for coffee and brunch, Chez Frederic for lunch, Eightysix or Italian and Sons for dinner and Bentspoke Brewing Co or Hopscotch for a few drinks. Of course, there’s plenty of great food and drink options throughout Canberra so there’s lots to choose from.

Bungendore and the Wood Works Gallery

For those seeking small town charms, Bungendore is worth a visit and is only half an hour drive from Civic. A friend of mine visiting Canberra from Brisbane said the Bungendore Wood Works Gallery with its impressive display of handcrafted furniture as well as artworks, and the Le Tres Bon restaurant, was among the highlights of her trip to the town.

What are your suggestions of places to go when you have visitors?

What’s Your opinion?


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12 Responses to
Top places to take visitors to Canberra
Crazed_Loner 5:33 pm 21 May 15

rubaiyat said :

Crazed_Loner said :

Many good suggestions. My teenage daughter had a friend from England stay with us recently and, over a few days, took him to Mt Ainslie, Questacon, the National Museum, the Botanic Gardens, the zoo, Tidbinbilla tracking station and nature reserve and the dinosaur museum, and I think that was a pretty good mix, if not everywhere she could have gone.

It’s easy to spot roos from a car in many of the grasslands around Canberra but for proximity the lower slopes of Mt Ainslie on either side (eg Ainslie/Hackett or Campbell Park) can be guaranteed. No need to go all the way to Tidbinbilla (though you might see wild emus there).

I would suggest Poacher’s Pantry rather than Flint or one of the other winery restaurants as first choice because it’s unique in the region. And then there are the local wineries – take your pick, though Mt Majura is conveniently on the edge of the city. As well as an excursion to the wonderful Bungendore Woodworks, a trip out of town to Gundaroo also captures the local country ambience replete with a range of quirky eateries. Of course, Pialligo is a countryish hidden jewel right in the city itself.

Other than all those, and everyone else’s suggestions, there’s nothing much at all to see. A day should do it.

I agree about Poacher’s Pantry but I disagree about the day. Unless you are simply pointing at things out the car window as you fly past them.

Cara spent a week and she wishes she had more time. Particularly Questacon, she wanted to stay there all day just for that.

My list was not complete, we saw much more than I have put down.

Um, my comment about the day doing it was made with heavy irony, lost in the reading, apparently. I was suggesting that there really is a lot to see and do. I’ll try to be more obvious in future.

Ezy 8:39 am 08 May 15

My visitors are usually cyclist buddies from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane and can be labelled as the more ‘hipster’ type.

A tour is always on bike and I will always take them for a pretty chilled ‘lake loop’ for an introduction into the city – The lake is a great way to see different areas of inner canberra and a good way for visitors to get their bearings. This time of year with all of the leaves turning makes for a great impression. I will always ride to the top of the arboretum to ‘dairy farmers hill’ which will give them a great 360o view of the city, and all the way out to the Brindabellas.

Usually a pub crawl will follow that night. Starting at New Acton, a quick stop to marvel at the beautiful architecture of the Nishi Building, a beer at Wig n Pen, dumplings at Shanghai Dumpling House, a drink at Molly, a quick stint through the CBD taking in The Phoenix, Hippo before moving on to Braddon to sample the beer list at Bent Spoke and if things are getting a bit wild, Knightsbridge.

The next day it is all nature, usually a mtb ride at Stromlo where you are almost guaranteed to nearly run over a bunch of kangaroos or a road ride out to Tidbinbilla with a quick hike thrown in.

So that way, they get a taste for what I think are the best bits that make up our city, and then the beautiful surrounds of Canberra.

Bonus points go to the NGA, depending on what is on show. I showed a friend around just last week and he loved the James Turrell exhibition. Also, depending on time and their interests The War Memorial is a good option.

rubaiyat 7:45 am 08 May 15

Crazed_Loner said :

Many good suggestions. My teenage daughter had a friend from England stay with us recently and, over a few days, took him to Mt Ainslie, Questacon, the National Museum, the Botanic Gardens, the zoo, Tidbinbilla tracking station and nature reserve and the dinosaur museum, and I think that was a pretty good mix, if not everywhere she could have gone.

It’s easy to spot roos from a car in many of the grasslands around Canberra but for proximity the lower slopes of Mt Ainslie on either side (eg Ainslie/Hackett or Campbell Park) can be guaranteed. No need to go all the way to Tidbinbilla (though you might see wild emus there).

I would suggest Poacher’s Pantry rather than Flint or one of the other winery restaurants as first choice because it’s unique in the region. And then there are the local wineries – take your pick, though Mt Majura is conveniently on the edge of the city. As well as an excursion to the wonderful Bungendore Woodworks, a trip out of town to Gundaroo also captures the local country ambience replete with a range of quirky eateries. Of course, Pialligo is a countryish hidden jewel right in the city itself.

Other than all those, and everyone else’s suggestions, there’s nothing much at all to see. A day should do it.

I agree about Poacher’s Pantry but I disagree about the day. Unless you are simply pointing at things out the car window as you fly past them.

Cara spent a week and she wishes she had more time. Particularly Questacon, she wanted to stay there all day just for that.

My list was not complete, we saw much more than I have put down.

Spiral 7:31 am 08 May 15

crappicker said :

As a visitor to Canberra you should not have to go all the way to Tidbinbilla to see kangaroos, if only the ACT government did not have a misguided policy to shoot them in the local reserves.

A visitor to Canberra just has to go to almost any reserve at the right time of day and keep their eyes open. There is not, and will not be a shortage of Kanagaroos around Canberra.

I see them nearly every day in multiple locations just driving between Tuggeranong and Molonglo. This is a great time of year to see kangroos as they are out at around the time people commute to work. The area between the Tuggerabong Parkway and North Weston, and the area around the Bushfire Memorial at Stromlo nearly always have mobs so can see from the car as you drive past at the moment. Tuggeranong Homestead is another geat spot as is the end of Soward Way near the archery centre in Greenway. I’m sure there are many many other great locations around Canberra to see kangaroos.

Crazed_Loner 12:57 am 08 May 15

Many good suggestions. My teenage daughter had a friend from England stay with us recently and, over a few days, took him to Mt Ainslie, Questacon, the National Museum, the Botanic Gardens, the zoo, Tidbinbilla tracking station and nature reserve and the dinosaur museum, and I think that was a pretty good mix, if not everywhere she could have gone.

It’s easy to spot roos from a car in many of the grasslands around Canberra but for proximity the lower slopes of Mt Ainslie on either side (eg Ainslie/Hackett or Campbell Park) can be guaranteed. No need to go all the way to Tidbinbilla (though you might see wild emus there).

I would suggest Poacher’s Pantry rather than Flint or one of the other winery restaurants as first choice because it’s unique in the region. And then there are the local wineries – take your pick, though Mt Majura is conveniently on the edge of the city. As well as an excursion to the wonderful Bungendore Woodworks, a trip out of town to Gundaroo also captures the local country ambience replete with a range of quirky eateries. Of course, Pialligo is a countryish hidden jewel right in the city itself.

Other than all those, and everyone else’s suggestions, there’s nothing much at all to see. A day should do it.

Kim F 6:19 pm 07 May 15

A drive through the Embassy/High Commission districts.

Holden Caulfield 4:32 pm 07 May 15

Mt Pleasant is a less obvious place for great views of the city.

Always good if you can bring a visitor here during Enlighten or the balloon festival too.

If you have to have them here during Floriade, which I can never really see the appeal of, at least make sure it’s when Nightfest is on and the experience is a bit different.

rubaiyat 3:35 pm 07 May 15

dungfungus said :

So much for the “international appeal” of the arboretum.
It hasn’t rated a mention.

I’ll mention it.

Best views of Canberra by far! Great walks, lovely buildings, Restaurant, Cafe and Bonsai collection and if you have kids they’ll never want to leave the “Gum Nuts” playground.

I’ll second both the Portrait Gallery and the War Memorial. Cockington Green is better than any miniature village I saw overseas, unfortunately the ill thought out and badly built Federation Square ruined Ginnindera Village which was rural gem before.

One of the priceless tours I take visitors, is the back road round to Tidbinbilla where you get to see the massive white dishes, turning, half concealed behind the timeless and ancient hills. You can also see Namadgi N.P. and do the walks up to the Square Rocks looking over into the wilderness beyond.

My visitors have also enjoyed The National Gallery, Carillon, Glassworks and Drill Hall Gallery.

Lately they are amazed at the coffee, dining, bakeries like Autolyse and the breweries.

Pialligo is worth a visit particularly Pialligo Farm and breakfast at Pod Food. Amazing! Where else do you get a mind blowing degustation breakfast?! You wouldn’t want to eat for days! Noticed they got a great write up yesterday in the Canberra Times, with a score of 14.5 they are a whisker off a Hat!

Definitely take them on a tour of local wineries, Molonglo Gorge and Bungendore. In town back to Black Mountain, the Botanical Gardens and the Yarralumla/Weston Park walks and cafés.

If they want kangaroos, take them to any golf course in the ACT. My Austrian cousin’s friend’s daughter was ecstatic that she could walk around the corner from my place and sit with a mob of Kangaroos on the 8th green. She’s been back 3 times since. Loves Australia!

It’s great fun taking visitors around to get an outsider’s view of the place, but also you get to see just how bad our transport is for them if they don’t have a car or a bike. Poor Cara was tiny and I put her on my son’s bike. She could barely reach the pedals as I dragged her around the lakeside sights! Didn’t totally spoil it for her though.

dungfungus 2:59 pm 07 May 15

So much for the “international appeal” of the arboretum.
It hasn’t rated a mention.

SR1985 1:58 pm 07 May 15

The war memorial would be one of the first stops for me, there is so much to see there. I have been to quite a few countries and have not come across such a varied collection of relics or information as I have there.

Zan 1:43 pm 07 May 15

So many places to go in Canberra. Cockington Green, the Cotter dam (our water supply), the National Gallery, Portrait Gallery. The coffee shop near the Yarralumla Nursery and walk from there around the peninsula through Weston Park and you will see heaps of roos lazing about. The gardens behind the Canberra Hyatt on Commonwealth Ave. The National Library is a must see as well as Questacon. The Botanic Gardens are also great to wander around, in summer you can see snakes and lots of lizards, sometimes a roo or two and we’ve even spotted a Bower bird trying to woo a female. If you are quiet you will see lots of birds. I could go on and on, but won’t.

crappicker 1:16 pm 07 May 15

As a visitor to Canberra you should not have to go all the way to Tidbinbilla to see kangaroos, if only the ACT government did not have a misguided policy to shoot them in the local reserves.

As is, the government is misusing legislating designed to protect the wildlife in the local reserves to instead close them off so that they can go about their dirty killing business without unwanted scrutiny.

Culling of 5000 adult kangaroos over the next two years, with thousands more youngs brutally slaughtered by the head bashing and decapitation of pouch joeys and by the starvation of abandoned young at foot, will leave the social structure of the kangaroo mobs in tatters, will shy the kangaroo mobs from natural interaction with Canberrans and visitors alike, and will cement Canberra’s reputation as the kangaroo killing capital of Australia for a long time to come.

When will this government come to its senses and realize that beyond the substantial direct costs of enforcing their misguided policy there are also substantial emotional and reputational costs.

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