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Canberra, as you may already know, is the capital (and political hub) of Australia. Decades ago that’s perhaps all it was known for, but these days Canberra has had something of a comeback. A cool one. With its naturally laid-back charm and upsurge of on-point hangouts, here’s our top six things to do in the capital.
Trend-setters & seekers: NewActon inner city enclave
Marcus Clarke St, Canberra ACT 2601
NewActon is a pop-up entertainment space flanking the edges of Lake Burley Griffin. It’s distinctly non-conforming in as much as it’s not your run of the mill entertainment complex. For one, it’s visually stunning; an example of free-thinking urban design, constructed from shipping containers and a décor that’s been described as Mad Men meets Nordic cool. Secondly, it’s home to an eclectic mix of experiences; a hub of yoga, life drawing classes, music, cinema, bars, restaurants and cafes. Mocan & Green Grout is well known for its coffee, whereas Black Market is an underground speakeasy specialising in all things hard to acquire, such as limited edition spirits. Modern cocktails include a ‘bacon fat bourbon’ as well as the ‘butter vodka, caramel popcorn and salt cocktail’. NewActon, much like Black Market’s drink menu, is as intriguing as it is irresistible.
The young and young at heart: Cockington Green Gardens
11 Gold Creek Road, Nicholls ACT 2913
Adults and children never tire of Cockington Green Gardens and its miniature model village, complete with iconic buildings from around the world, small waterfalls, lakes and rock pools. From tiny cricket grounds (and teeny-tiny players) to fairytale house that will delight the princesses in your clan, these incy-wincy replicas are fascinating. Children will love the steam train with interactive buttons that they can press to make the trains chug around the village. The detail is impeccable and guaranteed to keep you entertained for hours.
Refreshment seekers: Bentspoke Brewing Co
38 Mort St, Braddon ACT 2612, Canberra
You might not be able to find the link between bikes and beer but who cares because the Bentspoke Brewing Company is a Canberra microbrewery kitted out with a bike themed bar - and it’s brilliant. Boasting 18 varieties of beer and cider, including a popular hot lime cider during the winter months, everything is brewed on the premises. Relax outside, or soak up the ambience indoors; there are kegs for seats, malt bags adorn the walls and the hand rails on the stairs are fully-functional pipes used for pumping beer.
Active relaxers: Canberra’s Centenary Trail
Active types will revel in the 145km centenary trail loop which highlights the diverse history and scenery of Canberra and its surrounding landscape. Funded by the ACT Government for both walkers and cyclists, it’s designed to be a seven day walk, or a three day bike ride, using a variety of multi-functional tracks. Divide the trail into daily sections and utilise the basic camping facilities available en route; stopping for regular pie stops and beers as you go. We’d recommend you keep an eye out for kangaroos, but they’re so numerous you’ll be waving hello to them with regularity.
Sweet-toothed sinners: Patissez Cafe
Bougainville Street, Shop 2/21, The Lawns, Canberra
The original masters of ‘freakshakes’, this unassuming Canberra café gave birth to the worldwide phenomenon in early 2015. Move over five dollar shakes, these are creations that only a Willy Wonka imagination would be able to muster. Imagine this: An overloaded mason bar with lashings of Nutella dripping in and around the rim, salty pretzels, vanilla mousse, more Nutella dunked salty pretzels and of course a hefty serving of ice-cream. It’s what milkshake dreams are made of. With names such as Cookies n Freaks, Mint Condition and the Gay Pat (this one boasts a homemade caramel parfait popslide dipped in chocolate and rolled in honeycomb) the entire experience is over the top. Deliciously so.
Wine lovers: Canberra’s wine rich countryside
Perhaps over-shadowed by Australia’s better known wine regions such as the Yarra Valley and Hunter’s Valley, Canberra’s wine region is frequently overlooked, but wrongly so. A mere one hour’s drive from Canberra’s CBD, the vine-rich countryside is home to 140 vineyards and over 30 wineries, crafting anything from Riesling and Chardonnay to Pinot Noir and Shiraz, and in more recent years, Sangiovese and Tempranillo. The history isn’t half bad either, with European settlers establishing vineyards here as far back as the 1840s, and then in 1970s, when the region had a winery rebirth. These days there are numerous vineyard tours to enjoy, with the opportunity to meet winemakers, explore the vineyards and of course, taste the wines. Yarra Valley eat your heart out.
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