Jul 20, 2017

Lovin' Life 20/7/2017: Next Time, Canberra.


I have a confession.


It's taken me 40 years to visit our nation's capital for the first time.  Even more embarrassingly,  all I did in a cultural sense is drive past the Canberra Museum and Gallery


before stepping straight into the pretty swish (and very warm) Canberra Centre's Big W five minutes before closing.  May I place myself in front of you for judgement by saying several somethings that are 'so Sydney'?  Everything closes so early in Canberra.  There's so much space you can even walk around the shops on the weekend without once having your personal space invaded.  Why does Canberra need a 23 stop light rail (oohhh... asking for it with this one...)? You hardly have to line up for anything!


Except for burgers...

On our homeward bound pit stop in Canberra, we had high hopes of taking the boys to Questacon for the afternoon and possibly swinging past Parliament House.


But the lure of the CBD Dumping house and its pan Asian menu proved too strong.  So we had an early dinner instead.  



A greatest hits collection of each of our favourite dishes - chow mein, fried rice, kung pao chicken, pad thai (mine), a double serve of xiao long bao and ice cream served Chinese restaurant style (the boys).


I think it was pretty obvious we were from out of town when we left.  Whilst native Canberrans were sensibly rugged up and walking briskly back to their cars or onwards for biggish night, we had our noses pressed to the window of the dumpling kitchen.

So, tell me everything.  How long would we need to stay to visit Canberra properly next time?  Any suggestions for things to see and do with an adventurous and curious preschooler?

24 comments:

  1. Go during Floriade. Gorgeous weather, a lovely Ferris wheel and plenty of space for kids to run around. Visit Questacon and everything else the next day... I'd say 2 days but it might be tight... 3 would be fine.

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    1. Hello Suzi! That's a lovely idea. Must plan for it.

      SSG xxx

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  2. I love the Arboretum - I know it sounds boring but it's great - and best playground in Canberra. Mt Corin for the slide (or if in winter, to play in the snow). Botanic gardens at the end of the day are good too - all the roos come out. Where'd you get the burgers?

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  3. Oh you must spend longer. Canberra is fabulous when you give it a chance! #TeamLovinLife

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    1. I know, Jo. I got that feeling in the brief time that I was there.

      SSG xxx

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  4. Honestly Canberra is a place I could easily spend a week and still want more. I've picked out our next hotel to try as we have not yet found the perfect one - though The Avenue on Northbourne certainly came very close it is hugely up money these days. We're going to try Aria next time, it seems to get consistently good reviews.

    The National Zoo has some great tours over there - we did the Zoo Venture but your young master SSG would not be old enough for that. They have a family tour that might be worth doing and it sounds like you still get to do my favourite thing which is feed the bear.

    Obviously Parliament House is a thing but if you go when parliament is sitting the accommodation can be up money. I recommend arriving on the last sitting day if you want to actually see parliament live, all the pollies then jet out that afternoon. Then do the tour that you can only do when parliament is not sitting the next day.

    You definitely want to be there for Sunday and the Old Bus Depot Markets but be aware that place gets very busy quickly, so try to be there for opening and leave before the mad lunch rush.

    For us, we often do a daytrip over and next time we need to go to Costco we have decided even though it is slightly further away for us, the benefits of the lower population of Canberra definitely win out when it comes to Costco-ing. :) The IKEA is also quite crowd free much of the time and a great place for a cheap Canberra breakfast. The Canberra Outlet Centre is one of my all time favourite places to shop, but they have so many great places to shop over there, I could do a week of just exploring that. And the eating is great.

    We loved the botanic gardens there, master SSG would probably enjoy the Telstra Tower, I have never been to the science thingy but that seems to be very popular with the kidlets. The mint is supposed to be excellent. I would really love to do a make your own paperweight at the glassworks.

    We're planning a spring or summer visit for at least one night maybe two - Canberra is awesome in the summer. I find it super chilly in winter. ;)

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    1. Thank you so much for all the info. Preschooler SSG would definitely love the zoo. Like the idea of those relatively quiet stores like Ikea.

      SSG xxx

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  5. I have never been! ACT is the only state that I have not been too! Maybe one day I will get there.

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    1. Let's make a deal to both get there for a proper explore soon.

      SSG xxx

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  6. Here are my recommendations...
    I agree going during Floriade is lovely - but many times of the year are good. Even in the winter or Autumn, cold nights and crisp, sunny days prevail. Autumn is actually my favourite time of the year there. If you can time it to be there for the Balloon Festival - a bonus!
    Stay 3-4 nights (depending on time of arrival - 4 full days are good.
    The War Memorial is worthy of at least a day - but with children you may need to see less and experience just certain parts of it. The "chopper" immersion experience in the Vietnam area in the basement engages children with sounds and movement (and moves parents), as well as the outdoor exhibits (actual ships and vehicles). I attend every time I am in Canberra and focus in on a different part each time - but always visit the very poignant and important remembrance walls and Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier.
    Akiba restaurant in "Civic" (deserved Winner of the People's Choice for Best Australian Restaurant' in 2016) has fabulous food (some of the best I have ever tasted), great service, casual vibe (booths - great for children) and well-priced. Be sure to book!
    An apartment in Hotel Hotel is fabulous. If you get a 3 bedroom, you will be on the top (15th floor) of the Hotel, and have incredible views and your own kitchen and living area. It's great value. The foyer of the Hotel has a great, cosy vibe - and casual enough to feel comfortable with children - but have a sophisticated cocktail! (Monster Kitchen and Bar). It's in a handy area (New Acton) with lots of cafes - and a great cinema.
    The Arboretum is brilliant for a short or long visit - go late afternoon and time it with watching the sunset from 'Dairy Farmer's Hill'.
    The view from Telstra Tower is great - take the lift up (worth the entry fee).
    The National Gallery is exceptional - as is the Portrait Gallery. (Children love looking at Portraits!)
    New (and especially old) Parliament House(s) are well worth a trip.
    I could go on! I don't live in Canberra, but visit at least once a year. There really is so much to see and it's such a picturesque and beautiful place.
    Happy travels if you go again!
    Best wishes,
    Caroline (from Adelaide)

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    1. Caroline, thank you so much for all your suggestions and comments. Sigh. Need to find the time to get Preschooler SSG across again. Hopefully one of the school holidays next year.

      SSG xxx

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  7. I lived in Canberra for a couple of years in the late 1990s and though I didn't ever really feel very settled there (I felt like a visitor and everyone seemed to be from somewhere else) I did think it had great services. Amazing restaurants and cafes. And of course lots of stuff for tourists. I had more visitors when I lived there than I'd ever had before. #teamlovinlife

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    1. Hi Deb
      Thanks for your insights. Yes, it would be an interesting place to live in if you weren't born there. So many are transient residents for work and the major industries appear to be politics and education.

      SSG xxx

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  8. I've only visited Canberra once many years ago. I think we did the main things like see the Australian War Museum, walk around Lake Burley Griffin and see Parliament House. It did appear a little dead to me. :) #TeamLovinLife

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    1. I like the sound a round the lake walk!

      SSG xxx

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  9. I've been to Canberra just once and I really loved it! I want to go back and see more. Our kids were still young then and we did go to Questecon - highly recommend it - so much fun! We went to old and new Parliament Houses - so interesting and well worth it. Went to the war memorial - so moving. Can't think what else we did - but more! So much more I want to see though. :-) #TeamLovinLife

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    1. Questacon is definitely on the list. It's lovely how Canberra has much to offer for both young and old visitors.

      SSG xxx

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  10. I've never been to Canberra either! I was supposed to go for a (very pointless) work trip once but I came down with a severe case of tonsillitis (those were the days haha) a few days before and wasn't well enough to travel.

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    1. I'll feedback after my proper visit, whenever that may be.

      SSG xxx

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  11. If it's any consolation, I am 55 and have never been to Canberra - I've made it Sydney and Melbourne and Adelaide but never to the ACT and have no plans to in the near future - not really my scene with how cold it is and the political, war focus of the tourist side of things.

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    1. But the food! Have heard great things about the restaurant scene. When I go, will post and see if you can be gently persuaded :-P

      SSG xxx

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  12. I can't believe you were in Canberra without me!!! Next time I'll make sure I'm here.
    #teamlovinlife

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  13. We spent about 10 days in Canberra in 2001 as part of our great Aussie caravan adventure. Must admit the kids were pretty much "museum'd out" by the time we'd done Sydney and Canberra LOL. We loved Cockington Green miniature village in particular :-)

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