Canberra has never been on my travel bucket list, but I know that sooner or later I’d pay a visit. The occasion has been this last Easter long weekend. We didn’t have time to plan in advance and having visited most of what you can reach by car from Melbourne at a reasonable distance, well, it was time for Canberra.
A couple of suggested stops on the way to&from Canberra:
– Shepparton, for a quick bite on the way
– Wagga Wagga, if you don’t want to do the trip all in one go, it’s a good place to stop – a laid back town, with a river bank to explore and a cool sunset to watch if you’re lucky and a couple dinner options, but being bank holiday not many were open and we went to G Thai and had a decent Pad Thai
– Albury, a good stop for lunch on the way back to Melbourne, or Beechworth, if you want to go and try the delicacies where the renowned (in Victoria) Beechworth Bakery originally started
And now the 10 reasons that will surprise you:
1. Canberra is not only about museums, it has actually a good choice of restaurants where food is more than decent, it’s good, and places to have a drink and listen to live music, especially in Manuka. I was mistakenly expecting a real boring city. An example: Public Bar Manuka
2. It looks like more of a European city (lots of 7/8 floors buildings with apartments) and people are really friendly, open and service is really good in hotels and restaurants
3. You can actually go inside the House of Representative and the Senate and also go on the Parliament “roof top” and see this (below)
4. and find a giant chocolate Easter egg with a Penguin shape
5. sleep in the 20th century comfortable Kurrajong hotel for a reasonable price thanks to Booking.com and most probably the fact that Canberra is quite isolated and doesn’t receive many visitors. Good brekkies and good service, although not probably the quickest.
6. The War Memorial, where, if you’re lucky, you can actually meet or greet Prince Harry and get asked by Channel 9 to send in your video
7. observing the trees turning red and experiencing real autumn as I conceive it back in Milan
8. finding a bookstore open until 8pm in Manuka
9. reading the Australian Official apology to the “Lost Generation” (Aboriginal people)
10. reading what is probably the best description of Australia in just a few lines.
and among the classic things that I’d recommend you to visit are:
– the National Gallery of Australia where you can see amazing aboriginal art and if you’re lucky, you can watch a cool exhibition such as the one of James Turrell, all about light and own perceptions, up until June 8th 2015
– the National Museum of Australia, an unconventional building, without being the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao or NYC, but overlooking the lake and quite contemporary on the inside. You might get out more confused about the Australian history than before, but it’s actually a very fun and colourful experience, especially the Circa “cinema” experience, and it has quite an interesting gift shop for any last minute souvenir
– have a drink, a coffee or a snack at the Park Hyatt – nice environment and very good coffee