International travel is off-limits for us Aussies during the pandemic (excluding the NZ travel bubble). This has provided an opportunity for us to explore our own backyard, our homeland. I haven’t visited all the states and cities in Australia, and while I’m holding off on air travel, I’ve still been keen on local explorations and drivable destinations. Therefore, a visit to Canberra was suitable.
I’ve been to Canberra when I was younger, with school (Aussies know!) and my family. Canberra can get a bad rep for being dull due to its governmental infrastructure and practices. However, my recent short trip to Canberra as an adult and in the current circumstances exhibited that it offers a lot if we are willing to experience it! I’ve also had feedback from others I know that thoroughly enjoyed their time there. I went for 4 nights with my mum as a little getaway to celebrate her birthday.
We arrived mid-morning and proceeded to Canberra Central for brunch. Nice and simple. The weather was 10 degrees, and the rain would not stop. I haven’t felt temperatures like this in a long time! This was the start of June or the start of Winter here. I don’t remember my trip to Wellington, NZ, in the heart of Winter in 2018 being this cold. However, I don’t mind a holiday in the cold. I enjoy layering up, getting to choose our activities, and running through the rain until we make it into a cozy place.
Anyway, after brunch, we went to the hotel to drop off our luggage. Luckily, a room was ready, so we were able to relax in the warmth and comfort of our room for a few hours. Before getting too cozy, we booked timed entry tickets to the Australian War Memorial (timed entry for Covid safety). My mother and I love walking, so as the rain settled, we walked the 20 minutes through the back streets and houses until we reached our location. The memorial is huge, and we could have spent many more hours reading through and pondering the information.
Afterwards, we dawdled back to the hotel before heading out to dinner—nothing fancy, just what was around Canberra Central.
After an early breakfast, we headed out to walk the central loop of Lake Burley Griffin. The fog was insane. I don’t think I’ve seen, or been within, such heavy fog. It made for some spooky yet cool shots.
The benefits of this walk are that you can see sights along the way, either for a quick photo opportunity or an attraction to explore. We used this walk to do both, so we ended up walking most of the day. Let me tell you; I had sore feet by the end of the day! Some notable sights included Blundell’s Cottage, a historical building still intact, several commemorative memorials, the National Gallery of Australia, and the National Museum of Australia (this one is just off the central loop).
The following day, we made out way to the National Arboretum, which encapsulates 250 hectares of trees and walking tracks. It is also home to the National Bonsai and Penjing Collection. If you enjoy nature, you will enjoy the great views found here, the different gardens, walking through nature and of course the Bonsai collection. There are Bonsai’s there that are much older than I am! Although we walked around a lot, the intensity was much less than the previous day around Lake Burley Griffin. Here at the Arboretum, you have the time and space to stroll through the land in peace. And when you’re done, you can head back to the Village Centre for food, coffee, a gift shop, and for families, the nearby children’s playground.
As a supporter of the Hurricanes (from Wellington, NZ) in Rugby Union, I was excited to watch them live that night against the Brumbies at GIO Stadium. I haven’t seen them live since a trip to Wellington in 2018. We just lost, but the experience was great. The temperature was about 4 degrees Celsius, AKA really very cold! Again, I don’t remember ever feeling this cold before. It was good to get back to the hotel and regain feeling in my hands and feet.
The next day we focused on attractions. After a nice sleep in and a slow morning, we headed out. First, we went into Old Parliament House. I highly recommend this! This was the main home of governance until 1988 before they opened the new Parliament House. We could walk through almost the entire building and courtyards. There is a lot of history through the location itself and via decor, photos and written information found inside. We then ventured to the National Portrait Gallery, a short 10 minute walk away, before going into every child’s favourite place in Canberra, Questacon! Even for adults, it is a lot of fun. The experience was more structured due to Covid ensuring groups were kept small and couldn’t venture back and forth between rooms. We went from room to room with a set amount of time in each, learning through interactive activities about space and science. Our ticketed time was 2pm-4pm. By the time 4pm came around, it was time to head back to the hotel for our last night.
Day 5 – Leaving Canberra
The next morning we headed back home. Overall, it was a great short vacation to Canberra. Canberra has many surprises, and experiencing it not in the confines of a school excursion, as well as being older and appreciating the history more, made it a wonderful trip! Every attraction was ticketed to help with flow and keep safe distances, however in the current times we’re in, Canberra itself was very quiet. It was almost hard to find people in the daytime. I’m sure the people we saw were like us, having a short, safe holiday within Australia. I would definitely return here sooner than I suspected I would.