CANBERRA – THE AUSTRALIAN TRAVELLER GUIDE
Nothing shouts ‘Canberra isn't boring’ like a 14-metre high, Hollywood-style sign that is proposed by one tenacious ACT local. New Jersey-born Alicia Doherty is driving an ambitious idea to construct a corrugated steel sign that will spell out 'CANBERRA' on an entire tier of a disused quarry on Eagle Hawk Hill, facing the Federal Highway as you drive into the capital from Sydney, two kilometres on the NSW side of the border. “A lot of people were saying Canberra hasn’t got a real sense of arrival and this would certainly change that,” says Doherty. “When my husband and I first moved...
QT Canberra brings new meaning to the term ‘political party’– but, asks Nikki Wallman, does it deliver on the serious side of the hotel experience? Politics, it seems, is having quite the pop-culture moment. Witness the download-now-or-die success of political TV drama House of Cards, with its cloak-and-dagger bed-hopping and backstabbing. Or Seinfeld’s Julia Louis-Dreyfus as feisty, gaffe-prone US vice president Selina Meyer in the hilarious Veep (Foxtel viewers, that one’s for you). Hell, even our real-life pollies seem increasingly focused on the power of pop politics (see: K-Rudd’s selfies; Abbott’s front-row fashionista daughters…). It’s snappy timing, then, for the...
There have been excellent dining options in Canberra for a long time – way back in 1999 New York Times food writer Barbara Santich even wrote a front-page story raving about the restaurant scene for its travel section. These days, there’s fantastic dining available all over the place – including for those of us without government credit cards. (Leigh Ann Pow) We like: Italian & Sons A busy, buzzy take on the Roman trattoria – all hanging cured meats and thin, crispy pizzas. Definitely do not even contemplate attempting a weekend visit to Italian & Sons without a booking. 7...
A swag of new hotels is opening about town, and they’re not your average three-stars. Each development comes complete with its own ‘scene’ – bars, bakeries, hair salons, art galleries and so on – so checking in is like plugging into a local neighbourhood. Leigh Ann Pow's favourites: 1. East Hotel You know someone’s given East Hotel thought as soon as you enter the homely lobby: a bank of clean white Apple Macs are at the ready, magazine racks invite browsing, jars of old-style lollies wait to be raided by mini guests – and businessmen reconnecting with their childhood –...
Canberra isn’t about to challenge Melbourne as a luxe shopping destination, but if retail therapy is needed it does deliver in its own unique way. Leigh Ann Pow suggests: Bison Well worth the quick drive out of town to Pialligo, Brian Tunks’ ceramics are rendered in a rainbow of colours and are deliciously organic in shape. He has expanded his range at Bison to include linens making this a one-stop shop for lovely living. 6/8 Beltana Road, Pialligo; 02 6257 7255. Canberra Centre Big and bold and jammed with all the labels and outlets required to be considered a true...
Suburbs like Manuka, a long established food destination that also boasts ownership of Manuka Oval and the quaintly old-fashioned art deco Manuka Pool, is absolutely humming on weekends with a friendly, caffeine-charged scene. The same goes for Kingston, with a bevy of great eateries, cafés, bars and the newly re-greened Green Square; and Braddon, with its hip strip of cafés and shops along Lonsdale Street (Leigh Ann Pow). Try: 1. Me and Mrs Jones With its industrial cool vibe and very obliging wait staff, you could transplant Me and Mrs Jones to café capital Melbourne and it’d still be packed....
Canberra’s newest stay, Hotel Hotel, has a national-museum-worthy design pedigree, but is it a good home away from home? Georgia Rickard checks in to find out "There is nothing in a caterpillar,” the shampoo dispenser announces, “that tells you it’s going to be a butterfly”. An odd quote to find yourself sharing a shower with, one might think, but it is an apt one to discover in this indulgently oversized grey cube of a bathroom, here in Canberra’s newest accommodation offering. Indeed the building encountered so many difficulties during its metamorphosis from site to sexy that more than one insider suggested it might ever...
Even though the hipster scene here is flourishing, there are still plenty of brilliantly nerdy things to see and do. Leigh Ann Pow likes: Questacon The Questacon is crazy good: seven science-themed rooms in which absolutely everything can be pushed, poked, cranked and jumped on. The most popular room by far (measured by how long it takes to extract kids) is the high energy Excite@Q, with its giant wall of vacuum tubes sucking up and spitting out neon scarfs, mammoth six-metre free-fall vertical slide, robotic air hockey game and the 360 Swing that requires a safety suit, lots of strapping...
The ancient Incan empire of Peru will be revived at an Australian-first exhibition in Canberra. More than 200 objects from the “pre-Hispanic cultures of Peru” will be displayed at National Gallery of Australia, starting in December. There will be a wide range artifacts traversing Inca culture, including stone calendars, gold armour, jewellery, embroidered cloths and art fashioned from silver, turquoise and, of course, gold. The display has been sourced from private museums and Peru's National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology and History has lent some of its “greatest treasures” to the ACT gallery. The exhibition is due to run until April...
Imagine waking up in your bed to see a lion staring you down – and then rolling over and going back to sleep. The National Zoo and Aquarium Canberra is planning just such a scenario with its 'jungle bungalows' as part of the current redevelopment. The family-focussed bungalow rooms will feature glass walls that back onto the zoo’s big cat enclosure (in glaziers we trust). The work also includes the building of elevated ‘luxury’ giraffe tree houses located in where else, the giraffe enclosure. Guests will be able to feed the animals from their balconies. The tree houses, which will...
Brand new, four-and-a-half star East Hotel is giving its neighbours a run for its money in the contemporary stakes – think polished concrete floors, recycled timber and a black ‘starry’ ceiling in the lobby area. The hotel has rooms in various layouts, but we especially love the family suites, complete with kid’s cubby, bunk beds and Xbox Kinect. easthotel.com.au
Georgia Rickard checks in at one of Canberra’s newest hotels... and finds out that it’s business time “Why are you writing in gold pen?” I ask suspiciously, as Jose the concierge fills in my details. I’m here as an anonymous, paying traveller – he doesn’t know I’m reviewing this place for the best travel magazine in the whole world. (Well, it is.) Unless… could he? Perhaps gold pen is a secret signal he uses, to inform other staff members of impending special guests. Jose stops what he’s doing and looks up at me. “Well, you are special,” he says smoothly. “But...
Where is it? Canberra How to see it for yourself? These balloons are taking part in the annual Canberra Festival Balloon Spectacular. However, rides can be booked at any time of year with operators such as Balloon Aloft (balloonaloft.com) and Dawn Drifters (dawndrifters.com.au). Why I love it “Rising above it all at dawn in a balloon is one of the most memorable, shifting views. Canberra is one of the few capital cities people can fly over to appreciate the geometry of the city’s design.” – Kathy Tricolas, Australian Capital Tourism Image by Australian Capital Tourism...
Our National Capital is becoming an attractive destination, thanks to a swathe of new design hotels, writes Quentin Long. There is definitely something happening in Canberra. The “new Canberra” has a confident local population with a sense of identity and belonging. Canberra is no longer a place of transience but a place worthy of a family putting down roots. It’s only taken 100 years (Canberra celebrates its centenary in 2013) and a bastardisation of the Walter Burley-Griffin vision, however we got there in the end. A marker of this new confidence is development of several new hotels in the last...
Sleek, modern, minimalist: it’s been called all these things. So Elisabeth Knowles is surprised to find that this hotel is one of the comfiest stays in Canberra. I’m a bit confused by Hotel Realm, one of only two five-star stays in Canberra (the other is the Hyatt). Since it opened in 2008, some guests have criticised it for being too minimalist for its own good, possibly due to the use of ‘hard’ industrial finishes such as concrete and granite, and the lack of art in the foyer and rooms. Until I finally got a chance to stay at Realm earlier this...
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