Canberra on first impressions does not exactly spring thoughts of fun and adventure. However, my recent venture to our nation's capital proved it to be much more than just a school camp destination.
Kayaking We had hired 2 person kayaks from R.E.A.L Fun for $80 a day. This gave us a full day to explore the man-made Lake Burley Griffin and its surroundings. Despite the chilly Canberra climate, it turned out to be the perfect weather for a rowing workout. It was sunny, yet not hot to the point it becomes uncomfortable once you've got the hang of using oars. A relaxing journey along the lake
We had packed our own lunch which we stored in the water-tight compartments of the kayak, and once hungry enough, stopped at Grevillea Park, which sits by the lake. There are many parks along the lake, and as long as it allows you to drag your kayak onto the shore, you've got yourself an instant picnic location.
For families, a popular alternative to kayaks are pedal boats, which would suit younger children who can not contribute to the heavy lifting needed in a kayak or canoe.
Cycling The benefits of having a well designed city can be seen by Canberra's high quality bike paths. For $25, you can get a bike for about half a day, a helmet and a cycling map from Mr Spokes Bike Hire.
This will give you ample time to take one of the many bike paths to the Civic Square, to Capital Hill, or around the lake. I find cycling through any city one of the best ways to experience and really get a feel of what the place is all about. We took the path around the lake, rode past Scrivener Dam, the National Zoo and Aquarium, and the National Museum of Australia. It was a healthy, relaxing way to spend the afternoon, riding through the changing landscape surrounding the lake, before finishing the day with ice cream (the bike shop doubles as an ice cream shop). Those that can not ride also have the option of tandem bikes, and we saw families in cart-style pedal bikes.
Shopping I have only heard positive things about Canberra's DFO, however, given how lacking Sydney's DFO was, I was not overly excited. Surprisingly, Canberra's outlet proved to be a successful shopping location. It has over 100 brands there, and they had a good variety of sale items that made the purchases feel like you're actually getting a bargain compared to the full priced store.
Nightlife Canberra has one main area for nightlife, which is Northbourne Avenue. We went to Mooseheads, one of the larger clubs, and it was exactly what you'd expect to find in a city with a large university close by with the usual Top 40 clubbing music. It is a fun atmosphere to be in, and definitely less rowdy than Sydney or Melbourne.
Next time you're thinking of a weekend away, or even a day trip to somewhere close by, Canberra should be on your list of potential destinations. Especially if your main memories of Canberra are from your school camp, you will be pleasantly surprised by her offerings. It really is a beautiful, relaxed city, great for a getaway to create some more positive memories.