New to Canberra, I love exploring this city and the secrets that it holds with my family.
Published October 28th 2016
What is there to do North, South, East & West of the city?
When people first move to Canberra, or arrive as visitors, there is usually a long list of things they want to see and do in the Capital. It can take a long time to tick everything off this list and see the many sights - however there is more to Canberra than just the city alone. With scenic country roads, waterfalls, historical towns, authentic pubs, wineries and secret swimming holes to discover, a 30 minute drive will get you into the natural surroundings quicker than many other cities in Australia. So what is there to do north, south, east and west of the city? Why not fuel up the car, stick the GPS onto your windscreen and hit the road to find out - who knows what adventures you could get up to this weekend?
North of Canberra - Canberra Wine District, Murrumbateman region
North - Canberra Wine District, Murrumbateman Region
If you drive 30 minutes north of Canberra you will find yourself in the Canberra Wine District, in the Murrumbateman region. It is here that you can drive around and taste various award winning wines at Cellar Doors, or you can book a wine tour if you want to leave the driving up to someone else. There are 33 wineries to choose from, many of which are located within a reasonable drive from each other. When you get to the first winery on your list they will provide you with a fold out paper map to help you get you to the next winery - so you can ditch the GPS for a while and go old school navigating. Popular wineries include Clonakilla, Eden Road, Shaw Vineyards Estate, Helm Wines and the historical Murrumbateman Winery to name just a few. If you also would like to inject some sweet and savoury into your day, why not stop off at the Poachers Pantry for smoked meats, Robyn Rowe Chocolates for handcrafted Belgium delights and Four Winds Vineyard for their weekend wood fired pizzas. See here for a Google map for directions.
If you are happy to drive further, then also check out the historical town of Gundaroo, where you can walk along the main street and follow the Heritage Walk (provided by the Gundaroo and District Historical Society) or visit a 19th century pub, café or restaurant.
If you drive for 30 minutes south of Canberra, you will find yourself driving down the long, rural driveway of the historic Lanyon Homestead. This beautiful homestead was built by early settlers in 1835, using convict labour to build the original dwellings and farm the land. The Cunningham family bought the property off them in 1859 and built the stately home that remains today. Join a tour of the property and learn more about the history of this 19th century home and original farming property. Visitors can wander the grounds and admire their flourishing vegie patch, stop for a Devonshire Tea in the Lanyon Café and also walk in the convict built storage buildings to view photographic exhibitions of the early years. This property has a magical, sentimental aura, where you instantly slow down to a rural, 19th century way of life when you enter the gates. See here for a Google map for directions.
If you are happy to drive further, then take your hiking boots and visit the popular Namadgi National Park, for bushwalks, camping and indigenous sites to visit.
If you drive 30 minutes east of Canberra you will find yourself in the historical town of Bungendore, which was established in the 1830's. This is a popular town on weekends as it is on the route between Canberra and Batemans Bay, with many Canberra locals stopping to enjoy the quaint town on the way to the coast. One of the highlights of this town is the popular Bungendore Wood Works Gallery, which showcases the beautiful artworks of local wood crafters. It is here that you can marvel at the creatively crafted furniture, sculptures and household utensils, with everything for sale to take home for yourself, or give as a gift. Whilst there, why not stay for a coffee or leisurely lunch at Café Woodworks before returning back to Canberra. For a true country experience, stop in at the friendly Bungendore Royal Hotel pub, built in 1882. See here for a Google map for directions.
East of Canberra - Bungendore Woodworks Gallery & historical town
If you drive 30 minutes west of Canberra you will find yourself at the Cotter Avenue Reserve recreation area. This is where Canberra locals retreat to on the weekends in warmer weather, for BBQ's, games of cricket and swimming in the Murrumbidgee River. Two popular river swimming holes are Cotter Bend and Casuarina Sands, with a real sandy little beach. If you have kids along for the ride they will enjoy the large playground at Cotter Avenue Reserve and you can also take a walk to view Cotter Dam. There is little phone reception out at "The Cotter", as it is known, so keep that in mind when travelling to this remote region. See here for a Google map for directions.
Canberra is a city of contrasts. In the middle of the CBD you can view the country's most prized artworks, see politicians battle it out in Parliament, kayak on Lake Burley Griffin and get out with the locals at the many markets and festivals around the city. Just 30 minutes in each direction however, a whole new world opens up and you can experience the natural and historical side to this unique area. If you happen to drive on Tourist Route 5 as mentioned above, south-east of the city, then you will also be sharing the road with hundreds of Canberra locals with 4WD's "going bush" for the weekend at their favourite camping spots. It is easy on the weekend to escape the city and discover something new about the Canberra region - without driving too far.
What will you be typing into your GPS this weekend?
(South) East of Canberra - Canberra Deep Space Complex, Gibraltar Falls and Bobsledding at Corin Forest Mountain Retreat