I'm a writer of interactive and normal novels including steampunk fantasy app books set mainly in Australia. ifdb.tads.org/search?searchfor=author%3AFelicity Banks
Published January 28th 2015
For a whole-day romantic whirlwind on any budget
Valentine's Day is fast approaching, but any day of the year is perfect for showering your loved one with beautiful sights, sensations, sounds, smells and tastes.
1. Tell your loved one it'll be a very early morning - and they should wear comfortable shoes and pants.
2. Start your day with a flight of fancy by taking your loved one up in a hot air balloon. If you're planning to propose and you think you know the answer, this is a great time. Why not get rid of your nerves so both of you can enjoy the rest of the day? (If you're not sure of the answer, it might be best to wait until you're not trapped in a giant basket with several strangers and not enough space to kneel.) When you book, say yes to the champagne breakfast.
Alternate option: If you can't bear a minute apart but don't want to spend quite so much money (or if the flight is put off due to bad weather), take him/her to The Pancake Parlour in Civic. The food is delicious, the doors open at 7:00am, and the dark wooden booths make it deliciously intimate.
3. For lunch, prepare a picnic and take him/her around the back of the National Art Gallery to the Sculpture Garden for a magical surprise. The beautiful natural setting is bathed in mist from 12:30-2:00pm every day.
From there, you can hear the bells of The National Carillon (pictured above) marking time, and on a Sunday or Wednesday you can hear the music drifting across the lake from 12:30-1:20pm. If you look over the lake you can see The Captain Cook Memorial Jet at the same time.
From there you can walk or ride a segway around the lake, visit The National Gallery and/or The Portrait Gallery, or stay right where you are.
Alternative Option: If the weather is bad or you just hate picnics, The Australian National Botanic Gardens have a great café with delicious food and nice views - and if the weather clears for just a moment, you can pop into the rainforest or feed some ducks without getting stranded outside.
Alternative Option: If you don't like massages, or believe Gungahlin is a mystical land, try the National Bonsai and Penjing Collection at the National Arboretum. The intricate details and perfect shapes are a great form of therapy in their own right.
5. Now is a great time to change into your least practical clothes for some fine dining. You can mix beautiful food with a beautiful setting as the sun sets. Have dinner on the Southern Cross Yacht and enjoy sublime modern Australian food as you sail around Lake Burley Griffin - definitely Canberra's hidden romantic side.
Alternative Option: For modern Australian food in a historical Australian setting, have your dinner at The Green Herring Restaurant - also in Gungahlin. Or if modern Australian cuisine isn't what you like, try Latin American, or Japanese for something different.
Remember to book everything well in advance, because many of these places are extremely popular.
Parliamentary Triangle parking can be used over and over if you're staying in the general area, so buy a full-day ticket at your first stop.