Thinking back to when our family decided to move to Canberra, we received many negative comments about what we would find in the Capital. "It's so boring there - it's just museums and politics", "It's so cold!", "What is there to do for families?", were the main comments. Most of the people who made these comments have never been to Canberra (or came on a "boring" school excursion in Year 6), however it seems that the "boring" tag has stuck. If the same people came back now, as adults, they would be far more interested - dare I say fascinated - by what there is to see here.
Canberra may not be able to compete in size with Sydney and Melbourne, but it does offer travellers a unique experience as a rural city. With farm stays, wineries and national parks located just outside its borders, as well as theatres, museums, galleries, bars, restaurants, pubs, cafes, food trucks, shopping and the Worlds Embassies located within them - Canberra has the country lifestyle and city living all in the one location. It is also located 2 hours from the coast and just over 2 hours from the snow, so you can get the best of both worlds all year around.
"It's so boring there - it's just museums and politics!"
This comment always makes me smile, as it couldn't be further from the truth. Politics is something that goes on within the walls of Parliament House and unless you visit there, that is where it stays. Canberra's museums however, are jam-packed with things to see and do and visitors are often amazed by what is on offer. Explore new exhibitions, have a drink at their bars or cafes or enjoy the many events they hold throughout the year. For example, Old Parliament House has an Easter Egg hunt for kids every year which takes over the whole building and the National Museum of Australia hosts Sunday evening drinks at their Sundaze bar in Summer, as well as cocktail parties overlooking Lake Burley Griffin throughout the year. Parliament House has a Rooftop Bar every Enlighten Festival - when all of the national buildings are lit up in artistic illuminations - and even the National Library of Australia has Friday night drinks at their Picnic Pop Up Bar at Bookplate Cafe each Summer. They also have Ben & Jerry's Openair Cinema located out the lawns in front of the library, with outdoor movies and live music.
Museums are boring? Not in this city!
Summer drinks at the National Museum of Australia's Sundaze Bar. Image: Original photos from the NMA Facebook
Yes, winter is cold. Instead of complaining about the chill, however, most Canberrans make the most of it and turn it into a positive. As the temperatures start to plummet, ski sales get advertised and each weekend locals "hit the slopes" at Perisher and Thredbo, just 2.5 hours south of Canberra, over the Snowy Mountains. For families, Corin Forest Mountain Retreat is also a popular place to go, just 45 minutes from the centre of the city up in the mountains. As it is colder up in elevation, they get the occasional snonfall and they also run a snow machine all winter with a snow play area, tobogganing slope and a small ski slope for kids. They are open every weekend, public holiday and ACT school holidays.
Another way to enjoy winter is to have a glass of pinot at the Fireside Festival or at any pub or venue with a toasty fireplace to cosy up by. Cold weather is also imperative to growing the prized Black Perigold Truffle which you can taste at the annual Truffle Festival. Also in the colder months, the Winter Festival in the city centre has an outdoor ice skating rink with hot chocolates and European food stalls to warm you up from the inside. Lastly, the cold weather is the best time to host the World Curry Festival in the City with chilli eating contests and curry stalls lining the city streets. Believe me, the curries are hot, hot, hot!
Embrace the cold in Canberra this winter!
Snow and laughter at Corin Forest Mountain Retreat, 45 minutes from the city centre. Image: Original photos from Corin Forest Facebook
A Weekendnotes reader, who has lived in Canberra all her life, made a comment on one of my articles a while ago to say that Canberra has changed in the last 6-7 years. With a young demographic of Government workers moving here to make the city their home, there are more modern restaurants, foodie markets and weekend festivals and events than ever before. Although the city can get quieter during the week as locals are all at work, it is the weekends when the streets are full and the weekend vibe is pumping.
Why don't you come back to the Capital and see how it has changed? I can almost guarantee you will be you surprised by what you find - it is anything but boring!