What is the capital city of Australia? Rewind to the end of Year 5 quiz and the tie breaker question to win the huge box of chocolates for my class comes down to me, because it’s a geography related question and well… I have always been obsessed with wanting to put pins in my world map of places I have been. My opponent quickly answers “Sydney”, and I know we have won. “It’s Canberra” I say; celebrations all round. The thing is, I had never actually been to Canberra, until now!
When I heard there was going to be a direct flight from Singapore to a new city in Australia I thought, “hurrah, another place to explore”. With direct flights from Singapore to Canberra starting on the 20th September you can book your flight now.
With Canberra only being a three hour drive from Sydney I thought, “why wait for the new flight? I’ll go now and check it out.” Now I wonder why I didn’t go sooner. I booked a flight to Sydney and a hire car from the airport and got on the road through the picturesque valleys towards the capital- the Australian Capital Territory.
Here are my top 5 reasons to visit Canberra:
- Café hopping
VisitCanberra’s tag line is ‘one good thing after another’ and that is certainly true when it came to getting my foodie fix. Whether it was breakfast at Ona Coffee or The Cupping Room or fuelling up on coffee at Local Press, I was happy from dawn till dusk eating my way through the city. My favourite place was Pâtissez; made famous by its freakshakes and being all over Instagram with their calorific creations, it was well worth the trip. If you need any more reason to put this on your list check out their list of shakes here. Don’t over look their food either; they certainly know how to do perfect poached eggs on sourdough toast with smashed avo. Hungry? Did you know you can also road test four of the freakshakes here in Singapore at their new store in Holland Village?
2. Get cultural
It’s the capital city of Australia… and there are lots of free things to do! My top pick is The National Museum of Australia, which is nestled beautifully into a nook of Lake Burley Griffin and has an amazing collection of historical pieces from Australia’s history and events that have shaped the nation. Entry is free and with the museum only ever closing on Christmas Day this is a great way for travellers of all ages to spend three hours. History buffs need to visit between now and 29th January 2017 to experience 2 million years of human history in one room when the British Museum collection of ‘A history of the world in 100 objects’ comes to town. Whilst I usually swerve well clear of the pens and bookmarks of museum shops this one is not to be missed with its collection of unique gifts including beautiful Indigenous designs, jewelry and home wares. Most of my purchases were more ‘self gifting’!
3. Soar over the city
To be honest, my Canberra dream is to come back and do a hot air balloon flight over Parliament House. I didn’t manage to fit it in on this trip (and it is an early start) but I do recommend seeing the city from a bird’s eye view. For those who don’t want to splash the cash, take your hire car up to Telstra Tower, just a few minutes’ drive from the National Museum of Australia and for $7.50 per adult you can get an awesome vista and test out the panorama app on your phone.
Driving up Black Mountain to Telstra Tower to get a view over Canberra
4. Go on safari
OK so not a safari but it comes pretty close, but with a touch of extreme luxury. A clever entrepreneur, who I was lucky enough to meet briefly during my stay at Jamala Wildlife Lodge, has created an experience unlike any other in Australia. Think, a night at the museum, but in a zoo. Attached to the National Zoo & Aquarium is this 5* hotel where you can wake up to the roar of the lions, feed a giraffe from your personal tree house or just have a tiger looking into your room, yes a real one, not the can of lager. You need to book in advance to get one of the wild encounter rooms but all guests are treated like kings with a personal tour of the zoo, going in the enclosures, feeding a rhino, before dining with the lions. It was a real treat (and the food was pretty fantastic too!)
5. Explore the region
There is so much to do, all within 30 minutes drive from your base in Canberra. Take a day away stopping off at the morning Capital Region Farmers Market on a Saturday morning before lunch at Grazing in Gundaroo. Be sure to visit the Clonakilla vineyard, where the fantastic wines served in Singapore Airlines’ First Class come from, and if you are the designated driver be sure to take a bottle of two back with you enjoy back at the hotel. If you need to walk off the day’s indulgence stop by Cockington Green Gardens where you can enjoy a trip around the world in miniature form and a special treat for the little or not so little ones among us on the stream train. Toot toot!
If you don’t need to fly straight back after your trip to Canberra, take the scenic route back to Sydney via Jervis Bay by following our Capital Coast and Country Self Drive route taking you past vineyards, whale and dolphin watching spots, and the whitest sand in the world at Hyam’s Beach.
Check out these dolphins showing off to my camera as they swan in the wake of the boat during my outing with Jervis Bay Wild Cruises.
What are you waiting for? Catch the Capital Express to Canberra now!
Cost of trip:
Book car rental from Sydney airport from $45 per day.
Get a $30 discount on all flights from Singapore to Canberra from now until 30th September 2016 by entering the discount code CANBERRA. For redemption details see here.