It’s funny to think that naming Australia’s capital is a common trivia question overseas. Not many people seem to know that Canberra even exists, that is until they come to Australia for the first time.
But we Aussies know that there is a lot to love about the ACT. Whether you’re looking for adventure, culture, history, great restaurants, nightlife or something to keep the kids entertained on a weekend away, the city of Canberra truly can deliver on every front. There are some amazing sights and experiences to be had in and around the Aussie capital.
Continue reading to learn how you can enjoy Canberra like a local and really get to know this fantastic city properly.
Meet The Local Wildlife
First off, you’ll want to don your hiking and tactical gear and head out into the ACT wildlands. Contrary to popular belief, there is a lot more to see in Canberra than just Parliament House. The ACT region is also home to an abundance of forested lands. In fact, a great majority of the Australian Capital Territory is located across two national parklands: Namadgi and Tidbinbilla.
Featuring more than one hundred hectares of different habitats and located just a forty-five-minute drive from the city of Canberra is the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. A real favourite with the Canberra natives, this is a brilliant place to visit for those looking to get up close and personal with local Aussie wildlife. There are also more than twenty different walking trails scattered throughout the park for you to choose from.
And then there’s Namadgi, which is located to the southwest of the city and in the lower end of the ACT. The Namadgi National Park is fairly comparative to Tidbinbilla when it comes to breathtaking sights and mountainous hiking trails. But this national park does possess a little something that Tidbinbilla is lacking: historical sites! Visitors are encouraged to explore the historic huts and sheds that can be found all throughout the southern end of Namadgi. This includes the historic Brayshaws Homestead and Lutons Crutching Shed – two historical sites that also allow overnight camping so that you can really escape to colonial era Australia.
Both of these parks also play a hugely important role when it comes to conservation work. During your visit, you will have the chance to meet wallabies, platypuses, emus and of course, the beloved koala bears. In fact, if koalas are on your “must-see” list, then be sure to opt for the Koala Path, a short seven-hundred-metre loop in Tidbinbilla that effectively guarantees sightings of these cute tree-dwellers.
Check Out The Markets
Buying souvenirs at marketplaces is always a great way to grab some bargains and avoid the markups that accompany tourist souvenir stores. Thankfully, there are places you can go to shop just like a local in Canberra as well, providing you with the option to buy online or perhaps even do a bit of gift-shopping as you explore.
Every Sunday, the Haig Park Village Markets and Old Bus Depot Markets run from around nine in the morning until two in the afternoon. These bustling markets are a huge hit with the locals, alongside being a great opportunity for tourists to enjoy a little slice of life in Canberra, local style. The entire objective of these markets is to champion the amazing produce from local farmers and suppliers who sell their incredible wares at very reasonable prices.
In addition to all of that fabulous fresh produce, you can also sample baked goods, and some sweet treats and check out a range of crafts from local artists. There is almost always live music going on as well, which serves as the perfect soundtrack to your Sunday morning.
A trip to Haig Park or the Old Bus Depot Markets will be sure to complete your gift and souvenir shopping during your time in Canberra.
Eat Where The Locals Do
Finally, one of the worst things about going on holiday has to be living off of junk food simply because your hotel has no kitchen facilities. Thankfully, even if your hotel doesn’t provide cooking utensils or amenities, you can still eat fairly clean during your time in Canberra.
While you could go and eat in the same touristy restaurants or big international chains that we can never seem to get away from, it’s much better to have inside knowledge on the best spots to enjoy a nosh in town. Canberra is home to some truly amazing restaurants and cheap eateries. There are some that never miss the mark and are favourites with locals for good reason, such as the Raku Japanese Restaurant on Bunda Street, and Pilot at Wakefield Gardens.
At Raku, chef Hao Chen is well-renowned for producing some of the most innovative, stylish Japanese food you could possibly imagine. Dishes like Otoro tartare with salmon roe, six-hour braised wagyu brisket with Saikyo cream, Alaskan black cod with Saikyo miso and pickled cauliflower and popcorn shrimp tempura with yuzu, chilli and garlic mayo, feature on the mouth-watering a la carte menu and are not to be missed.
Now moving over to Pilot, a spot in this twenty-two-seat dining room can be difficult to come by as locals make reservations well in advance to secure their spot. The ever-changing menu here focuses on basic dishes that are next level and blur the line between innovation and nostalgia. As the menu is constantly changing, you can assume that everything at Pilot is a must-try as it might not be back again. To get an idea of their offerings, be sure to check out their tasty-looking Instagram page.
Enjoy The Best Of The Australian Capital Like A Local
With so much to see, do, and experience in Canberra, it can often be difficult to know exactly where to begin. Following the tips outlined above is a great place to start, however, we really have only scratched the surface of what the Australian Capital has to offer.
Be sure to do some research before your trip to see what’s happening in Canberra during your stay. With a little planning, you’ll be able to make sure that your first trip to the ACT is a highly enriching and immersive travel experience.
Posted By JenniferA
Updated : 14th December 2023 | Words : 1037 | Views : 133