Weekends in Canberra

For the last thirteen years, the Australian capital city Canberra has been my home. It surprises a great number of  international travellers to learn it is the national capital, as many people think Sydney is the capital city of Australia as it is the best known and most photographed city.

Boulders on the way to Yankee Hat Paintings

Boulders on the way to Yankee Hat Paintings

There are a number of features that makes Canberra quite unusual when compared to other Australian state and territory  capitals. Firstly, the fact Canberra is an inland city. All the other  capitals are coastal cities, and indeed around 85% of the Australian population cling to the coast. Canberra also has the unenviable reputation of being the coldest capital city in Australia, as it is located about 600 metres above sea level, in the foothills of the alpine region of the country. For this reason alone, Canberra and the surrounding region offers a distinctly different kind of natural beauty and lifestyle. Canberra is popularly known as “the bush capital” as it is surrounded by national parks and even in the suburbs there are large bush reserves, popular for hikers.

It does gets cold in Canberra in winter, not as cold as Canada, but on an Australian scale, it is very chilly. But even winter can be stunning as the valleys will fill with morning mist and the soft light sparkles on the mountain tops surrounding the city. We are particularly fortunate living on the north west fringe of Canberra, where part of our suburb is considered ‘rural’. The daily commute offers fabulous views of the Brindabella mountain ranges and every day, the view changes. Winter is the most beautiful time to look at the mountains: at times they are dusted with snow, shyly peeking out from under the dense morning fog in the valley.

Best time to visit
People in Canberra do not tend to be overly social during the colder months, so in a way the city goes into hibernation. The climate during the ‘in-between’ seasons is the best – Spring and Autumn bring warm days in the low to mid 20s, fresh mornings and cool evenings.

Spring and Autumn are great times to travel to Canberra as there are many festivals during these times. In spring Floriade brings many thousands of visitors to Canberra to enjoy the spectacular floral displays of tulips, daffodils  and other seasonal flowers. March is also a great time to visit as there are some great events including the Balloon Spectacular, Enlighten, Skyfire, Harvest Festival and the Art, Not Apart festival.

Sky Whale: Photo by Martin Drury

Sky Whale: Photo by Martin Drury

If going to festivals is not your idea of fun, then there are many museums and galleries you can visit, most of which offer free entry. Another great way to spend a day in the region, is to put on your walking shoes and head to one of the many bushwalking trails. This is one of our favourite activities and we regularly go off to enjoy the natural beauty of the Namadgi and Deua National Parks. Closer to home there are also some great walks including Mt Ainslie, Black Mountain and Mt Majura.

For wine lovers, there are also lots of local wineries surrounding Canberra, especially around Bungendore and Murrumbateman.

Our plans this weekend include going to the Harvest Festival, a bush walk and maybe going to the Old Bus Depot Markets.

Over the coming months, we will be writing reviews of local events and places of interest, focusing on the best that Canberra has to offer. In the meantime, if you are looking for more information about events in Canberra and surrounding region, check out the Visit Canberra website.