Creative and cool hotels abound in Canberra, so why not stay a while? This guide to the capital will give you the lowdown on where to eat, drink and sleep. Plus, the best cellar doors to visit, courtesy of wine expert Peter Bourne.
SILVER BULLET AIRSTREAM HIRE
There’s no shortage of vineyard accommodation in Australia but nothing beats the charm of Vivien, a swank Airstream caravan that can be set up next to the vines at Summerhill Road Vineyard. In terms of creature comforts, Vivien ticks all the boxes; there’s a queen-size bed, dining area, kitchen and ensuite with shower. Set aside time to explore the 3.2-hectare property, meet the resident pooches Pepper and Ace and horses Chloe and George, and try some of the single-vineyard Summerhill Road wines at the cellar door.
Summerhill Road Vineyard, 44 Summerhill Road, Bywong
Located in the hip cultural precinct of NewActon – about half an hour’s drive from the vineyards – Hotel Hotel has turned Canberra’s penchant for order and decorum on its head with its whimsical design. A striking staircase sets the tone, while the eclectic mood continues in the 68 quirkily shaped rooms with unfinished concrete walls, tattered stools and velvet couches. The atrium- facing Meandering rooms are the largest, with concrete bathtubs and twin showers, but they’re also rather dimly lit so if you prefer natural light, ask for a street-facing Creative room. On-site facilities include a small gym and the excellent Monster Kitchen and Bar, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week.
25 Edinburgh Avenue, Canberra
SEE ALSO: Hotel Review – Hotel Hotel in Canberra
If you don’t want to drive...
CANBERRA WINERY TOURS
Canberra Winery Tours offers a range of excursions, from half- and full-day large tours to bespoke packages for small groups, families, couples and even single travellers. But the clincher? At the end of the wine tour, there’s a trip to Mount Ainslie – the perfect place to put the city’s attractions, including the Australian War Memorial and the old and new Parliament houses, into perspective.
FOOD & DRINK
For breakfast and coffee
There’s no shortage of options in Canberra proper for the first bite and brew of the day, be it the homely confines of Mocan and Green Grout or the buzzy Cupping Room. But if you want to throw yourself into the middle of the vines from the get-go, book a table at Contentious Character, about 30 minutes’ drive east of the city. Set on a hill amid eight hectares of vineyards, the restaurant has recently introduced a brunch menu that is small but sharp. Order the whisky-cured salmon and scrumptious poached eggs on crusty sourdough.
810 Norton Road, Wamboin
POACHERS PANTRY SMOKEHOUSE RESTAURANT
For 15 years, Poachers Pantry Smokehouse Restaurant has been a favourite of Canberrans, who flock to this establishment near Murrumbateman every weekend. They fill their bags with house-cured and -smoked meats and stock up on Wily Trout wines produced on site. Most importantly, they spend a leisurely afternoon grazing on standout dishes such as smoked duck breast with lashings of Béarnaise sauce or venison cutlet laced with red-curry jus. Nab a spot on the timber deck if the weather gods are smiling or gun for a table inside with its floor-to-ceiling windows and laid-back atmosphere.
431 Nanima Road, Springrange
For taking home
ROBYN ROWE CHOCOLATES
There are few signs to this chocolaterie outside the town of Murrumbateman so punch the address into your GPS then reward yourself with a mug of hot chocolate on the manicured lawn. It’s the perfect way to round off a day spent exploring the wineries. Just don’t forget to grab a box of goodies: quenelles of chai latte, hearts of raspberry caramel, squares of walnut fudge and logs of hazelnut and vanilla bean.
1153 Nanima Road, Murrumbateman
Alex McKay is a typically reserved winemaker who allows his wines to speak for themselves at his cellar door in the lovely hamlet of Collector.
Drink now Lamp Lit Marsanne
Cellar Reserve Shiraz
Overlooking Lake George, Café Lerida serves gourmet pies as well as dip, charcuterie and cheese plates to accompany the estate’s superb wines.
Drink now Lake George Pinot Noir
Cellar Botrytis Pinot Gris
Four Winds Vineyard
Weddings, parties, anything... it’s all happening at the swish Four Winds Vineyard cellar door. Equally swish (and award-winning) labels adorn the deliciously drinkable wines.
Drink now Shiraz
Cellar Tom’s Block Shiraz
Eden Road Wines
Recently appointed winemaker Celine Rousseau has breathed new life into Eden Road Wines. Grapes from Gundagai, Hilltops and Tumbarumba augment the local Murrumbateman fruit.
Drink now The Long Road Pinot Gris
Cellar 94 Block Syrah
Gundog Estate Cork St Cellar is in charming Gundaroo village. While you’re there, make sure you dine at Grazing restaurant at The Royal Hotel.
Drink now Riesling
Cellar Estate Shiraz
Top image: Pialligo Estate