What to do in the capital city when you’re between meetings, from the National Library of Australia to the action centres on Lonsdale Street.
You’re in the nation’s capital so why not turn a 20-minute walk along the Lake Burley Griffin foreshore into a focused meditation on Australia’s national identity? Along the way, observe the lakeside plinths bearing the names and images of all the Australians of the Year, dating back to 1960. Notice, too, the metal strips incorporated into the walk, each representing one stave of the national anthem, Advance Australia Fair. The Australians of the Year Walk starts close to Commonwealth Avenue Bridge and heads east, showcasing the recipients in chronological order.
If you have about two hours to spare, walk up to the Mount Ainslie Lookout, where the city is spread out before you like a map – Walter Burley Griffin’s vision writ large. For the most impressive views, arrive at sunrise or sunset. If you’re pressed for time, drive to the lookout instead.
Canberra is filled with an embarrassment of museums, galleries, memorials and archives. For a quick, satisfying bite, visit the Treasures Gallery at the National Library of Australia, a favourite among locals. Here you can dip into an astonishing collection of material, including Captain James Cook’s diary, the original manuscript of Waltzing Matilda and the papers of native title campaigner Koiki (Eddie) Mabo.
Kill three birds with one stone in the colourful neighbourhood of Braddon, which promises eating, shopping and people-watching. The action centres on Lonsdale Street, where food trucks cook up a multicultural feast at The Hamlet, which is officially open Wednesday to Saturday from noon to 9pm and Sunday from noon to 3pm but is sometimes open outside of those hours. Braddon’s Pink Ink is the place to find limited-edition designer clothing; it’s a go-to for MPs and businesswomen.
If you’re in town between March 20 and 26, be sure to snap up tickets to the Canberra Comedy Festival. This wildly popular event held at various city venues features a local and international line-up. This year marks the festival’s fifth birthday so expect some side-splitting celebrations.