Canberra is blessed with having on its doorstep a great deal of what makes Australia great. Mountains, forests and national parks are there for nature lovers, but culinary, cultural and coastal experiences are also on the agenda.
Use the national capital (it’s easier to get to than ever before: Singapore Airlines flies to Canberra via Singapore from London Heathrow and Manchester) as a base for exploring the surrounding region, and a remarkable amount can be packed into a trio of one-day, stress-free mini-road trips where parking is plentiful, toll roads don’t exist and traffic is minimal.
Yass Valley road trip
To the north of Canberra, the towns and villages of the Yass Valley are dotted with handsome 19th-century heritage buildings. National Trust of Australia property Cooma Cottage is arguably the finest example, while Binalong is the archetypal Aussie country town. It’s not all a timewarp, though – there’s a big arts scene, typified by the Sculpture In The Paddock festival within the region in September and October, as well as the galleries and glass-artists’ studios in Yass.
Food and drink is big too – the day can easily be spent linking together the likes of Robyn Rowe chocolates in Murrumbateman, French-influenced fine dining at Clementine in Yass and the several cool-climate-specialist wineries along the way.
Queanbeyan-Palerang road trip
The Queanbeyan-Palerang region, to the east of Canberra, strings together natural beauty, historic charm and more than a few opportunities for indulgence. The entire town of Braidwood, with its striking colonial-era verandas, cute cottages and classic Aussie pubs, is on the New South Wales State Heritage Register.
Bungendore isn’t exactly shy on the heritage building front, either, but they do play home to galleries and antique shops. It’s also the hub of the regional truffle industry. In winter, visitors can book to go on truffle hunts.
In Queanbeyan itself, the Molonglo River Gorge offers riverside walks, while several wineries open their cellar doors. Lark Hill specialises in biodynamic wines and Contentious Character serves up fab sharing-plate lunches.
South coast road trip
Batemans Bay, a two-hour scenic drive from Canberra, is surrounded by miles of picture-perfect beaches. Head north to Murramarang National Park and visit Pebbly Beach, which is notorious for the kangaroos that hang out on the sand. Go south to Broulee, and spot surfers riding the smooth, breaking waves. There are several surf schools along the coast, most of which promise to get absolute beginners standing within a couple of hours.
For those who prefer sitting down to standing up, kayaking tours are available. Bay and Beyond is among the operators who’ll take sea kayaks out in search of little penguins, dolphins, turtles and – during the migration season – whales. The whales can often be seen from land, too – the three-mile round trip Nuggan Point walk in the Meroo National Park offers clifftop-spotting perches, plus the chance for a swim at forest-backed Meroo Beach.
Australian Capital Territory
Travellers in the know cite Canberra as the perfect base from which to explore stunning landscapes, enjoy the best of Australia’s natural world and find endless cultural highlights.
The city and surrounds are brimming with experiences to rival anywhere in the country.
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