Guide to Canberra

Canberra, Australia’s capital city, is often derided due to its relative blandness and public service sector dominance. However, in recent years, Canberra has been coming of age with urban precincts like Braddon, New Acton and a revitalised Civic (city) taking over from the somewhat tired cafe/restaurant precincts of Kingston and Manuka although the later is also improving. It is in the revitalisation of its restaurant scene that Canberra now offers the visitor a far better overall experience. Coupled with an impressive selection of galleries, public art and architecture, it’s time to have another look at Canberra.

1. Breakfast & Lunch

A. Baker, 15 Edinburgh Avenue, New Acton | Arguably the best breakfast in town.

The Cupping Room, 1/13 University Ave, Canberra | Superb coffee, great atmosphere and an ever-changing menu make it a standout cafe experience in Canberra.

Lonsdale Street Roasters, 23 Lonsdale Street, Braddon | Large outdoor area serving good quality coffee and food.

Bitten Goodfoods, 27 Lonsdale Street, Braddon | Healthy breakfast smoothies and coffee in a casual environment that I would describe as a stylish, independent About Life.

Barrio Coffee Collective, 30 Lonsdale Street, Braddon | A new addition serving excellent coffee accompanied by a selection of sandwiches and sweets.

2. Lunch & Dinner

Akiba, 40 Bunda Street, Canberra | this beautifully designed, funky Japanese bar and restaurant services a tasty king prawn fried rice.

Italian & Sons, 7 Lonsdale Street, Braddon | Modern Italian cuisine with a grown-up atmosphere.

Sage Restaurant, Gorman House Arts Centre/Batman St, Braddon | A little dated in terms of decor, Sage has been serving up well-executed dishes back up by great service for decades.

Sammy’s Kitchen, Shop FG09 Canberra Centre/Bunda Street, Canberra | A Canberra institution, serving delicious Chinese meals at a reasonable price; rock salted chicken is a must.

Bent Spoke Brewing Co, 38 Mort Street, Braddon | Craft brewery with bar food.

XO Restaurant, 16 Iluka St, Narrabundah | Quality pan-Asian cooking.

Frugii Dessert Laboratory, 30 Lonsdale Street, Braddon | Amazing ice-cream.

3. Activities

National Gallery, Parkes Place Canberra | Aboriginal burial poles, Jackson Pollock, James Turrell’s Skyspace and the best travelling exhibitions.

National Portrait Gallery, King Edward Terrace Parkes | a superb piece of architecture by Johnson Pilton Walker housing an equally impressive collection of Australian Portraits.

National Arboretum Museum, Forest Drive, Weston Creek | a stunning collection of bonsai trees in a Tonkin Zulaikha Greer designed building.

National Library, Parkes Place West, Canberra | Lifted its game recently with impressive free exhibitions and a wonderful reading room.

Cockington Green, Gold Creek Road, Nicholls | A charming model English village on the edge of Canberra.

Lanyon Homestead, Tharwa Drive, Tharwa | 1850′s Homestead, has been lovingly restored and furnished with a cafe in one of the outbuildings.

Embassy precinct | drive around the lakeside precinct and see the different architectural styles represented.

4. Accommodation

Hotel Hotel, 25 Edinburgh Avenue, Canberra | Sustainable designer hotel and apartment complex in New Acton.

Hyatt Hotel Canberra, 120 Commonwealth Avenue | Comfortable beds and magnificent marble bathrooms.

Hotel Kurrajong, 8 National Circuit, Barton | Originally opened in 1926, the hotel has been smartly refurbished.

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