If you went to school in Australia on the Eastern seaboard chances are at least once in your life you had to go to Canberra for a school excursion and learn all about our great capital. Chances are that was enough to put you off for a long time. Things have changed in Canberra and its for the better.
When I was a kid my school excursion took us to this really exciting and futuristic place called Telecom Tower. We marvelled at the technology and how very clever Australia was in having such modern capabilities. Telecom is now Telstra and the technology seems really lame to our children. Standing overlooking picturesque Canberra, Black Mountain Tower overs panoramic views of the city and surrounding countryside from an indoor observation deck. For anyone who thinks Australia is a country of warm weather and beaches only – you would be wrong. Canberra can be cold. Very cold. TIP: all mentions of indoor activities, take note)
This is filed under ‘trips with the in-laws’ and offers a large variety things to see and do. Don’t try to bite off more than you can chew – keep it simple.
Australian War Museum is a place for both adult’s and children. Not many places can achieve this out side of Disneyland of course. They have adapted exhibitions to be textural and inviting children into the exhibition and fostering their interests. Yu will be moved. You will learn. You will leave with added respect for our forbearer’s. You will be proud to be an Australian. If you an overseas visitor, these are the places you must do should you be interested in a different point of view. So much of Europe was so war-torn and devastated after World War I and II that preoccupied with their own morning and loss they have not given a great deal of consideration to what the rest of the world went through. I think you need at least 1/2 day here.
Canberra is home to the National Portrait Gallery is a lovely stroll. I personally think small children can skip this, and I am all for exposing kids to art. The National Gallery is just not the place. Why don’t you hire some bikes and send hubby off with the kids around the perimeter of Lake Burley Griffin and have some alone time? That’s what art is for. Wander around and marvel in the pictures, enjoy the harmonious quiet and reflect on what each painting awakens in you. Experience the gloom of one painting and the bright joy of another. Allow yourself some precious time without your sleeve constantly being tugged.
Questacon, the National Science and Technology Centre. This place is the ‘ducks nuts’ (sorry for those that don’t speak Aussie: its the best!) Not only will little boys love the rocket demonstration and the robots in the foyer, but adults will marvel at all the ‘magic’ tricks. This place proves that scientists are really, really cool and not the nerds you thought they were. Sure they get excited by atoms and everyday stuff but is that not cool in itself? I wish an atom could excite me! There are several levels and each one dedicated to a different type of science. I think you need at least half a day here and for those that are ‘into science’ perhaps even a full day.
National Dinosaur Museum is off the beaten track and certainly not central, but it’s Canberra it doesn’t take long to get places. There are many dinosaur exhibits around. Heck even our zoo has some that visit from time to time. This place is unique in there are so many life size exhibits. They are not short of space in Canberra, so they can replicate many of these gigantic beasts. The views Canberra and the lake are lovely.
There are many other things to see and do in Canberra – Parliament House, National Zoo & Aquarium and The Mint. There is an abundance of choice of where to stay. Old school visitors will suggest the Park Hyatt but the hipster crowd might suggest Hotel Realm. I would loose a leg for the chance to have a weekend at Jamala Wildlife Lodge. But there are an abundance of apartment style places throughout the city. I would try to find somewhere nearby to a set of shops. Canberra can get ‘sleepy’ on the weekends and finding a place for family dinner can be challenging depending on what area you are staying in.
I am absolutely physically busting to go in a hot air balloon. I hate heights and small spaces but I am guessing doing this over Canberra as the sun rises will put all of that out of my mind. So, I will make a plan to visit during Floriade and book a balloon for our next visit.