American traveling to Canberra
Replies: 19 - Last Post: Sep 23, 2012 7:03 PM Last Post By: Justin23
Aug 20, 2012 2:46 PM
I will be traveling on business to Canberra for a period of three weeks. I should be departing in the next couple weeks.
Any recommendations on what to do in Canberra for a 31 year old American on his own? The general web reviews and tips of Canberra are hit or miss. I wouldn't mind conversation at a local pub or cafe, but from the reviews I've read, those are hard to come by. I'm going to assume the night life will be minimal as it's the middle of winter.
This will be my first trip further than India, and I've never been south of the equator, so it should be interesting adjusting from 95 F to -5 C! I'm looking forward to it. Perhaps Canberra has some skiing close by?
If anyone has any recommendations or advice, please let me know. Or if you have time for a drink!
Aug 20, 2012 4:20 PM
1I'm a local Canberran. The best pubs/bars/cafes are located in an area known as Manuka and the suburb of Kingston. There are also quite a few suburban places in the inner north that are quite good. Its right that Canberra isn't know for its nightlife but thats usually because its not full of night clubs for the teenagers, but its got plenty of good restaurants, bars and cafes.
Yes skiing is possible although its still a couple of hours south of Canberra, however we did have snow on the hills around town last friday. You won't get many daytime temperatures here below 10C/50F. Lately its been clear sunny days at around 14C.
Send me a message and I'm happy to meet up for a drink.
Aug 20, 2012 6:31 PM
2Freezing cold place, Canberra is right now.
I think pubs are more your deal, if you are looking for places to chat.
But the pubs here are not like the British pubs, people chat to friends they already know. They don't tend to bring others into the conversation.
But pubs will be the pick of choice, rather than restaurants, which are in and out places, you enter, eat, pay, leave...
And... yes, I have been to Canberra.
It works as a functioning city, but other than that, ummmmmm, you get the drift.
There isn't really a wow factor, after walking and having a look at Lake Burley Griffiths (!!!)...
Aug 20, 2012 6:34 PM
Aug 20, 2012 8:17 PM
4^^ Hey Justin...neighbours are we? LoL.
OP - If you are here for 3 weeks then take a stroll along King Edward Terrace to visit Questacon, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Old Parliament House. This is a good day's outing. Once finished, head to Kingston and/or Manuka for a beer or coffee.
A bicycle or segway ride around Lake Burley Griffin is also a good half day outing - see www.segglideride.com.au
If you are here between 15 September - 14 October, then head to Commonwealth Park for Floriade flower show. It sounds dull but actually the flowers and arrangements are quite nice.
Canberra can be soulless for visitors (even though I am a local) and Daycat is right, it's hard to meet people as Canberrans tend to be very clique oriented - they talk to people they know before they will talk to strangers.
If you want good food (restaurant) I can highly recommend The Lantern Room in Campbell shops or its sister restaurant Chairman and Yip in the city. Also Dieci E Mezzo in the city is very good.
I'm not around for a drink as I will be heading to the US next week.
Aug 21, 2012 12:07 AM
5If you get a chance talk a walk in one of the hills that surround canberra, you will get some great views over the city and lakes and you should also get to see some of the native animals. I've done a few walks up mount majura and ainslie and I always saw groups of kangaroos and kookaburras in the trees (these hills are not far from the city center at all)
Aug 21, 2012 5:00 AM
As a rough approximation (and only my opinion) Canberra is a little like Seattle. Occasional snow on the surrounding mountains. Not too far from ski-resorts. Clean-looking city (but an inland city whereas Seattle is coastal), cental lake and some expressways. Two universities including a medical research school.
Canberra is the "head office" for the federal bureaucracy including defence headquarters and, of course, the national Parliament. It also has a good private sector. I think it is a fair call to say that the locals are generally polite but they are unlikely to be in your face - not that sort of town at all. You will probably have to make the first approach. Apart from the other places mentioned there is a good selection of restaurants in a suburb named Dickson. The restaurants include Chinese, Vietnamese, Italian, Japanese, Ethiopian and others including one of the larger clubs in Canberra.
I hope you enjoy your visit.
Aug 21, 2012 5:51 AM
Aug 21, 2012 6:31 AM
8Hopefully you will be able to drive around, (((maybe a bit of getting used to, driving on the other side of the road, and with Aust road rules, etc))), ...
But still, if you can confidently drive the UK way side of the road, would be a good tip.
I used the Action Buses when I was there, but guess what, in the end, I got hopelessly lost when the bus I decided to try, didn't turn up!
It was away from Northbourne Ave, that I decided to go exploring, no map, nothing.
I am surprised I made it back to the hotel, how you ask, (grin)... taxi!
As an aside, you know, people don't choose or pick to live in Canberra, its for work. I certainly wouldn't want to live there, would choose to live in NSW and commute to Canberra, if I were to work in the capital.
Aug 21, 2012 6:37 AM
9I find Canberra very friendly, but that is probably because I am staying with an extended family of friends whenever I visit. I would second Manuka for cafes and shops. And Floriade, if ou are there at the right time.
Tidbinbilla is a good side trip. if there is snow around while you are there, and you have a free weekend, look at a weekend ski trip.
Aug 21, 2012 6:10 PM
10Yeah Floriade starts in a few weeks. Yeah its flowers, but really quite nice.
Canberra is a bit clique-ish. Even for long term residents, finding new friends is a challenge.
Anyway OP feel free to PM me.
Aug 21, 2012 7:16 PM
Aug 21, 2012 7:17 PM
Aug 21, 2012 9:48 PM
13Meanwhile, back from loony land ...
I've lived in Canberra for 27 years and love it. But it's true the city is not the most exciting place for clubs and bars and night life.
As mentioned above, the best places to look for a drink and meal are Kingston and Manuka, though the West Row strip in Civic is pretty good these days. It's also close to one of the city's 2 universities, so you could try the Uni bars, which ofte have bands.
Skiing is sensational right now, we've just had the biggest snowfalls in a decade. But be quick, ski season ends here in early october, and snow can get a little thin by the end of September.The ski fields are about 2.5 hours drive south from the city (places like Perisher and Thredbo). There are plenty of one day bus trips.
Canberra, being the national capital, has plenty of museums and galleries, most of which are free (Art gallery, Botnaic gardens, Portrait gallery, national Library, Parliament House etc).
But Canberra is also surrounded by some stunning scenery. The tidbinbilla and brindbella ranges have great tall trees, mountains, bush and native animals. Or, about 2 hours east, are some of Australia's most beautiful beaches. Make it 3 and one of the world's best, at Jervis Bay, is close by.
The city has about 50 wineries nearby, including a couple actually in the city. Most of the rest are half an hour or so away at Murrumbateman or near Bungendore. They all allow you to taste for free, and a number have great cafes and restaurants. This is a great day, or multiple day out.
There's a fabulous farmer's market at The EPIC centre on the northside on saturday mornings, and a another great market on Sundays at Kingston.
Canberra has lots of great walking and cycling trails, and you could hire or buy a cheap bike and ride around the lake or beyond. There area also 2 mountain bike parks at Majura and Stromlo.
And, if, as is likely, you've seen all you wnat to see in Canberra, Sydney is an easy 3 hour drive away by car, or a $15 one way bus fare. And within 2 hours you have towns like Yass, Berrima, Braidwood, Bowral and scenery like Kangaroo Valley and Fitzroy Falls.
Feel free to email or message me with further queries.
Sep 21, 2012 4:41 AM
Many thanks for all the replies -- they were super helpful.
As of today, I have been in Canberra for one week. I arrived last Friday (14th) and one of the people I work with took me around the sites on the first weekend. Floriade, Tidbinbilla (nature reserve and listening station), plus up on the hill overlooking Canberra (I forget the name). It was a great time followed by a super busy and productive work week.
It is now Friday night and I'm mentally exhausted (work). Re-cooperating tonight and have somewhat of a free day tomorrow (22nd).
Anyone have any ideas for things to do solo? I have a car and free time. I was thinking of making it to the coast so I may put my feet in Australian waters, not sure though. I still need to try I Manuka I suppose, just not sure about solo. I haven't heard of this "West Row" for the Uni Bars (?), but the live bands would be a plus. Seeing local Australian talent would be worthwhile, but would still need something to do during the day.
I'm staying in a motel near Green Square in Kingston. It's a nice location in that I can walk over and grab food after a long day of work, but I'm starting to see the clique'ish nature as mentioned above. I've tried venturing into a couple of the bars and striking up light conversation with whomever happens to be around, and while they may exchange pleasantries, no one really seems receptive to conversation with anyone other than who they are there to meet. And I've noticed no Australian patrons really sit at the bar at these pubs, as is quite normal in the States, so grabbing a drink in can feel awkward when alone, so I've been avoiding.
The food seems very comparable to the States, except that everyone seems to like beet on their burgers! :-) I don't mind it, but it's just not a usual thing in the States. Oh, and those Tatums (? sweets) are delicious!
Thanks again for all the posts and info. I sincerely appreciate the time.
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