Canberra is the most underrated state in Australia. Bold statement, I know. But if you haven’t visited the land of the politicians since your year six excursion to Questacon, it’s time to dust off the nostalgia, shine up the tyres and commence operation Capital. Here’s a quick list of must-dos if you’ve got 48 hours in our nation’s capital and in dire need of a faultless itinerary. You can’t go wrong with the following.
Canberra by balloon is a bucket list essential. Balloon Aloft Canberra hosts sunrise flights where they fire up and you fly up, up and away for a breezy 45 minutes. It’s sky-high serenity as you glide over Parliament House, Lake Burley Griffin and take in the beauty of Black Mountain. Although Telstra Tower sits 195.2 metres above the mountain’s summit, the icon appears somewhat insignificant as you embrace the city being struck by the divine morning light.
The only way to get grounded after having your head in the clouds is with a glass of Sparkling, which the Balloon Aloft team kindly provide (alongside some 8 am chocolate). But it isn’t all bubbles and balloons, Balloon Aloft Canberra caters to the kiddies on a family day out with orange juice, too.
QT Canberra is the perfect home base for slumber and will have you crushing on politicians from the moment eyes are laid on its insta-worthy Power Wall. The hotel lobby is a sundrenched haven with a winding staircase that makes you want to slide into your silky best and shimmy down the handrails.
The rooms boast to “bid farewell to beige”, and they do exactly that. I checked into a QT Superior King room and indulged in all the playful extras from the minibar through to KEVIN.MURPHY haircare lining the bathroom vanity.
But the best part? Location location location. Everything is less than ten minutes away, and when you’ve got a limited amount of time in Canberra, zoning in on this kind of central convenience is necessary.
Pack the stretchy pants and prepare to embark on a gastronomical adventure. Here’s what to add to the eating itinerary:
Penny University – Pop yourself on the waiting list and get ready to feel like a quintessential Canberran. The food is London coffeehouse inspired with a hint of Japanese flair. I promised myself I wouldn’t order avocado on toast… alas, I did and my tastebuds were not disappointed. Add the truffle mushrooms to keep the flavour party going.
15 Kennedy St, Kingston ACT 2604
Agostinis – Agostinis is the Italian family I never had. Housed inside the vibrant East Hotel, Agostinis greets you with a big smile and beautiful hospitality. It’s impossible to go hungry (or thirsty) as passionate staff take you through the menu while slinging negronis across the bar top. A must order includes the “Frico” which is described as “thin layers of Montasio cheese and potato, oven- roasted to form a heavenly, crunchy, chewy pancake” – drooling yet? Double down and order a second round of Frico, it’s what the Italians would want you to do.
East Hotel, 69 Canberra Ave, Griffith ACT 2603
Mount Majura Vineyard Cellar Door – If you find yourself in the Capital during Truffle Season, you owe it to the hounds to treat yourself to their nose’s findings. Mount Majura extends $40 truffle and wine flights, so cosy up and sip and snack while overlooking the vineyards.
88, Lime Kiln Road, Majura ACT 2609
Lazy-Su – If Lazy Su could be Prime Minister of cuisine, they’d be the leader of American, Japanese and Korean. My life is better having dined here. It’s fun, loud, cheeky and the cocktail list oozes Four Pillars Gin confidence. Hack the Salt and Pepper Tofu Bites with a side of Kimchi Mayo and lap up the applause from your party as you clink coupettes.
1/9 Lonsdale St, Braddon ACT 2612
48 hours in Canberra is always a good idea.