A day & night in Canberra... Worthwhile?

Old Jul 21st, 2010, 08:39 PM
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A day & night in Canberra... Worthwhile?

Making my way down to Melbourne in early Aug. , I have an extra day. Is it worth it to spend a Saturday in Canberra. If so, what to do and see in the capital?
actionlasvegas is offline  
Old Jul 21st, 2010, 09:16 PM
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Opinion is divided on Canberra - I love it because of the National Gallery (really good exhibitions) and the fab restaurants. However, critics would probably call it a little sterile. It does have the feel of a city dropped in the middle of a paddock. It's also COLD! at this time of year (I think last night the temperature got down to -3). So I would say, go if you like museums, galleries, restaurants; there is a wine tasting centre with a toasty fireplace whose name escapes me right now, and a really fabulous market, the Old Bus Depot Market on Sundays in Kingston. There are lots of other attractions but I'm not on top of them all, so maybe someone else can contribute.

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Old Jul 22nd, 2010, 11:49 AM
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As an American who lived in Canberra for 3 years (and a frequent return visitor), I would say that a day and a night in Canberra is definitely worthwhile. I love Canberra for the fact that is is a "city dropped in the middle of a paddock". You get all the amenities of a city--museums, restaurants, shopping, entertainment, etc.--yet, you are only minutes away from the bush with its great flora and fauna.
You don't mention your interests, but I think some of the highlights of Canberra are: Australian War Memorial (a must for anyone with an interest in history, particularly military history), the National Gallery of Australia with its great collection of Aboriginal art and pieces by Australian artists in addition to American and European art, and Parliament House with its unique design and fabulous views of the city from its rooftop. I always suggest that visitors go to Namadgi National Park just outside the city and do the Yankee Hat Hike (get directions at the visitor's center). You are guaranteed to see mobs of kangaroos in the wild on this easy hike and at the turnaround point is a rock with Aboriginal drawings.
I could go on and on about things to see and do in Canberra, but you won't have time for them all with just a day and a night. (But if you let us know your particular interests, I can mention some others.) Also, unlike many of the locals, I didn't find the weather that cold even in August. As a resident of the D.C. area in the U.S. the temperatures in August in Canberra just aren't that cold to me. Expect average lows around 32 degrees F. and average highs around 55 degrees F. Also expect to see some of the clearest, bluest skies you've ever seen and if the night is clear, you will actually be able to see the Southern Cross and, perhaps, the Milky Way in Canberra.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2010, 04:15 PM
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Bokhara wrote a wonderfully detailed trip report on a recent weekend in Canberra, which provides a wealth of information:

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Old Jul 22nd, 2010, 08:20 PM
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SOLD! We may even stay two nights. I know I can fly to Melbourne (quickly & cheaply), but is it worth it to train/bus for a better view of the countryside?
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Old Jul 22nd, 2010, 08:56 PM
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I can't believe I'm saying this (never taking them in Australia myself - locals drive & all that).. but bus or train really might be quite a nice idea. You'd see the countryside and could have a snooze if you felt like it. A bus/coach would stop in various places, but the train would have more room to move about.

Just quickly Googling - Greyhound only seems to have one daytime departure (2pm - arrives around midnight)

Train could be better. There's an option of coach (bus) to Cootamundra and then train to Melbourne. Departs 9am - ETA around 6pm.


There are probably other coach options, but this will give you a start.

Glad you're going to stay in Canberra - I had a ball and will go back for another weekend soon. Just waiting for another exhibition as an excuse.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2010, 11:12 PM
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I think there are problems with the rail line between Albury and Melbourne, and this rail portion of the journey might be replaced with a bus. You would need to check.

I would suggest that you drive - you would need a car in Canberra, as it is a very "spread out" city.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2010, 01:59 AM
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Agree with Peter about the car - walking between sights would be a major pain, and traffic is not heavy in Canberra (a little sluggish at peak hr in the morning but never traffic jams).

lavandula is offline  
Old Jul 23rd, 2010, 08:37 AM
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I assume you are travelling from Sydney to Melbourne with a stop in Canberra. I would definitely drive to Canberra so that you have a much-needed car in Canberra.
Now, are you asking whether you should drive, fly or bus/train to Melbourne from Canberra? I think it depends on how much time you have and how much you enjoy long road trips. If you have time to make it a real road trip with stops in some of the little towns (Beechworth is a good one, for example), then I would recommend keeping your car and driving. Otherwise, I would recommend flying from Canberra to Melbourne because just driving/busing/training straight through isn't that interesting to me. (We made that drive a few times. We enjoyed it when we did it as a road trip, but not so much when we had to drive straight through.)
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Old Jul 24th, 2010, 06:49 PM
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Great place and different form the rest of Australia because it is a planned city. I like its neat set up. National Gallery is super and so is the Lake.Lots of nice cafes too.
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Old Jul 25th, 2010, 12:27 PM
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I'll second all that longhorn said + add that we enjoyed the Deep Space Communication Complex + Yankee Hat + Namadgi National Park (platypus) at dusk all in one long day.

We took bus from Sydney to Canberra because it was so cheap, then rented car in downtown Canberra.
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