Getting around in Canberra

Sep 6th, 2005, 08:55 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2005
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Getting around in Canberra

Hi... I can't trace back my previous post.. so might as well start a new thread here.
We'll stay at Olims Hotel for 2 nights. Firstly, I would like to know whether it is better to take a train or bus ride from Sydney on 26 Sep afternoon, reaching Canberra in the late evening. Any suggestion of what to do on the first night?
Secondly, we plan to spend the next whole day going to the Floriade Fest. How can we go there from the hotel, any public transport (bus)? How much time is best to spend there? Then on the last fact we only have less than a whole day, because we'll fly to Melbourne at 5pm... can we visit war memorial, parliament house, national gallery, Questacon, Tidbinilla Space exploration station, botanical gardens or any others interesting places?

How far is the hotel from the airport?


Excite2 is offline  
Sep 6th, 2005, 11:47 PM
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Hi Excite2,

Personally, I'd take the train & hire a car - Canberra's small & easy to get around in and it would give you the most flexibility to fit everything into your schedule.

That said, there may well be public transport which will suit you - I've just never tried it.

The Canberra Tourism website looks interesting:

I'm sure others will have a lot more expert advice, but this might give you a start.
Enjoy your visit.
Bokhara is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 12:43 AM
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We don't have a car and will not hire a car. What is the other options?
Excite2 is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 04:46 AM
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Perhaps you could look at renting bikes - there are lots of bicycle paths in Canberra - I'm not sure where Olims is but if it is reasonably central, Floriade is a reasonable walk & a quick cycle. I really enjoyed Floriade but I couldn't imagine spending a whole day there.
You can easily get to the war memorial, parliament house, national gallery and Questacon by bike.
Most places in Canberra are only 20 mins from the airport.

Sorry I can't help you with the bus vs train question. Suggest you google for the buses and try for info on trains.
Sarvowinner is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 05:13 AM
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Here's my 2 cent's worth on your plan for Canberra. I lived there for a few years and went back last month for almost a week--had a fabulous time!

1. I can't advise on whether you should take a bus or train. A lot depends on the schedules and how you like to travel. The bus depot is in Civic, the city center and the train depot is in Kingston, which is a near-south suburb. In either case, it would be a short cab ride to your hotel which is located near the Australian War Memorial. (Might I suggest you go online and look at a map of Canberra. It will give you some feel for distances, etc.)
2. Unfortunately, I can't make any suggestions for late night in Canberra. I'm not a night person.
3. There should be buses going to Floriade (located in Commonwealth Park) from near your hotel. I suggest you ask at the front desk for a schedule, etc. You can also take a cab over there as it is not far.
4. How much time that you spend in Floriade, of course, depends on your interest in horticulture. You can easily see all the displays in 2 hours or less, but if you want to stop and watch some shows, enjoy a coffee or a bite to eat, or peruse the seller's stalls, then you will stay longer. However, I can't imagine that you would spend anymore than 3 - 4 hours there. You might want to get there first thing in the morning so you can have a few hours in the afternoon for something else.
5. There are too many interesting places in Canberra for you to visit in the short amount of time you have available, but here are my suggestions:
a)The Australian War Memorial--it's close to your hotel, so you could walk over there. You can easily spend a whole day there (which I have done more than once), but for a good overview of the museum, you can take one of their free 90-minute tours offered several times during the day. If you go there, plan to spend at least 3 - 4 hours.
b) Parliament House--well worth a visit. Excellent free tours are offered every hour on the hour. Be sure to take the elevator to the roof for the fabulous views of Canberra. (Kids used to roll down the sides of Parliament House, but access is now restricted to the elevator). If you take the tour, you can see it all in 90 minutes or less.
c)The National Gallery--This is another place that you could spend all day in if you like art. I would plan on at least 2 - 4 hours, however. There are guided tours at 11 am and 2 pm. You can also get a free audio tour from the front desk which provides commentary on many, but not all of the paintings. Don't miss Sidney Nolan's Ned Kelly series on the second floor.
d) Questacon--another fabulous place for both kids and adults. If you go, go early as it gets filled with school groups or kids on holiday. Again, you could spend all day here, but plan to spend at least 3 - 4 hours.
e) The Botanical Gardens are nice, but a bit farther from town than any of the above mentioned attractions. There are buses that go there, but your time would probably be better spent elsewhere.
f) Tidbinbilla is interesting, but it is about 30 minutes from town. You would have to get a taxi out there and arrange for pickup later. Probably not a good idea since you have a limited amount of time.
6. Finally, the airport is no more than 15 minutes from your hotel.

I hope you have a wonderful time in my favorite place in the whole world.
longhorn55 is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 08:56 AM
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We took the train from Sydney to Canberra and found it to be relaxing!! In canberra we walked, took buses, a couple cabs, and a tour and never really needed a car.

Floriade was convenient to our hotel (only about 1 mile) so we walked to it and loved it! Canberra is a great city and reminds me of Washington DC on a smaller, less hectic scale. Ahh, if only washington DC could be so low keyed but then most of Australia is laid back and easy to navigate.

Stay as long as you like at Floriade but don't miss the war memorial or Parliament house. You can take a tour bus for a shorter trip around the city to fill in places you'd like to include.
LN is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 02:13 PM
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Well, everyone else has pretty much taken the words out of my mouth. Unless this year's Floriade has a spectacular entertainment schedule, 2-3 hours should be plenty. The venue, Commonwealth Park, is excellent and it's worth taking a little time to stroll around to the east of the Floride display area.

The biking idea is a good one if that's your scene. From memory there's a bike hire operation near the south (Civic) end of the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge, which is close to the Floriade space (check with the hotel). You could (e.g.) ride west a short way to the National Museum of Australia or south across the bridge and up to Parliament House, then down the hill to Questacon and the National Gallery, which are on the same road (as is the National Library, a Grecian-styled building you'll see from the bridge). Time permitting, Old Parliament House, which houses the National Portrait Gallery, is in the same "Parliamentary Triangle" area. Volunteer guides run regular tours of OPH providing interesting and sometimes irreverent glimpses into Australian political history. Personally I'd give Questacon 1-2 hours, depends on tastes.

If you're not interested in biking, cabs are definitely the way to go, except between Parliament House and the Gallery/Questacon, and between Olims and the War Memorial, which as someone said can easily be walked.

Bus to Canberra is quicker, which may be important given your busy schedule. You can check schedules and book at

As for your first night - if you prefer just to eat, I suggest that after checking in you take a 10-minute cab ride to either the Manuka or Dickson precincts, each of which has lots of restaurants - Dickson mainly Asian, Manuka European/Asian/whatever. Some may be closed on a Monday night, though.

Depending what time you arrive, you could pick up a copy of the Canberra Times and check the entertainment section for concerts/plays/whatever to see if something takes your fancy - although again, early in the week will probably limit your options.

If you're looking for a cab don't bother trying to hail one in the street - phone 132227.

BTW, I agree that you may not have time for the Botanical Gardens, but if you're interested in learning about Australian native flora the gardens are remarkably extensive and comprehensive (everythng from dryland to rain forest environments and they'll be at their best in Spring. You'd need to allow 2 hours. It's a 10-minute cab ride from Civic.

For the record, if you walk down Ainslie Avenue from Olims Hotel you'll be in Civic in 10 minutes. If you fancy walking from there to Floriade it should take no more than 30 minutes all up - Check the city map and you'll see a footbridge that takes you over Parkes Way into Commonwealth Park.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 06:17 PM
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So glad to see so many wonderful replies from you all! Really appreciate all your suggestions. Certainly make things a lot easier for me.

Where can I get a map of Canberra? Where is the Canberra visitor centre ? Will I find one from Sydney visitor centre anyway??
Excite2 is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 09:00 PM
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Try these websites:

There is a Canberra Information on the LHS as you approach Canberra from Sydney. Don't know where the one is in town, but will probably be marked on any of the maps you Google.
Bokhara is offline  
Sep 7th, 2005, 10:10 PM
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I found 3 bus/train stations in Canberra, which is should I stop if going to Olims Hotel? Jolimont, Hospital or Civic station??
Excite2 is offline  
Sep 8th, 2005, 02:03 PM
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The bus will terminate at the Jolimont Centre, which is probably the same as the "Civic" station you found. It fronts Northbourne Avenue, and I think there's a cab rank around the corner. I don't know anything about a "Hospital" station - Canberra Hospital is at Woden, a few kilometres from Civic and served by local buses.

As Bokhara says, the Visitors Centre is also on Northbourne Avenue, but it's several blocks north and conveniently situated only for people arriving by car. You'll see it on the way into town if you watch out for it.

I wouldn't be surprised if there's tourist information at Jolimont, but I've never looked so can't be sure, sorry. I'm assuming that Olims Hotel also would have a selection.
Neil_Oz is offline  
Sep 13th, 2005, 04:29 AM
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The Jolimont Centre offers a lot of info for tourists but if you get there late at night then you will be limited to what has been left out on the racks and benches and there may not be anyone to help you. There are two kiosks there for a quick cup of coffee before getting a taxi, there are phones there to call one if there are none sitting outside waiting.
Olim's will have plenty of brochures of what is on in Canberra and someone to help you as well. Taxi's are quite expensive but luckily most tourist destinations are not too far from the city centre. Buses are plentiful and you should have no problem getting to most places on one.
Not much happening late evening on a Monday night... pubs are open or movie theatres, not much else. There is live theatre but you would have to arrive early evening to be able to attend. If it's warm enough there will be cafes still open in the city centre area.
No. 36 Action bus will pick you up just around the corner from Olim's and take you into the city and from there you can get a bus to Floriade or just walk if you want. Buses from civic will take you anywhere else you want, it's pretty easy.
The hotel is about 5 minutes from the Jolimont Centre and about 15 minutes from the airport.

My list of popular sights in order of preference for visitors to see;
War Memorial
New and Old Parliament Houses
The Australian National Museum
The National Library
The National Gallery
Telstra Tower

Outer city area;
Cockington Green
National Aquarium & Wildlife Park
Tidbinbilla Deep Space Tracking Centre
National Dinosaur Museum

You won't be able to see all of these in the short time your in Canberra but with a bit of planning you should be able to see a few of them. We love floriade and can wander for hours around the gardens, enjoy yourself!

BlueGum is offline  
Sep 13th, 2005, 03:07 PM
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This year's Floriade has a rock-n-roll theme, but I wouldn't take that too seriously. The main attractions are two geriatric performers who weren't much good 40 years ago, never mind now.
Neil_Oz is offline  

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