By Jade Johnston
You may not have heard of Canberra. You may not even have heard of the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) in which it resides. In fact, you may be surprised to learn that Canberra in the capital city of Australia.
If you have heard of Canberra, then you probably have not heard glowing reviews. Most people describe Canberra as “boring”, “nothing to do”, etc. Which are not exactly the best way to draw in tourists.
Ok, Canberra may not have the night life of Melbourne, or the impressive buildings and beaches of Sydney – but it does have it’s own particular charm. In fact, Canberra has enough on offer to keep any visitor busy with activities for a day – or even two. And as the national capital city, it really is worth a visit.
And did you know that Canberra is possibly one of the most budget friendly cities to visit in Australia? Keep on reading to hear about the many free museums and attractions waiting to be discovered.
The following guide will help you plan some great (and free) activities for your upcoming trip to Canberra.
24 Hours In Canberra
Make sure you are well fed, and head to the Parliament of Australia at 10:00. Why 10:00? Because at 10:00, 13:00 and 15:00 there are free guided tours of the building. However, don’t worry if you miss the tour – you can pick up a self guided map and brochure and tour the building at your own pace if you prefer.
Make sure that you also take the elevator up to the roof for great views over the capital city, where you can admire the graceful lined of this very aesthetically pleasing planned city.
After a very fact filled tour of Parliament, you may find your brain needs a little rest. (At least mine does after taking in too much information!) Stop by a grocery store or deli, grab some lunch, and take it with you to the National Botanic Gardens. You can reach the Botanic Gardens via a leisurely 1 hour stroll, or by hoping on the number 3 or 300 bus. We were visiting with our Spaceship campervan, which made getting around easier – but in the botanic gardens you will need to pay a small fee for parking.
The Botanic Gardens have the largest collection of native Australian flora, and you can also sometimes spot water dragons lounging around near the water features. It’s a great place to relax and enjoy a picnic – and entry is free!
2:30 or 3:00 PM
After some time spent enjoying the Botanic Gardens, hop on another number 3 bus, or alternatively the number 10 bus and head to the Australian War Memorial. Make sure you get there in time for one of their free 90 minute tours.
The Australian War Memorial is one of the best war memorials that I have ever visited. Entry is free, and the museum is jam packed with facts, history, artifacts and dioramas depicting life during the many conflicts that Australia has been involved in.
I found the information about the Pacific conflicts during WWII particularly interesting, as this is an aspect of the war us in North America hardly ever learn about. The War Memorial is open until 5 PM, and you can easily spend the whole day there.
Alternative Museums To Visit
If the Parliament and War Memorial are not quite up your alley (but I do urge you to check them out as they are both fantastic – and better yet FREE), then you may want to consider some of these other fine museums.
Canberra Museum and Gallery – Another free museum, this one features works by local artists and exhibits about the region.
National Capital Exhibition – For those interested in city planning, then you probably already know that Canberra is one of the world’s great examples of a planned city. This free museum deals entirely with how the city was planned and built.
National Museum of Australia – This museum has many interactive exhibits that will keep those travelling with children occupied (or those just young at heart!). Allow several hours if you want to visit all of their extensive collections, and yes, this museum is also free.
National Gallery of Australia – This large art gallery has an impressive and extensive collection of both Euro-Australian artists, and also Aboriginal and Torres Straight Island art works. Allow at least half a day to tour this museum, but art lovers will possibly need more time. This museum also offers free admission except for special exhibitions, and they also offer free guided tours of specific collections throughout the day.
Heading Out Of Canberra?
Even with all these great free activities in one of the most unfortunately underrated cities in Australia, you will eventually run out of things to do an see. However, don’t forget to visit some of the great cellar doors and vineyards just outside of the city. Many of the tastings are free of charge, but it is good etiquette to buy a bottle if you have enjoyed the tastings. Make sure to sample some of the award winning Pinot Noirs.
Have you been to Canberra? Which was your favourite attraction? Let us know in the comments!
This post was made possible by Spaceship Campervans.