7 things to do in Canberra and why there's much more to it than just pollies and roundabouts

7 things to do in Canberra and why there's much more to it than just pollies and roundabouts

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CANBERRA - it's Australia's capital. Many will tell you it's best to steer clear of it if you're zooming around on an Aussie road trip in your Sydney car rental and avoid the home of politicians and roundabouts. But they're wrong, and I'll give you seven good reasons why there are plenty of good attractions in Canberra.

1. The Australian War Memorial

BEAUTIFUL and monumental in its bush setting, the AWM transports us back in history - and the present - allowing us to reflect on some extraordinary Australian experiences in war. Forever expanding since early last century, we're not talking about old-fashioned dioramas any more, but rather a thoroughly engaging and immersive experience where new technology is taking it to new levels. This includes such treats as simulated submarine activity and in Anzac Hall, for example, there is a permanent exhibition Over the front: the Great War in the air, which recounts the story of military flight and aerial combat during World War I using original aircraft in an exciting sound-and-light show put together by director Peter Jackson. For more visit awm.gov.au

2. Lonsdale Street in Braddon

ONLY five minutes' walk from Canberra's CBD, and the smell of roasting coffee combined with the street's industrial edginess makes you immediately think of Melbourne. But that's not to say funky Lonsdale St isn't carving out its own personality. Quite the contrary, as a quick stroll will lead you to anything from an eclectic mix of pop-up shops at retailing pod Lonsdale Street Traders, cool cafes, hip-hop tapas bars, vegan bakeries, and - ahem - car yards. (The area is traditionally known for car salesmen and mechanics wandering about rather than cosmopolitan hipsters on the hunt for a good coffee). "Oh that's all changed, we're developing our own culture here," Lonsdale Street Roasters' Paul Wilson says. "It's our time to shine." Cool establishments such as the Elk & Pea are also making a noise with their affordable, street food vibe based around a South American share culture. "It's an industrial feel but with some great shops, food and coffee on offer," the Elk & Pea's Minky Faber says. "While you enjoy a great bite to eat or a drink you can watch the used car salesmen work their magic." For more visit elkandpea.com.au and lonsdalestreetroasters.com

3. B&B Country Guesthouse Schonegg

CANBERRA has accommodation ranging from budget to high-end luxury, but the region's cool climes are perhaps best experienced out of town and curled up in front of a cosy slow-combustion fire in gorgeous B&B Country Guesthouse Schonegg. Schonegg is a place where you can get back to nature in the country and relax in beautiful 4 1/2-star lodgings comprising six ensuite guestrooms - three with double spa, a fully accessible room and two pet-friendly rooms. For more visit schonegg.com.au

4. Silo Bakery

Of all the things to do in Canberra, this is definitely one of them. This family-run winner in Kingston offers an impeccable wine list and unforgettable food including pastries, slow-braised meats, tartes, soups and pizzas. For more visit silobakery.com.au

5. Hotel Realm

IF you thought Canberra was light on for quality hotels, think again. Hotel Realm is a 5-star gem at the footsteps of Parliament House, with 158 hotel and suite-style rooms complemented by an in-house day spa, health club and dining options. For more visit hotelrealm.com.au

6. Tourist Trail

FOR things to do in Canberra, this is a ripper. From little things big things grow, as they say, and The Poacher's Way is a small collective of about 20 of Canberra's best artists, chefs, winemakers and rural retreats inspired by life and the land. Susan Bruce, managing director of Poacher's Pantry, a crowd-pleaser smokehouse, vineyard and cafe dishing up the finest gourmet smoked meats and cool-climate Wily Trout wine range, says the Poacher's Trail is starting to make an impact on visitors wanting to "explore our region, to taste our wines, enjoy fine local cuisine, discover galleries and even to race across the hills on horseback or indulge in delicious chocolates ... all before settling in for a night at one of our divine accommodation options". Start with Robyn Rowe Chocolates in Murrumbateman (right), about half an hour from the city, be sure to include a wine-tasting experience at Clonakilla, a family-run legendary Australian winery that produces some of the world's most delicious award-winning shiraz viogniers and pure shirazes, and a food stop at Flint in the Vines and wine tasting at Shaw Vineyard Estate is a must, too. For more visit thepoachersway.com.au

7. National Museum Australia

THIS place has everything under the sun and is fascinating to explore our country's history through a variety of great displays and presentations. Check out "where our stories live" at the National Museum Australia. Allow half a day because you will be exploring for hours. It's a beauty. For more visit nma.gov.au

- SCOTT PODMORE (words & pics (c))

Scott Podmore

Scott Podmore

Award-winning writer, editor, photographer, videographer and owner of October Grey Media. Specialising in travel and lifestyle content and a full member of the Australian Society of Travel Writers. Has contributed regular content for the NewsCorp stable of newspapers and magazines, TravelTalk mag, The Departure Lounge and many more publications in Australia and internationally. Follow on Twitter & instragram #scottpodmore

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