Over the winter months, Australia’s national capital, Canberra, can get pretty cold. But you definitely shouldn’t get too comfortable by the fireplace, because Canberra offers a lot of fun during winter with plenty to discover and experience. In fact, it was named the third best city in the world to visit in 2018 by Lonely Planet, so it’s definitely worth stopping by to chill out. Here’s our pick of some of the best winter activities you can enjoy in Canberra.
Check out the National Gallery of Australia
At the National Gallery of Australia, you can get an education in Australian art, as well as an extensive glimpse inside their international collection. You’ll find contemporary and classical art, photography exhibitions, film series, and fun activities.
The hot ticket right now is Cartier: The Exhibition. Running until 22 July, get your diamond fix gazing at more than 300 spectacular items from Cartier’s collection, including tiaras, necklaces, brooches and earrings worn by royalty and celebrities. Afterwards, make sure to visit Within without, a major Skyspace by James Turrell — and don’t forget your camera!
Enter a Winter Wonderland on your doorstep
The Snowy Mountains and world-class ski resorts Perisher and Thredbo are within a short day trip on the Snow Express. But, you don’t need to leave the territory to find snow. Just 45 minutes from Canberra’s centre, Corin Forest Recreational Park is the perfect winter wonderland for an affordable day of fun in the snow. It’s a great spot for your first snow experience: you can toboggan, ski or simply build a snowman, rent snow gear, or attend a beginners course to give you all the tips you’ll need to ski or snowboard with confidence. Otherwise, it’s a good excuse to have a snow fight followed by woodfired pizza by the fire. Make sure you wear appropriate clothes!
Alternatively, visit the open-air ice skating rink in the city from 29 June to 22 July.
Taste local food and drink
Canberra’s wineries are pretty great, and more than 30 of them are located within a 40-minute drive of the city. You can taste-test local wines such as Riesling or Viognier, while chatting with the people who make them at their cosy boutique cellars across the region.
Alongside the wineries, Canberra is home to whiskey distillery Baldwin Distilling Company and a small but thriving group of microbreweries – take your pick between BentSpoke Brewing Co, Capital Brewing Co, the Wig & Pen Brewery, and Zierholz. Here, you can drink handcrafted beers and pair them with local food. At Capital Brewing, for example, you’ll find Brodburger‘s red burger van, which is a Canberra icon. Leave the car at home and take a guided tour with Dave’s Brewery Tours.
Spots for a quick and easy bite to eat include the endless options on Lonsdale Street in Braddon (watch out for Sonoma Bakery and Gelato Messina from July), and the New Acton precinct centred around the very cool Monster Kitchen and Bar at the end of a spectacular staircase.
Get wild about truffles
Winter is truffle time in the Canberra region. Running until August, the annual Truffle Festival – Canberra Region involves 250 events featuring everything from truffle-infused beer, to truffle hunts on local farms, through to degustation dinners. This year’s event also sees a collaboration with Mulligans Flat, a sanctuary for the endangered bettong, which is a cute native marsupial that digs and eats truffles.
For a full list of events, visit the Truffle Festival website.
Discover Australia’s film and social history
The National Film & Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) protects, preserves and restores Australia’s cultural history. With an archive of nearly three million films, television shows, musical works and cultural memorabilia, there is a lot worth looking at. This is a really good way of immersing yourself in Australia’s film industry and learning more about the culture. We recommend visiting right now, as the NFSA is currently showing an exhibition of Australian actor, the late Heath Ledger, titled A Life In Pictures.
Similarly, the National Museum of Australia tells the stories of the land, nation and people of Australia – Indigenous, European and other cultures – through compelling objects, ideas and events. Special exhibitions running until 22 July include illustrations and rare documents from an early French expedition, the stories behind northern Australia’s pearling tradition, and objects that celebrate the achievements of Muslim people from many different countries.
Looking for options for future study in Australia? Canberra’s got it all. With first-class universities, a thriving student population, more student accommodation per capita than any other capital city in Australia, and plenty of things to see and do, Australia’s education capital is an increasingly popular choice for postgraduate and undergraduate studies. To find out more, head to the Study Canberra website.
Photo credits: Visit Canberra, Thredbo (female snowboarder), National Gallery of Australia (crown)