Don’t let the size of the Australian Capital Territory fool you – there’s so much to explore outside of the CBD. For adventure-lovers, there are plenty of lush national parks and hiking trails, while foodies will enjoy the nearby wine regions. Let’s run you through 5 incredible short trips for students living in Canberra.
The Namadgi Visitor Centre is a 30-minute drive south of Canberra and should be your first stop for exploring this expanse of natural wilderness. At the Visitor Centre, the staff can provide maps and advice on things to do and where to visit in Namadgi National Park, as well as regular free tours. There are plenty of hiking trails, campsites and lookouts to choose from, as well as kangaroos, birds and other native animals to see. Follow the Yankee Hat walking track to the Aboriginal rock painting sites at Yankee Hat rock shelter, or take a short hike to Booroomba Rocks for stunning views.
At the heart of Canberra’s wine district, Murrumbateman is known for its shiraz and riesling varieties. The Canberra region’s most well-known winery, Clonakilla, has a cellar door that is open seven days a week. Shaw Wines and Helm Wines are also worth checking out. Some wineries charge a $5 per person fee for tastings, but others are free. There is no obligation to buy but it is polite for groups to purchase a bottle after a free tasting. Make sure to organise a designated driver who won’t drink for the 45-minute trip to and from Canberra, as well as between the wineries.
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is a protected area on the edge of Namadgi National Park, covering over 50 square kilometres. It is around an hour’s drive south of the city centre. Like Namadgi, Tidbinbilla is the traditional Country of the Ngunnawal Aborginal people. You can visit the Birrigai Rock Shelter, the oldest Aboriginal site within the Australian Capital Territory, where evidence was found of Aboriginal occupation going back 25,000 years. Tidbinbilla is known for its koalas, as well as the Sanctuary, a large wetland system protected by predators where platypus can often be found.
Just east of Canberra is the heritage-listed town of Braidwood. Rich with 19th century history, you’ll feel like you’ve gone back in time when you walk the streets of this quaint and charming environment. Whether you’re passing the historic buildings on Wallace Street or visiting the antiques and collectable shop on Erlington street, you’ll find yourself enjoying the old-fashioned feel of the town. You can also soak up the breathtaking nature at any of the national parks found in Braidwood, including Deua National Park and Monga National Park. These parks feature stunning walking trails as well as swimming and kayaking spots.
The Brindabella Range, also known as The Brindabellas, is a picturesque mountain range that sits on the border of New South Wales and the ACT, roughly an hour-long drive from Canberra. One of the region’s most beautiful and popular landmarks is Brindabella National Park. Featuring spectacular views, walking trails, 4WD trails, and fishing spots, the park is among the most stunning landscapes in the country. The park is perfect for a short day trip or an overnight trip. Flea Creek is a great spot for an afternoon picnic or you can camp overnight at any of the park’s campgrounds.