Canberra, Australia

When we made it to Canberra to visit a friend, we were happy to get out of the car and stay in one place for a few nights. We stayed over a weekend which is probably not the best time to visit Canberra, as most people living there for work leave during the weekends. While the town was deserted, our friend filled us in on all of the events that go on in there throughout the year. Because it is the nation’s capital, many cultural events from all over the globe take place there including art exhibits, sporting events, and cultural activities.

Visiting weekend craft markets is a must when visiting Canberra. The Gorman House Arts Centre (http://www.agac.com.au/) market takes place Saturday mornings. There are craft booths and a few food vendors. My favorite of the food stalls was the little Mexican place. Theirs was some of the best Mexican food I had had in awhile. Each dish was around $7 AUD. Everything was so delicious that I went back for seconds. We also went to the much larger Old Bus Depot market (http://obdm.com.au/) on Sunday but the food options at the Old Bus Depot weren’t as appetizing to me.

While in town, we hiked from the road behind the War Memorial up to the top of Mount Ainslie. It took us about an hour to walk up as we stopped numerous times to watch the birds maneuver through the trees and to watch the kangaroos lounge in the grass. From the top, there is a view of the city below. If you are not up for the hike, you can drive up the back of the mountain and park at the top.

As an American, I would compare Canberra to the many Midwestern cities that don’t seem like they have a lot to offer visitors. But when you meet locals or when you take the time to visit, you find many interesting things to see and do. Visit these websites to check out what Canberra has to offer throughout the year:  

http://www.visitcanberra.com.au/find/event
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Canberra, Australia

Roadtrip from Sydney to Canberra

We headed out of Sydney and drove down through the Royal National Park. We were hoping to get close to the coast on this route, though that turned out not to be the case. The drive through the park was green and lush, but no sea view was had. I think if we were to do this again, I would take the M1 to the town or Waterfall or Helensburg and then cut over to the coastal road from there. Once we made it to the coastal road, we drove through quaint little towns right on the water. Most had beaches and parking tended to be free.

Enjoying the tidal pool

We eventually made it as far as Wollongong before we looked for a place to stay. Along the way, we searched Airbnb.com and were lucky enough to find Jack’s place right near the beach. At $161 USD per night for four people, the apartment was a great deal. Street parking was free and we were right across the road from not only the water, but also from a public pool and a man made tidal pool.

For dinner, we ate at The [M]eatery. We decide that if we couldn’t be home for American Thanksgiving, we would gorge ourselves on multiple meats instead of the traditional turkey. We had been told that is was a pricey restaurant, but I thought it was reasonable for what we received and how full we were when we left. At about $40 AUD per person, we ordered a shareable platter of meats, a few appetizers, desserts, and drinks.

While we weren’t in town long, but we did enjoy some time at the Crown Street Mall. In the afternoon, we stopped in a little bar and restaurant called His Boy Elroy for happy hour. It’s a small joint with great drink options and a diverse menu. We returned to the mall the next morning (a Friday) for a craft fair which was set up right between the two main buildings of the mall. I thought combining a traditional shopping mall with booths for handmade crafts and produce was a wonderful idea.
 
Also while in Wollongong, we visited the Nan Tien Buddhist Temple. This is not just a single building, but an entire complex of breathtakingly beautiful structures. As I was not dressed appropriately (I was wearing shorts), I did not go into the prayer halls or other buildings. Instead, I peered in from the doorways and wandered the grounds which are beautiful and serene. The visit was free and was a calming change from the hustle and bustle of Wollongong.
Nan Tien Buddhist Temple in Wollongong

Continuing south along the coastal road, we finally made it to our first real destination of this roadtrip-Murramarang NationalPark. This park is off the main road and is not so much a national park as it is a publicly owned coastal area. When driving in, keep an eye out for kangaroos bouncing about. This is one of a few places where you can see kangaroos grazing on or near the coast, sometimes even hanging out on the rocks near the water. Keep in mind that kangaroos are nocturnal so going early in the morning or in the early evening is best. We arrived around 4 p.m. and were able to watch them hangout in a large grassy area behind some homes. We got as close as they would allow (about 50 feet) though we kept in mind that they are wild animals. According to Wikipedia, they don’t tend to be aggressive, but we didn’t want to take a chance.

Roadtrip from Sydney to Canberra