24 Hours in Canberra ACT

After spending nearly 10 years in D.C., it was a nice adventure to go check-out Australia’s capital, Canberra, for a brief city break. It’s located in the appropriately-named Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and a quick 3-hour drive from Sydney. We hopped in the car one Saturday morning along with our friend, Anthony, and headed southwest to spend 24 hours exploring. Here’s the short story, with some highlights and recommendations:

Lake George dried up
When you get near Canberra, you’ll see Lake George right off the Federal Highway. It’s 25 km long, 10 km wide and extremely shallow. Let’s just say the Great Lakes in America are totally unimpressed. 😉
National Capital Exhibition model of Canberra
Definitely make a stop at the National Capital Exhibition before heading in to Canberra. It has this awesome light-up scale model that explains the history of the Capital as well as the design, layout and architecture.
national gallery of australia
The National Gallery of Australia is also a must-see in Canberra. Many Aussie artists are on display as well as a variety of rotating exhibitions. If you take your time, you can easily spend a few hours enjoying the abundance of art here.
High Court of Australia in Canberra
After the National Gallery, you can walk by the High Court of Australia (the equivalent of the U.S. Supreme Court). If you have a case in the AU, this is your ‘final destination’ for appeals!
Gardens in Canberra
The landscaping throughout Canberra is well thought-out and attractive. This little stretch is in between the High Court looking across Reconciliation Place toward Questacon.
Old Parliament House in Canberra ACT
Not the best photo given the distance, but standing at the peak of Reconciliation Place you can see Old Parliament House. The center of Parliament from 1927-1988, it’s now a museum (and the new Parliament House took its place on Capital Hill). In front is the Aboriginal Tent Embassy that has maintained its assemblage since 1972.
national library of australia canberra
Following all the walking, we stopped at the National Library of Australia for afternoon tea. It’s a beautiful building with stunning stained glass along the sides. Our attire helped us blend in nicely to the surroundings, too! I definitely recommend stopping here for a coffee during your journey through Canberra.
Canberra architecture
Hands-down, my favourite feature in Canberra was the architecture. So many lines and angles to enjoy. Here’s a small geometric sampling.
Canberra Centre bubblemaking
After exploring the main attractions in Canberra, we spent some time wandering through Canberra Centre enjoying the sites (and, naturally, the bubble-making). This area is full of shops and probably a bit touristy but hey…there’s not a whole lot else to do here anyways so might as well enjoy all the bits!
Dancing in gay nightclub Canberra cube
We couldn’t visit the ACT without experiencing gay Canberra! This included pre-party drinks at 16West with some local gay friends we made followed by several hours of dancing at Cube (pictured). We had an absolute blast or at least that’s what I’m told. #cheers
Lake Burley Griffin
The next morning, Anthony had a fashion photo shoot to conduct so Daniel and I walked across the street from the Hyatt to Lake Burley Griffin. This entirely man-made lake is an excellent place for a stroll or a run, particularly on a quiet Sunday morning. It’s hard to believe that it didn’t even exist until 1963!
lake burley griffin in the fog
The fog settling over Lake Burley Griffin with rowers steadily pacing themselves made for a memorable ending to our 24 hour Canberra visit. Peaceful and just a little bit eerie. A favourite combination of mine.

To wrap-up, 24 hours in Canberra was just about the perfect amount of time to spend for a weekend getaway. Not too much, not too little. We definitely didn’t see everything the ACT had to offer but I know we took a really, really decent bite out of it! Perhaps a future visit is in store in the autumn. XOXO -JW


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