ROAD TRIP FROM SYDNEY TO CANBERRA
Canberra is Australia’s capital so you totally have to visit, it’s basically a rule of entry.
WHAT TO EXPECT
- Bow down to the mighty Australian cricket legend, Don Bradman at the Bradman Museum in Bowral.
- Taste a cup of coffee made by the world’s best barista at The Cupping Room in Canberra.
- See koalas, platypus, kangaroos and emus in the wild at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.
Time: 7 Days
Start your road trip in Sydney and get ready for some lush AF scenery as you drive through the Southern Highlands to the nation’s capital. Once there, try Canberra’s world famous Freak Shake or the perfect coffee at The Cupping Room. Get cultured at the Australian War Memorial, National Gallery of Australia and the National Museum of Australia, and embrace your inner adventure junkies on the mountain bike trails and hikes surrounding the city.
Day 1: Road Trip to the Capital
The awesomeness begins! Set off from Sydney for Canberra and stop off at the cute little villages in the lush farmland of the Southern Highlands along the way.
Sports fans - once you get to Bowral, drop in and pay your respects to Australian cricketing royalty the late Don Bradman, a.k.a. “The Don”, at the Bradman Museum.
And, we’ve saved the best for last here, stop by Goulburn for a selfie with one of Australia’s big things – the Big Merino sheep. Goulburn is also home to Wakefield Park, a privately-owned motor racing circuit where you can drive your own car around the track on No Speed Limit Days or take a few hot laps with a pro driver in a V8 Supercar.
Once you get to Canberra, make your way to the inner-city precinct of Braddon. And we mean immediately. No bathroom breaks, nothing! Stroll down Lonsdale Street - once an eclectic mix of retail stores and car yards, this street is now an awesome dining and shopping strip with a mix of hipster coffee shops, casual eateries, bakeries, pubs and restaurants.
For dinner, hit the permanent collective of food trucks known as ‘The Hamlet’. A 10-minute stroll from Canberra's city centre, the Hamlet includes a mobile bar, Peruvian street food, New York-style hot dogs, a custom pizzeria and more.
Day 2: Canberra: Get Up In It
Enjoy breakfast and a coffee cupping session at The Cupping Room. If you just whispered “wtf” to yourself as read coffee cupping - just you wait. The owner of the café and Ona Coffee, Sasa Sestic, won the World Barista Championship in 2015 so you KNOW the coffee is good.
After breakfast, it’s time to be cultured. You have three options; join a free tour at the National Museum of Australia to learn about Australian history from Indigenous beginnings to modern day or if art is more your thing, visit the art collection at the National Gallery of Australia. OR, go learn about the personal stories of servicemen and women at the Australian War Memorial.
After your culture session, visit the Canberra Glassworks, housed in the historic Kingston Power House. Book in for a Make Your Own session to work one on one with an artist to create your own glassware… then buy five rolls of bubblewrap so you can get it home.
As sunset approaches, join a Capital Twilight Tour by cycle. The tour begins with a stop at the Australian War Memorial to witness The Last Post Ceremony. From there head to Lake Burley Griffin, passing many of the national institutions, Parliament House, and the National Gallery’s Sculpture Garden. The tour wraps up with a bite to eat at an eatery popular with the locals.
Day 3: Hiking and Horseriding
Exercise time, guys! Get excited. For a great workout and some epic views, pack a breakfast picnic and hike the trail from the base of the mountain behind the Australian War Memorial up to the top of and back. Mount Ainslie is the perfect bird’s eye view of the city.
You can also cycle or drive to the lookout. You might even meet a few kangaroos and other Australian wildlife on the way. But only if you’re like, super well behaved. The animals are like Santa - they’ll know.
After your morning exercise session, saddle up for an adventure in the Australian countryside with Burnelee Excursions on horseback. Just thirty minutes from Canberra between Murrumbateman and Gundaroo, Burnelee is a working cattle farm where you can enjoy the thrill (the THRILL, guys!) of mustering sheep and cattle, or simply spot the native wildlife in the vast areas of natural bushland.
Horses are available for all levels of rider, including beginners, with each ride accompanied by an experienced instructor. Burnelee also holds special events such as twilight horseback rides followed by a food and wine tasting.
Day 4 : Get Back to Nature
Do a bit of reconnecting with nature at Namadgi National Park. Here you’ll find Gibraltar Falls, a cascade waterfall with a 50 metre drop. You’ll also get to see some amazing Australian wildlife like swamp wallabies, eastern grey kangaroos, echidnas, wombats, emus and pygmy possums.
Nestled within the Park is Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. Kangaroos, emus and rock wallabies roam free in this reserve and you can find koalas and platypus in the Sanctuary section of the Reserve. Tidbinbilla also runs an endangered breeding program for the tiny Corroboree frog - a black and yellow frog the size of a fingernail. (Note: if you don’t find a fingernail sized frog cute, there may or may not be something wrong with you).
Close out the day with a twilight tour of Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary - you might even get to see some native nocturnal animals including the rare Bettong.
On your way home, stop in at the Old Canberra Inn. Built in 1857, the pub started life as a private home before the legends of owners acquired a liquor licence and just opened their house up to all the randos. Today, it's a top spot for gourmet burgers, live music, as well as beers produced from Canberra's rising microbrewery scene.
Day 5: Lake Burley to Griffin
In Canberra, Lake Burley Griffin is a big deal. So you should probs visit and probs the best way to do that is on a Segway ride. Your guide will provide a lesson on balancing on the Segway before you take off.
After your Segway adventure (wasn’t that FUN?), if the weather is nice take a stand-up paddle board or a kayak out on the lake. The Paddle Hub at YMCA Recreation Centre at Yarralumla Bay hires kayaks or stand-up paddleboards from October through the spring and summer season.
Ever wanted to captain a boat? Now’s your time. Go! Quick! Grab some picnic supplies and head out on the high seas...or the lake with a GoBoat. The boats are self-drive, sustainable, electric boats. There is a picnic table in the middle, and eight people can fit on each boat including the skipper.
Day 6: Eat Your Way Around Canberra
If you’re a market/morning person, first, well done. You’re totally winning at life. Second, you have to visit Capital Region Farmers Market on Saturday morning. It is the largest market in the Southern Tablelands region with more than 100 stallholders each week ranging from fresh bread and pastries to eggs, cheese, olive oil, small goods and fruit and vegetables.
If you sleep in and miss the morning markets (it’s okay my friend. We’re still good people), Canberra is also home to the Northside Farmers Market and the Southside Farmers Market on Saturday afternoons.
Ah, craft beer. Is there anything better than hiptsers brewing beer? No. There isn’t. AND as luck would have it, Canberra has a thriving craft beer scene. Join Dave’s Brewery Tours to go behind the scenes of some of Canberra’s local breweries.
Day 7: Coastal Cruise Back to Sydney
It’s time to say farewell. Take one last look at the glory that is Canberra with an early morning hot air balloon flight over the city with a champagne breakfast afterward.
Take the scenic route and wind your way back to Sydney via the coastal Pacific Highway. There are a few stops you need to make: