Discover the emerging food scene, flourishing wine district and distinct design flair of the Australian Capital Territory.
By Martha Tattersall
Nestled conveniently between Sydney and Melbourne, the Australian Capital Territory – home to Australia’s capital, Canberra – offers sophistication and style without the inconveniences of a big metropolis. A blossoming food and wine scene, a multitude of galleries and museums and accessibility to a series of beautiful national parks make the Australian Capital Territory the perfect base for a little indulgence and adventure.
- Stay at one of Canberra’s luxury designer hotels
- Taste the finest wines of the region
- Take a majestic hot air balloon ride over Lake Burley Griffin
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Top things to do in the Australian Capital Territory
Stay in a luxury designer hotel
The Australian Capital Territory is coming into its own as a fabulous place to experience unique, beautifully curated hotels thanks to its capital city, Canberra. Choose a distinct designer space at Ovolo Nishi, where each room has been dressed with carefully chosen artworks, objects and restored furniture, or luxuriate in your own one-bedroom apartment at East Hotel, located in the vibrant suburb of Kingston. Delight in the history of the heritage-listed Hotel Kurrajong, a preferred long-time haunt of Australian politicians, or check into the quirky five-star surrounds of QT Canberra.
Taste the finest wines of the region
A cool climate, varied vineyard elevations and different soil types have made the Australian Capital Territory an ideal spot for winemaking. Sangiovese, Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Shiraz, Tempranillo and rare varieties such as Grüner Veltliner are all produced in this region. Home to 140 vineyards and more than 30 boutique cellar doors, a visit to the wineries is a perfect way to spend an afternoon. Experience the philosophy of dining from paddock to plate at Pialligo Estate where you can indulge in seasonal food and sensational wines in a relaxed environment.
Canberra's flourishing foodie scene
In recent years, the Australian Capital Territory's food scene has gained national attention for its emerging gastronomy. From fine dining to cheap eats, tapas and casual dining, there's a breadth of culinary experiences on offer here, including the multi-award-winning restaurant Monster Kitchen and Bar, as well as the world's best coffee (2015 world champion barista, Sasa Sestic is based in the Australian Capital Territory and you can try his specialty roasted coffee beans at ONA Coffee). It's not all expensive, either – some of Canberra's best meals are very affordably priced.
Take a hot air balloon flight over a city
For the best views of the Australian Capital Territory, take a hot air balloon flight over the city of Canberra at dawn. It is fairly unusual to be able to hot air balloon over a city, as the balloons require sufficient grassed areas to be able to land no matter where the wind direction takes them. But Canberra's open spaces and parkland area make this possible year round. Once a year, the Territory also holds an annual celebration of the area's ballooning community at the Canberra Balloon Spectacular event.
Get to know the galleries and museums
Explore the world’s largest collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artworks at the National Gallery of Australia, learn about the war experiences that helped shape Australia at the Australian War Memorial and get an understanding of Australia's social and political history at The Museum of Australian Democracy which is housed in one of the nation's most iconic buildings, Old Parliament House.
Explore the natural surroundings
Discover the pristine bushland and fascinating history of Namadgi National Park, experience an alpine adventure year round at Corin Forest, and see koalas, kangaroos, possums, reptiles and more at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. For a wildlife experience with a difference, there is also Jamala Wildlife Lodge. Located in the middle of Canberra inside the National Zoo and Aquarium, the five-star stay offers treehouse suites adjacent to the giraffe enclosure and jungle bungalows – luxury king-size suites with glass walls adjoining the habitats of lions, cheetahs, tiger, brown bears or, depending on the room, perhaps even a Malayan sun bear.
How to get there
The site for Australia’s capital city was selected in 1908 as a compromise between rivals Sydney and Melbourne, Australia's two largest cities, and sits in between the two. The Australian Capital Territory is a three hour drive from Sydney and a seven hour drive from Melbourne with flights available from all major capital cities.