Update: Due to the ever-changing impact of COVID-19, we understand that a weekend escape to Canberra might not be possible for you right now. Keep this article handy so that, when it's all over, you can get back out there and support Canberra and our region.
Make a day of it in these regional locations – easy to get to so you can start your exploration.
TREASURES IN THE TABLELANDS
Yass and Murrumbateman are inland towns renowned for their cool climate wines, scenic landscapes and welcoming hospitality. Within 35 minutes’ drive from Canberra you’ll start discovering vineyards and wineries dotted along (or just off) the Barton Highway all the way to the quaint town of Murrumbateman, and beyond to Yass. Visit a cellar door for wine tasting or grab tapas, wood-fired pizza or a la carte menus offered by many of the wineries.
At both Yass and Murrumbateman, you can soak up the scenery, explore the villages and drop into a gallery or two. There’s the Yass Railway Museum, Yass and District Museum, and Tootsie Fine Art and Design.
Only about 30 minutes’ drive east from Canberra will bring you to historic Bungendore – home to old churches, pubs, galleries and antique stores. Wander the town on foot to explore Bungendore Wood Works Gallery, Suki & Hugh Gallery, Village Emporium and Antiques, Antica Trading, and Paul Kowalski Photography.
Try a hearty lunch in the beer garden at George Bar and Dining, or sample authentic French cuisine at Le Tres Bon. Saturdays (from 9am to 12pm) you can pick up regional produce at the Southern Harvest Farmers Market, and in winter, be sure to find out about the world of prized black truffle hunting at Turalla Truffles.
Bungendore also hosts the annual Bungendore Country Music Muster early in February, with the showground open to campers and caravans.
Stop by Lark Hill Winery on your way there (or back) to sample their biodynamic offerings and delicious lunches (open Wednesday to Monday, 11am to 4pm).
Capture the coastal breeze
Some argue the Shoalhaven is the most scenic part of the south coast. Head north from Batemans Bay and be stunned by white sands, impressive sea cliffs and historic towns. Spend a day exploring boutiques in Milton, try Rick Stein at Bannisters for delicious dining in popular Mollymook, or find sumptuous oysters at Greenwell Point. You can even meet the local kangaroos at Pebbly Beach.
If you’re looking for bigger towns, travel an extra hour or two from Batemans Bay to find Ulladulla and Nowra.
Only two hours’ drive from Canberra you’ll discover the wonders of the south coast. Once you make it over the scenic Clyde Mountain, you’ll meet lovely Nelligen, perched on the Clyde River where you can while the day away – or hire a houseboat for a longer stay.
A few minutes away, sparkling Batemans Bay is the hub of the Eurobodalla Coast, with its shopping village, restaurants, beaches, clubs, outdoor public pool, and putt-putt golf. Head north for the beauty of South Durras, or south for the historic Mogo town with its main street of boutique shopping, plus an animal extravaganza at Mogo Zoo.
From here, you’re absolutely spoilt for beach options. Malua Bay, Tomakin, Broulee, Moruya, Tuross, Narooma and all the towns tucked in between are perfect locations for fishing, boating, lazing, whale-watching, learning to surf and hiking. Many of these coastal towns also offer waterside dining, cafes, and good local takeaways.
Further south from Narooma you can explore the natural wilderness of Merimbula and the Sapphire Coast, an area which is 70 percent national park.
Fresh mountain air and scenic countryside are only a couple of hours’ drive from Canberra. In winter (snow season runs from June to October), skiing and snowboarding slopes can be found in Thredbo, Perisher and Charlotte Pass.
Take the Monaro Highway and drop into the town of Cooma (about an hour from Canberra) to explore the Snowy Mountains Hydro Discovery Centre or enjoy the Cooma Rodeo in April. Another hour along the road you’ll find beautiful Jindabyne – an excellent base for adventure and fun. Be sure to include Wildbrumby Distillery & Cafe in your lunch plans.
Outside of the traditional winter season, the Aussie Alps region provides excellent bushwalking, mountain bike riding and horse riding trails. Tackling the Mount Kosciuszko walk – Australia’s highest mountain – in summer is a must.
Spectacular clear waters for fishing and boating are close by at Lake Eucumbene, Lake Jindabyne, the Snowy River and Tumut River.
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