Minutes from the city centre

Start your day with breakfast with the birds at the Australian National Botanic Gardens. On selected weekend mornings a guide will take you on a bird watching walk where you might see crimson rosellas, gang gang cockatoos and fairy wrens fluttering about, before you sit down to have breakfast in the cafe. Take your own stroll through the picturesque Rainforest Gully and then venture into the  Rock Garden where you may encounter the resident native water dragons sunning themselves.

Then take a lift to the top of Telstra Tower, which rises 195m above the summit of Black Mountain. You’ll soon be able to see why Canberra is often called the Bush Capital. More than half of the Australian Capital Territory is comprised of parks and reserves, and pockets of bushland weave their way through all its suburbs. 

Explore further afield

Next, pack a picnic and take a leisurely 45 minute drive to the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve on Canberra’s southern outskirts. It has a couple of walking tracks that are less than two kilometres long and suitable for prams and wheelchairs. One goes through the Wet Forest Enclosure, a koala habitat, while you might spot platypus from the Wetlands Loop Trail. Emus and brush-tailed rock wallabies can also be seen in their natural environment. The Visitor Centre provides a great introduction to the reserve, with information about walks, ranger-guided activities and live animal displays.

Tidbinbilla Wildlife Sanctuary
Keep your eyes peeled at Tidbinbilla Wildlife Sanctuary

If time permits, stop by the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, part of NASA’s Deep Space Network. Check out a 3.8 billion-year-old piece of moon rock and discover what astronauts eat in space. The centre is one of three in the world that communicates with current space missions via one of the largest communications dishes in the Southern Hemisphere.

Around Lake Burley Griffin

In the afternoon, for something a little different, take your teenagers for a spin on a guided segway tour with Seg Glide Ride located near the International Flag Display on the southside of Lake Burley Griffin. If you still have the energy, raise your pulse with a scenic walk from the Australian War Memorial to the top of Mount Ainslie for a great view of the city’s planned layout designed by architect Walter Burley Griffin.

A family walks up Mount Ainslie in Canberra
Get your bearings of Canberra with a visit to the top of Mount Ainslie

Before heading off the next day, rise early and take to the skies in a hot air balloon as the early morning sun fills the valley and lakes with soft morning light. Enjoy the serenity as you drift above Canberra, sealing the experience with a champagne breakfast just as the rest of the city is starting to come alive.