Chris Uhlmann’s political novels (co-written with fellow journo Steve Lewis) were adapted for the Australian television series Secret City, and its big star is proudly, Canberra.

The TV series features sweeping views of the ACT, national icons like Parliament House and the National Gallery of Australia, as well as some lesser-known hidden gems.

With Canberra being such a significant character in Secret City, we spoke to Chris about his own secret experiences and insights into what he calls, ‘a fascinating city’.

Where can Canberra’s best-kept secrets be found?

At the National Archives of Australia. Learn the stories of espionage in the city that has more spies per metre than anywhere else in Australia. Spy: Espionage in Australia opens in Canberra in spring.

Where’s the best private room to exchange secrets?

At Muse at East Hotel or over a meal at Chairman & Yip. Failing that, over breakfast at Parliament House.

A tour of the private gardens at Parliament House
See a different side of Parliament House on a tour of the stunning private gardens this spring.

Any secrets about Parliament House you can tell us?

There is a multi-denominational meditation room.

Where do you go to catch up with your thoughts?

A walk around Lake Burley Griffin. Especially on a broody day – what looks harmless covers up old landscapes and hidden secrets.

Where can people spot politicians (other than at Parliament House, of course)?

After hours, you’ll find them dipping into a restaurant along the Kingston Foreshore, Braddon or NewActon. Public Bar in Manuka is where they head if they’re feeling particularly rowdy.

Street scene in hipster Braddon
Street scene in hipster Braddon

What should all visiting diplomats (or international tourists) do in Canberra?

Go kangaroo spotting around the suburbs. [We also recommend Federal Golf Club at the base of Red Hill to see a roo or two.]  

Where’s the best writing café in Canberra?

Steve Lewis and I first discussed writing a book at Café Delish in Deakin. Beess & Co Café and Farmers Daughter, both in Yarralumla, are also good.