Roasting marshmallows in front of an open fire. Foraging for truffles, then enjoying your spoils in a decadent long lunch. And escaping the outdoor chill in one of the country's best art galleries. You'll find all this — and much more — in Canberra this season. We're here to help you carve out your ideal winter itinerary to the capital city.
Make a snowman at Corin Forest
Snowball fights, toboggan rides and endless snow angels — need we say more? Corin Forest will have you channelling your inner child in a winter wonderland.
With entry to the Snowplay area clocking in at $20 per person, plus an extra five bucks for toboggan hire, a visit to this alpine resort is an affordable and unforgettable experience. Access to the slopes starts at $50 per person for a half-day, or $95 with gear hire. The resort also offers group and private training sessions for newbies of all ages.
Hot chocolate and cosying up to the fire will definitely be on your mind after all of that action. Luckily, Corin Forest has a cafe with an open fire where you can roast marshmallows and enjoy delicious woodfired pizza. You can also BYO portable barbecue or rent one of the gas barbecues in the picnic area for $5 per half hour.
Find delicious delicacies at The Truffle Farm
It’s the ingredient on everyone’s radar come winter. The irresistible flavour that can take a meal to the next level. Yep, we’re talking about truffles. At The Truffle Farm, you can get the full truffle experience.
Throughout truffle season — from late May to early September — the farm runs interactive truffle hunting experiences. You’ll follow truffle hunting dogs through the forest of over 6000 oak and hazelnut trees in pursuit of the black treasures. If you sign up for the degustation option, the hunt will be followed by a decadent six-course feast prepared right in front of you by Executive Chef Damian Brabender in the truffle shed — featuring truffles in each dish, of course.
See Know My Name at the National Gallery of Australia
To get a dose of culture, and escape the cold at the same time, the National Gallery of Australia is the place to go. A current highlight is the Know My Name exhibition, which is highlighting gender equity in the arts. The must-see free exhibition has more than 350 works by Australian female-identifying artists dating back to the 1900s. Highlights include a commission by the Tjanpi Desert Weavers; performance art by Bonita Ely and Jill Orr; and Tracey Moffatt’s key series of photographs, Something more.
Clink glasses at Brindabella Hills Winery
A winter escape would not be complete without a trip to a winery. For lush views, tasty wine and belly-warming food, the Brindabella Hills Winery, just 25 kilometres north of the city, is the place to be.
Established in 1986, the winery has aged like fine wine and the premium grape varieties have flourished in the environment. And you can be confident you’re getting a high-class experience as the winery has won numerous awards for its chardonnay, shiraz, riesling, cabernet and sauvignon blanc-semillon drops.
The vineyard restaurant offers a two-course set menu for $60 per person. It features creative dishes like the Reconstructed Avocado, served with salmon mousse, finger lime creme fraiche and black caviar. Wine pairings, which you’ll want to partake in to get the full experience, are an additional $16 per person.
Spot warm trees at the National Arboretum Canberra
Each July, in the oasis of Canberra’s National Arboretum, you’ll find a peculiar sight: a forest of trees wrapped in scarves. In a combined effort from the Friends of the National Arboretum Canberra and a diplomatic partner (this year, it’s the High Commission for Singapore), the annual Warm Trees installation sees hundreds of volunteers knitting and crocheting one-metre-long ‘scarves’ to bring colour (and a little cosiness) to the trees during winter.
Visitors can also enjoy more than 44,000 rare and endangered trees across the 250-hectare site. The National Arboretum Canberra is home to a number of bike trails, a nature-inspired playground (that looks like acorns), sculptures dotted throughout the forests and the National Bonsai and Penjing Collection, too.
Fly high with Balloon Aloft Canberra
What better way to see a city than from above? A hot air balloon ride with Balloon Aloft is the most memorable and awe-inspiring way to take in the Canberra sights. The pre-sunrise wake-up call will prove well worth it once you see the historical and modern architecture and vast greenery of the city from 3000 feet above the ground.
Early morning in Canberra can get pretty chilly during winter but it will feel warmer when you’re up in the air, so Balloon Aloft suggests dressing in layers. The experience starts from $330 and includes the 45-minute hot air balloon flight, a commemorative flight certificate and a post-flight champagne celebration at Hyatt Hotel.
Enjoy vegetarian eats at Monster Kitchen and Bar
For a seriously swish hang-out spot in Canberra, you can’t go past Monster Kitchen and Bar. The sleek spot, which you’ll find on the ground floor of the luxe Ovolo Nishi, boasts an open fire that is perfect for chilly days. In October 2020, Ovolo announced Monster, alongside the eateries in the hotel group’s other Australian and Hong Kong sites, would be switching to an entirely vegetarian menu for at least a year.
From 2pm, the venue shifts into bar mode with share-style plates like wild mushroom karaage, smoked beetroot tartare and slow-roasted carrot with smoked kelp. Alongside craft beers and local wines, the bar also serves seasonal cocktails that are as aesthetically pleasing as they are delicious. Creative ingredients like house-infused strawberry gin, goji liqueur, macadamia and wattleseed liqueur and celery bitters all make appearances.
Feast on tacos at Honkytonks
Nothing says winter quite like mulled wine and cider. And during the chilly months, you can enjoy the drinks alongside Tex-Mex-style eats.
Visiting at another time of year? The bar is packed to the brim with different types of tequila and mezcal, plus wine, cider and beer. The food menu is full of comforting favourites, including slow-cooked pork burritos, nachos and fish tacos.
Honkytonks is decked out with eclectic seating, funky decor and quirky artwork. And it’s situated in the heart of the CBD, meaning an easy Uber back to your accommodation, so you can trial the cocktails with ease.