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Sunset view of Lake Burley Griffin and a GoBoat full of humans enjoying the view of Black Mountain Tower in the background.

How to enjoy a sustainable break in Canberra

Updated 28 Mar 2024

For those who love eco-friendly trips, Canberra is the perfect place for an earth-conscious getaway.

Did you know that Canberra is a 100% renewable energy city? Since 2020 the ACT has been powered by renewable electricity and is on track to achieve net-zero emissions by 2045.

There are plenty of ways to enjoy  the capital of Australia whilst being conscious of your environmental footprint. You can explore the city via electric buses, e-scooters, and bike paths that are linked up to walking trails, offering a unique and eco-friendly destination. 

More and more places to eat and drink  with low food miles are dotting the streets of Canberra, bringing their consciousness to the plate for their patrons.

Eat sustainably...

Patrons eating burgers

Capital Brewing Co.

Capital Brewing Co.’s brewery in Fyshwick is a weekend delight, with expansive outdoor seating and a Brodburger van serving mouth-watering burgers and hotdogs. Capital Brewing Co were the first carbon-neutral brewery in Australia and are proud to be B corp certified, which signifies their consistent dedication to giving back to the planet with the products they create.

Capital Brewing Co. was formed by a close group of mates who froth on delicious brews, surfing waves, and good vibes, hinting at the laidback and light-hearted atmosphere you can expect to experience. 

A customer pouring sauce over their meal at Two Before Ten, a cafe.

Two Before Ten (Aranda)

Two Before Ten has become a household name in Canberra, with nine locations in town (and counting!). But the Aranda location is housed in a building that is now also a bustling community hub, with an onsite café, bar, roastery, yoga studio, mushroom growing rooms, beehives, fruit trees, and an expansive vegetable garden (which they use in the delicious, seasonal dishes that come out of their bespoke kitchen).

The Aranda Shops project fundamentally changed the focus of Two Before Ten and clarified their purpose as a business. The revitalisation of the site relied heavily on support from the community and the re-use of materials from everywhere imaginable, making the hub a very sustainable project both for Two Before Ten and the other buildings' tenants. Their ethos as a business is not just about saving the planet; it’s about caring for its people – their suppliers, their customers, and their staff.

Aerial shot of a vineyard

Lark Hill Winery

Set high on the escarpment above Bungendore, 30 kilometres northeast of Canberra is the endearing Lark Hill Winery. Book a table on the deck of this remarkable venue, which has a deep commitment to biodynamic practices to achieve truly sustainable wine. Add to that healthy natural yeast ferments, and each glass of vino is unique with a flavour that reflects the region and conditions of the year. 

A plate of salad served at restaurant Monster Kitchen and Bar, located in NewActon.

Monster Kitchen & Bar

Tucked into the lobby of the striking Ovolo Nishi Hotel is Monster Kitchen and Bar.  It has an all-vegetarian menu that marries classic French brasserie with Japanese rooted flavours; modern techniques yielding an innovative approach to the Canberra dining scene.  All the ingredients used in the Monster kitchen are sourced within a 100 km radius, highlighting the beautiful produce and products of the Canberra region, while keeping the “food k’s” down to a minimum.

Drawing inspiration from both Japan and France, the menu has a wine list that has truly followed suit. This collaboration of flavours brings Japanese Ginza style beverages to the Capital, while making premium wines more accessible to guests, and also shining a spotlight on their ever-growing Japanese whisky collection.

Capital Region Farmers Markets

Eat truly local and visit the largest regional markets in the Southern Tablelands. Be lured by the smell of freshly ground coffee, the reassuring dirt on the potatoes, honey still warm from the hive, oranges beaming in the sun, and the hum of chatter between the producers and their customers.

Reward yourself with the region's freshest produce and the most flavoursome fare from over100 stallholders, as you taste the exciting seasonal characteristics and diversity of the region. Held every Saturday morning from 7-11:30 AM at Exhibition Park, you're sure to be impressed by the vast and varied fare at the Capital Region Farmers Markets.

Person carrying beers at Bentspoke Brewing Co

BentSpoke Brewing Co.

Since opening its doors in 2014, at this Braddon brewpub you will find 18 varieties of beer and cider available at any one time, all brewed onsite. BentSpoke Brewing Co. recognises the need to protect the environment, and so they depend on the supply of brewery ingredients such as pristine water, fresh hops, and grains, that derive from sustainable sources. 

All the grain from the mash created in the brewing process goes to local farmers to be used as feed for livestock. In return, they receive produce from the farmers which they use in their kitchen. They also incorporate heat exchanging in the brew process to save energy, and use cans instead of bottles for better recycling, reduced haulage, and quicker cooling.

Sweet Bones Vegan Cafe

Sweet Bones is a husband-and-wife duo who believe in organic, plant based, wholefoods. With a wide menu ranging from green smoothies and boneyard burritos, to coconut bacon ‘Cheeze Burgers’ and tasty salads, there's something for everyone. This cafe is all vegan except for the cow’s milk at the coffee station, and is famous around town for their cupcakes, banana bread, muffins, cinnamon buns, and brownies.

Sweet Bones has a charming, punk rock, eclectic feel throughout with their reclaimed wood tables, hand painted saws, skull table numbers, succulents, and sugar skulls. You’re sure to be delighted and filled with a meal at Sweet Bones.

Stay sustainably...

View of the Creative Room at Ovolo Nishi

Ovolo Nishi Hotel

This glamorous hotel perched on the edge of Lake Burley Griffin is housed in the Nishi building, the award-winning sustainable building in Canberra’s NewActon design precinct. Designed by world-renowned architects, the Nishi Building was awarded the International Project of the Year award at the 2015 Building Awards in London. Constructed of 1,600 metres of steel, mesh and Australian blackbutt, the building‘s green credentials include high performance glazing, solar power, and a blackwater recycling plant housed in over 90 plant boxes of varying species surrounding the façade.

The sophisticated Ovolo Nishi rooms within the Nishi building are an ode to the natural world, with retro furnishings constructed from refurbished clay, cork, eucalyptus timber, and natural fibres, and bathrooms featuring luxe rain showers or deep concrete bathtubs.

The view will similarly transport you from the CBD. The atrium rooms peer into a leafy internal courtyard alive with reclaimed Tasmanian tree ferns, while the sunrooms glow in natural light and gaze out over the lake. After dining at the in-house vegetarian restaurant, you’ll be perfectly positioned to visit nearby museumsnature reserves, and the city centre. Your furry four-legged friends are also welcome at this five-star, sustainable hotel.

Cubby and Co

Cubby and Co offers a stripped-back glamping experience located only a 15-minute drive from the city and it certainly encourages visitors to get back to nature (sans Wi-Fi and technology). ‘Edgar’ and ‘Frank,’ two pristine bell tents named for local winemakers, are nestled among the undulating vines at Mount Majura Vineyard from spring to autumn. In winter, you can instead choose to cozy up in ‘Dinny’, a tiny house with a spectacular view.

In each hideaway, you’ll sleep on a plush bed shrouded in linens, rifle through the books provided, and play your way through the stash of board games. While the accommodation includes comforts like a mini-fridge and eco-toilet, you’ll need to abandon showers for your one-night stay. You can dedicate your visit to picnicking and stargazing, or head to the cellar door for wine tastings and have fine dining takeaway delivered to your tent deck.

A comfy bed in front of a window looking out across Canberra.

Little National Hotel

Make a beeline for the Little National Hotel if you’re after a mini-break where you don’t need to traipse around the city to have all your whims and fancies met. This Barton hotel offers affordable luxury, so you can recline in style and dedicate your holiday spending money to other decadent experiences.

At Little National Hotel, consciousness is always on their mind, as they recycle coffee grinds into the hotel gardens, grow their on-site garnish garden, engage with ReturnIT to recycle containers and donate the proceeds, replace all single-use containers with refillable pump amenities, run beehives on the hotel rooftop, and are currently seeking their climate neutral accreditation. Accommodation with a conscience.

Explore sustainably...

Dhawura Tours

To gain a deep understanding about local Ngunnawal culture, join Dhawura Tours and travel back in time to 'The Dreaming'. An experienced guide and Traditional Custodian will interpret various sites of significance and explore a variety of landscapes, wildlife and natural bush around Canberra, on Mount Majura, Mount Taylor, or Black Mountain.

Dhawura Tours impart the importance of preserving and protecting Ngunnawal culture from being lost, aiming to educate the wider community about the rich history and cultural practices of the traditional custodians of the land that Canberra sits on. Turn your break into an Australian adventure by following in the steps of Ngunnawal ancestors, and learn to listen to the diversity of landscapes, wildlife, and natural bush. Disconnect from the noise of your everyday modern life and connect to the land. Storytelling is the strongest form of sustainability, perpetuity of history and culture.

A woman walking across a hill overlooking Lake Burley Griffin and the National Arboretum.

National Arboretum Canberra

Spanning over 250 hectares, the National Arboretum Canberra is one of the world’s largest living collections of rare, endangered and significant trees.  A symbol of recovery and regeneration, the Arboretum is celebrated for its forward-thinking vision - as a place of beauty, education, research, recreation, conservation and above all, a special place set aside for future generations.

Their mission is to continue to nurture a living collection of international significance, prioritise projects that make the site more accessible, improve the visitor experience, maintain and grow the living collection, and continue to activate the landscape through new activities and events for the broader community. The Arboretum site and surrounding region sits on land traditionally known as Ngunnawal country and has a proactive role in the celebration and inclusion of Indigenous Australian people and their culture.

See native animals at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is considered a leader in conservation research through its work with the Southern Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby, Northern Corroboree Frog, and the Eastern Bettong populations. Regular guided activities are on offer to visitors covering topics such as Australian plants, animals and habitats, wetlands, and waterbirds at The Sanctuary.

Just 45-minutes’ drive from the city, The Sanctuary within Tidbinbilla is a large wetlands ecosystem surrounded by bushland that has been protected by a predator-proof fence for around 40 years, creating a refuge for a range of native animals.

Tidbinbilla is a place of historical and ongoing significance to the Ngunnawal people, the Traditional Custodians of the Canberra region, who have continued cultural, spiritual, and historical connection to the area. Working on land management projects at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve provides Ngunnawal people with a sense of personal pride, and it also affirms their identity of cultural belonging and connection to the land on which they live. Visitors have unique opportunities to learn about culture and history by participating in cultural tours with a local Ngunnawal Traditional Custodian.

GoBoat

GoBoat is all about freedom. There's nothing quite like skippering your own boat, free from the worries of the world. With the highest standards of safety, as well as a commitment to environmental sustainability, you can relax knowing you're in good hands (and you're treading lightly on the environment) as you cruise around Canberra's famous Lake Burley Griffin in your electric picnic boat.

Sustainable boat rental powered by clean energy, the Danish-designed picnic boats are constructed from fibreglass which uses recycled PET bottles and are powered by a state-of-the-art electric motor. No fossil fuels, no mess, no pollution. GoBoat also contributes to improving the local environment by regularly patrolling and collecting rubbish from the Lake. 

Mulligans Flat Woodlands Sanctuary at twilight with tour guide and tour group

Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary

A night tour at Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary is a unique experience to step back in time and explore the Australian bush as it was 100 years ago. On the tour you might be lucky enough to witness the Eastern Bettong foraging on native truffles in the wild (a species which has been extinct from the Australian mainland for almost 100 years).

The Mulligans Flat-Goorooyarroo Woodland Experiment is specifically designed to develop a sound knowledge base for understanding and managing temperate woodlands for improved biodiversity conservation. By restoring landscapes and reintroducing extinct species, the work at Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary will help benefit future generations.

Get more out of a holiday in Canberra...

Two young kids on bikes and a couple lean against a red car bonnet overlooking the view of Black Mountain Tower at the National Arboretum Canberra

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