HomeArticles > Clyde Arnott's Insider Guide to Canberra
A headshot of a man with curly hair sitting down, who is a ceramicist in Canberra.

Clyde Arnott's Insider Guide to Canberra

Updated 3 Jul 2024

Ceramics, coffee, and scenic swims

Local ceramicist Clyde Arnott shares his line-up for the ultimate 24 hours in the capital, featuring wild swimming and Swedish buns.

A gold table laden with brunch dishes, coffee and tea.

I’m a bacon-and-egg-roll-for-breakfast guy. And I reckon the best one in town is at New Acton’s Mocan and Green Grout. The fit-out of this café is also one of my favourites – it’s eclectic, with Brutalist shapes and plants everywhere. For me, that contrast is Canberra in a nutshell.

I might have had a good cup of tea with breakfast but now I need coffee so I’ll swing by Lonsdale Street in Braddon for a locally roasted flat white at B-Side. I often wander down the street with my coffee to Braddon Flowers. I’ve always thought I’d like to be a florist and I find the way Lauren King, the owner of this place, arranges things is inspirational.

Two friends cycling on a path by the lake.

Incorporating nature is really important to my work. I love making things that have a sense of place. When they’re finished, my cups, vases or whatever it is can be quite stark and concrete-looking, influenced by the architecture of Canberra. But I also like to make water and sand from rivers around the city a literal part of the pieces. I collect a little from local rivers to take back to my studio in Ainslie. I mix these with clay to make what potters call “grog”, which gives the ceramics a rustic texture.

There’s a beautiful spot called the Uriarra Crossing on the Murrumbidgee River, where I’ve been swimming since I was a kid. It’s about 25 minutes north-west of the city. As you clear the suburbs, you pass plains of bushland and sheep farms, then when you enter into a valley, it feels like you’re driving into a secret. You end up at this peaceful river, surrounded by tall native trees. I come for the sounds of nothing but the birds and of clear water running over big river stones.

Uriarra is also a great picnic spot. Before you go, stock up at the Ainslie IGA. It’s not just any old supermarket – it has a fantastic deli with a wall of imported cheeses that you can’t get anywhere else in Canberra. And I love that it has been owned by one family for 60-or-so years.

 

Cricketers playing on a green oval in front of a crowd at sunset.

I’m big on small businesses that do something special. There’s a bakery in Mawson called Under, which makes bread and pastries that I’d say are worth making a trip to Canberra for. They do these sweet, doughy Swedish bullar – buns with cinnamon or cardamom – that are amazing.

And if you’re in the city, follow No Name Lane to the sandwich joint called Sandoochie, which uses Under’s bread, loading it with seasonal stuff from the markets. Fillings might be poached chicken with almond and rocket or pastrami with apple but they change daily – whatever’s written on the butcher’s paper on the wall is good.

If there’s still some time left in the day, I’ll work on my tennis at the grass courts of Reid Tennis Club, one of the oldest in Canberra. In summer, I might watch an international or national cricket match at Manuka Oval. Or, in winter, you can catch AFL there.

 

 

The interior of a pub with a view of Telstra Tower in the window

The best way to see out the afternoon is a drink at the pub. My local is Edgar’s near the Ainslie shops. The garden is a beautiful place to have a cold draught beer or lager from the tap. There’s snazzy dining at The Inn restaurant upstairs but a classic schnitzel and chips from the bar makes me pretty happy.

Clyde Arnott’s ceramics workshop is open by appointment. Shop online at clydearnott.com.

Featured

Accommodation deals

Special Offer
$238

Discovering Ancient Egypt - Studio Room @ Abode Woden

Woden
From $238 (inc. GST)
Book Now
Special Offer
$233

Fall into Winter Package - One Bedroom Apartment @ Abode Tuggeranong

Tuggeranong
From $233 (inc. GST)
Book Now
Special Offer
$218

Discovering Ancient Egypt - Studio Room @ Abode Tuggeranong

Tuggeranong
From $218 (inc. GST)
Book Now
Special Offer
$218

Discovering Ancient Egypt - King Studio @ Abode Belconnen

Belconnen
From $218 (inc. GST)
Book Now
Special Offer
$233

Fall into Winter Package - Family Studio @ Abode Gungahlin

Gungahlin
From $233 (inc. GST)
Book Now
Special Offer
$271.14

Couple's Package - One Bedroom Apartment @ Deco Hotel Canberra

Braddon
From $271.14 (inc. GST)
Book Now