Canberra is Australia’s largest inland city and the 8th largest overall. It just goes to show that bigger is not always better since Canberra is also the capital of the entire continent. This is also a strange one, because Canberra is situated inside the ACT (Australian Capital Territory); a federal territory enclaved within New South Wales, similar to Washington D.C. in the United States of America. In short, it’s a territory within a territory and is home to the Australian federal government’s most important institutions. But before I bore you to death with all the history, let’s get into the good stuff and all the best things to do in Canberra.
Probably not on anyone’s list when visiting Canberra, would be The Parliament House, even if you are not into politics, because this building is quite impressive. Costing more than A$1.1 billion to build back in 1989, its total height is 351 ft and has 4700 rooms, many of them open to the public. You access the magnificent great hall by a marble staircase that stretches from the main foyer. It has a very large tapestry on display and you are more than welcome to take photos to remember it. The building itself looks like two boomerangs and on the top it has a flagpole that stretches 266 ft high. If you really want to remember your day, drink some of the finest wines Australia has to offer and see if you can reach the top of that flagpole.
They offer both free and paid tours, so getting to see all this for free is another case of two birds with one stone. You are free to explore any and all public areas, including the Great Hall and roof and you can even watch the House of Representatives from the galleries. That’s a good way to catch up on any missed sleep.
The Parliament House is also home to some of Australia’s most significant art and includes the following:
- The Great Hall Tapestry designed by Arthur Boyd.
- 1297 Magna Carta. One of only four in existence, this was the set of rules set out to tell you what you can and cannot do, kinda like your mother. And if you were to break these rules, you could be sent to your room.
- Portraits of past Prime Ministers and documents significant to the country’s history.
- Over 6500 pieces of art.
Once you are done napping in the back of one of those representative meetings, you can head down to The Queen’s Terrace Cafe for some afternoon tea and cake, a selection of sandwiches or a proper meal with plenty of drinks to choose from. And don’t forget to buy a souvenir from the gift shop on your way out.
Australian War Memorial
Another must do when visiting Canberra would be to visit the War Memorial. There’s no point doing the nature thing; there are much better places in Australia for that. As soon as you come out of the Parliament House, you chuck a left and cross over the lake. It’s less than a seven-minute drive to the War Memorial, so once again, you don’t have to travel too far to get to another attraction. Time really is money. So Jaco is saving you bundles and to put the cherry on the cake, this is another freebie.
Wonder at your own leisure through the exhibitions and galleries that make up this world-class museum, depicting Australia’s involvement in all their past conflicts. They erected a shrine with a comprehensive list of every single soldier that had given their life for their country and you are free to read through it and take photos. This Memorial has beaten other famous landmarks like the Sydney Opera House and is ranked among the world’s greatest national monuments. And if you were thinking that the pool would be a great way to cool down….. it would, but just don’t let anyone catch you. It’s not permitted to dip there, especially skinny dipping.
Since going to Australia, we have pretty much done everything except skydiving. After visiting the Parliament Hose and the War Memorial, I’m sure that you will be fully rested, so let’s kick it up a notch by jumping out of a plane at 15,000 ft with just a piece of cloth to save you from becoming the same shape as a piece of naan bread.
If you live close by and have never skydived before, you can learn by doing the nine-stage course, but if you are a visitor, chances are that you’ll only have a couple of days available, so if you don’t have any previous experience, you can always do a tandem dive with one of the instructors. That’s where they strap you to the belly of an experienced skydiver and kick you out of the plane. Just make sure that you don’t pick the suicidal instructor on the day; leave that one for your mother-in-law.
Tandem skydiving packages and prices include the following:
- 10,000 ft jumps cost £260 or $328 per person and 15,000 ft jumps cost £320 or $398 per person.
- It takes 10min to get to 10,000 ft and 25min to 15,000 ft.
- 35-70 seconds of heart-stopping free fall.
- Free defibrillator charge mid-air.
- 5-7 minutes of parachute gliding.
- Free wet wipes and clean underwear.
- Skydive certificate.
- Invitation to come again at a discounted price.
- Unfortunately no extra clean underwear on your second jump. They want you to either wash your first pair or reuse it…. Wait what?! Pass!
If you are an experienced skydiver, you can jump for £40 or $48 from 14,000 ft, which I think is the best value for money. Lower and slightly cheaper jumps are available, so please check here for full details and prices.
Royal Australian Mint
Visiting The Royal Australian Mint is a great way to calm your nerves after hurdling towards a certain death just two photos up. As the only producer of Australia’s circulating coins, this building was opened in 1965 and is a very popular attraction for locals and tourists. I mean, how often would you get a chance to see something like this. Costing A$9 million to build in total, including all equipment, The Mint consists of two buildings and are staffed through The Treasury Department. Since the opening, they have produced over 15 billion coins and can make up to 2 million a day. You can even make your own legal tender coin by using the visitor presses. To mint a $1 coin will cost you $3. I suppose it’s the experience that counts.
This is where they minted the 2000 Olympic Games’ medals and they also produce tokens for casinos.
As far as I can see, this is another freebie. The cover charge and not the coins. Coins are for sale at the gift shop, so don’t get caught with your hand in the cookie jar. Visiting the mint is quite a unique experience and even if the factory is not producing coins, there are still plenty to do and see. You can use the touch screens, watch videos and walk through the galleries of rare coins to get the full experience.
Open during normal business hours, you also mint your own coin as mentioned before, visit the gift shop and enjoy an assortment of refreshments in the cafe. I doubt that they serve alcohol, so you would have to sneak in your own if you want to make those coffees a little Irish.
They have a few guidelines and tips to follow.
I’m not going to go through them all, but if you want to read them along with all other info, please check here.
- You need to keep your shoes on at all time. I have to assume that people have taken off their shoes in the past, which probably lead to a smell. Now, you always get that one person that takes it further, so they might even have had someone clipping their toenails on the couch. With my luck, I would be the one sitting on them. Athlete’s ass.
- Don’t ride your scooter or bicycle inside. Wow! Why would they even have to tell us that?
- You can’t smoke inside. It’s 2022. People should know this by now.
- Behave yourself. Don’t fight or behave inappropriate. To pick a fight with someone at a place where they mint coins, you must really be looking for one. I think what you are looking for is an octagon or boxing ring.
- All children under 15 must be supervised. Children at that age should know better, but still look out for that sticky fingers. If your child weighs more coming out than going in, it’s time to pull them over your knee.
This is it for Canberra folks. This city has plenty more to offer and Google is a good place to search for them all. Please share this page with everyone you know; it will show them that you at least pretend to care.
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