With so much to see and do in central Canberra, many visitors overlook the rest of the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) and neighboring New South Wales. While you can have a great time within walking (or rowing) distance of Lake Burley Griffin, you can have an even better time if you rent a car for a day or two and explore just a little further. These are some of the attractions within a stone’s throw of Canberra.
The Canberra Wine District
With so much attention being paid to Canberra as the seat of Australian government, many visitors, including Australians, are surprised to learn that within a half hour’s drive from the city center, the Canberra wine region begins. Some of the finest cool region wines in Australia are produced here and with 33 wineries to choose from, it is a wine lover’s paradise. Enjoy the Canberra wine region any time of the year, but if you come in November, you can enjoy Wine, Roses and All That Jazz.
The Snowy Mountains
The Snowy Mountains extend from New South Wales to Victoria and Canberra just happens to be located within a much shorter distance from either of those State capitals to the best the Snowy Mountains have to offer. While best known as a winter wonderland, the summer months, too, are an ideal time to visit Australia’s only alpine region. Fishing, hiking (or “bushwalking,” as the Aussies say), mountain bike riding, horseback riding or sight seeing are just some of the activities you can enjoy within a leisurely 3 hour drive of the center of Canberra. Take it easy or challenge yourself: the choice is yours.
The New South Wales South Coast
If Canberra is on your travel itinerary, then include a trip to the New South Wales south coast and make a great trip even better. Part of the beauty of visiting the south coast from Canberra is getting there, because you can take the scenic route through rolling hills and historic villages on quiet country roads. The direct route, the Princes Highway, will get you there faster and is a great introduction to the region. Look for historic Bungendore and Braidwood along the way: they’re perfect for a lunchtime stopover and stroll. Bateman’s Bay will be your introduction to the south coast, but don’t leave Kiama and the other coastal villages and towns off your list, either. On your way back to Canberra, stop off at Kangaroo Valley. Whatever you do, give yourself at least a few days to explore the magic of the south coast.
The Murrumbidgee River begins in the Snowy Mountains and meanders through the ACT before joining the mighty Murray River. Set aside for nature lovers, the Murrumbidgee River Corridor is perfect for anyone who loves swimming, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, bike riding, bird watching or just about anything else that gets you back in touch with pristine nature. Many areas have been created for picnicking, so think about packing a lunch (free BBQ facilities are included) and making a day of it.
One thing all of the Canberra regional attractions have in common is the great outdoors. Whether it’s at the top of Mt. Koscuisko, on the banks of the Murrumbidgee or standing on a clifftop at Jervis Bay, Australia is a land of wide open spaces. Canberra is the perfect place to make your base for exploring the best of the Australian outdoors. A great way to plan your trip is to book a Canberra accommodation first and then arrange day, overnight or multi-day trips to suit your mood. Be warned, though, you may love it so much, you never want to leave.