The controversial capital of Australia, Canberra is situated a 3 hours bus ride inland from Sydney. In terms of travel time, Canberra is an admittedly ambitious day trip – we set off from Sydney Central Station at 7:00am and arrived back at 7:30pm. We used the company Murrays, who charged $46 for a return trip.
The country scenery heavily contrasts the cityscape of Sydney and greener coastal towns of New South Wales; the vastness is truly breathtaking. The bus journey is ideal for anybody who is limited on time in Australia and wanting to glimpse some variety in nature. In terms of the coach facilities, the coach is advertised as having Wi-Fi and charging sockets although neither worked for us on the outgoing trip. For this reason, I would recommend having a sim card with data and a decent portable charger. Otherwise, enjoy the ride!
My first impression of Canberra on a Saturday morning was “it’s a ghost town”. The almost clinically spaced museums and galleries seemed to exist mostly for appearance, creating a immediately striking and even awkward vibe. This was especially a shock having arrived from the bustling city of Sydney as Canberra also had barely any traffic or pedestrians in comparison. However, the city soon grew on me as exploring and navigating our way round was incredibly more relaxed! On the south of the Molongo River, the major attractions were almost on top of eachother – making walking between them both feasible and enjoyable.
I would recommend starting your trip with a Uber or bus ride to the Parliament. Take in the iconic exterior before exploring inside – either self guided or on one of the free tours offered at regular intervals. Exhibitions and portraits are displayed throughout the building in a museum-like fashion and you could easily spend up to an hour absorbing it all.
From the Parliament, head down Federal Mall Road to the Old Parliament and the Senate Gardens to the left. The once Parliament of Australia now acts as the Museum of Australian Democracy, which adults can enter for a $2 admission fee. Opening times are between 9am and 5pm daily.
A leisurely stroll through the parks surrounding King George 1 Memorial an National Rose Garden takes you to King Edward Terrace Road. This area boasts a high proportion of renowned galleries and museums, including: Questacon, the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery of Australia. Questacon (the National Science and Technology Centre) does cost $23 to enter for adults, however, is great for a lighthearted visit and offers fun for all ages. Both the galleries are free to enter though welcome donations.
One of the most highly recommended activities in Canberra is a cruise, which offers an exciting alternative way to learn about the australian capital’s most famous landmarks. Tours depart daily at 10:30am, 1:30pm and 3:00pm with Lake Burley Griffin Cruises next to the cafe Elixir. Even better? Tickets cost a mere $20 for adults.
Heading by Uber or bus to the northern side of the city, you could opt to visit the National Museum of Australia or the National Capital Exhibition. Otherwise, head to Mooseheads for a cheap drink in one of Canberra’s most renowned pubs and nightclubs. Check out downstairs for framed sports and military memorabilia or for a chilled game of pool.
Canberra is most definitely quieter than both Melbourne and Sydney, and it’s centre is significantly smaller. Although, this definitely makes the city an ideal candidate for a day trip and less daunting for a solo traveller. The city boasts multiple bucketlist attractions for any tourists wanting a true glimpse in to australian politics and culture. Overall, 6 hours is a perfect amount of time to spend in Canberra if you wish to take in the capital’s vibe and most of its central attractions.