Mandurah Mail

Adventures in the ACT: What to do on a trip to Australia's capital

Adventures in the ACT: What to do on a trip to Australia's capital

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The Australian Capital Territory is often underestimated as a getaway destination by both international and domestic tourists alike. In truth, the ACT is rich with things to see and experience, especially for those with an interest in Australian history, and we're not just talking about colonial history here either.

If you are planning a trip to the ACT or may be considering seeing what the capital territory has to offer, then this little guide is a must-read for you. Read on to unearth all the ACT activities worth adding to your itinerary.

Visit Parliament House and other national attractions

There are a myriad of attractions that are just a stone's throw from the majority of Canberra's luxury accommodation options, so it's not at all difficult to start exploring as soon as you get to your hotel room.

For instance, you can actually see Mount Ainslie, the Molonglo River, and potentially even Parliament House from the rooms at the Crowne Plaza in Canberra, depending on what side of the hotel you're staying on.

With so much to do in and around the city centre, it can certainly be overwhelming to figure out what's worth your time.

Absolute must-sees naturally include Parliament House, the National Museum of Australia, as well as the National Library of Australia.

All three of these attractions feature gallery spaces dedicated to honouring notable Australian figures like Indigenous leaders and politicians through the ages, as well as a wealth of information about the region's own history.

There's plenty of other activities for lovers of all things politics, including walking tours of the city centre.

You may even decide to walk around the city centre yourself and check out all the international embassies that also call Canberra home.

Walks the trails of Namadgi National Park

Although most of the ACT's luxury hotels can be found in the heart of Canberra, there's still plenty of ACT accommodation in Belconnen, Tuggeranong, and the other districts that make up the territory.

You may consider spending a few nights in these other accommodation options in order to better explore the suburbs as well as the ACT countryside, which has to include a hike or two through Namadgi National Park.

Located just 40 km southwest of Canberra's city centre, the national park actually makes up around 46 per cent of the ACT, so a trip to the capital would genuinely be incomplete without a walk through the park's breathtaking forests.

There's plenty to see and do at Namadgi, including hiking across the park's many walking tracks, camping, fishing, picnicking, exploring historic sites from 19th and 20th century settlement Australia, and even mountain biking over approximately 400 km of managed trails.

As the park is so large, with an estimated area of 1061km, there's more than plenty to fill up a weekend in your itinerary.

If you want to experience all that Namadgi has to offer, however, you'll most likely need about five to six days to fit in all the park's most stunning trails.

The Kiandra to Tharwa trail will take six days on its own, given that it's just under 100 km in length! If you only have a few days, however, we recommend the Mount Tennent to Bushfold Flats Loop, the trail to Square Rock, and the trail to Gibraltar Falls.

Adventures in the ACT: What to do on a trip to Australia's capital

Follow the winding roads of wine country

Alongside being home to some of Australia's most unique forested areas, the capital territory is also a major player in Australia's wine industry, with 140 vineyards and over 40 Australian wineries dotting the countryside in and around the ACT.

The region is well-known for its riesling in particular, but there are a variety of other vinophilic and culinary delights to be experienced across the ACT's best wineries.

If you consider yourself to be quite the adventurous connoisseur, you may even opt to take a tour of your selected wineries to get fully acquainted with their viticultural processes.

Some estates may allow you to bear witness to the total process from start to finish, moving from crushing the grapes, to the fermentation process, and moving all the way through to cellar storage, where you may even be able to taste their 'freshest' wares, so to speak.

Discover flora and fauna at the zoo, aquarium, and arboretum

Finally, if you're travelling with young kids or are interested in Australian ecology yourselves, then you absolutely need to fit a trip to the National Arboretum as well as the National Zoo and Aquarium into your ACT trip itinerary.

With plenty of activities and tours that are designed to keep both kids and adults happy, alongside a myriad of kid-friendly experiences like the POD Playground and the National Bonsai and Penjing Collection, the National Arboretum is guaranteed to be a fascinating day out for the whole family.

You can seriously get lost in the gardens surrounding the Arboretum, but rest assured that with all of the rare endemic and introduced tree and plant species surrounding you, you certainly won't find yourself wanting to leave anytime soon either.

The National Zoo and Aquarium is an equally enriching experience, especially if you're travelling to the ACT as a family.

Located on 19 hectares along the Molonglo River, the zoo and adjoining aquarium both consist of a variety of constructed habitats designed for both native and non-native animal species, including animals from the Serengeti as well as tigers, leopards, and other jungle animals found across Asia.

The zoo also features a wide variety of close encounter experiences for visitors who want to get seriously up close and personal with the attraction's exotic inhabitants.

Just be sure to bring your camera to capture all of these once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

For Aussie families who are looking to jump back into interstate travel following years of lockdowns, the ACT has proven itself to be a more than ideal travel destination for your next holiday.

Be sure to get started on organising your itinerary now using all the suggestions we've outlined above.

Booking your tickets nice and early for all in-demand attractions is also highly recommended, especially if you're hoping to travel during school holiday periods.