Not too long from now you just might get to travel outside again. When that happens why not consider the oldest state in Australia.
Named by Captain James Cook himself in 1770 the state contains some of the best flora, fauna and fun the country has to offer. We’ll skip over the obvious ones, such as Byron Bay, Snowy Mountains and the Hunter Valley. So, here are ten of the best places we can recommend you plant a foot or a tent once lockdown ends.
1. Mungo National Park
Mungo National Park is a world heritage listed wonder located in the middle of NSW just north of the also fabulous Mildura. Its rich in Aboriginal history and is perfect for a walk, picnic or a little bit of camping. It also happens to be the home of the Mungo Lady and Mungo Man. If you’re into Indigenous history the park is home to some of the oldest human remains ever found in the country.
2. Kangaroo Valley
300kms south of Sydney and filled with kangaroos, if you place yourself in the right place and right time, kangaroo valley is has all there is to do. Kayaking, camping, music and food is just the beginning. There are some b&b’s and camping spots are on hand to make your adventure as comfortable as you care to make it. Bendeela is a popular spot for camping on the green banks of the Kangaroo River where even a little bit of fishing is on offer to help you pass the time while the odd bare nose wombat passes by.
3. Warrumbungle National Park
Have you ever heard of a Dark Sky Park? You have now. Warrumbungle National Park. Is Australia’s only Dark Sky Park – that means it’s a park located far enough away from a cities lights to be dark enough that more stars that can be seen from most other packs. It was designated in 2016 by the international Dark Sky Association and is now famously the best place to see the Milky Way.
4. Morton National Park
With 11 plus walking trails, cycling, waterfalls and Grand Canyon style lookouts Morton National Park is a one stop shop for any type of outdoor enthusiast. It has something for the young and old with gentle walking trails and scenic waterfalls or even mountain biking for those who are happy to go with the larger bumps. There’s tonnes of camping nearby so no need to fork out for a hotel if you’d like to stay in the great outdoors. It does cost a whopping $4 per car per day, which means someone in the car will have to forgo their midmorning coffee or hot chocolate, but I we’re sure you’ll find it worth it.
5. Lord Howe Island
Although currently closed Lord Howe Island is a paradise in waiting for when lockdown ends. Consisting of over 2000kms of coastline and countless kangaroo’s the island has the feel of a resort in the surrounding of national park. There’s swimming, surfing, snorkelling, scuba diving and for the vitamin-d deficient, sunbathing. Camping is not permitted unless you’re a resident of the island as a way to help maintain its pristine surrounding as a way to maintain its World Heritage listing, but there are plenty of fantastic places to stay that’ll make it hard for you to leave.
6. Outback NSW
Yes, Outback is a place. To get your taste of the Australian outback you simply need to go to Outback, the very large region of the state in the upper left quadrant of the state. Full of indigenous history you can trek into the region through its rugged 4x4 trails. Home to not one but three national parks you’ll see big red kangaroos and emus racing across the rich and rugged landscape. The skies are mostly crystal clear making it perfect for camping out under the stars. The best gateway to get there is through Dubbo, east of Sydney.
7. Bouddi National Park
A little-known gem located near Gosford and south of Sydney, is Bouddi National Park; it’s 1,532 hectare park with a temperate rainforest (also known as a moss forest), the ocean tucked below steep cliffs, walking trail, fishing, and whale watching. It’s perfect for camping on a weekend or weekend getaway. The icing on the cake? Its only 90mins from Sydney!
8. Birubi Beach
Just north of Newcastle is Birubi Beach – a great place to holiday, especially with kids. Home to some massive expansive sand dunes that will keep them occupied for days. Teenagers can sandboard. Adults can ride camels. Those who prefer the smell of petrol, there’s 4WD Safaris or even quad bikes. The ocean is only a few footprints in the sand away so learning to surf is option for the those looking to push their heart rate through the roof. The road there can lead you a million directions but regardless you’ll always end up in the right place.
9. Booderee National Park
From beaches to birdwatching this gold nugget of s destination hidden in the Jervis Bay region of NSW has everything you’re probably looking for with a host of outdoor activities. Like most campgrounds in coastal Australia there’s fishing, swimming, snorkelling, but at Booderee there’s boating. On the surface you’d think boating and camping went almost hand in hand, but in reality, finding a great place to camp with a better place to float your boat is much harder than expected. Its recently invested $750,000 to redesign and update the wharf making it not only vastly better than what is currently there, but most importantly, safer.
10. Kanangra-Boyd National Park
Just 180 km from Sydney is one of NSW greatest national parks. There’s no shortage of luscious greenery and gorgeous, not to mention cute, Australian animals. Part of the Greater Blue Mountains World Heritage Area the scenery is nothing short of spectacular. Massive sandstone cliffs line the horizon above the trails that wind in-between the forests below. The fire trails can be accessed by walkers, but cyclists will get the most out of them with a mountain bikes. It’s got same great fishing for those who love trout and if you are there in the summer months canyoning is both possible and popular.
We hope that our list gives you some food for thought! The easing of restrictions could present the perfect opportunity to pack up the car, camper or RV and hit road, ticking off as many spots as you like on the way. With social distancing and heightened hygiene being the new normal, having your accommodation and wheels all in one definitely has its appeal, and to make that journey a little easier, why not pack a Scrubba wash bag for self-sufficient laundry on-the-go! Browse the Scrubba wash bag range to pick up the ultimate gear for your next NSW adventure.
A state that acted fast to keep on top of the Covid-19 spread, with low case numbers, no community transition and zero fatalities, the Northern Territory is now easing back into normality. In some well-received news, Territorians have been given the green light to camp, hike and swim through some of the NT’s parks and reserves!
Known as Australia’s ‘spiritual heart’, the NT is a land rich in aboriginal history and traditions, incredible space and landscape ranging from vast deserts and wetlands to red-rock gorges and rapid rivers, epic wildlife and a cosmopolitan city. Attracting visitors from far and wide to immerse themselves in the state’s unique character, It’s no surprise then that in 2019 the NT was voted as one of the top 30 emerging travel destinations in the world for 2020 by Travel Lemming. Our top ten list of must-sees starts at the Red Centre, in the south of the territory, and is a land of parched deserts and striking rock formations...
1. Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park
Uluru, one of Australia’s most iconic tourist attractions, is an 863m high red monolith rising up from the desert within the World Heritage-listed Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park. A magnificent rock structure which holds deep spiritual significance to the Anangu people, who manage the park in conjunction with Parks Australia to ensure that their traditional lands are protected. Another sacred site, which lies roughly 40km from Uluru within the park, is a formation of dome-shaped rocks called Kata Tjuta (the Olgas). To appreciate both sites, a tour led by an aboriginal guide is recommended, and a visit to the fascinating Cultural Centre at the base of Kata Tjuta is a must. The 10km walking/biking track around the base of Uluru provides some great views, with multiple more viewing platforms around the park allowing for stunning photo opportunities, particularly at sunrise or sunset, when the rich burnt orange colour of both rock formations is at its finest. Hot air balloon flights, camel tours and sunset BBQ dining also provide some spectacular experiences!
The unmissable Kata Tjuta. Photo via @ntaustralia
2. Kakadu National Park
Another world heritage-listed National Park and Australia’s largest is Kakadu which lies in the NT’s north. In contrast to Uluru National Park, the coastal landscape of Kakadu consists of river estuaries, mangrove swamps and tall monsoon rainforests, with flood plains further inland through which rivers wind and weave into the sea. Stunning waterfalls such as the famous Gunlom Falls, Jim Jim Falls and Twin Falls can be found within the escarpment of Arnhem Land, and incredible hiking trails further inland. The park is home to amazing wildlife varieties including 70 species of reptile with the most dangerous and largest being the saltwater crocodile! Explore the park by car, on foot, or by boat, with camping options aplenty!
Take a plunge at Gunlom Falls! Photo via @kakadutourism
The NT’s vibrant capital, Darwin, is next on our list. A multi-cultural hub on the Indian Ocean which visitors flock to for its tropical outdoor lifestyle, impressive harbour and beaches, rich war history and delicious Southeast Asian-influenced cuisine. Sample laksa, mud crab or Kakadu plums at the famous Mindil Beach Sunset Markets where 60 food stalls stand alongside arts and crafts stalls, street performers and musicians! History buffs will relish in a visit to Darwin’s defence force museums, or the Cyclone Tracy exhibits at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. With temperatures sky high all year round, cooling off at the city’s wave pool or awesome free water park in Leanyer is essential! Darwin also offers a great base for visiting some of Australia’s best national parks such as Litchfield and the aforementioned Kakadu or you may like to take a road trip to one of the top end’s famous jumping crocodile boat tours or swim amongst these incredible beasts - if you dare - in The Cage of Death at Crocosaurus Cove Darwin!
A little close for comfort. Photo via @ntaustralia
4. Litchfield National Park
A 90-minute drive south of Darwin is the beautiful Litchfield National Park, which makes it a great first port call of call when heading out of the city or even as a day trip. Swim at the park’s stunning waterholes, gaze at powerful waterfalls or for a bit of adventure hit some wild bushwalking trails. For the experienced and well-prepared, the 39km Tabletop Track takes hikers through Litchfield’s savannah woodlands, along beautiful creeks and to breathtaking swimming holes and waterfalls such as Florence Falls and Wangi Falls. Buley Rockhole with its relaxing shaded tiers of crystal clear water is also a must-see and for something a little unique, check out the two-metre tall magnetic and cathedral termite mounds here too! Our top tip is to take a scenic 4WD trip to the Lost City, a formation of large sandstone columns near the Tolmer Falls in the park’s west where you can take a dip in a plunge pool, explore the ruins of the Blythe Homestead and enjoy a peaceful picnic. Camp for a night or three amongst the magnificent surroundings of a national park not to be missed!
The mesmerising Florence Falls. Photo via@ntaustralia
5. Alice Springs
Australia’s most famous outback town and geographical centre, Alice Springs, is an important launching pad for the four big sightseeing attractions in the Red Centre such as Uluru, Kata Tjuta, the MacDonnell Ranges and Kings Canyon. The town itself, once unassuming and dusty, now boasts a number of restaurants, hotels, caravan parks, shops and galleries showcasing Aboriginal art. Learn about indigenous culture at the Araluen Cultural Precinct, spot some incredible wildlife at Alice Springs Desert Park or check out more crocs at Alice Springs Reptile Centre! The surrounding countryside also offers visitors the chance to hike the Larapinta Trail, one of Australia's most challenging walks, and drive the Red Centre Way from Alice Springs to Kings Canyon or to the iconic Karlu Karlu aka Devils Marbles a few hours away! Desert safaris on quad bikes, hot air balloon rides, and camel rides are other popular things to do!
Epic Red Centre Drives. Photo via @ntaustralia
6. West MacDonnell Ranges
Heading west of Alice Springs you’ll find the majestic West MacDonnell Ranges snaking almost 200km into the sunset. The West Macs, as they’re often referred to, are home to some of Central Australia’s most spectacular scenery, including some truly amazing waterholes, hidden gorges and intriguing chasms. There are so many special spots in the West Macs but if we had to pick a few we’d start with Simpsons Gap as it’s a great way to experience the rugged topography of the ranges, where deep gorges contrast wide desert-like plains with black-footed rock wallabies making an appearance early morning and late afternoon. Other must-see places include Emily Gap with its shallow pools and green budgerigars, Standley Chasm with its glowing red rock walls and Ellery Creek Big Hole with its dolomite rock formations and refreshingly cool swimming hole. For the keen hikers, there are many trails to choose from such as the 24km hike from Alice Springs Telegraph Station to Simpsons Gap which marks the first section of the famous Larapinta Trail, one of Australia's most famous outback walks. Enjoy stunning views on foot and on four wheels; the road that winds past the ranges, aka The Red Centre Way, is one of Australia’s most iconic drives along with the Mereenie Loop Road. Take this 1140km route to tick off many of the outback’s iconic sights in one four-day trip.
Cool & serene Ellery Creek. Photo via @ntaustralia
7. Kings Canyon
This aforementioned famous dirt track will also take you to the ever-popular Kings Canyon in the Watarrka National Park located about midway between Alice Springs and Uluru, where you’ll find the deepest gorge in the Red Centre and more than 600 species of native plants and animals! Perennial waterholes can be found at the canyon’s base, while the upper part of the gorge, known as the Garden of Eden, features lush ferns and palm forests, as well as historical indigenous rock paintings. Located on a plateau above the canyon is an area rich in flora and fauna known as the Lost City which features red sandstone rocks weathered into the semblance of ruined houses and streets. To take in the most jaw-dropping views of the gorge, there is the 6km Kings Canyon Rim Walk which takes a challenging few hours to complete and is particularly rewarding at sunrise. The less adventurous, or those with aversions to heights, can venture deep into King’s Canyon at ground level and be dazzled by the beautiful canyon walls from below. Stay in the caravan park for the night to ensure that you have enough time to take it all in; get up early, hit the trails, take a scenic flight or even a camel safari!
Challenging hikes with rewarding views! Photo via @ntaustralia
Translating to "Islands of Smiles", a visit to this unique haven will make you do just that! Take a 2.5 hour trip north across the water from Darwin to this tropical paradise for a fascinating dose of indigenous culture, white-sand beaches, dense jungles, world-class fishing and breathtaking sunsets. The Tiwi Islands comprise of two main islands named Bathurst and Melville (and nine more uninhabited islands), with permanent residents being of mostly aboriginal descent. Whether you visit via an organised day trip or you stay a little longer at a beachfront lodge, locals are friendly and welcoming and there is plenty on offer to keep the whole family entertained. Take in the beautiful scenery, immerse yourself in the traditional lifestyle, enjoy a cultural or wildlife tour, watch an artist paint or carve at a gallery, learn how to weave a pandanus mat, witness a dancing and smoking ceremony or sample some delicious fresh seafood! Head to Tiwi in March for their Aussie Rules Football grand final; a sport which is held in high regard amongst islanders!
A happy paradise. Photo via @ntaustralia
For a touch of magic, a visit to Mataranka is not to be missed. A picturesque place made famous for the beautifully scenic sandy-bottomed thermal springs in which you can float on the gentle current of crystal clear warm waters around the natural circuit shaded by pandanus palms. The Thermal Pool at Mataranka Homestead remains an icon for visitors, and the environmental walk and swimming at Bitter Springs Thermal Pool is a beautifully relaxing experience. For a change of pace, check out the free Barramundi feeding at the Territory Manor where fish are caught with bare hands! A lovely spot to set up camp for the night and another amazing location to tick off on your big NT road trip.
Tranquillity awaits. Photo via @ntaustralia
10. Nitmiluk National Park
Another incredible national park holding deep spiritual significance for Australia’s aboriginal people and another of the NT’s most iconic locations lies 244km south-east of Darwin and closest to the town of Katherine. Nitmiluk comprises a series of natural gorges up to 100m deep on the Katherine River and Edith Falls. Katherine Gorge is the main feature, being one of the park’s 13 interior gorges which are peppered with waterfalls, rapids and of course amazing views. Flowing out of the neighbouring Kakadu National Park, the Katherine River has carved a remarkable route through the rocky layers of the vast outback of Nitimulik. There are many sights to behold and explore within the park’s pristine wilderness; pull the walking boots on for a two-hour or perhaps five-day hike, take a dip at one of many swimming holes, enjoy a boat trip through the gorges, take a scenic helicopter flight or rent a canoe! Nitmiluk has become a popular stop-off for those brave enough to make the long drives across the NT’s vast wilderness!
Paddle through the impressive gorge. Photo via @ntaustralia
The red dirt roads of the Aussie outback are calling! The NT is undeniably Australia’s home of truly epic road trips, amazing camping locations, the most rewarding hikes and endless adventuring into the unknown. And when it comes to travel gear, Scrubba has your back. Pack up the car or RV, grab your portable washing machine and hit the road. Whether you wind up in the outback off the beaten track or at a busy campground with a trunk-full of dusty, sweaty clothes, your Scrubba wash bag has your laundry covered! Having no need to seek out communal laundry facilities gives you the freedom to travel clean, light and free. Browse the Scrubba wash bag store to pick up some handy gear before you go!
With new cases of Coronavirus slowing to a trickle, in turn leading to the easing of restrictions on non-essential travel within the state, South Australian residents will have the perfect opportunity to really discover those parts of their home states that they might have otherwise overlooked!
South Australia (SA) is often missed off Australian travel itineraries, yet it is a state steeped in history, with lots to offer and the perfect place to get an international fix, now that overseas travel is off the cards for a while. The Mediterranean climate hosts world-renowned wines, extinct volcanoes, white sand beaches, German-influenced towns, and cenotes. We're sharing ten of our favourite spots which hopefully make it onto your South Australian hit list as well.
1. Kangaroo Island
Kangaroo Island offers one of the best wildlife experiences in South Australia. After the recent bushfires, the crowd numbers have dropped dramatically, but there are still plenty of beautiful untouched locations. Once the restrictions have been lifted, travel to the island will provide much-needed support to communities and help boost local tourism. Wildlife areas not to be missed include the Seal Bay Conservation Park and the Flinders National park. At these locations, you can see subspecies of kangaroos, wallabies, and other furry marsupials. As well as being environmentally conscious, this Island has a vibrant food and wine scene, with a few wineries to check out such as the Islander Estate and Dudley Wines (divine food and views). For the beer enthusiasts amongst us, craft ales can be sampled at the Kangaroo Island brewery and if you happen to be visiting on the first Sunday of the month, you can check out some local art, food, and culture at Penneshaw Market.
Endless locations to visit on the island. Photo via @authentickangarooisland
2. Eyre Peninsula
Only a brief flight away from Adelaide, a seafood and coastal paradise can be found in South Australia's Eyre Peninsula. The Eyre Peninsula’s coastline spans across 2000 km and is home to towns like Port Lincoln and Whyall. Coffin Bay oyster farm offers tours for those who love food with an experience. Dressed in a fishing wader and boots you will learn how to shuck oysters straight from the ocean. These tours also allow you to experience Peninsula’s scenery while enjoying locally sourced wine. If oysters aren’t your thing, then the Eyre Peninsula offers many wildlife experiences. You can swim with the friendly sea lions found at Baird Bay or go cage diving with great white sharks at Port Lincoln, which is the only location in Australia where you can see this large species of shark up close! With eight secluded rock pools to swim in at low tide and open caves you can explore, the Thalia caves rock pools are another great location to visit on your holiday.
The breathtaking Thalia rockpool from above. Photo via @eyrepeninsula
3. Coober Pedy
Coober Pedy, otherwise known as the opal mining capital of the world, is located in the middle of a desert. It’s hard to imagine that this dusty town that resembles Mars used to be covered by the ocean over 150 million years ago. Not only is this location known for opal mines, but also for its unique lifestyle. Coober Pedy’s inhabitants live underground in dugouts to escape the intense weather conditions that range from 45℃ in summer to -1℃ in the winter months. Town dwellers embrace these conditions by living in houses made from sandstone bed rocks that allow for the temperature to stay at a bearable temperature of 22℃. Even places such as the Catacomb church, art galleries, and motels can be found underground.
Hike through the surrounding desert! Photo via @emu_escpae
4. Barossa Valley
Barossa Valley is a wine lover’s haven with many world-renowned wineries and culinary destinations. It is one of Australia’s oldest grape-growing regions and is only an hour away from South Australia’s capital. There are many things to do in Barossa Valley with 150 wineries to choose from and biking trails that give you an opportunity to see the many vineyards. Many popular Australian shiraz brands such as Penfolds, Wolf’s Blass, and Jacobs Creek come from this region. One of the unique experiences that Penfolds offers is the opportunity to blend and craft your own wine. The weekend farmers' markets are a great way to sample local produce such as homemade breads, desserts, local cheeses, and of course, more wine.
One of many delightful wineries. Photo via @mybarossa
5. Flinders Ranges
Take a 4WD adventure along the red dust road of the Flinders Ranges in the heart of the outback. This dry and rugged landscape has a mountain range stretching over 400 km and features incredible sunsets, which is perfect for nature lovers and photographers. A trip exploring these ranges is not complete until you see the Flinders Ranges National Park. At this national park you can visit the Wilpena Pound, which is a natural amphitheater surrounded by mountains. Indigenous art at Arkaroo Rock, fossils, and a section of the famous long-distance Heysen trail are some of the many things you can also see in the Flinders Ranges. If you’re looking to experience farm life, you can stay in a luxurious villa located on Rawly sheep farm. The Rawly sheep farm also offers scenic flights that fly over the Flinders Ranges and are a great way to view the impressive mountains from above.
Explore the Flinders Ranges in a 4WD! Photo via @lukeriddler
6. Mount Gambier
Immerse yourself in the city of limestone caves, crystal lakes, sinkholes, and vibrant green fauna. Mount Gambier is a city near the border of Victoria where people usually stopover when driving to Adelaide. If you're only passing by, make sure you make a stop to stretch your legs at Blue Lake. This lake was caused by a crater of an extinct volcano. Depending on the time of the year, the lake changes colour from sky blue to grey. If you're interested in seeing South Australia’s only world heritage location, go ahead and check out Naracoorte Caves. These ancient caves are made from limestone and you will see plenty of stalactites, fossils, and bats! After a day of exploring Mount Gambier, we suggest checking out some sinkholes. Believe it or not, these sinkholes are actually cenote formations, just like the famous cenotes in Mexico. The sinkholes in Mount Gambier are Australia's only cenotes and one of the few places that these can be found on the planet.
The freshwater cenotes and stalactite caves. Photo via @discover_mount_gambier
7. Fleurieu Peninsula
Located southwest of the Mount Lofty Ranges is the Fleurieu Peninsula, an area that has picturesque beaches and wildlife reserves. It is the perfect outdoor-focused location, popular with visitors for its fishing, walking, whale watching, surfing and swimming. If you're looking for a beach resort or family vacation Victor Harbor is one of the best places to stay. Make sure to check out Lake Alexandria where the Murray River flows in between the ocean.
The stunning clear blue ocean meeting the Murray River at Coorong National Park. Photo via @officialfleurieupeninsula
Hahndorf is located in the Adelaide Hills and is one of the few German settlement towns that still exist in Australia today. A small town that was established in the mid-1800s, Hahndorf is filled with German architecture, culture and history. Stone cottages, pubs with a wide selection of German beer on tap and German-inspired dishes on the menu as well as shops brimming with brightly coloured flowers playing traditional German music line the town's quaint streets. A walking tour or trip to the German Migration Museum to take in some of the town's history is recommended, as is free tastings and sampling from local wineries, specialty food stores, and alehouses. Awesome activities for the little ones include picking strawberries at Beerenberg Family Farm, getting up close with animals at the Hahndorf Farm Barn, or taking a little trip to the magical Fairy Garden.
Immerse yourself in Hahndorf's unique culture. Photo via @hahndorf_southaustralia
9. Clare Valley
Away from the bustling cities and coastal towns of South Australia, you can find a small winery town called Clare Valley. This region is famous for its Riesling wines and also internationally renowned for its boutique beers and ciders. If you're a foodie, we highly recommend visiting this area in May for their annual “Clare Valley Gourmet weekend”. It is a huge celebration of their local food and wine grown in the area with live concerts and plenty of food to taste. One winery that needs to be on your list is Jesuit Winery at Sevenhill. This is the oldest winery in the region that features an underground cellar, St Aloysius church, and a crypt. If crypts and wineries don't appeal, check out Red Banks Conservation Park or Lake Bumbunga to be at one with nature!
Home to one of Australia's edible-looking pink lakes. Photo via @clarevalleysa
Last but not least, is South Australia's vibrant capital city. Adelaide is the smaller, less busy, and greener version of Sydney and Melbourne, and home to many markets and festivals celebrating art, food, music and culture such as Adelaide Fringe and the WOMADelaide. One place not to miss is the Royal Botanic Gardens, hidden in amongst the nineteenth-century architecture. The stunning gardens are in a secluded part of the city with wide open spaces and a fascinating conservatory.
Picture perfect picnic spot. Photo via @cityofadelaide
We hope that our list gives you some food for thought! The easing of restrictions could present the perfect opportunity to pack up the car, camper or RV and hit road, ticking off as many spots as you like on the way. With social distancing and heightened hygiene being the new normal, having your accommodation and wheels all in one definitely has its appeal, and to make that journey a little easier, why not pack a Scrubba wash bag for self-sufficient laundry on-the-go! Browse the Scrubba wash bag range to pick up the ultimate gear for your next South Australian adventure.
Australian Capital Territory (ACT) became one of the first state/territories to have no active coronavirus cases. Restrictions have now started to ease, allowing gatherings of ten people, sports training, and outdoor recreational activities such as hiking and fishing. Camping and overnight stays will soon be added to that list!
The smallest territory in Australia, ACT is situated in between Melbourne and Sydney and is home to the national capital of Canberra. Commonly known as Australia’s “Bush Capital”, ACT is a landscape made of hills, rugged plains, plenty of trees and a planned capital city. On many occasions Lonely Planet picked Canberra as the 3rd best city in to travel in the world. Most people would find it surprising that this city would beat its rivals in Sydney and Melbourne. Our top 10 places in ACT to visit include a bit of something for everyone from museum hopping to nature and wildlife activities.
1. Lake Burley Griffin
Lake Burley Griffin is a large artificial lake in the heart of the city centre of Canberra. The lake was named after an American architect who won a competition to design Canberra in the 1920s. It took several years for the lake to be completed with both wars and drought affecting the process. Lake Burley Griffin is surrounded by museums, federal buildings, restaurants and walking trails. The best walking trail is the ‘Bridge to Bridge Trail’ which is a 5km walk that can be accessed from either Kings Avenue Bridge or Commonwealth Bridge. If you are not interested in walking around the lake hire a Segway and go on a tour or start your day drifting in a hot air balloon.
Sit along the banks and stare at the mesmerizing Lake Burley Griffin. Photo via @visitcanberra
2. Australian War Memorial
The Australian War Memorial is lined up perfectly within the parliamentary triangle of Canberra and it is a place that all Australians should visit. AWM is a place to help us remember the soldiers who sacrificed their lives fighting in all the wars Australia has faced. The memorial is divided into three sections: Commemorative Area (Shrine) including the Hall of Memory with the tomb of the unknown soldier, The Memorials Galleries, the Research Centre (holds important records) and also features an outdoor sculpture garden where everyone is welcome to have a picnic. The entry to AWM has always been free with volunteers running guided tours running hourly. Depending on your interests you may want to visit over two days so that you can see and read everything. We also recommend listening to the Last Post Ceremony which is held five minutes before the memorial closes every day.
Stroll through the hall of memory. Photo via @visitcanberra
3. Namadgi National Park
A forty-five-minute drive South of Canberra is the breathtaking Namadgi National Park, which makes it a great first port of call when heading out of the city. Namadgi covers a large portion of ACT’s land mass with 40% of the territory consisting of water and nature reserves. The Brindabella Ranges in the national park is located along the Australia Alps, where you may even get the opportunity to see snow. One tour that is a must-see is Dharwa Aboriginal Culture Tour which is a 4WD tour that runs for six hours. On the tour you will see aboriginal culture sites and learn about the significance of the Yankee Hat rock art site, bush foods and the native wildlife. Unfortunately, after the recent summer bushfires, 80,000 hectares of land in the Oral Valley were affected. Since then, sections of the park have remained closed so that ACT Parks & Conservation can remove any hazardous trees. These sections should hopefully be reopened within the next few months and there are still plenty of untouched places to see. Once the restrictions have been lifted let’s go out and support this national park and local tourism.
Check out the spectacular views that Namadgi has to offer. Photo via @stefandemontis
4. Quastacon: The national science and technology centre
Questacon is the national science and technology centre of Australia which can be found in the Parliamentary Triangle of Canberra. The centre is owned by the Australian government and is responsible for promoting an interactive way of learning about science and technology. This museum is suitable for all ages with two-hundred exhibits spanning across eight gallery spaces you will explore science through music, art, gravity and electricity. A few permanent exhibits not to miss are the 20 feet free-fall slide and the earthquake simulator which feels very real! Quastacon is only a short walk away with affordable entry prices that include a free live science show, makes it an ideal plan in any ACT itinerary.
Get your Science fix at Queaston. Photo via @questacon.
5. Mount Ainslie Lookout
Where bushland meets the city, get the best of both worlds at the Mount Ainslie Lookout. It is simply the best location to get panoramic shots of Canberra with plenty of ways to get there from walking, cycling or driving. There are a couple of different walking trails with both pedestrian and cycle paths, to get to the highest peak it generally takes thirty to forty-five minutes. One of the best walking trails is “Mount Ainslie Kokoda Summit” which starts behind the war memorial, this trail has plenty of signposts along the way with interesting facts about the city. These views are a breath of fresh air with no skyscrapers like Melbourne and Sydney!
See the famous Parliamentary Triangle from above and the nature that surrounds Canberra at sunset. Photo via @visitcanberra
6. National Gallery of Australia
The National Gallery of Australia also referred to as NGA is public art gallery that represents both local and international artworks. NGA is in the heart of Canberra’s city centre and is directly across from the Portrait Gallery. The National Gallery is public funded which means entry is free for the sculpture garden and their permanent collection except for speciality exhibitions. NGA offers free educational tours that include an overview of the space, art collection and promotes inclusiveness with tours catered for those with dementia or special needs. Artworks included in their impressive permanent collection range from Australia art, aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, European and American artworks from the 19th century Modern Art Movement. Currently the galleries and museums are still closed across Australia, however you can still see many of these work in a free virtual tour. Since overseas travel plans are put on hold, galleries can still be the best way to enjoy culture and history. If you don’t have enough time to explore around the gallery, we suggest to explore the impressive landscape architecture in the outdoor sculpture garden!
Get inspired at the National Gallery of Australia. Photo via @nationalgalleryaus
7. Jerrabomberra Wetlands Nature Reserve
Jerrabomberra Wetlands Nature Reserve is along the Monogloo River valley in Canberra. It should not be overlooked on your trip as the paths from Lake Burley Griffin make it accessible. The wetlands naturally formed in 1964 when the lake flooded over the swampy creek area and is an important place for migrating Japanese birds along with other wildlife. A few activities that you could do in this area include bird watching, walking trails or even spot a World War 1 trench. Due to the biodiversity and indigenous cultural significance of this land, it is on the Australian heritage list and is conserved by ACT Parks. Jerrabomberra is a beautiful place for nature lovers it should be added to your trip itinerary.
Be one with nature and explore ACT wetlands. Photo via @jerrabomberrawetlands
- Old and New Parliament House
Canberra may have a reputation for being Australia's "dull" political capital, but its rich history and numerous interesting museums mean that it's far from it (in our opinion!). Australia had the tough decision of picking a national capital between Sydney and Melbourne both wanted the prestigious title. It was settled by building a whole new city that would feature key federal buildings set up like Washington DC. Both old and new Parliament Houses provide an insight into the unique Australian pollical system and have free guided tours, iconic architecture and Australian Art surrounding the buildings. It is achievable to see both in one day as the new Parliament House is situated directly behind the old Parliament House. Since the old Parliament House is not in federal operation, you can access areas such as the prime minister’s office. At the new Parliament House, you can tour around major debating rooms including the house of representatives and take a lift to see the rooftop views. A visit to ACT certainly would not be complete without visiting these iconic buildings.
Check out the illuminated Parliament House during festival seasons. Photo via @visit_australian_parliament
9. Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
Tidbinbilla is another Australian heritage-listed nature reserve which lies just 40km south-west of Canberra. Adjoining to Namadgi National Park, this bushland landscape consists of the Tidbinbilla mountain ranges, sheltered streams and eye-catching granite tors. Getting into the nature reserve is quite affordable with both annual and day passes available with the entry funds going straight to preserving the reserve. This nature reserve is home to a wonderful array of Australian wildlife which is the reason why it is one of the leading eco-tourism attractions in ACT. Notable places not to miss along the twenty-two walking trails are the discovery centre, natural discovery playground for kids which has a zipline ride and significant aboriginal sites such as Birrigai Rock Shelters. For adventurous hikers we suggest not to miss the magnificent views at the top of the peak on Gilbrata Peak Trail. Explore the reserve by car, on foot or by mountain bike with plenty of places to set up camp.
The natural beauty of Tidbinbilla from above. Photo via @darncusack.
10. Mount Majura Vineyard
Sitting on top of the Majura Valley is a boutique winery just outside the doorsteps of Canberra. Mount Majura Vineyard specializes in cool-climate wines such as Shiraz, Riesling, and Spanish varieties such as Tempranillo. The ancient limestone surface makes the soil less acidy and is the only vineyard in Australia able to grow this wine. There is no restaurant at the vineyard, however the cellar door experience is not to be miss with wine tasting and artisan cheese platters in an alfresco style seating. To get a more in-depth experience free guided tours are available with no booking required. If you are looking for an adventurous way to see the valley go sky diving or stay the night glamping.
Spend the perfect day trip admiring the outdoors with some great wine. Photo via @thecanberraedit
We hope that our list gives you some food for thought! The easing of restrictions could present the perfect opportunity to pack up the car, camper or RV and hit road, ticking off as many spots as you like on the way. With social distancing and heightened hygiene being the new normal, having your accommodation and wheels all in one definitely has its appeal, and to make that journey a little easier, why not pack a Scrubba wash bag for self-sufficient laundry on-the-go! Browse the Scrubba wash bag range to pick up the ultimate gear for your next ACT adventure.