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10 Unique Things to Do In Canberra

Canberra ain’t all museums and memorials (although there’s a lot, and they’re spectacular and well-worth your time). When you’ve exhausted the generic Top 10 list, have a squiz at this baby. She’s a doozy.

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National Arboretum 

What’s an Arboretum, you ask? A cheeky Google definition search tells us it’s a botanical garden devoted to trees. And, let us tell you, it’s an honest-to-goodness lovely place to spend some time! The National Arboretum Canberra spans 250 hectares and was initially created to protect endangered tree species after a few years of brutal bushfires around the country.

Nowadays you can come along for gorgeous sprawling views of over 100 forests and 100 gardens as well as a banging on-site restaurant and café.

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GoBoat Canberra 

You can walk, bike and segue around Lake Burley Griffin, and kayak on it – but there’s a better way to experience this Canberra must-do: by skippering your own boat! Grab 7 of your best mates (or those guys you just met in the common area), head to Coles to stock up on cheese and wine and then take to the seas – or the lake – for a couple of hours of totally self-captained sailing. It’s a perspective you won’t get anywhere else (and won’t have sore shoulders from the next day!). 

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When your travel buddy spends yet another night snoring to high heavens or the Headspace app just ain’t cutting it, take to Breakr to release some tension and realise how poor your hand-eye coordination is. Introducing Canberra’s first Break Room – literally a (very strong-walled) room for you to go ham on vases, glasses, mugs, plates and anything else in that fragile vein – all provided by the fine folks at Breakr – to have a little fun and feel a little dangerous.

Once your briefing is over (all jokes aside, this really isn’t to replace anger management – so if you’re feeling like you need some help you should seek professional advice) you’re kitted out in safety gear, hand-pick 30 items to smash, select your weapon of choice – baseball bat, hammer or crow bar – and you’ve got 15 minutes to go bloody mental in the break room. Sounds. Like. Fun.

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Hike Mt Ainslie from the CBD 

Living in the city is hustle and bustle, hiking out of the city is fun! Canberra is a CBD located smack-bang in the middle of gorgeous, sprawling Australian bush, so it’s well worth the 1.5 hour return walk to get up high and have a birds’-eye squiz. Starting from the Australian War Memorial, the Kokoda Memorial Trail spans 4km return and allows walkers the opportunity to see Canberra from a different perspective, as well as learn about Australian and Japanese soldiers during WWII.

When it’s all said and done, you finish right back in the city – rather than trekking back to your digs, you can grab a drink to toast you hitting your step count! 

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Look, we know the term ‘science museum’ might not spark joy in the average traveller, but this place has delighted busloads of school children for over 20 years and if a bunch of 12 year olds leave here with a smile, you’d better believe you will too!

Questacon is a hands-on, interactive science centre that introduces pretty hefty scientific concepts in fun, engaging ways – think huge slides to explain gravity, fancy simulators that allow you to experience natural disasters and car crashes, touchable microcosms that see you creating lightning strikes with your hands and a whole lot of liquid nitrogen. When you’ve tired of the museums and memorials, this is a place you’ll expand your mind and your child-like smile in equal measure.

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Alpaca Magic 

Ever wanted to walk a donkey? Enjoy a twilight BBQ with some alpacas? Wake up slow with a coffee, in the company of some llamas? Probs not, but now you’re keen, right!?

Alpaca Magic are breeders and trainers of donkeys, llamas and alpacas and offer a tonne of interactive programs for the general public to come along and learn a thing or two about these odd but bloody lovable quadrupeds. They also love to educate their guests on the beauty and quality of bi-products of these cuties through knitting and felting classes – with llama yarn!

National Embassies

A long, long time ago; Australia couldn’t decide on their capital city, with Melbourne and Sydney proving to be tough contenders. So, they made one right in the middle of the two cities and named her Canberra! True story, that – you’ve learned something today!

Being the capital our fair nation, there’s a lot of government stuff that goes on here; which may or may not interest you. But! The embassies of foreign countries are all built in the typical architectural and landscaping style of their home country, resulting in a true melting pot of culture around the Embassy streets. Well worth renting a bike and taking a world-trip for the afternoon!

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Australia is a country girt by sea and there’s nothing we love to celebrate more than the farewell of winter! Canberra’s official welcoming of spring comes in a technicolour floral form through the annual celebration of blooms: Floriade. By day, you can stroll through the gardens to see and smell over a million flowers in every shape, colour and size; and once the lights go down the stage is illuminated by home-grown artists such as The Veronicas and comedy wizard Dave Hughes for NightFest. There’s always a tonne of killer food trucks and bevvy options too, so come on down to welcome springtime with open arms! 

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Taste the original Freakshake 

We’ve all seem ‘em – those Insta posts featuring the most colourful, textural, dream-like shakes and cones that tower so damn tall that it’s a true scientific feat that they’re still standing. These babies go by many monikers ‘round the world – but Patissez (pronounced “Pat-is-say”) are the creators of the ridgey-dige (or, OG in Aussie slang) Freakshake. If you’re going to indulge in a days’ food intake in one sitting, you wanna be sure it’s damn worth it – and, let us tell you, these are. With a range of meals, ice creams, shakes, Freakshakes – all with vegan options – you likely don’t need to dine anywhere else while staying in the capital. You’re welcome. 

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Canberra Glassworks

The only thing more satisfying than watching a glass blower at work, is to get your hands dirty (but very well protected by gloves!) and create something of your own at Canberra Glassworks! As the largest dedicated glass studio in Australia, Glassworks’ mission is to put Australian artists and artisans on the global stage through highlighting their works and allowing guests to truly get involved.

Glass Blowing Beginners Creative Workshops run really regularly so you can come along and blow yourself a souvenir that will certainly never end up broken and dusty in the back of a storage closet!

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YHA acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We acknowledge and pay our respects to Elders past, present, emerging and the extended Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island community.