lifestyle

The Mamamia team’s 24-hour guide to Canberra.

Floriade
Thanks to our brand partner, Floriade

The Mamamia team tends to be a tight-knit crew, and weekend minibreaks are not unheard of among the more adventurous-minded of us.

That’s why a group of MM writers decided to head to Canberra to check out Floriade last year — spurred on, of course, by our Canberrian editor-in-chief Jamila’s insistence that her hometown is one of THE hotspots of the country.

The only catch to our visit? We only had about 24 hours in the city together before our various commitments called us back to Sydney.

With such little time, we had a lot to pack in – so here’s what we’d recommend for a quick Canberra break this spring.

Breakfast: Mocan & Green Grout, 19 Marcus Clarke Street, Canberra ACT 2601

If you’re still in the camp of people who scoff at suggestions Canberra is now a hipster hotbed, you clearly haven’t been to this place.

It’s an ethical coffee shop and bike-maker, with queues as long as the beards of its male attendees (i.e. very).

Fortunately, the eggs are worth the wait, and the inside is cozy enough to keep its tattooed, fixie-loving patrons warm, whatever the weather.

“Fortunately, the eggs are worth the wait, and the inside is cozy enough to keep its tattooed, fixie-loving patrons warm, whatever the weather.” Image via Instagram @mocanandgg

Mid-morning: Trip to the National Portrait Gallery, King Edward Terrace, Parkes ACT 2600

Hugo Weaving. Mick Jagger. Cate Blanchett… We didn’t exactly spend the morning spotting celebrities (this is not Los Angeles, people), but we did gaze at pretty pictures of their faces.

If you haven’t been yet, the National Portrait Gallery has an immense collection of portraits of famous people – from actors to prime ministers to thought leaders (my favourites: a cubist portrait of composer Peter Sculthorpe, and some charcoal sketches of local ballet dancers by Jenny Sages) – and even offers Interactive Portrait Story tours.

Lunch: Pialligo Estate, 18 Kallaroo Road, Pialligo ACT 2609

The estate is a self-described ‘lifestyle destination’, which basically means it’s picturesque and huge, and features excellent food and wine at the Farmhouse Restaurant, set alongside a group-photo-worthy vineyard, an orchard and an olive grove.

Even though it’s set on 86 acres, this gem is just eight minutes from the CBD by car (conveniently, for those of us with just a couple of hours to spare for lunch).

Afternoon: Floriade

If you’re not yet acquainted with the famous Canberra festival, Floriade is ‘Australia’s biggest celebration of spring’: basically, it involves many beautiful flowers (more than one million, to be precise) planted over 13 flower beds.

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“Basically, it involves many beautiful flowers (more than one million, to be precise) planted over 13 flower beds.”

There are also rides, musical performances, food demonstrations, and, much to my amusement, a gnome-painting contest that kept us busy for hours.

(Spoiler alert: The competition may have been intended for kids. Was still just as fun for a 20-something-year-old girl gang.)

Meet Mildred the gnome. Yes, she is still a valued member of the MM team.

Dinner:

Monster Kitchen and Bar, within the rather cool Hotel Hotel in the NewActon precinct, is having a real moment.

There’s a warm fireplace (tick), good cocktails (tick) and interesting, kind of funky décor (tick) including colourful asymmetrical tables. Worth a visit.

After dinner: Nightfest, Floriade

You know how the Floriade garden beds are pretty during the day? They’re straight-out gorgeous at night.

Even if you’re not into the artsy, whimsical lighting designs for which Nightest is famous (and I can’t really imagine why not) the stand-up comedy, DJs, roving entertainment and night markets are definitely worth a look.

Squeaky-clean, grown up fun at its best.

“You know how the Floriade garden beds are pretty during the day? They’re straight-out gorgeous at night.” Image via Instagram @floriade_australia

Pre-departure brekkie:

With just a couple of hours left before boarding our bus back to Sydney, we squeezed in a trip to trendy inner-north suburb Braddon for our breakfast and coffee fix.

My favourite? The Elk & Pea, which satisfied my brunch-snob sensibilities and equipped us each with a take-away latte as we browsed  the nearby strip of quirky stores, filled with vintage clothes, homemade wares and even a cute-as-a-button florist.

What are your favourite things to do in Canberra?  

Have we tempted you here are a few more snaps from the above locations:

Want more? Try these:

JAMILA: Canberra: Not as dull as you think. *ducks*

Why my family fears holidays (and why I took one anyway and got stranded in Bali).

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