Congratulations! You’ve chosen to spend the chilliest weekend of the year so far in Canberra. And it is really quite cold. But incredibly beautiful. The massive Canberra sky is as blue as ever and the bright sun is glistening off the frost, so as long as you’re wearing the right clothes and make frequent pit-stops in one of our many cosy eateries, it will reward you with a dose of capital goodness.
There is, of course, only one place to start your Saturday. EPIC on Flemington Road will be playing host to the Winter Handmade Market. Artists, designers, stylists, craftspeople and gourmets old and new will be showing off their gorgeous handmade products.
Wonder freely around the food stalls, the jewellery displays, the children’s clothes and toys, fashions and homewares secure in the knowledge that everything is proudly Australian made, unique and good value.
Having shopped ‘til you’re ready to drop, head to Lonsdale Street in Braddon for a snack in The Hamlet, full of tasty street food vans with a relaxed daytime vibe and buzzing evening atmosphere. (If you’re undecided, try Mr Papa’s Peruvian slow cooked pork burger, The Chanchito). Live music opposite at Hopscotch, along with a great gastropub menu, could see you staying in Braddon until the end of the night, but if you’re looking for a sophisticated haunt (any excuse to wear the new outfit you bought at the markets), try Canberra’s New Acton Precinct. The precinct includes the Monster Kitchen & Bar, or try the 1920s inspired Parlour Wine Room, A Baker (not just a bakery) or the seasonal & local Močan & Green Grout.
You might be ready to fall into bed by now, and there’s nowhere more comfortable or convenient that one of the hotels from the Capital Hotel Group. Try the Pavilion (very close to EPIC), The quiet understated Aria, the Clifton Suites in Braddon or the prestigious Avenue next to the CBD. With 10% off for those quoting HMM10 this weekend, they’re also great value.
It may be the coldest time of day, but early morning is also the prettiest in Canberra. Do you have enough energy to climb Mount Ainslie? The views are the best reward for your efforts. Or a walk around Lake Burley Griffin will allow you to take in all of the landmarks (please wear a hat, because the wind will leave your ears ringing). It also leads very conveniently to the new development on the Kingston Foreshore, where breakfast overlooking the water can be found at a number of cafés including Remedy, CDine Bar, Local Press Café or Walt & Burley.
If one of Canberra’s national institutions is beckoning, there is art choice aplenty at The National Portrait Gallery or National Gallery of Australia, with current exhibitions including James Turrell’s Retrospective and the National Portrait Photographic Prize. Old and New Parliament Houses are obvious monuments, but there is little on this fair island that compares to the tranquility and overwhelming emotion you’ll feel when you visit the Australian War Memorial.
Is it lunchtime yet? Noisy, cheerful and tasty food can be found at Sammy’s Kitchen on Bunda Street, or if you’re still in the mood for brunch, The Cupping Room on University Avenue serves it in style with great ambience. And if you have a sweet tooth, the dessert alchemists at Frugii back in Braddon will offer you an array of tempting and innovative treats.
Hang on though. Your weekend isn’t quite finished. Do you remember that designer piece you found at the Handmade Market yesterday that you now realise you can’t live without? It’s open until 4pm on Saturday AND Sunday, so you’ve still got time to go back!