A Weekend away in Canberra

Chances are that if you think of destinations for a weekend away from Sydney that Canberra isn’t usually one of them. We decided that we’d spend a weekend in the nation’s capital and turned out that we had such a great time I decided I should write about it.

Driving down to Canberra from Sydney
The drive from Sydney to Canberra takes about 3 hours. While we could have done that all in one go, we made a decision to make a pit stop in Bowral as there were a few places my wife wanted to check out. I was keen to do this because I haven’t been to Bowral since I was kid, and I’m always keen to explore towns. We left Sydney at 9:00am, fired up Waze and Spotify, and hit the road. I found a playlist on Spotify called “Unwind 00’s” which actually had a decent mix of songs that actually suited driving;

One the best things about road trips in NSW is the amazing scenery.

Using Waze whilst driving long distances – the best GPS app you’ll ever use.
Whilst driving long distances I have to insist you use/try Waze. It’s like if you took the GPS directions of Google Maps and gave it better features. The best part? Waze drivers give you warnings about accidents, traffic jams, and most importantly Police traps. It isn’t fool proof, and you need to be careful you have a dash-mount, but it’s amazing when you do long drives. Get it, and thank me later.

Stopping in Bowral – Scones from The Press Shop
After 1.5 hours of driving we reached Bowral. We arrived at 10:30am and both of us were hungry. Our first stop was to get some food at “The Press Shop”. This cafe is beautiful and busy. It has outstanding baked goods and tasty menu items. Neither of us wanted anything too big, so we opted to try some of their scones.

Traditional Scone with Jam & Cream
Burnt Butter, Maple, Apple and Cinnamon Scone

If you’ve ever wanted a perfect Scone, then you need to come here. The traditional one was 100% everything you’d want in a scone, light, perfect. The Apple one I had was like if you took a scone and mixed it with an apple pie with gooey maple sauce. If you want to check out The Press Shop cafe it’s located here;

Stunning store front
Dirty Jane’s (with Harry’s on the Green/Garden cafe to the left)

Bowral had lots of interesting places to see and visit. We didn’t have time to stick around as we had a massage booked at 1:45pm and it was a 2 hour drive from Bowral to Canberra. We quickly looked at a few things and jumped into the car to reach Canberra.

Arrive in Canberra – Massage at Hale Spa
After driving for 3 hours I can honestly say that I was ready for our booked massage. We were a little bit late, which meant that instead of the hour massage we had planned, we were only able to do 45 minutes. This was disappointing, but understandable. The Hale Spa is associated with the hotel we stay at (see next), and provides a wide array of options and packages. The massage was perfect, both my wife and I loved it and were super relaxed afterwards. We would like to come back and book in a proper / longer treatment.

Hale Spa


Staying at The Little National Hotel

There were a number of funky hotels that we wanted to stay at in Canberra, but the one that really caught our eye was The Little National. Located very close to Parliament House, this hotel has an interesting and modern interior. The layout of the room is unique with the king-sized bed being positioned right up against the full wall window with a view was too cool to pass up. The checkin was easy, the staff friendly, and everything was modern and simple. The room was narrow, but not bad. If you enjoy big hotel rooms then this place isn’t going to be your cup of tea. The top 2 levels (5/6) are hotel rooms, I have no clue if there is a level 1-3.

Unique room layout
Smart TV mounted right above the bed makes for perfect movie watching

On each of the two hotel room levels there are communal lounge areas that you can relax or work in. From 5pm, they open up a mini-bar and you can purchase drinks and some very limited nibbles. One the really great features is free movies and super fast free wifi. The movie range was good and impressive with the current titles on offer. We watched two recent movies during our stay (Passengers + The Arrival).

Level 6 Lounge
…facing back towards where we took the first photo
Spiral Stair Case

– King-sized bed is incredible.
– View is great, and electronic blinds/block out shade is perfect.
– Outdoor parking option is really handy
– Location is 5-10 minutes from most shops, restaurants etc.
– Super fast free wifi (100-200Mbps!)
– Free (recent release) movies

– No room service option, very limited food options.
– Rooms could be too narrow for some people.
– Lack of table space within room and some basic items (no cutlery etc).

Address: 21 National Circuit, Barton ACT 2600
Phone: (02) 6188 3200
Site: http://littlenationalhotel.com.au/


Dinner at ‘Akiba’.
Everyone knows that when you go away somewhere one of the challenges is finding somewhere good for dinner. Thankfully, a quick google of “best places for dinner in Canberra” brings up quite a few recommendations. I chose two places as options; for Japanese food ‘Akiba’, for Italian ‘Mezzalira’. My wife said that she wanted Japanese.. and we were very lucky to score a 9pm booking. The place was fantastic. So much so, I had to write a dedicated review post – “Akiba, Canberra – Home of the Best Pork Belly Bun”. I’m not going to rehash that post here, suffice it to say it was worth it and I’d highly recommend you having dinner there.

The joy of the King-Sized Bed
One thing that’s hard to convey is how amazing the king-sized bed at The Little National is. I laughed when I first saw that they provided the supplier’s contact details and the price (so people could buy it). After spending a blissful night, I understand why. So comfortable, so peaceful. The block out blind means you sleep in complete darkness. The hardest thing was hearing the alarm going off at 9am and convincing yourself you actually have to get up.


Brunch at The Cupping Room – The best coffee in Canberra.
After checking out, we needed to get something to eat. We both decided that we had to try “The Cupping Place” as its touted to have the best coffee in Canberra. The place was popular, but we only had to wait about 20 minutes to get a table.

Inside The Cupping Place
The BEST coffee in Canberra – could drink 8 of these!
Cured Salmon & Kataifi Egg
The “Kataifi Egg” was unique – it’s like a poached egg that is coated in very fine noodle and then fried. So it’s a crunchy poached egg.
Eggs on Toast w/ Bacon (+ their signature BBQ sauce)
The coffee was so good we needed to order Takeaways… note how comical the cup is in my hand


National Gallery of Australia
The one thing we planned to do before heading back was check out the National Gallery. We originally had planned to come down to see the Versailles exhibition, but that closed the weekend before we booked everything. Regardless, the NGA is an incredible place to visit. I won’t bore you with all of the photos I took, but I’ll just pick a few choice ones;

Sidney Nolan’s “Ned Kelly”
Birds in Space – by Brancusi
“Blue Poles” by Jackson Pollock. The painting that broke world records for being purchased for $1.3 Million
“Waterlilies” by Claude Monet


Driving back to Sydney – slight detour for some Pho
The drive back to Sydney was reasonably unremarkable. The highlight was when my wife turned to me and said “you know, we since we are out this far, we should go to Cabramatta for Pho”. I immediate redirected the GPS for Pho Tau Bay and we had an amazing Pho dinner. What a great end to a great weekend!

Writing about Travel
One of the things I’ve always wanted to do is write up my travels and share them with people. I like writing down where I’ve been, what I saw, and taking photos… but to combine them all into a meaningful post and sharing it with people is something I’ve never managed to do. I’ve been wanting to share more ‘Editorial’ content, and travelling stories are fun to write and I hope read. This could be considered my first attempt at doing this.