First time Australia: Discovering Canberra (and how to win a trip)!

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Honestly, besides knowing that it is the capital of Australia as a geeky Geography kid, i knew nothing about Canberra until last month, when i was invited to visit Canberra onboard Singapore Airlines’ new Capital Express route that connects Singapore with Canberra and Wellington, New Zealand… and i’m already a fan of the neglected ‘bush capital’ of Kangaroo land! Allow me to tell you why 🙂

Oh, and scroll down to the end to find out how you could win yourself a Business Class trip to Canberra onboard SG

Singapore Airlines Business Class

This was my first Business Class travel experience, so although i may sound biased and possibly over impressed – believe me when i say that the wonderful folks at SG spoiled me silly with massive seats that unfold to become comfy full beds, an entertainment system that’s guaranteed to never let you feel bored, impeccable and earnest service and a dining experience that’s nothing less than gourmet fine dining.

With an unmatched selection of wines, cheese, coffees and teas and food that you’d imagine is ‘made in heaven’, SG made the flying experience as memorable as the destination for me. In particular, don’t say no to their champagne, teas and cheese – so, so good!

Movies i managed to catch onboard: Trip To Italy, Back To Burgundy (Ce Qui Nous Lie), Lucy


My First Impression of Canberra

Canberra came across as a thoughtfully designed, well spread out city in the midst of lush vegetation (bush), with perfect weather (about 20° c), little to no ‘traffic’ and an overall laid back vibe. The short drive from the airport to the hotel was enough to convince me that this would be a city i’d love to be seeing more of.

I spent 5 days in Canberra, and i was hosted for 4 of these days by Visit Canberra at the prestigious Hotel Realm. Almost everything i did revolved around adventures in and around the city.

Starting with a day trek to Pigeon House Mountain which was exhilarating and relaxing at the same time, i was amazed at how much of rich natural beauty lies untouched and undiscovered around Canberra!

One of my dearest and longest held dreams also came true on this journey – a hot air balloon ride!! This was a BIG thing for me, and i enjoyed every bit of it, especially because Canberra offers some pristine views with spread out landscapes and water bodies as the perfect backdrop. The cherry on top was spotting a pack of kangaroos hopping about near the Arboretum, where we descended 🙂

Want to know more about what i did on my trip?

I’ve put together my top tips / things to do in Canberra here: 7 Epic Ways to Discover Canberra (published on Femina India).

While i’m still putting together my vlogs from the journey, do check out a short 1 minute video of all the fun i had in Canberra.


Canberra in 48 Hours

If you’re really short on time and don’t have more than 2 days to explore Canberra, here are some fab ideas to make the most of your trip.

‘One Good Thing After Another’

True to its tagline, exploring Canberra literally feels like discovering ‘One Good Thing After Another’ – primarily because almost everything in the city is so accessible. No two attractions are more than 5kms. apart, hence the premise! Isn’t that an awesome thing for travelers? 🙂


Where To Eat & Drink: Local Recommendations

Canberra is fast climbing the charts of the epicurean capitals of the world, and that’s evident in the array of fantastic options in the city for everything from snack bars and cafes to fine dining experiences. Here are some of my top picks…

  • Akiba – Excellent pan Asian cuisine and a very hip bar
  • Elk & Pea – Great burgers and fresh juices and community space
  • Chairman & Yip – Avant garde Asian fusion with well paired wine suggestions
  • Pollen Cafe – Al fresco cafe serving delectable all day breakfast fare with prompt service
  • Pialligo Estate Farmhouse Restaurant – luxurious al fresco / indoor dining in an exquisite farmhouse
  • Transit Bar – Lively bar next to the YHA hostel, popular with locals and tourists alike
  • BentSpoke Brewing Company – Craft beer made in Canberra! Loved their ‘Crankshaft’ IPA.


Where To Stay in Canberra

Tip: Canberra is a very easily navigable city, for pedestrians, public transport users, bikers or taxi passengers. So don’t worry too much about staying ‘too far from the action’ – you’re never too far from amazing things to do in Canberra.


Make It Happen: Trip Planning Resources


Win a trip worth 5.5 Lakhs to Canberra!

Too much wanderlust already? Just pick up the latest issue of Lonely Planet Magazine India (November 2017) for a chance to win a luxury trip worth Rs.5.5 Lakhs! (Lucky draw coupon on the second last page). All the very best, and let me know in the comments below if you have any specific questions or need any help with making your Australia / Canberra trip happen!

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Exotic Gringo (Kaushal Karkhanis)

Leading an experimental life as a digital nomad, Kaushal started traveling in 2007 while choosing to shuttle between Goa and Mumbai as ‘home’.

  • Abhinav Singh

    Loved reading it Kaushal. That hot air balloon looks exciting. The business class of Singapore Airlines was indeed class apart. Canberra is unlike any other capital city I have been to. It’s laid back and has a understated charm. Thanks for recommending my blog. Cheers.

    • absolutely, Abhinav 🙂 it was a dream come true for me… Cheers!

      • Abhinav Singh

        Cheers!

  • Deepika Gumaste

    Looks like a fun fab experience. My uncle stays in Brisbane and I have postponed traveling there for so long , it’s not even funny. Hopefully, now that I have read your article, I have got a good reason to fly there.

    • hurrah! make it happen… now you know at least 2 people who can help you plan 🙂