Gimme five: waterholes
The beer garden at The George Harcourt Inn is the perfect place to enjoy a summer meal. Photo: Elliot Woods
One of the joys of summer, particularly in a city renowned for its freezing winters, is the ability to do almost anything outdoors. Sure, it might be hot and dry, but that doesn't stop the majority of Canberra's inhabitants soaking in the sun's warmth during activities more often reserved for the indoors - cooking, eating, swimming, even cinema-going all become open-air events when the weather is fine and the sky inviting.
So when the opportunity arises to escape the artificial light of the dingy bar with its sticky floors, carry my beverage into the great outdoors and enjoy it with fresh air in my lungs and sunshine on my face, I jump at it.
But where, oh where, in Canberra can one enjoy the sanctity of an outdoor summer beverage in a serene, sunny, inspiring setting? Here are five watering holes I've stumbled upon this summer:
The George Harcourt Inn
I arrived at the George for an early lunch after a very late work night and was greeted by the sight of parents with prams and families with pets – not ideal when you’re looking to nurse yourself through a quiet drink. But with plenty of grassy areas around a spacious beer garden, the kids kept themselves well-occupied, which meant even a childless man of the night such as myself could indulge in a decent pub meal and a cool cider in relative peace. It’s a winner for families. 3 Gold Creek Road, Nicholls.
The Old Canberra Inn
They're not kidding around when they say ''old''. The place is older than the city itself and could easily be categorised as quite an ''old man'' pub. The slab pine hut dates back to 1857, and comes with plenty of character and charm. And the inn boasts not one but three beer gardens - we opted for the one out the back, away from the traffic of Mouat Street, with a little bit of shade to help keep our drinks (and heads) cool. It looks like the sort of place that could become quite lively on a Friday or Saturday. 195 Mouat Street, Lyneham.
The ANU Fellows Bar (University House, Balmain Crescent, Acton)
Universities aren’t always great preparation for the real world. Not only do students get ample holiday time, and long deadlines, they also often enjoy the pleasures of gorgeous, sprawling campuses snuggled in the centre of cities. The Fellows Bar and Cafe in ANU is a tranquil paradise hidden within walking distance of Canberra’s concrete heart. The beer garden sits under the canopy of a huge old tree, through which the afternoon sun gently filters, inspiring gentle, thought-provoking conversation perfectly suited to the academic setting. Absolute bliss.
Rose Cottage Canberra
The ultimate beer garden, harking back to simpler times when an afternoon of sharing drinks and food between friends and family in the fading sun wasn’t a luxury – it was a way of life. The garden is leafy and spread out, wrapping around historic cottages with plenty of space to share. The beer was cold and the food was good – but be warned, Gilbert the local magpie thinks if you’re eating in his garden, you should at least spare him a nibble. Isabella Drive and Monaro Highway, Gilmore.
The ACT Rugby Union Club’s outdoor tables barely scrape in as a beer garden in the true sense – the seating area isn’t huge, the greenery isn’t particularly garden-esque, and it is quite close to the street. But it’s a quiet street. And the club is rather tucked away in the back of Barton, giving it a bit of a “you could be anywhere” feel. The drinks list isn’t bad, there are heaters, some cover from the weather, and there was plenty of sport playing on the big screens inside. I can see this being a decent mid-week escape for public servants slaving away in the vicinity. 51 Blackall Street, Barton.
What's your favourite watering hole? Leave your comments below.