Fun comes with the territory
Stunning ... Lake Burley Griffin is an inviting attraction in the city centre. Photo: Graham Tidy
Where to play
Julietta Jameson uncovers entertainment from AFL matches to international acts.
When it comes to culture, Canberra has the cream.
If you see a whole lot of Canberrans in orange, fear not. It's no religious cult. The AFL's newest club, the tangerine-wearing Greater Western Sydney Giants, had their first win in Canberra. And they bagged some new supporters along the way.
Where to play in Canberra
Kids and adults can enjoy experiments and exhibitions at Q Lab, Questacon.
The Kevin Sheedy-coached Giants will hit Manuka Oval (manukaoval.com.au) again on August 18; otherwise, throughout winter there are NEAFL games played at this pleasant ground.
The Ainslie Football and Social Club (ainsliefc.com) is another AFL stronghold. It's also one of Canberra's oldest clubhouses, hosts comedy nights and bands and has a popular restaurant.
Canberra Stadium (canberrastadium.com) is the home of the NRL's Canberra Raiders, who play there at regular intervals. The Raiders own three schmick leagues clubs across the Canberra region (raidersclub.com.au), with an array of food and entertainment.
There are plenty of golf courses on offer. Photo: Gary Schafer
A more urbane experience awaits in the central business district. The award-winning Hippo Bar (hippobar.com.au) upstairs on Garema Place combines a dimly lit, sophisticated space with excellent mixology and cool beats. Wednesday night is live jazz night.
Knightsbridge Penthouse (knightsbridgepenthouse.com.au) in Braddon looks exactly as it sounds: like a stunningly furnished urban pad. It has $10 cocktails on Thursdays.
Honkytonks (drinkhonkytonks.com.au) in Garema Place is a hip new bar with tapas-style food, open Wednesday to Sunday.
While big-name musical acts tend to head for the Convention Centre or the Royal Theatre, smaller, more intimate venues such as The Abbey (theabbey.com.au) and Smiths Alternative Bookshop (smithsbooks.com.au) are springing up.
When it comes to culture, Canberra has the cream. How's this for a list of attractions: The National Gallery of Australia, National Museum of Australia, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra Glassworks, Australian Institute of Sport, Questacon National Science and Technology Centre, The Museum of Australian Democracy, CSIRO Discovery, National Library of Australia and Royal Australian Mint. The Canberra and Region Visitors Centre (visitcanberra.com.au) can help carve an itinerary of them that suits particular interests.
Then there is the Canberra Theatre Centre (canberratheatrecentre.com.au), where all the big shows usually land at some point. Opera, ballet, theatrical drama, avant-garde and concerts from internationally acclaimed artists make use of one of Australia's finest theatrical complexes. Coming in winter are legendary Australian comedian Barry Humphries and internationally renowned dance ensemble Tap Dogs.
The Street Theatre (thestreet.org.au), bordering the Australian National University, also showcases impressive theatre and music.
For something a bit more earthy, consider that Canberra is Ngunnawal country. The self-drive brochure Canberra Tracks, available at the Canberra and Region Visitors Centre (visitcanberra.com.au), is a terrific guide to the rich indigenous history of the area, which reaches back 20,000 years.
Opera Australia's Oz Opera presents Mozart's Don Giovanni from July 12 to 14. This is an edgy take on one of Mozart's more decadent works that shoots for sexy and sublime all at once. Stylistically influenced by Fellini movies and gangster glamour, this production of the story of opera's favourite bad boy should appeal to opera buffs and newcomers alike.
Canberra Theatre, Civic Square, London Circuit; (02) 6275 2700; canberraticketing.com.au.
This article produced with support from Canberra Tourism.