Arts hub ... Gorman House Markets. Photo: Katherine Griffths
Where to shop
Whether vintage, handmade or CBD smart, all tastes are covered, writes Julietta Jameson.
Pink Inc is a girly closet of designer apparel.
Amix of national retailers, neighbourhood specialty boutiques and quirky markets define Canberra as a destination for serious shoppers.
Quirky ... violinist Pip Thompson in her boutique, Pink Inc. Photo: Karleen Minney
Winter's cool, crisp, sunny days are perfect for trawling villages and markets for one-off finds and super bargains. And if the weather closes in, the expansive Canberra Centre beckons with an impressive array of boutiques, chains and department stores.
Hip and Canberra? You bet. The leafy light-industrial area of Braddon - once best known for being the home of car dealerships and the ACT division of the ALP - is now Canberra's coolest precinct, with a real inner-city neighbourhood vibe.
The popular pub and eatery Debacle stands beside car rental places and bike shops on Lonsdale Street. But the influx of young professionals and students who like the area's mix of green and grunt has meant the mushrooming of funky shops. It's also Canberra's art hub.
The Gorman House Arts Centre heritage complex houses arts organisations and individual artists. At the weekend there is an art, craft and second-hand market.
Elsewhere, individuals inspired by their own style needs have opened stores such as Itrip Iskip, where the shoe range is probably the most eclectic in Canberra.
Pink Inc is a girly closet of designer apparel carrying a good range of labels, such as Trelise Cooper and Easton Pearson.
For unusual homewares, gifts and children's toys and gadgets, try Unit Concepts. Cool kids' stuff is at Lellow across the road, while the Hive Gallery has a great range of cards, jewellery and giftware.
Manuka and Kingston are upmarket enclaves. Here, Carla Zampatti and others line up next to stunning bridal and formal boutiques as well as sublime gentleman's outfitters.
They are small villages just a five-minute walk from each other and among the oldest neighbourhoods in Canberra, both dating from the 1920s. Strolling the cafe-lined streets in winter sunshine is a lovely way to pass an afternoon.
Look out for Millers of Manuka on Franklin Street, which carries European and American labels including Basler and Diane von Furstenberg. In the Style Arcade there is beautiful handmade jewellery and things for the home by Missoni, and L'Occitane beauty products, among other brands.
Shop Handmade is another must-see in the city. It sells quality hand-made wares, which are also sold at the Handmade Market, held several times a year at the National Convention Centre.
The Canberra Centre stakes its claim as a contender for one of Australia's best shopping malls. Its 90,000 square metres of retail includes David Jones and Myer. Surrounding them is a great range of the best of Australian retail.
Consider booking a personal-shopping experience at Canberra Centre; stylists are on hand.
The local tip? Don't overlook the retail outlets of Canberra's terrific museums and galleries. Canberrans in the know use them as a reliable source of beautiful and unusual gifts, homewares, books, journals and clothing. At the gorgeously merchandised store in the National Museum of Australia, for instance, you will find art books, calendars, cuff links and jewellery, ceramics, cute boxes for knick-knacks - even Game Boy iPhone covers.
These shops are always worth checking out, as new exhibitions mean limited-edition items come into stock.
Old Bus Depot Markets
For foragers and fossickers, the Old Bus Depot Markets are worth the visit to Canberra on their own. And, best of all for the winter months, they're undercover in — you guessed it — a fabulous old bus depot. Great breaky rolls and coffee will set you up for a serious trawl of quality local and seasonal produce including olive oils, jams and dairy foods. Move on to clothing, art, jewellery and — on "Portobello Road" days — bric-a-brac, antiques and vintage gear. The markets have special themed days from time to time. In winter they include "Kids in the Shed" (June 17), "Creative Fibre" (July 15) and "Portobello Road" (August 12).
21 Wentworth Avenue, Kingston; (02) 6295 3331; obdm.com.au.
For many Australians, the notion of indigenous art is restricted to dot paintings. The second National Indigenous Art Triennial, unDisclosed at the National Gallery of Australia will change that forever — for those fortunate enough to see it. An intriguing, challenging and often moving collection, unDisclosed features works of some of the most important contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists offering personal insights into "the spoken and unspoken, the known and unknown". Look for the video installation by Vernon Ah Kee, a quietly forceful look at the events surrounding the Palm Island riots. "Moving" does not do it justice.
UnDisclosed is on until July 22 at the National Gallery of Australia. Free entry. Parkes Place, Parkes. (02) 6240 6411; nga.gov.au.
Gorman House Arts Centre Ainslie Avenue, Braddon; (02) 6249 7377; gormanhouse.com.au.
Itrip Iskip 30 Lonsdale Street, Braddon; (02) 6257 9950; itripiskip.com.au.
Pink Inc 23 Lonsdale Street, Braddon; (02) 6262 8607; pinkincboutique.com.
Unit Concepts 28 Lonsdale Street, Braddon; (02) 6230 0943.
Little Owl 25 Lonsdale Street, Braddon; (02) 6162 3488.
The Hive Gallery 25 Lonsdale Street, Braddon; (02) 6257 9700.
Millers of Manuka 18-20 Franklin Street, Manuka; (02) 6295 9784.
Style Arcade 6 Franklin Street, Manuka.
Canberra Centre Bunda Street, Canberra; (02) 6247 5611; canberracentre.com.au.
National Museum of Australia Lawson Crescent, Acton; (02) 6208 5000.
This article produced with support from Canberra Tourism.