Travel

  • Written by Joni Wanless
Sit by the fireplaces at Monster Kitchen and Bar and enjoy an award-winning menu that charts the seasons .
Sit by the fireplaces at Monster Kitchen and Bar and enjoy an award-winning menu that charts the seasons .



Live a life of luxury for a weekend and immerse yourself in the extravagant side of Australia's capital. Whether it be a pampering experience, a wine tour or a decadent high tea, the Canberra region has your options covered.

Splurge with a day spa in botanical surrounds, indulge in a petit feast that's anything but small, be chauffeured on a tour of Canberra's cellar doors or drift above the capital from the comfort of a hot air balloon. 

Boutique wine tasting: A trip out to Canberra's wine district to taste the best local drops is a wonderful addition to any winter weekend. Perhaps Canberra's best kept secret is its close proximity to more than 30 boutique cellar doors, where more often than not you get to meet the winemakers like Tim Kirk of Clonakilla who was named Gourmet Traveller Wines' 2013 Winemaker of the Year. Clonakilla make distinctive, handcrafted wines in limited quantities and is one of Australia's leading small wineries.

Jamala Wildlife Lodge: Experience the ultimate luxury overnight safari at Australia's first all-inclusive wildlife lodge experience of its kind. With just 18 rooms, Jamala Wildlife Lodge gives guests exclusive access and the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the National Zoo & Aquarium's beautiful residents. Choose from Jungle Bungalows, Giraffe Treehouses or your own room or suite within the uShaka Lodge. See yourself bathing beside bears, eating with the lions, or feeding sharks.

Decadent day spas: Set some time aside to be pampered at one of the city's premier day spas. Pick from a range of treatments offered in the capital including facials, massages, body wraps, hydrotherapy spas and beauty treatments.  Jindii EcoSpa opened at the base of the tranquil Rainforest Gully within the Australian National Botanic Gardens last year with four double treatment rooms as well as hydro therapy spas, a yoga room and a guest lounge.

Not-so petit feast: Spoil yourself with a bountiful spread including savouries, charcuterie, cheeses and decadent desserts every Saturday at Buvette Bistro & Wine Bar. The Petit Feast features freshly made savouries and sweets including charcuterie and oysters as well as lavish desserts. For an extra $15 you can add bottomless Mimosas.

Hot air ballooning: There's no better way to appreciate the capital's charm than from a hot air balloon drifting across the city at dawn. Experience breathtaking views and see the nation's capital come to life beneath you; Canberra is one of the only places in the world where you may drift over a Parliament House. Celebrate your Balloon Aloft or Dawn Drifters flight with a champagne breakfast at Hyatt Hotel Canberra afterwards.

Hidden speakeasy: When it comes to Molly it's all about who you know. She's a tricky lady to find, but guided by GPS coordinates you'll wander down a back alley in the centre of Canberra, through an unassuming door and into a cosy little speakeasy that will take you back in time with expertly mixed drinks, live jazz and a cool vibe.

Helicopters tours: Take a pre-designed helicopter package over the Canberra region or tailor make your own tour with Canberra Helicopters. Experience the flavours that the bush capital offers with many awarding-winning venues in close proximity by helicopter. A tranquil brunch, a long lunch with friends or maybe a pampered Alpine day trip could be just what you need.

Lucky's whiskey shave: Sink into an antique leather chair at QT Canberra's Barber Shop and be transported back in time to a place where gentlemanly virtues of chivalry and conversation are applauded and exemplary grooming celebrated. Indulge in sinfully good haircuts, traditional wet shaves and beard trims, all served with whisky neat from Lucky's.

Truffle hunts:  Get out in the beautiful winter sun and enjoy truffle hunts throughout the region with the growers and their dogs during The Truffle Festival – Canberra Region. Join a spirited hunt at Macenmist Black Truffles and Wines in Bredbo, Turalla Truffles in Bungendore, Tarago Truffles in Tarago and Blue Frog Truffles in Sutton. The hunts often involve lunches, cooking demonstrations and tastings.

Monster Kitchen and Bar: Sit by the fireplaces at Monster Kitchen and Bar and enjoy an award-winning menu that charts the seasons and uses ingredients from nearby producers. An obsession with uncomplicated, quality dining and service earned this NewActon gem One Hat and Regional Wine List of the Year in the SMH Good Food Guide 2016, and a place on The Australian Financial Review Australia's Top 100 Restaurants awards.

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