Throughout my time in Australia I have never heard a good work spoken about Canberra. It doesn’t feature on many travellers plans and those who have been always say its just a bit rubbish. Thus neither myself or Hannah chose to visit while travelling around however Jess and Bel needed us to attend a couple of tastings down there while they were away and the prospect of free accommodation and a nice meal out (courtesy of the business credit card) were too tempting an offer to turn down. After booking a little private granny flat for us to stay in, having to feature a kitchen so we could get our curry on, we journeyed to the Australian Capital. The drive was easy, especially compared to the hell that is navigating Sydney, and only took about 3 hours. As it turns out Canberra was created because the Australians couldn’t decide wether to make Sydney or Melbourne the capital so went for a place in the middle. In hindsight this was probably a mistake. Canberra was designed by one person and appears quite grand. Huge roundabouts, wide spacious streets and intimidating looking parliamentary buildings feature heavily but have left Canberra soulless. Although we attempted to be openminded about the city we soon found ourselves feeling disheartened by its lack of charm and sheer vastness. It’s seems like the designer though Canberra would be as large as Sydney or Melbourne and so spread everything out but the result is that it feels dead. The CBD area didn’t appear busy and the roads were never troublesome in terms of traffic.
Although the city isn’t quite a thrilling as Sydney or Melbourne it does have some redeeming qualities. We had a full day of being tourists before we needed to get to some actual work so we set off in search of the Australian War Memorial. Little did we know that the memorial also contains a huge museum so we ended up inside for several hours admiring the displays. With half our day already gone we sacrificed our planned expedition to the Museum of Australia and headed into the city for lunch and coffee and a browse. Luckily our Air BnB host had told us to go to Lonsdale Street otherwise we could have been very lost and most definitely without coffee. After coffees and window shopping we had an early night in and cooked all our curries to go for the two tastings the following day.
The next few days were slightly less eventful as they were filled with driving through the different suburbs searching for our healthful stores to get people to try curry, an impressive achievement since some of them are doing this at 10:30am and only the hard core curry fans really enjoy it before midday. The suburbs of Canberra were definitely more interesting than the CBD and, as usual, filled with charming indecently run businesses, restaurants, cafes and shops. Our main highlight was definitely food related. Our dinner at EightySix was incredible, with modern Australian share dishes and chicken which may have changed my life. We also managed to sneak in a trip to the Pâtissez which had recently been clogging up my social media channels with pictures of the insane milkshakes or ‘freakshakes’. After attempting to get in for lunch we were turned away as the wait was 90 minutes and they had sold out of most of their creations. Being the dedicated foodies we are we then decided to show up when they open (7am) on Saturday morning in a dire attempt to get a milkshake. After an insane wake up call, getting dressed and packed up in the dark and a near miss kangaroo incident on the roads of Canberra we finally got our hands on a milkshake. It almost killed me and both of us experienced a sugar/milk coma although it was delicious and I have no regrets. One more tasting was attended at a lovely Saturday morning market. We drove back early in the afternoon, managing to avoid the snow (bloody Australian winters) and made it home safe an sound. Possibly not somewhere I would recumbent visiting whilst in Australia unless you have an unnatural affection for politics, museums and giant roundabouts.