Canberra: The spring weekend getaway you need

From floral displays to art and great food, it's all here.
three friends drink wine at a picnic table while the sun sets

All the seasons are writ large in Canberra. In summer, the sun beats down on its pavements and museums, while Canberran families wend their way to the coast.

In budget season, the Senate Courtyard maple tree at Parliament House famously blazes red. In June, an icy wind whips down from Mount Ainslie, chilling politicians in mid-winter ball gowns.

And in spring, the capital is a riot of colour – fairy-floss pink, magenta, red, yellow – as tulips jostle at the annual flower festival, Floriade. Floriade is synonymous with spring in Canberra.

From mid-September to mid-October, Commonwealth Park is a bobbing ocean of flowering bulbs.

The ferris wheel at Floriade, the annual Canberra spring festival.

During the day, families wander garden beds and playgrounds, sampling the food, music and entertainment. At night, couples stroll as a lightshow plays overhead.

Spring is also the season to hire a bike, a segway, a scooter or to explore this very accessible city on foot. All the classic destinations – Questacon, the National Gallery, Old Parliament House, the National Library – are within a comfortable stroll on the Parliament House side of Lake Burley Griffin.

In spring, alfresco dining returns as picnic blankets are shaken onto the lakeside sculpture garden lawn at the National Gallery and restaurateurs whisk tables outdoors

Nearby, the streets in Manuka and Kingston buzz with cafes, galleries and markets. In the chic East Hotel complex, cosy bookshop/cafe Muse serves its signature steak sandwiches, soufflés and French toast on its sunny deck; by night, Joe’s Bar has tapas with an Italian twist and classic cocktails.

A mother and daughter walk past a painting of Hugh Jackman in the National Portrait Gallery.

Upstairs, contemporary apartment-style rooms offer views across the city.

The Old Bus Depot Market in Kingston is a must on Sundays for arts and crafts, collectables, clothes and locally grown produce.

Across the lake, on the edge of the CBD, Lonsdale Street in Braddon is dotted with gastro pubs and cafes, jewellery and homewares stores, quirky indie fashion and high-end vintage boutiques.

Canberra just might be the best weekend-away destination in the country and in springtime it’s at its foodie, floral, fabulous best.

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