Sydney - Canberra ?

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#1
500 Posts
Joined Nov 2009
After arriving in Sydney in October, we have 4 days before our flight out.
Since we've never been in Australia before, we don't want to spend these days just in Sydney, although I am sure there is enought to do and see.

We are considering to rent a car for 2 days, drive to Canberra and stay 1 night there before having a slow, roundabout drive back to Sydney.
Is this wise, i.e. are there interesting things to see in and around Canberra and during the drive to/from, or should we head in another direction ?

Any good tips where to drive to outside of Sydney with 1 overnight ?
Thanks for advice
#2
Sydney, Australia
2,019 Posts
Joined Oct 2007
Sydney to Canberra is about a 3.5 hour drive along great highways - so an easy drive (but relatively boring). I would suggest you detour off the highway at places like Berrima and Bowral just to see what some of the small southern highland towns are like - these are cute. They are somewhat touristy too though as lots of Sydneysiders will travel there on weekends for a quick getaway. Goulburn is an interesting town too - it still has an operational jail there.

Unfortunately there is really no good alternative route back to Sydney so you will probably travel the same road back again for convenience and time sake.

Canberra is an interesting city and our Capital. Walter Burley Griffin designed the city and it is based on circles - so very easy to lose your way!!! The Lake is man-made. Most popular things to do in Canberra I guess are all the "Capital" highlights: Parliament House, Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House, National Museum of Australia, National Film and Sound Archive (this boasts a delightful courtyard cafe, a cinema showing art-house films and a tiny 1920s theatrette that has old home videos, newsreel, ads and other archive on a loop, offering a nostalgia-fest both moving and hilarious), the National Botanic Gardens etc.

There would be lots of things to delight you in Canberra I'm sure even if the above suggestions don't inspire. There are lots of good eateries, bike tracks - as the city is flat it is great riding!.

Anyway...hope this helps.

Other suggestions could be Newcastle, Port Stephens, Hunter Valley, Blue Mountains - these would all be roughly 2-2.5 hours drive.
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#3
Sydney, Australia
1,644 Posts
Joined Jun 2010
The alternative and more scenic routes take secondary Roads over a mountain range, eastwards to the coast. There are several possible routes. See link for a map.

http://www.gomapper.com/travel/direc...ollongong.html

You can drive south east from Canberra to Batemans Bay for lots of sea scapes, via Moss Vale for mountain scenery or continue up the highway past Goulburn and then head east to go to Wollongong and connect with the Grand Pacific Drive.

http://www.grandpacificdrive.com.au/

One thing to consider. The secondary roads going east further to the South of Wollongong may present a problem if you are not confident driving on the LHS. Lots of twists and turns in places. Check it out on Google Maps for yourself. Enjoy.


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#4
Canberra Australia
2,780 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
Hi,
Great idea.

The drive is 3 hours without stops and is a very easy drive.
There are plenty of great things to do as mentioned above. It is not unlike Washington in the way that there are heaps of really nice white building all around the lake.

Canberra is very beautiful with many of the important sites very accessable.
Great to walk or cycle. Bike hire and Segways at the lake.

Two other super attractions are the War Memorial - brilliant.http://www.awm.gov.au/

And the National Arboretum.
http://www.nationalarboretum.act.gov.au/
This is only a few years old so many trees are small and has just opened to the public. The information centre is stunning. Squilion dollar views and a brilliant restaurant. (You will need to book). You can drive around or walk around. ((I hated the idea of it when it was being built and when figures were being released about how many terms of millions it was costing. But I eat my words. It is fantastic. Worth going just to see the visitor centre building!))

If you time it right you can even sit in the gallery and watch question time in parliament. One of the only places in the world where you can do that.

Canberra also has a great coffee and foodie culture now.
Do come and visit Canberra!

Raina
Canberra
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#5
Arlington, Virginia
2,597 Posts
Joined Sep 2010
I lived in Canberra for several years and have made a couple of return trips there on vacation. It's probably my favorite city in Australia and I think you'll have a fabulous time there. Unfortunately, there's too much too see and do for just an overnight trip, so you are going to have to prioritize based on your interests.

You've gotten some good suggestions on things to see and do there. You might want to take a look at the Canberra Visitor's website, which is quite informative. www.visitcanberra.com.au

If you'd like to explore the bush (and have a 100% chance of seeing kangaroos in the wild), I'd recommend doing the Yankee Hat Hike in Namadgi National Park. In addition to seeing the kangaroos, you can see some aboriginal rock art. Here's a good trip report from Trip Advisor about doing that hike (which is about 3.5 miles RT on an easy trail).


http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic...Territory.html
#6
New Orleans, LA/Melbourne, Australia
1,295 Posts
Joined Aug 2001
I agree with other posters about there being too much to see in Canberra for just an overnight trip. We were there for 2 1/2 days and barely touched everything there is to see. But if you just have time for a quick trip, I'd suggest seeing Parliament House, and if you don't have time for both the new and Old Parliament House, prioritize new Parliament House. It's really an interesting place.

If you go, we found great restaurants in Manuka (it was walking distance from our hotel), but there were far fewer options around Parliament House and the National Library. I would definitely plan to eat away from the main National buildings.
#7
Sydney, Australia
1,644 Posts
Joined Jun 2010
If your land tour is early in October, you could take in Floriade a very large and attractive floral exhibition. Accommodation will be more difficult at this time unless you book well ahead. Floriade finishes on 13 October.


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#8
500 Posts
Joined Nov 2009
Many thanks to all of the posters for their good suggestions.

So it looks like this is not the wrong way to go. We don´t have too much time in Australia and wanted to get a tiny taste of the country. We like to see some typical Australian sights, people, etc. - things that we wouldn´t get to see or do in Europe -
and do as much as possible from Sydney in limited time available (not just city) and were not sure if towards Canberra was worthwhile or if we should head another direction. But now we are assured this would work and time would be well spent.

Realize there are a lot of fantastic places we also would like to see (Great Barrier Reef, outback, etc.etc.). Maybe we can plan 5-6 weeks just for Australia another time .
#10
NSW, Australia
2,505 Posts
Joined Jul 2011
The Australian War Memorial is fantastic and a must visit for everyone. Just be aware that the entire WW1 wing and galleries are closed for redevelopment and will re-open in late 2014 in time for the Centenary Commemorations.
#11
Australia
7 Posts
Joined Jul 2013
Canberra is a great place to visit for all the reasons mentioned above. One word of warning if you are hiring a car be aware of Roos on the road. My friend just drove to Sydney from canberra in a hire car and hit a roo. $5,000 damage, thank goodness for travel insurance, but it is still a big inconvenience.
There would be one at least one roo hit on my way to work everyday. I am not trying to scare you off but it is something you should be aware of; and people think roundabouts are a problem.
#12
Ontario, Canada
522 Posts
Joined Dec 2008
Roundabouts are not a problem; they are (or could be) part of the solution to traffic congestion in suburban areas. Wish we had far more of them (and far fewer stoplights) in North America.

Re Canberra, concur re New Parliament House and the War Memorial Museum and nearby monuments being high priorities, but there are lots of other good choices. Also, especially on a clear day, a visit to the Mt. Ainslie lookout "behind" the War Memorial is worthwhile. One can drive to it.

John
#13
Sydney, Australia
13,735 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
Roundabouts are terrible for pedestrians. For cars they can be varying, sometimes better in quieter locations than other intersections, or sometimes slower. They rely on a fairly even flow of traffic from all entries. When it's not analysed well, you can wait for much longer periods of time if you're on the downstream entry point.

So like many things, they are a tool, not better or worse, but need to be in the right situations. In the wrong situations and often for pedestrians, they are terrible.
#14
Canberra Australia
2,780 Posts
Joined Jul 2009
I have to disagree Big M.

Roundabout are fantastic. They so improve the flow of traffic. But I cannot, for the life of me, think why a pedestrian would want to cross at a roundabout. They are an intersection of (at least) two major roads.
Raina
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#15
NSW, Australia
2,505 Posts
Joined Jul 2011
I can sympathise with big m. All she is saying is that roundabouts are good when correctly located. It's the little ones with raised edges that erks me.

The kangaroo problem in Canberra is exacerbated by the construction of the new Majura Drive Parkway. The roos are now concentrated between the fenced off roadworks and the existing road. Lots of roos and wombats also on the way south of Canberra to the Snowy Mountains - take care.
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#16
Sydney, Australia
13,735 Posts
Joined Oct 2008
Originally posted by AussieVisi2r
But I cannot, for the life of me, think why a pedestrian would want to cross at a roundabout. They are an intersection of (at least) two major roads.

Raina
Perhaps you are only talking about roundabouts on freeways, outside residential areas. In our suburban area, they are dotted all through them, and there are also roundabouts on highways and other roads where pedestrians also need to cross.

For pedestrians there are a couple of issues. The minor one is that they make the route longer as they make the path detour to the side, since the size of the roundabout cuts away the regular path. Not a big deal for one roundabout, but more annoying when you have many of them.

However, the major one is that they significantly increase the danger. Normally if you cross, you look to the right, yada, yada. Or at traffic lights it's controlled. However, with roundabouts, a pedestrian has to check for traffic on each of the three approaching roads, as well as traffic on the roundabout, to see whether it's safe to cross.

Other issues are that some roundabouts are on blind corners, so you can have a second to run across when there's heavy traffic, because traffic isn't going to wait for you once it's moving on the roundabout.

Lastly, something that is probably more of a factor here due to the number of bad drivers who don't even know or understand the roundabout rules. A very large proportion of drivers don't know how to indicate properly or are just too lazy. Pedestrians have to stand opposite while they're turning and because they didn't indicate it looks like they're going ahead. Then the pedestrian who could have made it waits longer for other cars coming through. Alternatively, some drivers exit without indicating left and again the pedestrian runs a higher risk of getting run over.

As for increasing the flow, that's about where they're sited well. There was a large one that was replaced in the south of Sydney a few years back. It had one of the highest rates of crashes while it was a roundabout, and at peak times there were always long queues.

It was replaced by traffic lights and has worked much better since. (Not that I'm advocating for traffic lights everywhere! But again roundabouts are not any better at traffic management than anything else.)
#17
Ontario, Canada
522 Posts
Joined Dec 2008
At the risk of prolonging this tangential discussion even further, my side comment (in #12, above) about the advantages of roundabouts relative to traffic lights referred to suburban areas. I agree that they often don't work well in busy downtown areas. And I concur that they can be very problematic for pedestrians. However, as someone who drives mainly in North America, but who has driven a lot in many parts of Australia, I am convinced that (on average) traffic flows far better with the many roundabouts on Australian suburban roads than with the plethora of suburban traffic lights and paucity of roundabouts in Canada and the U.S.A. With that, I will let this (peripheral) topic go...

John
#18
New Orleans, LA/Melbourne, Australia
1,295 Posts
Joined Aug 2001
Originally posted by AussieVisi2r
I have to disagree Big M.

Roundabout are fantastic. They so improve the flow of traffic. But I cannot, for the life of me, think why a pedestrian would want to cross at a roundabout. They are an intersection of (at least) two major roads.
Raina
Is it any safer for the pedestrians to cross the road in the middle? I was always taught to cross streets at corners, also known as intersections. Roundabouts are very difficult for pedestrians; traffic lights or all-ways stop signs are much better because there is always at least a moment when traffic stops in the direction of crossing. With a roundabout, there is never a moment when there is a definite stop for pedestrians.

As for wanting to cross at the roundabout, I never WANT to. But I often HAVE to, because the other option is walking blocks out of my way. I'm truly not up on the traffic rules here in Australia, so I am not sure if pedestrians actually legally have the right of way, but no one I have ever seen driving acts like they do.
#19
Australia
7 Posts
Joined Jul 2013
Hi Everyone

It was a tongue in check comment i made about roundabouts. Lots of visitors that come to Canberra complain about going around in circles, but my point about the roos was legit.

The population of canberra also get blamed for all the decisions the politicians make, even though it really has nothing to do with us, politicians come from all over Australia. A large number of Canberra's 's population don't even work for the Government
#20
500 Posts
Joined Nov 2009
thanks again for your input.
Took my awhile to figure out what roos are and what the problem would be, but I think I got it now.

We have no issues with the roos over here, but roundabouts are as controversial