Family sold on Canberra as a great holiday spot

Parliament House in Canberra.
Parliament House in Canberra.

CANBERRA undersells itself.

Our nation's capital offered free visits last year in a bid to lure tourists who would write positive comments.

This creates the impression no one would pay to go there.

It was about the time this advertising campaign came out that we were planning a holiday there.

I began wondering if we were crazy and should reschedule.

Ultimately, it was out of a sense of patriotic duty that we decided to go anyway.

We certainly didn't expect to spend more than 24 hours in its surrounds.

Three days later and we reluctantly left the city because we had run out of time.

Canberra is a fantastic city to holiday in with your family - and I'm not being paid by its tourism board to say this.

There is so much to do and it is easy to get around. What it does lack is attractive campgrounds.

We ended up camping at the Exhibition Park, along with hundreds of others.

While this didn't offer the usual distractions - play parks, scenery, barbecue facilities, swimming pools - the showers were clean and it was affordable.

It is also strange waking up to see horses being trained.

The best thing about the Exhibition Centre is its location in the centre of the city.

Within minutes you can be at any of the famous tourist attractions.

One of the miniature displays at Canberra's fabulous Cockington Green Gardens.
One of the miniature displays at Canberra's fabulous Cockington Green Gardens.

We had a "three in fun" visitor's pass to National Science Centre, Australian Institute of Sport and Cockington Green Gardens.

This costs $45 for an adult or $145.80 a family and should be enjoyed over two days. We could have spent a day at the science centre alone.

But the highlight for my children - and it cost nothing - was a visit to Parliament House.

As Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott sparred in front of their colleagues, one of my sons whispered, "Why don't they answer each other's questions?"

It was a valuable lesson in the art of politics.

The Institute of Sport gave my sports-mad sons an opportunity to dream of where they could go if they applied themselves.

We didn't get a chance to go the National Archives or the Royal Australian Mint - both of which were on our to-do list - but that's okay.

This is one city we hope to return to - and it won't be out of patriotism.


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Topics:  canberra family holidays travel

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