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Canberra & Newcastle: Cultural Treasures

23rd December 2015

A comfortable driving distance either side of Sydney, Newcastle and the Australian capital, Canberra, make for quality multi-day trips. Each city boasts its own fascinating sights and authentic Aussie experiences, from the national museums and galleries in Canberra, to the local ale producers in Newcastle. Here are the highlights of these two cities.


A minnow compared with its southern rivals Sydney and Melbourne, Canberra happens to contain the lion’s share of the country’s museums, art galleries, libraries and memorials – plus the New Parliament House, an audacious modern structure that dominates the city skyline. It’s worth visiting Canberra just to spend a few hours at the National Gallery of Australia, which hosts major touring exhibitions from Europe plus a fine selection of Aboriginal art and paintings by renowned Australian artists. The nearby National Portrait Gallery features some of Australia’s most recognisable cultural figures, such as Sir Donald Bradman, Nick Cave and Patrick White.

 New Parliament House in Canberra. Picture: Getty Images

An excellent way to get a handle on Canberra is atop a distinctive red double-decker bus. Alternatively, hire a bicycle and ride around Lake Burley Griffin, stopping at landmarks such as Old Parliament House and the National War Memorial.

For super views over Canberra, take a trip up to the observation platforms of the 195-metre Black Mountain Tower. Next door are the Australian National Botanic Gardens, which have a rainforest canyon and native plants from all over Australia – and a good cafe.

Although it is better known as a city of politicians, Canberra has a passion for rugby, especially its hometown heroes, the ACT Brumbies. After the final whistle, be sure to repair to one of Canberra’s legendary drinking dens, such as The Wig & Pen or PJ O’Reilly’s – a favourite haunt during the 2003 World Cup.

Action-packed city: 10 Cool Things To Do In Canberra

Superb countryside: Top 5 Unforgettable Experiences In The Hunter Valley


Little more than 160 kilometres up the coast from Sydney, Newcastle must rate as Australia’s most contradictory city. Known for being rather industrial, it also occupies a very pretty stretch of coastline and, like its English namesake, is undergoing gentrification.

 The view over Newcastle from Fort Scratchley. Picture: Getty Images

Colonial buildings are being restored and new cafes, bars and restaurants are springing up along the old wharves; don’t miss Silo Restaurant & Lounge, which has a terrific menu and views. History buffs will enjoy a visit to Fort Scratchley – built in 1882 in case of a Russian attack – the Art Deco Civic Theatre and the atmospheric old Ocean Baths, where bathing belles frolicked in the 1920s.

Newcastle is also something of a magnet for real ale enthusiasts. Despite its proximity to the Hunter Valley wine region, the city supports some great old pubs, such as The Albion Hotel and The Clarendon, which serve local brews such as Murray’s, Burleigh and Hunter craft beers, plus some great Hunter wines.

Just make time to explore this intriguing old steel town. There are hidden depths behind its tough exterior – and, as you’ll discover, plenty of regional pride.

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This article was from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.