subdivision of Canberra, Australia
Oceania > Australia > Canberra > Canberra/South Canberra

If it's your first time in Canberra and you're time limited to only exploring one part of Canberra, it has to be South Canberra. Sometimes referred to as the inner south, South Canberra houses some of Canberra's most important landmarks: Parliament House, and the broader Parliamentary Zone, containing the Old Parliament House, Questacon, the National Gallery etc., the Royal Australian Mint, The Lodge and the Government House.

Parliament House on a sunny day in 2019

Apart from Capital Hill and the more broader Parliamentary Zone, South Canberra contains a large range of museums, government buildings, malls and restaurants, and unlike most cities where the central business district (CBD) is the most visited part of the city, in Canberra, as South Canberra contains Canberra's "must-sees", not Civic, S Canberra is the most touristed area of Canberra.

Understand edit

Unlike other Australian cities where most of their important attractions and points of interests are in the CBD, Canberra's museums and points of interests are not, but in this subdistrict. That's because South Canberra is one of the oldest areas of Canberra and nearly all government buildings are in South Canberra. Civic (i.e. the CBD) developed more in a way that it functions as a shopping district and has plenty of places to eat, while South Canberra has more museums, government buildings, and perhaps one of the most important destinations to visit in Australia.

South Canberra is where the first modern development in Canberra saw light. All neighbourhoods in South Canberra but Narrabundah were built between the years of 1922 and 1928, while Narrabundah was built in 1947 which, although relatively recent compared to the rest of the world, is still very old by Canberra standards.

Unlike other Canberra districts which are separated from each other by nature and bushland, South Canberra is only separated from North Canberra by Lake Burley Griffin. However, South Canberra isn't a district of its own, but one of Canberra Central's two subdistricts.

Get in edit

By car edit

If you are coming from Civic or North Canberra, there are two roads that you can use. If you're coming from Civic, Reid, Acton, Dickson or anywhere north of the city, use the A23 Northbourne Avenue which turns into Commonwealth Drive south. Once you've crossed Lake Burley Griffin, you've arrived at South Canberra. If you are coming from Campbell or Russell, use Kings Avenue southwest and you'd have arrived at South Canberra.

From Woden, use the Yarra Glen which is a freeway up northeast which later changes its name into Adelaide Avenue. Once the road name has changed, you've essentially arrived at South Canberra while if you're coming from Weston, use Cotter Road east until you enter Adelaide Avenue and from there, you've arrived at South Canberra. From Adelaide Avenue, to get to places like Parliamentary Triangle and Capital Hill, continue northeast on the freeway until State Circle, which is essentially the outer loop of Capital Hill.

By bus edit

Being near the centre of the city, South Canberra has several ACTION rapid buses that run through it and it can get confusing. The routes R4, 5,, 7 and 10 all come from the city and all head southwest past Capital Hill. R2 and 6 both also come from the city, but go via Parkes, Barton and Kingston where the lines split up. R2 goes to Fyshwick, while goes via Griffith and Red Hill and terminates back up at Woden Interchange. From the south near Tuggeranong, use the R4 and R5 lines north.

By train edit

If you're visiting Canberra by train, Canberra Railway Station is in Burke Crescent, Kingston and all trains that come to Canberra come here, making it the only part of Canberra to have a railway station. See Canberra § By train for details on how to get here by train.

Map of South Canberra

See edit

If you only had a few hours to spend in Canberra (yes, the city as a whole, not just South Canberra), spending the few hours in Capital Hill and Parliamentary Triangle is probably the best way to explore the capital's main points of interests. If you've got slightly longer, then you could veer towards the Royal Mint and some other important government buildings such as The Lodge or Government House.

In Parliamentary Triangle edit

Map of Parliamentary Triangle. Red = freeway, orange = A-route, and yellow = major road
The National Portrait Gallery
Old Parliament House

  • 1 High Court of Australia, Parkes Place, Parkes. M–F 9:45AM–4:30PM excluding public holidays. This vast building is the home of Australia's highest court and contains a vast lobby and three main courtrooms that are open to the public. Tours are available, though restricted when the court is sitting. The building also has a cafeteria. As a matter of etiquette, when you enter or leave a courtroom in session, remember to bow.    
  • 2 National Archives of Australia, +61 2 6212 3600. Facsimiles of the Constitution and other founding documents from the Archives' collection are on display at Old Parliament House until the Archives reopens. The Archives Canberra reading room is also in Old Parliament House during this period.
  • 3 National Gallery of Australia, Parkes Place, Parkes (by Lake Burley Griffin), +61 2 6240-6502. 10AM–5PM. This modern structure is one of the country's largest, and best, art galleries. It has a vast collection of paintings and sculptures collected from Australia and the rest of the world and has excellent Aboriginal artwork. A nice gift store and a large bookstore on the upper level. Free except for special exhibits. The Gallery offers free public one-hour tours: Australian and International art at 11AM and 2PM daily, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art at 11AM on Thursdays and Sundays. Allow at least half a day and possibly more.    
  • 4 National Library of Australia (adjacent to Commonwealth Avenue Bridge on the southern side of Lake Burley Griffin near the National Gallery of Australia and Questacon, and is a short walk from a bus stop on the Inter-Town route), +61 2 6262 1111, fax: +61 2 6257-1703. M-Th 9AM-9PM, F Sa 9AM-5PM, Su 1:30PM-5PM. The library is primarily a research centre, but houses a permanent display of historically significant items as well as temporary exhibitions showing parts of the collection. It's an accessible space, entirely comfortable for anyone to visit. Also notable for its neo-classical architecture.    
  • 5 National Portrait Gallery, King Edward Terrace, Parkes (adjacent to High Court and National Gallery of Australia), +61 2 6102 7000. 10AM-5PM, except Christmas Day. The Gallery opened to the public on the 4 December 2008, and displays some 400 portraits of people who have shaped and who continue to shape the nation. There are gallery spaces for the collection and temporary exhibitions, public areas including a café, shop, function room, theatrette, education and school group areas, and basement car parking. Portraits are in various media, depending on the era. Galleries are themed by era. The web site gives a good idea of the content. free except for major exhibitions.    
  • 6 Old Parliament House (featuring the Museum of Australian Democracy), King George Terrace, +61 2 6270 8222. The headquarters of the Australian government from the 1920s to 1988, this building is a must for political and/or historical junkies. The building gives a real feel of what it was like when it was in use and has in the past regularly featured rotating exhibitions on the controversies and scandals that rocked Australian politics. It is now a permanent museum. Most of the main rooms - the Prime Minister's office, the Cabinet Room, the various party rooms, the two houses - are open to visitors, as are many smaller rooms like the whips' offices and the broadcasting area. There are also historical photos of Canberra as it used to be, including the times prior to the creation of the artificial lake that shows Canberra under snow during winter (the lake warmed up the city and snow falls rarely on the city now). The gift store has decent souvenirs. Parking is free, admission is $2 for adults, $1 concession. Allow 2–3 hours.
  • 7 Questacon (The National Science and Technology Centre), King Edward Tce, Parkes, +61 2 6270 2800, toll-free: 1800 020 603. 9AM-5PM. Questacon is an interactive museum of science with exhibits illustrating scientific ideas from the principles of physics to the motion of an earthquake. Great for kids and excellent science books can be picked up here. Allow at least half a day. $15.50 adults, $10.50 concessions, $9 children, and $46 for a family of 2 adults and 3 children.    

Capital Hill edit

"Capital Hill" redirects here. For other places named Capital Hill, see Capital Hill (disambiguation)
Parliament House at dusk
  • 8 Parliament House of Australia, Capital Hill, +61 2 6277 5399, +61 2 6277 2727 (for recorded information). Sitting days: 9AM–6PM; non-sitting days: 9AM–5PM. The seat of Australia's federal government and legislature and a remarkable piece of modern architecture. Outside, the forecourt faces Federation Mall and has iconic views. Much of the inside is open to the public during business hours (your bags are x-rayed and persons pass through a metal detector at the entrance). When inside the building, do not miss: Queens Terrace upstairs towards the forecourt, and the roof (via an elevator close to walkway to the House of Representatives). Various art, including portraits of past prime ministers are hung in the hallways. Enthusiastic guides perform free tours daily at 10AM, 1PM and 3PM (no booking required). Tours are shorter when Parliament is sitting as the chambers are occupied.    
    • Parliament sittings. On sitting days, you are allowed to view proceedings in the public gallery from 2PM onwards. Your belongings, including electronic items will be cloaked, and a secondary security check is required. No further arrangement is needed to sit in the Senate chamber public gallery. To view Question Time from the House of Representatives galleries, preferably book your free seat by calling the Serjeant-at-arms +61 2 6277 4889 before 12:30PM. Expect queues to collect tickets, during the secondary checks, and then while waiting for sessions to begin. Consider bringing a small book to read during the wait. Members of the public can also observe hearings conducted by the parliament's various committees. Allow 2–3 hours. On-site parking can be limited when parliament is sitting.
    • Gardens. Back outside, the Formal Gardens are east of the main building. This is a small, tranquil green space, with flowers in warmer seasons, artwork, and the Bali Memorial. Here, or Queens Terrace, or the Parliament House roof, the lower slopes up the sides of Parliament House, or Federation Mall are nice places to take a breather. To explore the grounds further, feel free to walk (or ride) along tracks (within Capital Circle) both east and west of Parliament House in cool shade. Find the entrances along the corners of Parliament Drive. Another shady track runs along the base of Capital Hill (between Capital Circle and State Circle). Find this track midway down the access road to Kings Avenue, on the right side, and proceed clockwise. You can exit the track at any point along the length, and the other end is close to Surveyors Park. If in Canberra when Floriade is held, there are additional tours of the Parliament House gardens.

Outside Parliamentary Triangle edit

Government House as viewed from the nearby lookout
The Lodge in October 2010
  • 9 Canberra Fire Museum, 4 Empire Cct, Forrest, +61 2 6207 8652. Sa 10AM–2PM. A small museum with lots of restored fire appliances used during the 20th century, including several large fire trucks. The museum is free to access, but a gold-coin donation is encouraged for maintenance purposes.
  • 10 Canberra Glassworks Museum, 11 Wentworth Ave, Kingston, +61 2 6260 7005. W–Su 10AM–4PM (closed M Tu). Learn and see how glass is made in this contemporary professional glass making factory. There are several workshops available, including several "make-your-owns".    
  • 11 Government House (Yarralumla), viewing platform off Lady Denman Drive, Yarralumla, +61 2 6283 3533. The main official residence of the Governor-General of Australia, representative of King Charles III in Australia. Closed to the public except for open days, which take place approximately twice a year. There is a viewing platform, 12 Government House Lookout off 420 Lady Denman Drive, or glimpses can be seen from the main gate at Dunrossil Drive, Yarralumla, or Weston Park, Yarralumla. Often kangaroos are to be spotted munching grass on the lawns, so be careful driving along the ride that gets to the viewpoint, especially at dusk.    
  • 13 The Lodge, Adelaide Ave, Deakin. The Prime Minister's official residence. Generally closed to the public and you can only see part of the garden from behind the wall and the entrance from the freeway. There are open days about once a year and if you are lucky to be in Canberra then, it shouldn't be missed.    
  • 14 Canberra Railway Museum, 7 Geijera Pl., Kingston. Has several exhibits of historic locomotives that have been used in New South Wales during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Some of the most notable locomotives include Australia's oldest operating steam locomotive and one of the world's oldest mainline steam locomotives.    
  • 15 Royal Australian Mint, Denison St, Deakin, +61 2 6202 6999, fax: +61 2 6202 6953. M–F 9AM–4PM, Sa Su holidays 10AM–4PM. Take a tour of the mint and see how coins are made. You will even get the chance to mint your own souvenir coin. Look for the pudding coins as a souvenir (not always available). Allow 1–2 hours. Free.    
  • 16 Scrivener Dam, Lady Denman Drive (next to the National Zoo and Aquarium). This small dam across the Molonglo River was completed in 1963 in order to create Lake Burley Griffin. A viewing platform is located off Lady Denman Drive near the eastern edge of the dam.
  • 17 Red Hill, Red Hill Drive. Offers two lookouts of the greater Canberra area, though nearly everyone comes here to see a view of the rest of South Canberra. Vehicular access is available and a casual cafe style restaurant is at the peak. Unfortunately, the trees may block the view, but if so, walk a few metres back and you'll get a better view.

Historic buildings edit

Do edit

Pelicans at the Jerrabomberra Wetland Nature Reserve
  • 1 Axxe (Axxe - Urban Axe Throwing), 4/1 Lyell St, Fyshwick, +61 422 142 263, . It's a rather niche thing that you probably wouldn't usually think of doing daily, learn to throw steel axes onto wooden targets. Over 18s only, and bookings highly recommended.
  • 2 Jerrabomberra Wetland Nature Reserve, Dairy Rd, Fyshwick. Daily 8AM–6PM. The wetlands and the area surrounding this wetlands are an important spot due to the large array of different wildlife. There are many bushwalking trails and if you're into fishing, it's surprisingly permitted (though you're not allowed to catch certain fish).    
  • 3 Manuka Oval, Manuka Cct, Griffith. The Manuka Oval hosts the Prime Minister's XI match, an annual match where a team consisting Australian cricketers picked by the country's prime minister plays against an overseas touring team. Since 2008, Manuka has held international cricket matches sporadically. Has a capacity of 13,500.    
  • 4 Royal Canberra Golf Club, 71 Bentham St, Yarralumla, +61 2 6282 7000, +61 2 6240 2250 (golf shop), fax: +61 2 6285 2742, . Originally known as Canberra Golf Club, the Royal Canberra Golf Club was formed in 1926, making it one of the oldest golf clubs in Canberra. Its original grounds were behind the Hotel Canberra on the river flats on both sides of the Molonglo River.    

Buy edit

There are plenty of places to shop in South Canberra, but these are the ones that are particularly important:

  • Fyshwick – Canberra's "red-light" district and the place to shop for appliances, technical stuff, furniture, and homewares with many antique shops and several second hand bookshops and is home to the Outlet Centre.
  • Manuka and Kingston are two nearby suburbs that has boutiques and restaurants. Millers of Manuka boutique sells leading women's fashion brands like Max Mara and others. For less expensive women's clothing try Witchery. Booklovers would do well to check out Paperchain bookstore.

Bookstores edit

  • 2 Canberra Antiques Centre, 37 Townsville Street, Fyshwick, +61 2 6162 3737, fax: +61 2 6162 3737. Daily 10AM-5PM. Over a dozen professional dealers, both local and interstate, offer a top variety of antique and retro furniture, funky vintage clothing, vintage fabrics, militaria, numismatics, pottery, vintage needlework tools & accessories, electricals, silver, art glass, quality bric-à-brac and designer items. Well presented with great music playing and a nice vibe throughout.
  • 3 Muse, 69 Canberra Ave, Griffith (East Hotel, Corner Canberra Avenue and Giles Street in Kingston), +61 2 6178 0024. M-F 6:30AM-10PM, Sa 7AM-10PM, Su 7AM-3PM. This combined bookshop and cafe runs a busy program of literary events, often featuring high-profile authors.
  • 4 National Library of Australia Bookshop, Parkes Place, Parkes, +61 2 6262 1424. Not surprisingly given the venue, this store stocks an excellent range of Australian books. The price range tends to be a bit higher than other places, but it's worth for the range found here.
  • 5 Paperchain Bookstore, 34 Franklin Street, Manuka, +61 2 6295 6723. M–Sa 9AM–7PM, Su 10AM–6PM. A medium-sized independent bookstore with a good range. Popular with journalists and politicians.
  • Portrait Gallery Store, King Edward Terrace, Parkes (Located just inside the entrance of the National Portrait Gallery), +61 2 6102 7170, . The National Portrait Gallery's store stocks a large range of recently-released art and non-fiction books and is very popular with Canberrans.

Markets edit

  • 6 Old Bus Depot Market, 21 Wentworth Ave, +61 2 6295-3331. Su 10AM–4PM. As the name would suggest, the markets are in a rundown bus depot that is no longer in use. Most of the stalls sell a wide variety quality arts and crafts, with a few food and produce stalls in the mix. There is often live music being played and occasionally they run theme days to keep the markets interesting.
  • 7 Fyshwick Fresh Food Market (Fyshwick Market), 12 Dalby St, +61 2 6295-0606. Th-Su 8AM–5:30PM. Fresh produce, including fruit, vegetables, meat and fish. Sunday afternoons are a good time to pick up some bargains.

Eat edit

Budget edit

  • 1 Griffith Vietnamese Restaurant, 6B Barker St, Griffith, +61 2 6295 6505. M noon–2PM, 5–9PM T–F noon–2PM, 5–10PM Sa 5–10PM Su 5–9PM. Cheap, no frills place with little/no décor and ordinary "Australianised" Vietnamese food.
  • 2 Turkish Halal Pide House, 45 Novar St., Yarralumla, +61 2 6281 1991. 9AM–8:30PM. High quality Turkish at a reasonable price, no alcohol allowed on premises. Absolutely delicious and very generous kebab rolls - local favourite. Takeaway available.
  • 3 Uppa Level Cafe, 6/71 Leichhardt St., Kingston, +61 2 6295 0880, . M–F 7AM–3PM Sa 8AM–1PM (closed Sundays and public holidays). A budget cafe with an all day breakfast and a reasonable lunch range. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options are fairly limited, but there are a few on the menu.

Mid-range edit

  • 4 Cafe D'Lish, 27 Hopetoun Cct, Deakin, +61 2 6281 3533, fax: +61 2 6281 3450. M–F 6AM–5PM, Sa 6:30AM–2PM. Swiss owner, nice pastries made on premises. Includes a reasonably sized and decorative indoor and outdoor seating area.
  • 5 Silo Bakery and Cafe, 36 Giles St., Kingston, +61 2 6260 6060. Tu–Sa 7AM–3PM. Good breakfast, however almost always very crowded - expect 'attitude' instead of service. They also have a dedicated cheese room.

Splurge edit

  • 6 Aubergine Restaurant, 18 Barker St., Griffith, +61 2 6260-8666. W–Sa 6–10PM. Sister to Courgette Restaurant, the food is very good, but beware the cancellations policy when changing a booking - you could be charged for the meals your party did not eat. And as the name of the restaurant suggests, the restaurant specialises in eggplant based meals.
  • 7 OTIS Dining Hall, 29 Jardine St., Kingston, +61 2 6260 6066. Th–Su 6PM–midnight. A fine-dining restaurant particularly known for its food as well as its wine and cocktail program. Steak is a popular meal to have at this restaurant.
  • 8 Ottoman Cuisine Restaurant, Cnr Broughton & Blackall St, Barton, +61 2 6273 6111. Consistently awarded best Turkish in Australia, great atmosphere.
  • 9 Rubicon, 6A Barker St, Griffith, +61 2 6295 9919. 5:30PM–10:30PM (closed Sundays). Consistently excellent food, extensive winelist and BYO (bring your own) are accepted. Great atmosphere, romantic rear indoor courtyard.
  • 10 The Chairman & Yip, 1 Burbury Cl, Barton, +61 2 6162 1220. Tu-F noon–2:30PM, M-Sa 6-10:30PM. East/West fusion of great repute.
  • 11 The Promenade Cafe, at the Hyatt Hotel, 120 Commonwealth Ave, +61 2 6269 8810. Offers daily buffet dinners in its restaurant from 6PM and high teas from 3 to 5PM. It is one of Canberra's most high-end cafes, and offers a very different experience to other cafes in Canberra.
  • 12 Water's Edge Restaurant, 40 Parkes Pl E, Parkes, +61 2 6273 5066. W–Su noon–3PM, 6–9PM, closed M Tu. One of the few fine dining restaurants in Canberra, this one with a large waterfront view of Lake Burley Griffin, with a several mix of Australian dishes, with some good wine too.

Drink edit

  • 1 Kingston Hotel, 73 Canberra Ave, Kingston (off Canberra Avenue, near Manuka Oval), +61 2 6295 0123. Daily 10AM–midnight. One of Canberra's longest running pubs, offering a 'cook your own' style open grill bistro, comprehensive restaurant, several pool halls, a drive-through bottle shop and bare bones backpackers accommodation (though usually occupied by long-term tenants). Once notorious for being rough, it is now a safe and friendly pub. Same ownership as Civic Pub and Uni Pub.
  • 2 The Durham Castle Arms (Durham Pub), 52 Jardine St, Kingston, +61 2 6295 1769. M–Th noon–1AM, F noon–midnight, Sa Su 11AM–1AM. A traditional British style pub with some good selection of beers on tap, warm atmosphere, Trivia on Tuesdays and Karaoke on Wednesday.
  • 3 Capital Brewing. Expansive grounds, with lots of outdoor seating and areas for kids to play on a summer afternoon or evening. In winter, they have a large central fireplace. World class micro-brews, and a taste burgers from a burger food truck that's always indoors.
  • Old Parliament House. Every Friday afternoon (5-7PM), the courtyards of Old Parliament House have DJs and reasonably priced cocktails. It is very popular with graduates after work, before heading off to other places.

Sleep edit

Much of Canberra's accommodation is found in South Canberra, and with the most points of interest, it is no surprise why. However, the availability of accommodation can be tight during periods in which Parliament is sitting - the schedule for parliamentary sittings can be found here.

Mid-range edit

  • 1 Best Western PLUS Garden City Hotel, 55 Jerrabomberra Ave, Narrabundah, +61 2 6295 3322, fax: +61 2 6239 6289, . This motel is situated in Narrabundah which is located away from Canberra's main attractions so having access to a car is highly recommended if staying here. Rooms are small but provided you have a car, accommodation tends to be substantially cheaper than accommodation options in Civic. Full Rates range from $150-220 for a standard room.
  • 2 Brassey Hotel, Macquarie St, Barton, +61 2 9158 1476 (reception), +61 2 8294 0038 (reservations), . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 10AM. Established in 1927, this hotel is one of the oldest hotels still in existence in Canberra. Amenities include Wi-Fi, complimentary parking, a restaurant and a bar and a bistro available. There's also a pleasant garden that's well-maintained too.
  • 3 Rydges Canberra (Rydges Capital Hill), 17 Canberra Ave, Forrest (Cnr Canberra Avenue & National Circuit), +61 2 6295 3144, toll-free: 1300 857 922. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. Located across the lake from Civic, close to Parliament House.

Splurge edit

An 80-year-old residence for Canberra's visiting politicians is now its most prestigious hotel
  • 4 Hyatt Hotel Canberra, Commonwealth Avenue, Yarralumla, +61 2 6270-1234, fax: +61 2 6281-5998, . tel 13 1234 (local call within Australia). Double room from $190 per night.    
  • 5 Hotel Kurrajong, National Circuit, Barton, +61 2 6234 4444, fax: +61 2 6234 4466. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. Each of the Kurrajong’s 26 rooms have King size beds, mini bar, tea and coffee making facilities, in-room safe, free in-house movies.    
  • 6 Hotel Realm, 18 National Cct, Barton, +61 2 6163 1800, fax: +61 2 6163 1801, . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. One of Canberra's newest 5 star hotel, in the Parliamentary triangle close to Parliament House and other attractions.

Serviced apartments edit

  • 7 Pinnacle Apartments, 11 Ovens St, Kingston. More apartments in Kingston. If you don't mind staying in serviced apartments that obviously started out as an apartment complex built in the 1970s, this place is not too bad. Certainly good for families or large groups as you can get 3 bedroom units.

Connect edit

There is Wi-Fi available in several locations. The National Library is one good one, though it is not the only one.

All network providers (i.e. Telstra, Optus and Vodafone) provide good coverage of the area as well.

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