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Gai’s Canberra

HerCanberra Team

Our My Canberra series is about seeing our city with new fresh eyes.

We have sought out well known Canberrans, authors, HerCanberra readers and bloggers to share their favourite parts of Canberra. It has so much to offer, but sometimes it’s hard to find those fantastic places without knowing someone to recommend them.

A while ago, before any of this election malarkey started, we asked some of our local pollies whether they’d like to be part of the series. Gai Brodtmann, Member for Canberra, graciously accepted, and shares her favourite bits of the Capital, in a politics-free post. She is always travelling around the city’s southside, so has an impressive knowledge of the best places to eat, drink, walk and shop!

Northside or Southside?

The electorate of Canberra is everything south of Lake Burley Griffin, so it’s a no-brainer for me! My unofficial slogan throughout my first term has been ‘Southside Rocks’ – and I do believe it does!

Favourite top end restaurant

I’m a big fan of Aubergine in Griffith, and I’m pleased it’s getting the accolades it deserves. It’s my choice for a special occasion. I also like the Ottoman in Barton – an old Canberra faithful. Years ago my girlfriend tipped me off that it was best to leave it to the owner Serif to do the ordering, and now I do. That way you always get the seasonal specials. 

Favourite inexpensive restaurant

My husband, Chris and I usually get takeaway on a Thursday night, and that is either from Timmy’s Kitchen, Kismet or Jewel of India – all in Manuka.

For lunch, my favourite spots are Little Istanbul for great Turkish and salads or Nyonya for Malaysian – my picks are the Beef Rendang and roti. Both are on Anketell Street and well worth a visit. I also enjoy A Bite To Eat in Chifley, The Palette Cafe at Beaver Galleries in Deakin and Beess and Co in Yarralumla.

Best coffee

My day doesn’t begin until I’ve had my first coffee, and I must admit I am a pretty fussy coffee drinker – I don’t like it strong.

If I’m working from my electorate office, Guru in Tuggeranong is where I’ll get my first caffeine hit for the day. The team there work wonders. When I am out and about I like to stop in for a coffee at Red Brick in Curtin, where they roast their own beans.

On a weekend I head to Farmer’s Daughter in Yarralumla; anywhere in Mawson; Cakery Bakery at Erindale Shops, The Fig and Olive at Chisholm Shops, Sakeenas in Cooleman Court, Essential Ingredient in Kingston, Gryphons in Griffith, Calwell Takeaway or My Café in Manuka – it really depends where I am when the coffee urge strikes! All these places have great coffee.

Best breakfast

I am an LSA, wheatgerm and Weet-Bix girl through and through, so I usually have the same breakfast I’ve been having since I was a kid at home. Chris, however, eats out for breakfast every weekday morning. He loves the porridge at Beess and Co; the bircher muesli at Café Delish in Deakin, scrambled eggs and bacon from My Café or a toasted ham, cheese and tomato sandwich at Aussies in Parliament House. On the rare occasion I do have breakfast out, I love the Spanish omelette at My Café and you can’t go past an egg and bacon roll at the Saturday morning football matches.

Best place to shop

I grew up in Melbourne where there is a long-standing culture of second-hand shops that sell really good quality clothing, like the old Recycle. When I moved to Canberra, I really missed this. In recent years things have changed, and we now have some wonderful, high quality second-hand shops. My pick is Material Pleasures in Fyshwick – I’ve made some excellent finds there over the past couple of years.

Cooking is one of my great pleasures, so for food shopping I love the Fyshwick Markets, Essential Ingredient, Mawson Shops or Cooleman Court. For good quality meat, I recommend Kambah, Mawson and Garran butchers and the Deakin IGA.

My other great food source is fetes. I go to a lot of fetes, and  I really enjoy buying fresh lemons, flowers and herbs, flavoured oils, preserved lemons, sauces, cakes, cheese biscuits, lemon butter and plants.

Best bookshop

Paperchain in Manuka has long been my bookshop of choice. They have a great range and ever-helpful staff, which is what every good bookshop requires. And I love their reward system.

Best day trip from Canberra

Like most Canberrans, if I am looking to escape the city I head to the coast. My destination is Malua Bay, Rosedale or Guerrilla Bay. And walking along the sweeping Broulee beach is probably one of my favourite things in the world.

Best walk

I love walking around the West Basin of Lake Burley Griffin, past the dog run and Yarralumla Nursery, through Weston Park, the Royal Canberra Golf Club and Government House. It’s a beautiful area and not as crowded as the Central Basin.

Best place to spend a lazy afternoon

If I have a spare weekend afternoon, you’ll often find me at the M16 Art Space in Griffith. They have some wonderful exhibitions there, and it’s a great hub for emerging Canberra artists. But my favourite place to spend a lazy afternoon is at home with Chris catching up on the week and cooking for dinner that night and the coming week.  

Best place for a drink

A glass of wine at home is probably my number one choice – but I can also recommend the cocktails at The Bah in Manuka. My order is a Martini (gin and shaken), Pisco Sour or Mint Julep.

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