35+ free things to do in Canberra this summer | HerCanberra

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35+ free things to do in Canberra this summer

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Ahhh, summer. The season of cocktail parties, Christmas shopping…and bare wallets.

Lucky for you, Canberra has plenty of ways to keep you entertained without spending a cent. We’ve done the hard work for you and out together a comprehensive guide of all the free things you can do this summer, from swimming spots to exhibitions.

1. Make sense of the year that was

Look back at 2021 and discover the best political cartoons at Behind the Lines’ at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House.

This year’s collection is the biggest yet, with more cartoons and cartoonists than ever before.


2. Explore one of Canberra’s many places to swim that aren’t pools

You don’t need to go to the coast to enjoy the beach. In fact, you might be surprised to discover just how many incredibly beautiful watering holes are on the city’s doorstep, perfect for cooling off during the long, hot days of summer around Canberra.


3. Learn the story of Canberra as the capital city of Australia at the National Capital Exhibition at Regatta Point

This free tour explores displays featuring the people, events, history and design of Canberra, highlighting what makes it so unique. Discover the people behind the design (including Walter Burley Griffin and his wife Marion), learn about a new side of Cannberra and enjoy.


4. Play tourist

Visit one of our national institutions like the Royal Australian Mint, High Court or Australian Parliament House and make a day of it.

5. Take a road trip

Want to get out of town? Head to one of Canberra’s neighbouring towns for some regional deliciousness and sightseeing. Jugiong, Bungendore, Gundaroo, Braidwood and Gunning are all within 90 minutes’ drive and make an easy day trip.

Saloon, Braidwood. Credit: Simona Photography.

6. Take the family mountain biking

Canberra is blessed with mountain bike trails on its doorstep, so why not check out this list of Canberra’s favourite spots?

7. Explore the Canberra Museum and Gallery

If you were thinking of heading to Canberra Museum and Gallery, well, this is your sign. Their latest exhibition explores artist Mandy Martin, who arrived in Queanbeyan from Adelaide in 1978 as an emerging artist. Running until January 22, learn about her life and art.


8. Encounter a bettong at Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary

Cute, fuzzy and locals at Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary…need we say more?


9. Shoot some hoops

Get your sneakers on and shoot some hoops at a variety of local basketball courts. To find the closest court near you follow the link


10. Explore the special relationship between Canberra and Nara, Japan

Situated on Lake Burley Griffin, the Canberra Nara Peace Park is the perfect outlook for a picnic.


11. View the city from on high at Mount Ainslie Lookout.

Offering stunning panoramic views, it’s the perfect way to spend a day with your family.


12. Volunteer your time at the Acton

The community garden at Acton is a place to get your hands dirty and learn about growing food. Contribute to a local community where everyone is welcome and encouraged to come along.


13. See Australia’s leading glass artists in action

Head to the Canberra Glassworks and take part in a hands-on class. If watching is more your forte, sit back and learn the secrets to flame-working, glass blowing, cold working, kiln forming and casting from Australia’s leading glass artists.


14. Seek respite from the heat

Head to the Australian National Botanic Gardens’ Rainforest Gully and admire lush plants from the diverse rainforests of Australia’s east coast all the way from Tasmania to Queensland.


Credit: Jonora Holmes

15. Head up Mount Stromlo

Seeking some adventure? Head up Mount Stromlo for some mountain biking or enjoy the flat path at the car park for kids to practice their bike riding.


16. See what makes the National Gallery of Australia so phenomenal

Project 1: Sarah Lucas is a free exhibition that you must see, but there’s plenty to explore.


17. Explore The National Arboretum

As an endless natural playground with a physical playgrounds for the kids too, what better  way is there to spend a summers day?


Pod Playground at The National Arboretum

18. Walk or ride the shores of Lake Burley Griffin

Head off n the cool of the morning or evening, enjoy the views or even make a pit-stop along the way.


19. Discover a new favourite walking track

Sick of walking the bridge to bridge? Canberra is full of hidden walking tracks.=


20. Browse vintage treasures

If your idea of fun is poking around Canberra antique stores for pre-loved items in search of treasure, then you need to delve into the suburb of Fyshwick and join the vintage trail.


21. Get amongst Enlighten Festival!

Kicking off from 4 March at the Parliamentary Triangle, watch in awe as the city precinct is transformed into a vibrant arts precinct with free performances and exclusive events.


Enlighten. Credit: Martin Ollman.

22. Move it!

Search the HerCanberra ACTIVE Directory to find a way to move your body.


23. Leave the city behind

Find a quiet spot to get back to nature with these camping spots.


24. Learn about honeybees and democracy (closed until the end of the school holidays)

Can you bee-lieve it? HiveMind: Honeybees, Democracy & Me uncovers the stories of beekeeping at Australia’s Parliament Houses, both old and new, and shares what we could learn from bees on collective decision making for democracy.


25. See the sketches from George French Angas

Look at nearly 200 artworks, sketches and books by colonial artist George French Angas, as well as items relating to his life and the places he travelled to, all at the National Library of Australia.


26. Remember the sacrifice at the Australian War Memorial.

Each day at 4.45 pm AEST, you can absorb the powerful and sombre Last Post Ceremony which honours one of the 62,000 who gave their lives in service.


Credit: Martin Ollman.

27. Visit one of the northside’s hidden treasures

Home of Canberra’s smallest gallery—The Gallery of Small Things in Watson — discover artists and makers from Canberra and beyond.


28. Look beyond the usual sites to uncover Canberra’s secrets.

Some are out in the open, while others are tucked away…


29. Be mesmerised as a spotlight shines on Canberra’s talented film-makers

Lights! Canberra! Action! kicks off on Friday 11 March 2022.


30. Take your pupper for a splash

There’s plenty of dog-friendly swimming spots in Canberra.


31. Take in an exhibition at Canberra Museum and Gallery

Celebrate the region’s social history and visual arts with dynamic exhibitions.


32. Go bananas for bonsai

Visit the National Arboretums Bonsai and Penjing Collection. Featuring 120 exhibits in one of Canberra’s most beautiful outlooks, it’s the perfect place for a day of relaxation.


33. Explore the world of all things space at the National Space Station.

With a variety of interactive activities, every little kid and big kid will be entertained.


34. Learn about the personal experiences of secret agents

The curious history of espionage and counter-espionage in Australia is running until Sunday February 6 at the National Achieves of Australia in Spy: Espionage in Australia. 


35. Take a free online class

The ‘The Amazing Face’ class explores the language of portraiture through the National Portrait Galleries online hub. Use your new skills to take beautiful portraits on your summer holidays.


36. Discover the stories and sentiment behind the tattoos of our veterans past and present

Visit the ‘Ink Between the Lines’ exhibition at the War Memorial to learn about the power of remembrance.


Credit: Matt Whitcombe via VisitCanberra

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