Buvette Masthead

ReVisit Canberra

Bethany Nevile

Sometimes we forget just how lucky we are to live in Canberra, with cultural institutions on our doorstep.

So why not play tourist and make a list of places to ‘revisit’ – you may just see our hometown with fresh eyes. Here are five worth another look.

National Gallery of Australia

More than 100,000 works of art and world-class art exhibitions right in our backyard – you’d think we’d be beating a path to the National Gallery of Australia every week. Even if the latest blockbuster exhibition isn’t your ‘thing’, wandering through the Gallery is a pleasure in itself.

See the famous ‘Blue Poles’ by Jackson Pollock or the iconic Ned Kelly series by Sidney Nolan. Discover Australian art, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, Asian art and international art; or take the short stroll through The Sculpture Garden to explore NGA Contemporary by the lake.

But it’s not just about ‘what’s hanging on the walls’. The Gallery hosts a vibrant event series – everything from artist talks to hands-on workshops; family programs to films.

Our must-do experience? James Turrell’s Skyspace at sunrise or sunset – sit back and marvel at the changing colours of the sky while trying to equate reality with what the artist is imposing on your mind.


the essentials

What: National Gallery of Australia
Where: Parkes Place, Parkes
When: Open 10am to 5pm daily (except Christmas Day)
Web: nga.gov.au

Telstra Tower

Rising 195 metres above the summit, the tower sits atop Black Mountain and is one of Canberra’s most iconic symbols and the city’s telecommunications hub.

The elevator ride is the same jolt you’ll remember from childhood visits, and the 360 degree panoramic views are still spectacular. The indoor viewing area helpfully pinpoints key Canberra landmarks and locations, so as you take in the panorama you can search for familiar spots you know.

From this height, Canberra shines as a planned city – you see how the roads and suburbs connect and the close proximity of everything. On a clear day, the outdoor viewing platforms offer views across Canberra and out to the mountains, while in the evening, you’re presented with a magnificent view of the city under lights.

Want a bit of education with your views? The Telstra Heritage Exhibition traces the history of Australian telecommunications. Oh and as a bonus, the tower definitely has some of the best phone reception in Canberra…


the essentials

What: Telstra Tower
Where: 100 Black Mountain Drive, Acton
When: 9am to 10pm every day
Web: telstratower.com.au

National Film and Sound Archive

It’s worth visiting for the art deco architecture alone, but there are a lot more reasons to reacquaint yourself with the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA).

Australia’s living archive, the NFSA collects, preserves and shares our rich audiovisual heritage. More than 2.16 million works are housed in its collection, including: films, television and radio programs, videos, audio tapes, records, compact discs, phonograph cylinders and wire recordings, photographs, posters, lobby cards, publicity items, scripts, costumes, props, memorabilia, oral histories, and vintage equipment. Phew.

But forget any ideas you may have of a stuffy museum experience – the NFSA is truly immersive and interactive. You can listen to radio broadcasts on the 1950s radiogram, watch classic TV in the lounge space or play CDs in The Front Room; or get into the groove on the first Friday of each month at The Vinyl Room – it’s a chance to take your vinyl along and play a track of your choice on the pure analogue sound system.

If movies are more your thing, ARC Cinema screens a rich array of classic and modern films; and there are always plenty of school holiday options for the kids.

the essentials 

What: National Film and Sound Archive of Australia
Where: McCoy Circuit, Acton
When: Open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday
Web: nfsa.gov.au

The Australian War Memorial

It’s an awe-inspiring building, and its position – in direct line of sight to Parliament House – serves to remind Australia’s decision-makers of the cost of war. Today, The Australian War Memorial is a special place of remembrance, a testament to sacrifice and an insight into our country’s history.

The Commemorative Courtyard is a place to reflect, as wherever you stand you are surrounded by the Roll of Honour, listing the names of every Australian who has died in war since 1885. The eternal flame on the Pool of Reflection represents Australia’s commitment to never forget our servicemen and women.

The tall stained glass windows of the Hall of Memory will take your breath away, as will the stunning Byzantine dome suspended 24 metres above the ground. In the centre of the Hall is the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Solider.

The First World War galleries include interactive displays, sounds and genuine clothes and objects from this time; as well as snippets of personal experiences, providing insight into the lives and deaths of these 102,000 Australians.

There are also expansive displays on the Second World War; classic aircrafts on display in the Aircraft Hall; and galleries covering more recent conflicts, such as the Korean War and the Vietnam War, as well as modern peacekeeping efforts.

Martin_Ollman war memorial

the essentials 

What: The Australian War Memorial
Where: Treloar Crescent, Campbell
When: Open 10am to 5pm daily, (except Christmas Day)
Web: awm.gov.au

National Museum of Australia

Its vibrant exterior couldn’t be more different to the restrained architecture of its neighbouring institutions; the swooping orange curve of the Uluru line and the symbolic landscape, ‘The Garden of Australian Dreams’ capturing the imaginations of all ages.

The National Museum of Australia a museum of social history and provides an insight into different times, places and people throughout our country and its history.

Gain a sense of place at Landmarks; the permanent exhibition provides a broad look at Australian social history with different exhibits showing what life is like in different regions as well as eras. Journeys takes a look at Australia’s connection with the rest of the world, while First Australians is a large gallery dedicated to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Old New Land considers people and environment, and how our connection with the land is continually evolving.

The Eternity exhibit is a firm favourite, exploring how individuals have shaped our country – from famous figures like The Wiggles and Mary Donaldson to everyday Australians.

National Museum of Australia entrance at night

National Museum of Australia entrance at night

the essentials

What: National Museum of Australia
Where: Lawson Crescent, Acton Peninsula, Acton
When: Open 9am to 5pm daily, (except Christmas Day)
Web: nma.gov.au

Photography by Martin Ollman



Bethany Nevile

Bethany Nevile is a Canberra local and recently graduated from the ANU with an honours degree in English Literature. She loves op shopping, baking, binge reading, live music, theatre, trashy TV and thinks there is always room for dessert. More about the Author

  • Tailor

    So many great places. I’m on a mission to be a tourist at home and take in as much as I can.

  • Ebony Rose

    ? Hell yeah! Thanks for screen shotting that image of me representing Telstra Tower! ? #bornandbred