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GIVEAWAY! Catching up with Canberra

HerCanberra Team

At HerCanberra, we’re always banging on about how great this city is…but how does it rate in the eyes of a Sydneysider who hasn’t set foot in Canberra since she left her University of Canberra days behind, 20 years ago?

I recruited my friend Helen and her fabulous family to ‘road test’ Canberra, roping in the lovely people from Alivio Tourist Park to accommodate them in style and twisting a few other arms along the way. This is what they discovered (why not use it to entice your own family and friends to come and visit?)

Read on to discover how you can win a weekend in Canberra for them – or a staycation for yourself!


Having spent three enjoyable years at university in Canberra in the early nineties I was excited at the prospect of returning to see how the nation’s capital had changed.

With my husband and our two girls, aged eight and nine years, we hit the road for a family weekend away. Leaving Sydney behind, the dual highway makes the road trip easy and we hit the outskirts of Canberra in just over three hours. Immediately the old familiar feeling came back to me – spacious roads, tree-lined streets and that ease of getting around.

There’s something to be said for a well-planned city – and Canberra is certainly that – everything makes sense, and there’s always something beautiful to look at.


We stayed at the Alivio Tourist Park in O’Connor – about four kilometres from Civic. Surrounded by bushland with walking and mountain bike tracks, it really is a little oasis, and is close to a number of the local attractions we’d been eyeing off, like the Institute of Sport and GIO Stadium.


It’s probably the closest thing you’ll find to a resort in Canberra – you could quite easily spend the whole weekend just onsite. With a range of reasonably priced, self-catered accommodation, from motel-style right up to three bedroom, two bathroom villas, Alivio is a great choice for a family getaway.


We stayed in a two bedroom premium villa – complete with a full kitchen, spacious living room, great deck overlooking the bush and lovely bathroom – all brand new and with a bonus crimson rosella on the balcony!


Three things really stood out for me about Alivio; firstly, the food options. Since when does a Tourist Park offer a full dinner and breakfast menu and bar facilities? After driving three hours on a Friday afternoon this was an excellent option for us with two hungry kids who just wanted to be fed and put to bed.



The food at The Ridge Café and Bar was perfect for what we needed –kid-friendly and tasty– Spaghetti Bolognese, fish and chips, crumbed calamari and cheese burgers. And plenty of options for the adults – we tried the ‘fish of the day’ and the beef medallions, with a glass of red.


Exploring Alivio the next morning, I could understand the appeal of the Park for a family get together, sporting event or any large gathering. There’s a beautiful pool and spa area, spacious and decked out with BBQs and plenty of seating; and for kids there are endless choices: a basketball court, tennis court, kids playground and volleyball.


They’re all centrally located so you can keep an eye on the kids while remaining by the pool or cooking dinner. With girls who both play tennis and netball this was a huge hit and we were able to read the newspaper while they made full use of the facilities.


And finally, and very importantly, I was able to stay connected. The Park provides a complimentary daily Wifi package – reasonably priced with excellent coverage across the entire property.


A bike ride around the lake

After a lovely buffet breakfast at The Ridge, we set off for the day – starting at Lake Burley Griffin. Of course this gorgeous lake sits at the centre of the city and is a magnet for families and those who enjoy sailing, running and cycling – check out Mr Spokes for bike hire – it’s easy to find and heaps of parking nearby.



We hit the lake just as the leaves of the surrounding trees were turning purple, orange, red and yellow and it was just spectacular. What a way to spend Saturday morning. My family loved it.

Murrumbateman – the wine region

We took a 30 minute drive, north-west of Canberra to Murrumbateman, where we were surprised to learn there are over 100 vineyards and 30 cellar doors peppered across the area.

We chose Four Winds Vineyard for lunch and wine tasting; it’s a family-owned vineyard with a fresh approach and a relaxed, warm feel – it was buzzing with people!


Looking straight onto the wines and surrounding land, Four Winds makes delicious wood fired pizza you can enjoy while drinking in the scenery and tasting the wines, beer and cider. An open fire, casual seating and very friendly, well informed staff, made this a wonderful place to drop in on.


Of course, it’s all about the wine and I particularly liked the Merlot, and Shiraz, with my favourite being the Fortified Shiraz. Check this one out.



Robyn Rowe’s Chocolate d’Or

After exploring a number of the cellar doors – including the renowned Clonakilla – we ended the day with a different kind of tasting – homemade chocolates. About 12 kilometres off the main drag down Nanima Road, you will find Robyn Rowe Chocolates. Sitting beside a dam in an open paddock we enjoyed well-brewed tea with our choice of chocolates that we’d picked from a large selection – there are 26 varieties to choose from!


The chocolates are made on site – and the girls took great delight in watching the process through the large viewing window. You cannot leave this place without trying the honey log, hazelnut praline, chilli and cherry port. All the chocolates are creamy [I’m sure that’s the Belgium Callebaout] and full flavoured – an excellent way to end a very sweet day.



Back in town that night, we made our way over the bridge to dine at the very swanky Lilotang at the Burbury Hotel in Barton; a modern Japanese restaurant with excellent food and service. While our kids devoured chicken skewers with rice and quickly ordered ‘round two’ (and three), we had the pleasure of talking with the friendly, well informed staff about the food and Sake options.

lilotang table

We loved the sushi, the fish, prawns and a range of vegetables. The Cauliflower, Walnut Dengaku Miso and the Roast Umanmi Vegetables which came in a hollowed out orange were beautiful to look at, and even better to eat. All the recommended options were matched with Sake and made for a very enjoyable evening. I’ll be back for the cauliflower.



If you have kids, or even if you don’t, you can’t visit Canberra without spending some time at Questacon, Australia’s National Science and Technology Centre and its 200 exhibits. This renowned destination for families never disappoints – in fact nearly half a million people walk through the door each year.


From the moment you enter the kids are running from one robot or mechanical activity to another – and that’s before you have even purchased your ticket. It’s an interactive excursion; children move from one exhibit to another experiencing the power of an earthquake, or testing reflexes and engaging with staff who entertain them with visual tricks and solving puzzles. This is a great family outing and has something even for the thrill seekers. My daughter ended the adventure with the Freefall Slide – a direct drop to the ground of six metres.


New Canberra

What struck me on returning to Canberra is that underneath the picturesque surroundings, it has developed a new kind of vibe and a level of sophistication I wasn’t expecting. Little hidden suburbs of coolness are popping up!


Braddon is quirky and fresh with lovely interior shops, yummy ice cream and desserts (like Frugii, above), hip bars and lots of food options, while Kingston is brimming with young, fit people who hang out in trendy cafes. The Pialligo Estate Bacon and the milkshakes at ‘Penny University’ in Kingston are delicious.


And when you hit the newly developed Kingston Foreshore, you realise just how much things have changed. New stylish apartments adorn the lake, along with tonnes of food options, local markets and it’s all just a stone’s throw from the city centre.

I will certainly spend more time here.


Would you like your friends or family to enjoy a weekend in Canberra? Or perhaps you’d like a staycation for yourself…

In conjunction with our friends at Alivio Tourist Park, we’re giving you the chance to win a family weekend for four people, including:

  • Two nights accommodation in a Two Bedroom Premium Villa at Alivio Tourist Park
  • Use of a luxury car from Rolfe Classic BMW for the weekend
  • Dinner at The Ridge Café and Bar
  • A family pass to Questacon
  • A family pass to the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House: free entry for four people, a superhero kit for the kids, and A Behind the Lines book pack for the adults
  • Lunch for Four at The Café at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House.


Alivio Tourist Park
20 Kunzea St, O’Connor
Phone: (02) 6247 5466
Email: [email protected]
Web: www.aliviogroup.com.au

Mr Spokes Bike Hire
Barrine Drive, Acton
Phone: (02) 6257 1188
Web: www.mrspokes.com.au

Four Winds Vineyard
9 Patemans Lane Murrumbateman
Phone: 0432 060 903
Web: fourwindsvineyard.com.au

Robyn Rowe’s Chocolate d’Or
1153 Nanima Road, Murrumbateman
Phone: (02) 6227 5827
Web: www.robynrowechocolates.com.au

The Burbury Hotel, Burbury Close, Barton
Phone: (020 6173 2700
Web: www.lilotang.com.au

King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Phone: (02) 6270 2800
Email: [email protected]


The Alivio Tourist Park ‘Catch up with Canberra’ promotion is administered by HCCG Holdings Pty Ltd (ABN 36 600 382 009) of 3/19 Marcus Clarke Street, Canberra City, ACT, 2601. This is a game of skill. The winning entry will be determined by the correct submission of Question 1, and judges’ evaluation of the quality of Question 2. Entries close 5pm on Friday 5th June and the winner will be notified by email and published on the original post on HerCanberra.

Prizes are not redeemable for cash. Prizes are not transferable. Prize is subject to availability. In the event that any of the Prizes or part of a Prize becomes unavailable due to circumstances beyond the Promoter’s reasonable control, the Promoter reserves the right to provide a similar product to the same or greater value as the original prize. The Promoter is not responsible for prizes once they have been dispatched to the winner.

This is a sponsored post, however, the opinions are the author’s own.


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