A small interruption to the Movie Catch Up files – it has been nearly a month since our Canberra visit and I have not managed to tell you about it yet! We left home super early on a Sunday morning to make it over to Canberra before lunchtime.
Canberra put on some gorgeous weather for us but it was very cold. Our plan was to visit the Old Bus Depot Markets, IKEA, Costco and the Canberra Outlet Centre. When we arrived at the markets it was 11:30am which is peak market time and the carparks were absolutely packed. We decided to head to the outlet centre instead of driving in circles trying to find a park and drop back into the markets later if we had time.
TK Maxx has opened at Canberra Outlet Centre and that happened to be the first shop we visited. I’d gone to the American version of this store on Oahu and loved it. However this is not a place you can just quickly drop in and visit. You need to allocate some time to flick through the racks and find the bargains.
As my main shopping task for Canberra was to find a pair of winter boots, I did not have the kind of time needed for TK Maxx today so we just had a quick look around. These sneakers were $600 or so and as much as I would love some crystals on my feet, I said heck no to that! ;) They have such a range of items at all kinds of prices. I took a leisurely trip to the Warrawong store the following weekend where I spent 2.5 hours browsing, but that is a story for another blog post.
There is now a Coffee Club at the Canberra Outlet Centre – we find the food to be reliable and tasty and the coffee is very good here. I had the smashed avo with feta just like a proper hipster doofus.
The official population of Canberra is less than 400,000 people and these lucky people have access to some of the best and least crowded shopping in Australia. They also have access to a lot of other great things – museums, a great zoo, gardens and nature reserves, and some of the best roads with decent speed limits in the country. It is a fairly short drive for us – around two and a half hours – and we have often gone for a day trip before but this time we chose to stay overnight.
We chose Grill’d for dinner as it was a short but very cold walk from our hotel. Grill’d, what are you doing to me? It was because of you I had to create zucchini fries at home, now you want me to create avocado fries at home? If you have a Grill’d nearby the zucchini & avocado fries are worth trying.
I will have to consider this carefully before attempting my own version. I was served deep fried avocado once at a wedding in the early 90’s, in the days before I ate avocado. Who knew avocado fries would become a thing and that I would love them? Who knows what vegetable will be next!
If and when you visit Canberra, do not waste your money on an expensive hotel breakfast. Head out to IKEA and grab their cheap offering (presently just under $6) which includes a hash brown and a sausage not seen here as I swapped it for the tomato on The Other Half’s plate, swedish meatballs, bacon and scrambled egg. They also have warm danish, if you are into that kind of thing, and the cafe serves excellent coffee as well as the cheap or free stuff you get if you are an IKEA member.
The restaurant opens half an hour before the store itself which is almost exactly the perfect amount of time to eat, caffeinate, and make a quick bathroom stop. Then you can do a quick run or a leisurely wander through the store without the crowds you might find at one of their Sydney locations. We went with leisurely wander and were still through the checkout before 11am. We picked up a couple of LAIVA bookcases for $29.99 along with some other regular items and our HODDE rug..
Just across the road from IKEA is Costco, we always make this our last stop before leaving Canberra because we like to purchase cold items like cheese and milk. They have 3 litre A2 milk for about a dollar more than 2 litres cost us at home. I grabbed a new rug for my chair, too.
Winter boot achievement unlocked! Very reasonable at $159 from the clearance outlet. These are Diana Ferrari Supersoft and they are the most comfortable boots I have ever put on my feet. In fact it feels like I have no shoes on at all, and yet it is like walking on air. They are also a size and a half smaller than my other shoes – I used to be size 11 but these are 9.5 – I think my feet have lost weight along with the rest of me.
Canberra may well be the best city in Australia especially when parliament is not sitting and therefore the accommodation is reasonably priced. We’ve stayed at a lot of different places over the years and my first choice here would be The Avenue however that is Up Money at the best of times. If you can get it at a good price I highly recommend it.
The second favourite is Vibe but that is out at the airport so you would need a car to get around if you stay here and parking can be a bit of an issue at this hotel if it is busy. I think Canberra is a place where a car is recommended and very useful.
We tried a new hotel this time – Rydges Capital Hill – and while it was mostly ok, we would not stay there again due to the shower going super hot and cold as a surprise while showering. So the hunt is still on for our perfect reasonably priced Canberra hotel. Aria is next on the list for us to try. I’ve read a lot of positive reviews for it.
It was super cold when we visited. Summer is the perfect time to visit Canberra weather wise in my opinion, any other time of year it has been my experience that you can expect the weather to be on the cold side especially at night, so BYO layers, gloves and hats are recommended too. We have been to visit so many times and yet we still have so much more to see. Canberra is a much under-rated destination and it has become one of our favourites.