As one of the Australian Cultural Capitals, Canberra’s Enlighten Festival is a must-do event. The Enlighten Festival is a celebration of light and art, with the majority of the action taking place on and around Lake Burley Griffin.
We decided to made our weekends down in ACT to celebrate Canberra Day. During this time, Canberra is home to the Enlightment Festival with events and activities spread over two weeks of culture and creativity. The Balloon Spectacular is one of the main features of the event, where dozens of hot air balloons take to the air at sunrise against the backdrop of Australian Parliament House.
We departed Sydney at 10am on an 2 hour 45 minutes journey. Along the way, there are many interesting rest stops worth checking out, such as the town of Goldburn and Lake George's lookouts.
View from Weereewa Lookout
Weereewa Lookout, Lake George NSW, Australia
After checking into our stay, we visited Rodney's Garden near Canberra's Airport for lunch. Kitchen Garden at Rodney’s is a popular cafe with indoor and outdoor seating available. You are free to wander around Rodney's during your time their. Chance are you might go home with more than just a happy tummy.
Rodney’s Garden Café
Rodney’s Garden Café, Beltana Road, Pialligo ...
To pass time, we stopped by Canberra Centre for some shopping. The centre provides a mix of premier shopping and first-class entertainment, it has gained recognition as the ultimate destination for locals and tourists who enjoy the outstanding choice of quality retailers.
A mini installation as part of Canberra's Enlightment Festival - Credit: Canberra Centre
Canberra Centre, Bunda Street, Canberra ACT, ...
If you are looking for excellents restaurants and bars, they are all in close proximity to the centre.
In contrary to my last visit (over 5 years ago) Canberra becomes a new city at night, with contemporary restaurants and bars serving amazing foods and vibes to locals and travellers alike. We chose Tipsy Bull on Lonsdale Street to spend our Satursday night. Great food, great vibe.
Tipsy Bull, Lonsdale Street, Braddon ACT, Aus...
There are two vista points where you can have amazing panoramic views of Canberra. One is at the top of Mount Aislie and the other is Telstra Tower on the other side of town. Having visited Mount Aislie before during daylight, I thought it would be fun to travel up again at night for a different take of the cityscape. It did not disappointed.
Although there are minimum street lights available, the site was frequented by many locals and tourist alike making it quite safe after dark (but don't wander to far)
Mount Ainslie Lookout
Mount Ainslie Lookout, Mount Ainslie Drive, A...
We woke up at 5 and leave to camp for the Balloons. Program mentioned inflation time is 6:30, however as this was our first time experience this we want to be early to get best spots.
According to some locals, the best spots to view watch balloons going up are around the banks of Lake Burley Griffin opposite National Library of Australia and the lawn of National Museum of Australia (Sony actually setup VIP booth here). We didn't want to leave it to chances as wind direction can be unpreditable so we camped near Captain James Cook Memorial in Commonwealth Park. You can also pay or registered to access and watch the ballon at the inflation points.
Captain James Cook Memorial
Captain James Cook Memorial, Canberra ACT, Au...
Grab warm clothes, blankets and picnic mat if you decided to camp like us. Temperature dropped to 9oC that day.
At 7am, the ballons started to rise and floated westbound.
Fantastic scene! There were around 20+ balloons in total. The entire show lasted for approximately 30min from starts to finish.
After the show, it's time to grab some hot foods and coffees to warm up. From friends recommendation, we had a great breakfast at Ricardo's Cafe
Ricardo's Cafe, Jamison Plaza, Bowman Street,...
We checked out from our stay and decided to visit the second vista point, Telstra Tower, to see Canberra one more time before heading back to Sydney.
The name says it all, the tower is built by Telstra in the 1970s as a telecommunications tower and lookout that is situated above the summit of Black Mountain. From the viewing platform and an open deck on top, you can enjoyed a true 360 degree view of Canberra and its landscape without any obstruction.
Tower opens late till 10pm. For anyone who enjoy taking sunset and city nightscape like myself, this is a great vantage point
Telstra Tower, Black Mountain Drive, Acton AC...
Our trip to Canberra ended here, we headed back to Sydney with a promise to visit Canberra again soon in Spring. Witnessing how the city transformed from a sleepy capital to buzzing city, Canberra definitely is a place I would recommended all my family and friends to visit.
On your wayback to Sydney, make sure to check out the town of Goulburn with it famous attractions the Big Merino and the Trappers Bakery