Holiday with Kids

Canberra with a twist

Twelve-year-old discovers there’s more than just museums and monuments in the Capital of Cool.


By the time we get back to East Hotel, located on the border of Manuka and Kingston, we’re all exhausted. At least until we see our room. You see, some hotels are just a place to sleep, but the East Hotel is a big part of our holiday experience. Not only is it close to fun attraction­s like Canberra Glassworks and loads of great food, their interconne­cted family apartments are also genius! Mum and dad stretch out in the lounge of their fully-equipped, one-bedroom apartment, one eye on a movie and the other on us in our Kids Cubby – a studio fitted out with bunk beds, a drawing table, toys and books, a couple of bean bags and an Xbox 360. We get straight back in racing mode, virtually hooning with Team Sonic Racing, stopping only to shovel down a pizza from Agostinis, the Italian restaurant downstairs.

Wheels and water

After breakfast at Muse, another of East Hotel’s super cool restaurant­s, we borrow a couple of the free rental bikes to explore the foreshore and visit the Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets to stock up on cheese, fresh bread and fruit. Then it's off for a floating picnic on a Goboat, which I reckon is the best way ever to see Lake Burley Griffin.

The boats are so easy to drive; my sister and I take turns steering as we explore the lake, passing the National Gallery of Australia and the National Museum of Australia. The boat seats eight people and the picnic table is so big, you can fit at least two kids under it. I know this because my dad got a little too close to the Captain James Cook Memorial just as it blasted water 152 metres in the air, so we dove under to stay dry.

Old haunts and new discoverie­s

We visit the National Dinosaur Museum, home to Australia's largest permanent display of prehistori­c specimens. We dodge between the growling animatroni­c dinosaurs, skulls, skeletons and fossils inside and the giant dinos in the Dinosaur Garden, learning all about how dinosaurs evolved. At least I do. My roaring, rampaging sister is too busy channellin­g her inner T-rex to focus.

Some of our favourite attraction­s, like the Discovery Zone at the Australian War Memorial, Playup at the Museum of Australian Democracy and Questacon, are temporaril­y closed during our visit. But this turns out to be a good thing as it encourages us to try new and even more exciting things.

We wave our wands and find ourselves back in Fyshwick at Quizzic Alley. The Harry Potter-themed store is stocked with literally everything a wizard could want from broomstick­s to Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans (just watch out for the vomit flavour). We order a tankard of sweet Qbrew and take the Weasley’s Ford Anglia for a spin. During the holidays, kids can even take a Potions Class, something right up my (Diagon) alley.

There’s more magic right next door at Melted, a toasted sandwich emporium where they conjure up enchanting toasties, including

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