Reinventing Canberra - part 2

Deconstructed Gin and Tonic at the Tipsy Bull

The road trip to Canberra continues from my last post, in this 2 part 'Reinventing Canberra' story. Join me to see our nations Capital in a whole new light with a little bit of glamour, some old favourites and of course some exciting food to inspire any hungry soul.

In my previous post we talked about The Australian War Memorial and what an exquisite example of a world class museum that we have right on our door step. Our Capital is not only filled with great food moments like Raku Dining and The Cupping Room, but our The National Democracy Museum (aka Old Parliament House ) and new Parliament Houses were worth a re-look even for the non politically inspired folks in our family. Sometimes it's just great to walk the same path or sit in the same chair, as those who have ruled over our great land for so many years. See what Canberra does to you, it makes you start talking like that!!!

So back to it, here are some other great places I found while out and about in Canberra.

The National Gallery of Australia - Cartier The Exhibition

1928 'special order' necklace, one of Cartier's largest commissioned pieces

The National Gallery of Australia

Wow indeed. Bring a bit of 'bling' to your life and be sure to check out this exhibition, with more than 300 sparkling items of opulence on display, some on loan from royalty whilst others worn by the rich and famous. You won't want to miss the 1928 'special order' necklace, one of Cartier's largest commissioned pieces, from an Indian prince Maharaja Bhupinder Singh of Patiala. Also the 1913 sapphire pendant of 478 carats was remarkable! If you fancy a viewing you will be absolutely delighted by the many glittering crowns, brooches, necklace and time pieces on display. There is even a section dedicated to smoking pieces like cigarette boxes and holders, and many diamond crusted cigarette lighters. Who would have thought?

It's a simply breathtaking exhibition.

More details here

1913 sapphire pendant of 478 carats

The National Gallery of Australia

Some of my other favourite jewellery pieces are below. I'm a simple gal but a bit of shimmer here and there can't harm! Photos were a little tricky in the gallery (but encouraged by the staff), due to the number of people at the exhibition, so just a little taster for you here. If crown's are not your thing, maybe go for a simple necklace or even a stunning clock!

Below, this beautiful diamond encrusted (among many other jewels) clock stood about 30cm high. The display allowed us also a view from the rear which was equally as impressive.

There were many items in this colourful 'tutti fruiti' style below, whilst it's not for everyone, it's impressive none the less.

Bling, Bling, Bling

The National Arboretum Canberra

Dairy Farmers Hill view at the National Arboretum

Arboretum for those who don't know, means 'a botanical garden devoted to trees for study or display'. This 250 hectare arboretum site was created in 2004 after the bushfires of Christmas 2001 and 2003, where one third of the Himalayan Cedar forest in the area was lost and all of the Radidta Pine plantation was burnt out. Now it's an amazing place for conservation, research and eduction, with over 100 'mini' forests set out in a mosaic pattern of Australian and various rare and endangered species from around the world. There's a beautifully designed and spacious, light-filled structure called the 'Village Centre' which sit's high overlooking the site (and over Canberra) which houses information and shop, The Sprout Cafe (with surprisingly, a great tasting 'homemade' style sausage roll, even at 2.30pm!) and a more fancy restaurant called The Conservatory.

Jump on the free guided tour to gain full understanding and respect for what the space is all about and be sure to check out the fantastic National Bonsai Penjing Collection on display in there too. See it now, then put it on your list for 5, 10 and 15 years time - grow with it!

More details here

The National Portrait Gallery

Lee Lin Chin, 2004 by George Fetting (type C photograph)

National Portrait Gallery Canberra

Always a favourite on my list when I'm in the area, especially if you are visiting the Cartier exhibition which is in the National Gallery across the road. I visit for the Portraits of course, but the bookshop is worth seeking out too as their collection is usually equally as impressive as the artworks! The gallery is a journey of stories for me, of little known people (well for me anyway) with big time accolades some of which are often reserved only for these moments, to quietly share their stories.

A few of my many favourites from this visit are listed below. The links may only work for a little while so check them out now or click here and browse the portraits to find your very own favourite.

- Lee Lin Chin, 2004 by George Fetting

- Sir Donald Bradman, 1990 by Bill Leak

- Sir Charles Lloyd Jones, 1951 by William Dobell

- Rosie Batty, 2016 by Nikki Toole

- Deborah Mailman, 1999 by Evert Ploeg

The National Photographic Portrait Prize 2018 has also just started and there is a fabulous image of The Honourable Bob Hawke savouring a strawberry milkshake, 2017 by Harold David. Get yourself in there folks!

More details here

To finish, here's my last picks on the foodies bit's...


The Knox Made in Watson

The Knox Made in Weston cafe


We popped in here on our way home to enjoy this great cafe tucked away in the northern Canberra suburb of Watson. It was only a pit stop so some poached eggs, a muffin and a couple of really great coffees were just what our 'return road trip' bellies required. On entry there was a huge display of gorgeous looking baked goods including croissants, muffins, pastries, cakes and even some delicious looking Portuguese tarts among the extensive mix. It was a bustling place (coffee queue was out the door on departure!) with a cozy atmosphere for a coolish morning and we snuggled in for our staples and a quick read of the paper - it's nice to do breaky the old fashioned way, with newspapers! My eggs were perfectly poached and with the cafe's local produce focus, the bright yellow yolks were a sure sign of this dedication. Well worth a stop in and with Black Rice Corn Fritters on their brunch menu, I'll be making a b-line for this one next time I'm in town.

More details here


Tipsy Bull

Lamb cutlets (Cowra), hazelnut pangratto, caramelised shallots, red wine jus

Tipsy Bull

When you have a menu of over 80 Gin's on offer, you just have to know it's going to be good right? Indeed it was. We began with a very fancy 'deconstructed' Gin and Tonic experience which meant after selecting which Gin we wanted (it took ages, and we needed further guidance hahah), our bar tender worked his magic by selecting perfectly a matched tonic, botanicals and fruits, which were there to bring the drink to a perfect new level, if you chose to add them. It was presented on a small board with a stunning ballooned glass, ice tongs, a little bucket of perfectly cut ice and a paper doily of course! We sipped away slowly as our aromatics worked their wonders and yep I have to say, it was slightly kinda 'overly trendy' but I really loved it.

Flash fried whitebait with burnt ruby grapefruit, toum and dukkah

Tipsy Bull

The menu to me looked like a combo of Asian influences on one hand, some Lebanese then a splash of Spanish in there too just for good measure - they do say their menu is a "circus of flavours", I thought that was a perfect way to describe it.

We started with a white bean hummus which was accompanied by some amazing crispy salted lavash, then came flash fried whitebait with a beautifully charred, sweet ruby grapefruit for squeezing, and topped with a lovely dukkah. Next we saw Patatas Bravas with a smoked chilli salsa which was to die for and an oregano mayo - yum! We finished with Cowra Lamb cutlets crumbed with hazelnut and served with caramelised shallots and a stunning and shimmering, red wine jus. We loved every bite and even after I broke by my gin glass at the end of the meal and it started leaking from the side like the Titanic, we certainly did not go down with the ship, it was as they say on the top of their menu, a "Friendly Fine-ish Dining" experience!

More details here


Grease Monkey

The 'Greasy' burger

Grease Monkey

It's a burger, beer and shakes joint which is serving it up from it's converted garage site in the Braddon strip. The night we went it was a great mix of young blokes catching up for a beer and a burger and to gaze across at the footy screen, cool looking young folks there on a date night and a couple of large tables out the side in the 'beer garden' section having a bit of a party night. We totally fit in - at least we had our jeans and t-shirts on, hahaha! Beer selection was good even with Young Henry's on tap among some great others, which was good to see. We ordered the 'Greasy' (yep that's what it was called!) burger from the bar and within a few short minutes, it landed on our table in the Grease Monkey wrapper, with a large side serving of delicious piping hot, salty and spicy fries. Burger was great with juicy meat patty, soft yummy bun and the special 'Greasy's sauce', which was perfect for our last supper in Canberra.

More details here

On our foodie hit list for next time -

  • The Coffee Lab - with a name like 'coffee lab', coffee should be good right? Looks to be a popular coffee spot and equally as good for an all day breaky

  • BentSpoke Brewing Co - I've actually been here before and this brewpub was pumping. A huge selection of crafty pints matched with great food and a very fancy two story fit out. Put it on your list

  • Lazy Su - it's a casual Asian eating house and bar, with a fusion of Japanese, Korean & American food. Great for a late night drinkie and little bite, every Fri and Sat too

  • Pomegranate - for something a little more refined, it's seasonal modern Australian fare with a hint of the Mediterranean

  • Frugii Dessert Laboratory - tucked away is this unassuming specialist of beautifully made ice creams and desserts using natural hand crafted pastes and flavours

  • Ramas Fiji Indian Restrurant - because it's an institution! Located in a local shopping centre in Pearce, out in the burbs, this place has been running for nearly 30 years. That's worth jumping in the car for these days, the food sounds like a delight

One final image I thought you might find amusing

Hilarious jewellery from Anna Davern

I found these very cool earrings for sale in the National Gallery gift shop as I left the Cartier exhibition. They are by Melbourne artist Anna Davern and are actually dead-flat photographs of glistening stones, attached to earring clasps. They look authentic in my photos here, but in real life they will bring a smile to your dial. They would be completely hilarious to wear out next time you go to the pub - grab yourself a pair on exiting!

So that's it folks, so much more we could have seen and done, but there is certainly enough left for another trip or two.

Hope you enjoyed the ride? Invest in your own 'reinvention', you won't regret it.

LOVE YOUR FOOD (and road trip) MOMENTS... ENYOY!

#Canberra #RoadTrip #Cartier #NationalArboretum #NationalPortraitGallery #TheKnox #TipsyBull

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