One day three ways: Canberra

Penny pinch

In architecturally daring NewActon, fuel up on a ham and cheese croissant ($6.50) in the TwentyOne cafe at 21 Marcus Clarke Street. From there, take a freeloading five kilometre walk around the central basin of Lake Burley Griffin. The National Capital Exhibition ( charts the city's rise from sheep paddocks to seat of government. And, until October 12, the elaborate garden displays of the Floriade festival ( are next door.

On the south side, have a $9 tuna tabbouleh sandwich among the gorgeous stained glass of the Bookplate Cafe in the National Library ( Budget time to marvel at logs and letters written by the likes of Captain Cook, Burke and Wills and Bennelong in the library's superb Treasures Gallery too.

Hit recently-opened microbrewery BentSpoke ( in hipster suburb Braddon for a $19 pork belly burger before retiring to the slightly drab, but handily spacious twin rooms at ANU University House ($120,

TOTAL: $154.50

Take it easy

Soak up the Braddon vibe with $18 huevos rancheros at Elk and Pea (, before picking up a hire car via the likes of ($53). Drive to the Australian Institute of Sport (, where a 90-minute athlete-guided tour ($18) shows off the facilities that will hopefully produce the next Ian Thorpe or Cathy Freeman.

Lunch at NewActon's bakery/ seasonal ingredients-obsessed restaurant, A Baker ($19,, then revel in Canberra's easy bush access with the lookouts and walking trails at the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve ($11, Return in time for the highly moving Last Post ceremony, just before 5pm, at the Australian War Memorial (free, but donate $5).

In the evening, hop over to Campbell for the Chinese-Malay fusion 'nyonya' cuisine at the Lanterne Rooms ($33, before bedding down among serious designer wow factor in Hotel Hotel ($248,

TOTAL: $405

Splash out

Set the alarm scandalously early for a balloon flight with Balloon Aloft ($290, It's the best way of seeing the pretty patterns of the city's ultra-planned roads and roundabouts. It starts and finishes at the Hyatt (, which handily has both the plushest rooms ($315) and most lavish breakfast buffet (an extra $40) in the capital.

Fully satiated, jump in a cab ($15) to the Canberra Glassworks (, where weekend workshops at the Canberra Glassworks let you make your own glass paperweight or bird for $70.

From there, take a five hour private tour with Executive Drivers ($320, around the increasingly-renowned cool climate wineries of Canberra's surrounding region. Stop in for a lunch showcasing the best of the area's produce at the Poacher's Pantry ($34, on the way.

Finish off with a $15 cab ride to chef's-hatted wine-matched degustation, Turkish-style, at long-standing local favourite, Ottoman ($115,

TOTAL: $1214

The writer travelled as a guest of Tourism Australia. Canberra's annual Floriade festival continues until October 12.