1. Follow the pack
Lovers of truffles have a great reason to visit Canberra this winter. At The Truffle Farm, visitors are given the opportunity to follow along on a Sunday hunt as the talented truffle dogs sniff out the prized "black magic" that will ultimately find its way into dishes served in the world's best restaurants. On these guided hunts, participants learn about harvesting and handling the prized truffles, before warming up inside where the secrets of cooking with truffles are revealed. Expect to taste some delicious truffle-infused dishes as the history of trufflin' is discussed.If you're more a lover than a hunter, consider the farm restaurant's three-course breakfast feasts or six-course degustation dinners, all laden with truffle goodness and paired with matching local wines.See thetrufflefarm.com.au
2. See Canberra from above
Float above it all and enjoy Canberra's sights from the basket of a hot air balloon. One of the best ways to take in the vast urban and rural sprawl of the Canberra region, hot air ballooning is popular in the capital, with regular scheduled flights. Dawn is the best time to take off, as the early morning sun casts the valleys, lakes and national monuments in an Instagram-worthy light that needs no filter. Fun fact: Canberra is the only city in the world where hot air balloons are permitted to float over a nation's Parliament House. Back on terra firma, toast the adventure with a glass of bubbly.Keen photographers and balloonists may want to mark their calendars: An annual ballooning festival, the Canberra Balloon Spectacular, is held over nine days in March.See http://balloonaloftcanberra.com.au and dawndrifters.com.au.
3. Walk on the wild side
Embrace the great outdoors at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, more than 50 square kilometres of Mother Nature's beautiful creations. On the fringe of Namadgi National Park, the Reserve is home to peaceful valleys and striking mountain ranges, as well as sites associated with ancient Aboriginal communities.For adventurers, Tidbinbilla has introduced an exclusive, behind-the-scenes wildlife experience. The overnight tour is a two-day journey into previously "off limit" areas. Close encounters with wildlife are guaranteed, as tour participants assist wildlife officers with breeding and animal monitoring programs. The camp (and cosy campfire) is set up at Nil Desperandum, a heritage homestead hidden away in a tranquil valley.If you're hankering for even more animal magnetism, consider Jamala Wildlife Lodge, the on-site accommodation at the National Zoo and Aquarium. Share a jungle bungalow with lions, tigers and bears, if you dare.See tidbinbilla.act.gov.au and jamalawildlifelodge.com.au
4. Lunch like a rock star
Australia's best bacon: that's what the critics have said about the porky goodness produced at the Pialligo Estate Smokehouse. If you need further compelling reasons to lunch at Pialligo Estate Farmhouse Restaurant, let us dish them up. First, the Estate is so much more than a dining experience. There's also an onsite orchard, vineyard, olive grove and market garden. The region's cool climate produces remarkable Riesling, Shiraz and Sangiovese varieties.Second, the restaurant's tasting menus feature chef's selections of the best local produce, including Mooloolaba Bay scallops, King George whiting and tender wagyu from David Blackmore. And the icing on the cake? Pialligo Estate has partnered with Canberra Helicopters to create an unforgettable experience: Diners arrive in style, touching down in a chopper after the thrill of a ride that takes in spectacular, sweeping views of the capital region.See thepialligoestate.com.au
5. Sky-high adrenalin
For the aviation junkie in your life, splurge on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure flight with Capital Warbirds. Taking to the skies in an all-metal, fully aerobatic Yak 52 plane (known in the former Soviet Union as the "pilot maker"), passengers enjoy a bird's-eye view of the capital as they loop, roll and swoop through the air. Originally designed as an aerobatic trainer for students in the Soviet DOSAAF training program, the aircraft gives passengers the thrill of a Top Gun experience, with the option of a more sedate flyover.See capitalwarbirds.com.au
6. Scare yourself spooky
Tim the Yowie Man is a local Canberra author, mystery enthusiast, ghost-tour guide and cryptonaturalist (one who studies strange and hidden phenomena). He's carved out a career with his passion for all things spooky and now shares that passion with tour participants as he leads them behind the scenes on overnight Ultimate Ghost Tours in the capital.If you don't have the time - or the temperament - to spend the night with Canberra's ghouls, sign up for one of Tim's National Film & Sound Archive Ghost Tours. In this rare look behind closed doors at the Archive's headquarters, visitors discover the spooky, kooky, strange and disturbing stories lurking in the vaults. Ticket price includes a glass of wine to settle the nerves.See yowieman.com.au
A new international terminal, set to open in September 2016, will link Canberra Airport to the world. See canberraairport.com.au.
The capital is a 3-3.5 hour drive from Sydney. See hertz.com.au for car rental.
SEE + DO
Tim the Yowie Man; yowieman.com.au
This article brought to you by Visit Canberra.