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SUMMER holidays are the time of massive exodus from Canberra as folk head interstate and overseas to see family and friends, or just head down to the south coast to laze around on beaches while avoiding the worst of the summer heat.
I don’t know just how many Canberrans head out of town at this time of year, but sometimes it seems like half the population has departed for the better part of January, only to trickle back around Australia Day.
I’m not a migratory species. Over the past 20 summers I’ve stayed put more often than not. Summer holidays in Canberra are our routine and the gentle rhythms of life in the national capital have long been our preference. More than anything, it’s a time to relax, rejuvenate, regroup, and catch up with friends and sleep! Yep, I pretty much hang out all year for January in Canberra.
I know others may have a different view. It is hot and usually dry and sleeping at night can be a problem if you don’t have the air conditioning maxed out but still, January in our nation’s capital is a delight!
Canberra is pretty quiet through January, but that’s a big part of the attraction. A few things are shut between Christmas and New Year’s Day, but soon enough things come to life. Canberra’s cafes are quickly back in business and you can get a coffee and a leisurely brunch without queues or crowds.
For those of us with children to entertain, Canberra in January offers a smörgåsbord of fun places to go and things to do. For us, there’s the lovely old Manuka pool for a swim; cool, air-conditioned movie theatres featuring holiday blockbusters, our annual tours of the big cultural institutions – National Gallery, National Museum, Portrait Gallery and the War Memorial, where there’s always something new to see.
If it’s not too hot, there’s the National Zoo and Aquarium and trampolining. If it really is scorching, it’s hard to beat the ice rink at Phillip for some extra cool.
In the cool of the evening we take our dogs for a walk around part of Lake Burley Griffin or let them romp with other puppies among the trees of the Yarralumla dog park.
Of course, one doesn’t have to stay in Canberra for the whole summer. The national capital does have great advantages of location. This month we’ll pay a quick visit to Sydney to see family and friends and we might head south to enjoy the cool mountain air around Jindabyne. The south coast arguably has less attraction because that’s where most Canberrans seem to be!
However, perhaps the best thing about a Canberra summer is just lazing around doing very little at all.
At the end of a frantic, work crazy year that’s the biggest attraction of all.