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Plenty to see and do in the Canberra surrounds

This week “CityNews” stopped by a few small towns surrounding Canberra to check out what there is to see and do.

SPREAD across the surrounds of Canberra are small towns with friendly communities and fascinating histories.

Whether it’s a picturesque stay in the countryside or shopping at some of the many passionate small businesses, there’s no shortage of hidden gems to uncover throughout the region.

This week “CityNews” stopped by a few small towns surrounding Canberra to check out what there is to see and do.

Braidwood’s one-stop outdoor shop

DONNA Robertson, owner of Braidwood Outdoors, says there is nothing quite like her business.

She describes the business as “what you would call an old-style country store.”

“I sell everything from firearms, ammunition and hunting gear through to Western fashion, normal fashion, leather goods, footwear and camping gear so it’s very broad.”

In 2008 she opened Braidwood Outdoors, because she wanted something closer to home.

“So I didn’t have to travel to Canberra every day, and there was no gun shop in Braidwood, that’s what the business started off as, just a firearm shop.”

And the business has been very popular.

“It’s a rural community, so there’s plenty of hunting and feral patrols as well as club shooters, and there’s still no business like Braidwood Outdoors in the area,” says Donna.

“I’ve got a pretty good customer base. Customers are really quite loyal to me which is great and a lot of my support actually comes from Canberra and Sydney.

“There’s a lot of people who come here for weekend getaways or have properties here and they’ll ring up and check if I’ve got something in stock rather than buying it in Sydney or Canberra. It’s quite humbling really that people are so loyal.”

Braidwood Outdoors, 72 Wallace Street, Braidwood. Call 4842 2775.

Decor to turn a house into a home

THAT Beautiful Shop, in Moss Vale, offers a full upholstery service, says owner Virginia Ransom.

The shop also sells curtains and blinds, couches, sofas and armchairs, rugs and lamps, custom bed-heads, wallpaper and pre-loved chairs that have been reupholstered.

Virginia says she’s not an interior designer: “I don’t pretend to be. My point of difference is I offer all of this stock, but I’m not going to go to your house and tell you what to get rid of.

“We offer all types of upholstery and curtain fabrics, and lots of wallpaper designs.

“My priority is to satisfy the client’s individual needs, to make sure they get exactly what they want.

“We offer servicing to clients from Sydney, to the coast, and to Canberra.”

And, Virginia says she hopes the store is busy.

“I like meeting the people, and helping them turn their house into a home.”

That Beautiful Shop, 406 Argyle Street, Moss Vale. Call 4868 1234.

Jo brings beloved books to Yass

OWNER of The Yass Book Store Jo Hicks was inspired to open her “eclectic and colourful” shop after seeing a need for a book retailer in her hometown.

“There was a book store about 10 years ago when I first moved here but there hasn’t been one for a while and I thought we needed one,” she says.

“I’m a big reader. I love reading and I’ve always thought a bookstore is a great thing for a town to have.”

Since opening the store, Jo says the collection has expanded into a wide range of genres and tastes.

“We’ve got a lot of children’s books, fiction, non-fiction, and I sell games and puzzles and a bit of fine stationery like cards and gift wraps,” she says.

“A lot of Australian crime fiction is also very popular at the moment. We’ve sold a lot of Chris Hammer and we’ve got Geraldine Brooks’ new book in.”

She also says the book store hosts a number of events that include presentations from authors and poets around the region. 

“It’s an eclectic and colourful shop, with beautiful sideboards, bookshelves and vintage furniture,” she says. “It’s a space people love to be in.”

The Yass Book Store, Liberty Theatre, 173 Comur Street, Yass. Call 6226 2677 or visit


A weekend escape to open spaces

Plenty of activities to keep the kids entertained, says Belinda Sierzchula.

MICHELAGO Farm Stay is surrounded by lovely bushland, says owner Belinda Sierzchula, and all the money that comes from campers goes back into restoring the natural environment there.

“We’ve got four defined camping spots for tents or caravans, but often people just camp wherever they feel like it and we’re pretty flexible,” Belinda says.

“We’re nice and close to Canberra, only 40 minutes or maybe an hour max from just about anywhere in Canberra so it’s accessible for a quick weekend away.

Belinda says there’s plenty of activities to keep the kids entertained.

“There’s a kids’ play area with a ninja line and trampoline to keep them busy while the adults relax.

“We’ve got a small dam here, too, and some kayaks for kids to paddle around with, and we’ve got some very cute miniature donkeys, some alpacas and a goat that kids can do animal feeding with.”

Belinda says all campsites have a firepit, and there’s a little general store that makes “nice burgers and chips” to go with the “amazing views of the mountains here.”

“It’s a nice way to share a little bit of our lifestyle with people who don’t get that experience in town, with the animals, open spaces and the lovely view.”

Michelago Farm Stay, 6141 Monaro Highway, Michelago, NSW. Call 0411 043027, or visit

Pizzas from Cork Street Cafe.

Delicious food in an historic setting

SET in the old police stables at Gundaroo, the Cork Street Cafe provides delicious food and a relaxed environment, says owner Cassandra Simakoff-Ellims.

“We strive to offer quality, tasty, humble food, like pizza and its sidekicks, and drinks,” she says.

“Being out of town means that we aim for a long, relaxed meal. The sort that in an ideal world would roll into the next meal.”

With indoor and outdoor dining, Cassandra says visitors can enjoy a long evening with friends on the large wooden tables in the courtyard or an intimate dinner for a smaller group inside.

“Serving good food to people where you converse with the regulars regularly and meet people from all over the place who you wouldn’t interact with otherwise has always been a joy,” she says.

Cork Street Cafe, 24 Cork Street, Gundaroo. Call 6236 8217 or visit


Creativity blooms in small community

BEC Blazejak says she’s always been creative and she wanted a business to call her own.

“It just so happened a friend was selling her floristry business, so I decided to give it a go.”

Now, Love Grow Bloom offers delivery of floral arrangements, gifts and hampers to Yass, Murrumbateman and Canberra.

“I’m building up to hopefully start doing events and growing the business even more,” says Bec.

“I use a lot of local products from the Murrumbateman and Yass area in my hampers, things like food, chocolate, wine and candles, to support and showcase other local small businesses.”

“I also run workshops about once a month on floristry things like dried wreaths or vase arrangements because there’s not a lot of things like that in the area.

“It gives people something to do without having to travel too far. It’s been very popular and it’s nice to see people in workshops accomplish something creative that they maybe thought they couldn’t achieve.”

Bec says it’s nice working in a smaller community, because she gets more of a chance to get to know her customers.

“I get to know people and I get to know what they like – an order might come through for a particular customer and I get to create something I know they’ll like and personalise it, and it’s nice to work and support other small businesses.”

Love Grow Bloom. Call 0407 426232, or visit

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