Literary City Guide | CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA
Tour Guide: Shu-Ling Chua
Once a bookworm, always… Shu-Ling spends her free time reading and enjoying music, travel, food and photography. She blogs about life and her favourite things at hello pollyanna.
Relationship to Canberra: I’ve been living in Canberra for the past two years but am originally from Melbourne. (Canberra is a place where people come and go… and sometimes stay.)
Writer you’d like to invite to dinner: Tove Jansson
Chef you’d like to prepare the meal: Rachel Khoo
Writing soundtrack: A favourite album or Spotify playlist (I get up to dance every now and then)
Pen or Pencil: Pen
Coffee or Tea: Tea (preferably English Breakfast or French Earl Grey)
Paperback or Hardback: Paperback
Paperchain. Established in 1982, Paperchain is most probably Canberra’s best-loved independent bookstore. It offers a wide range of books and best of all, armchairs to curl up in.
Museum Bookstores. The bookshops at the National Library of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery and the National Gallery of Australia have an eclectic selection of books and gifts – and all within walking distance.
READINGS & CONFERENCES
Jane Austen Festival. Celebrates everything Regency – including dancing, music, food, games, archery, fencing, theatre, promenades, grand balls, costumes and books.
ACT Writers Centre, Scissors Paper Pen, and Feminartsy also organize a range of events and workshops. And for those interested in poetry, Bad!Slam!No!Biscuit and Canberra Poetry Slam might be for you.
Loading Zone. Canberra’s only ‘laneway café’, hidden in the Melbourne Building (naturally). Lovely, friendly service. Simple, delicious food prepared with care and love. Unpretentious fun. Al fresco.
The Cupping Room. Takes its coffee seriously, yes. And its food. I’ve had some pretty amazing brunches here. Be prepared to wait for a table on the weekend.
Lonsdale Street Roasters. They have two stores – No. 7 (with an upstairs area) and No. 23 (larger outdoor area and slightly more extensive menu). I personally love the mushroom panini. Great for people-watching on the weekends.
A PROPER MEAL
eightysix. Edgy comfort food (yes, it’s possible). Do not miss the signature caramel popcorn sundae. My friend described it as ‘happiness in a cup’. Lonsdale St has really transformed in the past few years. Other highlights include elk and pea, Chez Frederic and Lonsdale Street Roasters.
Kusina. Hidden in a suburban shopping strip (like many of Canberra’s gems), Kusina is a family run Filipino restaurant. Cosy, comfort food and reasonably priced.
Da Rosario. A recent discovery. One of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever had but sadly only open for breakfast and lunch, weekdays. Street-side dining beneath the arches of the Melbourne Building.
Monster. Beautifully presented, delectable dishes (and drinks). Located in the foyer of the gorgeous Hotel Hotel. Also worth trying in NewActon are A. Baker and Mocan and Green Grout.
Soju Girl. ‘Modern Asian fusion’ drawing on Korean, Japanese and Thai influences. Great for sharing and one of my favourites when I first moved to Canberra. Quirky Asian-inspired cocktails.
An ‘underground’ (literally!) speakeasy, Molly is one of my favourite bars. I can’t help feeling transported back in time. Soju Girl and Mint Garden Bar (al fresco, yummy thin-crust pizzas) are also great places for a drink. Oh, and the cocktails at Monster…
Frugii. For deliciously inventive ice cream (rosemary or lemon myrtle, anyone?), I recommend Frugii. It serves classic favourites as well of course and opened in early 2015.
Shu-Ling's 5 Favorites
1. Favorite view: National Arboretum (trees, hills and wide open sky – a place to ‘just be’)
2. Favorite place to write: At home (stretched out in bed, on the floor or the sofa)
3. Favorite museum: Parliament House (I suppose it counts as a ‘living’ museum)
4. Favorite coffee shop: Loading Zone (laneway café, what’s not to love…)