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FOOD & DRINK

Nine Canberra Shops to Explore On Your Leisurely City Break to the Capital

Local designers, boutique bottle-os and quirky gift shops — you'll find 'em all here.
By Jasmine Crittenden
March 06, 2020
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Nine Canberra Shops to Explore On Your Leisurely City Break to the Capital

Local designers, boutique bottle-os and quirky gift shops — you'll find 'em all here.
By Jasmine Crittenden
March 06, 2020
  shares

NINE CANBERRA SHOPS TO EXPLORE ON YOUR LEISURELY CITY BREAK TO THE CAPITAL

in partnership with

Local designers, boutique bottle-os and quirky gift shops — you'll find 'em all here.

Whether you're in Canberra to sink into some delightful solo time or to catch up with mates, you should save a few hours for retail therapy. The nation's capital is a magnet for left-of-field shops — from an emporium packed with vintage pieces to a bottle-o that specialises in experimental drops. And that's just the beginning.

Fuel up in Canberra's many restaurants, wineries and cafes, then browse and buy to your heart's content.

Regional holidays to the ACT are now permitted for some states — check the rules for your own state or territory here. Also, some of the places mentioned below may still be closed or operating differently due to COVID-19 restrictions. Please check websites before making any plans.

  • 9

    If Lana Del Rey created an op shop, this would be it. In this decadent emporium in Fyshwick (a ten-minute drive east of Parliament House), a collective of small businesses peddle their finest offerings — from vintage coats and art deco handbags to pre-loved handblown glass objects from Murano, Italy. Visit Luxe and Beau for designer homewares, Oli-ander for costume jewellery and The Modern Object for modern Australian furniture. And they’re just the beginning — check out the rest of the stallholders over here.

    Image: Nathan Harradine-Hale

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  • 8
    Hive

    You’ll find Hive in Braddon, around five minutes’ drive north of Parliament House. As the name suggests, this shop is a spot for busy bees to show their wares — from international designers, makers and artisans to local artists. The front half of the space is dedicated to the former and the back half to the latter. Most of the offerings are out of the ordinary, so look out for essential oils infused with native plants from Victoria, ceramics all the way from Japan, soaps created in California, quirky pot plants and more.

    Images: VisitCanberra

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  • 7

    Meet Gather Collect isn’t just a shop. It’s a manifestation of the many, many years that owners Thea and Pete Bollington have spent thinking about, exploring, curating, designing and making things. Every single object you see here is the creation of an Australian designer or maker and handpicked by Thea — from the vases by Kim Wallace and hanging planters by Capra Designs to the recycled throws by bernabeifreeman. Keen to upskill while you’re in Canberra? Join one of Meet Gather Collect’s workshops, be it jewellery making or contemporary watercolour painting.

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  • 6

    Thousands of years of history are behind every object at Bisonhome. Creative director Brian Tunks founded ceramics label Bison in 1997 after spending years at archaeological digs in the Middle East analysing ancient pottery techniques and designs. Twenty years on, the label has expanded to Bisonhome, a lifestyle range of Tunks’ simple and elegant designs, which include ceramic milk bottles, teacups and jugs, and glass carafes and vases. The sleek items are also used by businesses across the region, including Japanese-inspired cafe Kyo Coffee Project and chic eatery eightysix — so you can easily mirror the tableware you were admiring over brunch in your own home.

    Alongside this store in Braddon and a warehouse in Pialligo, the Bisonhome team has launched a chic new retail space inside a 100-year-old chaplain house in Pialligo, which is worth a visit, too.

    Image: Nathan Harradine-Hale

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  • 5

    Most tourist hotspots have shops, but The Curatoreum at the National Arboretum Canberra is next-level. It’s one of the nation’s longest-standing supporters of Australian designers and makers, which means you’ll see plenty of objects that aren’t normally in the shops. Look out for stunning glassware by Melbourne’s Ruth Allen, handcrafted jewellery by Middle Child, ceramics by Angus & Celeste and so much more. The collection is ever-changing so even if you’ve been many times before you can always count on finding something new. The Curatoreum has a second outpost at the National Portrait Gallery, too — and the collections are slightly different (in case you needed another excuse to visit both).

    Image: Nathan Harradine-Hale

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  • 4

    Hidden away in the leafy neighbourhood of Ainslie on Canberra’s northern outskirts is Shop Girl Flower Girl. It’s perhaps best known for its old-fashioned flower posies, which look like they’re straight out of a 19th-century period film, but there’s a lot more to explore. Nearly every product is handcrafted and ethically sourced, including Murchison Hume’s sweet-smelling eco-friendly body washes, Girl Nomad Ceramics’ tableware and Linda Tahija’s delicate gold jewellery. Need more inspiration before hitting the road? Check out some more of Shop Girl Flower Girl’s dreamy picks over here.

    Image: Nathan Harradine-Hale

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  • 3

    Harry Potter fans, go no further. In Quizzic Alley, Fyshwick, you’ll find yourself driving the flying Ford Anglia and sipping on witch’s brew while surrounded by one of the biggest ranges of official Harry Potter goodies in Australia. This place isn’t so much a shop as it is a paean to the world’s most famous boy wizard. Whatever Potter paraphernalia you’re looking for, from a new wand or Gryffindor robe to a pair of Hogwarts Express mule slippers, you’ll find it here. While you’re there, you can also develop your magical potential at a Brews and Bubbles Potions Class or deepen your knowledge at the annual Harry Potter Book Night.

    Image: Nathan Harradine-Hale

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  • 2

    If you’ve been longing to explore beyond the familiar wine brands at your local bottle-o, you’ll find a remedy at Blackhearts & Sparrows. This bottle shop, which has counterparts in Victoria and Tassie, is a sibling-run operation that’s dedicated to all the wines, beers and spirits you don’t usually see on big chain bottle shop shelves. And they come from around the world, so you can travel from Piedmont, Italy, with a medium-bodied dolcetto to just down the road with a Mada Wines nouveau syrah. There are a pet-nats aplenty, and if you’re a sour beer tragic, you’ll be like a kid in a candy store here — no really, you can mix and match six different brews in your take-home pack. Every week, a new series of drinks goes on pour, including many local so you can try before you buy.

    Image: Nathan Harradine-Hale

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  • 1

    With Spotify, Pandora and YouTube fighting for the market, keeping an independent music shop open these days is no mean feat. But Landspeed Records is an exception. Opened 26 years ago, well before streaming services took over, this legendary store is still going strong. The secret? An absolutely massive collection of vinyl that spans decades. Whether you’re looking for a 60s classic by The Beatles or a brand new release by Dune Rats, you’ll get your mitts on it. While you’re at it, be sure to have a good ferret around — there’s every chance you’ll come across a rarity. And, CDs aplenty are in stock, too.

    Image: Nathan Harradine-Hale

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To discover more top-notch shops to visit in Canberra, head to VisitCanberra and start planning your next city break.

Top image: Nathan Harradine-Hale

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