We all went on the seemingly mandatory Canberra trip in primary school, right? If so, Australia‘s political hub is probably home to some very fond memories for you.

Maybe it was the first time you asked your friend, to ask your crush’s friend, to ask your crush if they liked you. Perhaps it was where you copped your first period. Or maybe, it was the first time you pissed fear tears thanks to Questacon‘s demonic Free Fall.

If you haven’t gone back since, may I highly recommend that you do that? If not for the nostalgia alone, then for the things you can actually appreciate as a human with a fully formed brain. Keep reading to see why Canberra’s worthy of round two.

YOU CAN ACTUALLY APPRECIATE THE LANDMARKS

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It’s a bit of a laugh that we went to Parliament House without knowing shit about politics. But as an adult? The whole tour is a lot clearer given, you know, you know a bit more about how Australia’s legal system works and how it affects you.

The same can be said for the Australian War Memorial – primary school is just a bit too early to respectfully take this piece of history in. Go back with the information you’ve learned over the past 10-15 years, and build on that. Both landmarks are free, so no excuses please.

THE NIGHTLIFE’S SUPER LIT

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If you haven’t been to Canberra since primary school, then you probably haven’t witnessed Canberra after dark either. It’s off chops and not for the faint-hearted.

Let me put it this way: if you can take on the Questacon Free Fall, then you can probably also take on iconic uni bar and multilevel hookup haven Mooseheads and the sticky dancefloor of 80s-tracks-only venue 88mph. If you’re more of a chiller than a d-floor killer, have casual bevvies and a bite at Bar Rochford. You’ll be safe there.

THE HEATH LEDGER EXHIBITION IS ABSOLUTELY WORTH IT

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I was all choked up the minute I walked into the Heath Ledger: A Life In Pictures Exhibition and anyone who visits will likely experience the same thing. It’s very well done, with Heath’s journals, childhood photos, personal travel shots, behind-the-scenes videos and actual costumes from his portfolio of work decorating the halls (which were wildly silent as everyone paid their respects to the legendary actor).

Real moments for me were the dentures Heath wore as Skip Engblom in Lords Of Dogtown, the head-to-toe nurse outfit from Dark Knight, shots from his Vegas trip with Rose Byrne – both dressed head-to-toe in vintage goods – after filming of Two Hands had wrapped and, of course, footage of his all-out war with Donald Fisher and Sally Fletcher from his Home & Away days. It’s on until the 9th Feb.

THE GRUB IS EXCELLENT

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You might be down with gladwrapped rolls, cafeteria food and a spot of Macca’s as a wee lass, however, as you get older and generally better at life, you actually appreciate good hospitality. And you know what? Canberra’s got a lot of this. Bunda Street‘s Akiba is equal parts trendy and delicious – I lapped up the Feed Me menu which consists of eight epic dishes for $49pp. What was my fave dish of the lot? Well, if I’m honest, it was the dude behind the bar (hey, DM me @chantelle_schmidt).

Another real treat (see what I did there?) was Poacher’s Pantry. It’s a little further out but given you’re a big kid now, you can incorporate it into your road trip home, or on the way to Canberra. It’s a little pricier but my goodness it’s worth it. Try and go on a day with nice weather if you can, it’s stunning (so much so that it’s a wedding destination).

QUESTACON DISHES ALL THE NOSTALGIA

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No trip to Canberra would be complete without a visit to Questacon aka The National Technology and Science Centre. It’s open 9-5 daily (except Christmas), and trust me when I tell you, it’s so much better as an adult. Why? You’re not just running around pushing buttons and throwing balls – you’re taking in the stunning SCIENCE of it all instead.

That, and the fact you’re at least three levels less scared of the Lightning Cage and Free Fall. Did I do the Free Fall as an adult? Nope, because it said I couldn’t with back problems and look, just proof I should’ve gone back to visit Canberra earlier.

This writer travelled to Canberra as a guest of Visit Canberra.

Image: Questacon