There’s no place like home. This phrase has encapsulated life for most of us over the past two years. With little or no interstate and overseas travel many people rediscovered their own backyards. I took the opportunity to play my favourite Canberra golf courses, starting with Yowani Country Club.
First up, I admit to being a little biased, but I believe Yowani is one of the prettiest and best golf courses in the national capital. Okay so it doesn’t currently feature in the Top 100 but it holds a special place in my heart.
I haven’t had the chance to play Royal Canberra which ranks 25 in the top 100 (still waiting on an elusive invitation 😊) but I have played Federal (ranked 80) and every other course in the ACT. Why do I love Yowani so much? There is an emotional attachment. It was the place where I started getting serious about golf, attending Saturday morning ladies’ clinics, and learning the rules of the game from other female members.
Yowani is always in great condition. The fairways are top notch, and the greens range from dewy and slow first thing in the morning to lightning fast by lunchtime. Hole one is a long par five bordered by trees on either side and with bunkers to the left and right of the green. It is a straight hole, yet I often find myself chipping back onto the fairway from the trees. Hole two doglegs to the right but a par or even a birdie is not out of reach. Hole three is the first of four-par three’s and while short and straight there are deep bunkers protecting the green on either side. If you mishit be prepared to search for your ball in the tree-lined rough. I prefer the first nine holes, with the green on hole five one of the most vicious I have ever encountered. You need a deft touch and great read to avoid triple putting on this monster, but the challenge doesn’t stop there. The back nine offers some big water hazards and frustrating, strategically placed bunkers. Sixteen is the signature hole. A pretty par three with a lake on the right, it tempts the brave (or foolish) to take on the water to land on the green from the tee. Yowani for me is a hidden golf gem and one I recommend you explore on your next trip to Canberra.
But this blog is not just about golf. So, onto the other good stuff. Wine. Canberra is a cool climate wine haven. There are 140 vineyards and 40 wineries within 35 minutes’ drive of the city. Canberra has three distinct wine regions, so you’ll need more than a weekend to fully explore Murrumbateman and Yass; Canberra and Hall; and Bungendore, Wamboin, Gundaroo, Lake George, and Collector. If you like Shiraz, Rose, and Rieslings, then you are in for a treat.
While the quality of the wine is important, I enjoy the experience of visiting vineyards. Brindabella Hills is one of my favourites. The view of the Murrumbidgee River and Brindabella ranges from the alfresco dining area is breathtaking and I never leave without a couple of bottles of the Ava Rose and Riesling, while my husband is keen on the Shiraz and Grenache. Serious wine buffs like to cellar the best drops. I tried that … once. I purchased a top shelf Shiraz Viognier from Clonakilla Wines (rated as one of the best Shiraz in Australia) determined to cellar this outstanding red. But on a cold Sunday night a few months later, I was convincing my husband that watching MasterChef was a special occasion that deserved a special wine! Oh well. I’m sure I’ll get the hang of this cellaring thing.
If you like a more relaxed and family-friendly vibe Four Winds Vineyard in Murrumbateman is a great place for lunch, just be sure to book ahead as they are always busy. They have a large, covered outdoor area where they serve up delicious pizza. After a wine tasting at the bar retire for lunch, with a bottle of their Chardonnay, Shiraz Rose or Cabernet Merlot and chill out to live music. If you like interesting wine labels, you’ll love Four Winds. Their labels are as hip as the atmosphere. Speaking of labels, Capital Wines really embrace the Canberra political scene with their cheeky names and labels and make a great gift for interstate and overseas visitors. And the wine is good too!
Surveyors Hill is a small vineyard with a quaint, family feel … and the food? I have never had a bad meal. Book ahead to avoid disappointment. Speaking of food, a favourite for many Canberrans is The Poachers Pantry. Located just out of Canberra on the Barton Highway, simply reading the menu will have you salivating. They have some wonderful local drops on offer including Wily Trout. I highly recommend a visit.
This is a small sample of the many great wineries on offer in Canberra, there just isn’t enough room to cover them all but I can’t end this blog without mentioning Nick O’Leary Wines. Nick O’Leary’s wines feature on many restaurant menus in Canberra and if I had to pick only one wine to drink forever, it would be their Riesling.
While Ngunnawal country is renowned for being home to federal parliament and a must-see for museums and galleries, the many wonderful golf courses and quality wineries are ready to welcome locals and visitors alike.
There are numerous accommodation options from Air bnb apartments and homes to the ritzy Hyatt Hotel. Classic Canberra Golf Tours can help you and your group with golf outings and for more information on all there is to see and do, go to https://visitcanberra.com.au/