A quick guide to what to see and do in Australia's capital cities – New Zealand Herald

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You're never too far from water views in Perth. Photo / Getty Images.
If you’re planning an urban getaway, Jessica Wynne Lockhart has your cheat sheet to the best places to eat, stay and play in Australia’s capital cities
Stay: Situated in the inner-city suburb of Braddon, a trendy area known for its micro-breweries, boutiques and eateries, Canberra’s new five-star Midnight Hotel is in the centre of the action and only a short walk from the CBD.
Eat: When you step into Saint Malo, you’ll wonder if you travelled across the Tasman, or if you somehow boarded the wrong plane and wound up in Europe. This multi-storey restaurant emulates the Mediterranean with its sunny outdoor courtyard, fresh seafood dishes (including grilled octopus served with black garlic) and curated cocktail list. Afterwards, head to the Leyla Bar in Barton for a nightcap. Perched on the top of the Burbury Hotel, it boasts views of Lake Burley Griffin and the city skyline.
Play: Hire a boat from GoBoat Canberra for a self-drive electric boat picnic on Lake Burley Griffin. No boat license is necessary and fun optional add-ons include grazing boxes, speaker hire, and yes, even a captain’s hat.
Stay: MACq01 is the winner of multiple awards, for good reason. Each of the waterfront hotel’s rooms are named for a historical Tasmanian and designed to match their personality traits — from the resilient to the colourful and quirky.
Eat: Born in Tassie but raised in Naples, chef Massimo Mele combines the best of his two cultures at Peppina Restaurant in Salamanca Place. With an emphasis on locally sourced food, you can expect dishes such as gnocchi with wood-fired mushrooms and raw kingfish with fennel, almond cream, citrus dressing, chilli, and capers.
Play: Mona, the Museum of Old and New Art, put Hobart on the map when it opened in 2011, but it hasn’t stopped innovating and growing since. Not to be missed are the light installations by artist James Turrell, as well as Wim Delvoye’s polarising “Cloaca Professional”, also known as the poo machine.
Stay: There’s no shortage of luxe hotels in Brisbane’s CBD and inner-city, but Miss Midgley’s is a memorable choice in the heart of New Farm. Designed by mother-daughter duo Lisa and Isabella White (who both hold Masters of Architecture), the boutique hotel is in one of Brisbane’s oldest heritage homes. Each unit has its own outdoor courtyard, alongside a common pool area surrounded by a lush tropical garden.
Eat: One of Brisbane’s newest restaurants is also one of its best. Located on the riverfront, Tillerman puts seafood centre stage, with dishes such as dusky flathead with burnt orange ghee, and Fremantle octopus carpaccio.
Play: While Brisbane’s CBD may be miles from the ocean, it’s easy to get out on the water with River to Bay Cruises. Itineraries include an excursion to an oyster farm on the west side of Moreton Island, a day trip to Stradbroke Island to experience rich Indigenous culture and spot koalas, and a cocktail cruise along the Brisbane River.
Stay: Located just across the river from the Adelaide oval, EOS By Skycity offers a resort-like experience in the centre of the city. In addition to a spa and wellness centre, there’s an expansive pool deck, on-site restaurants, and next-level service. Case in point? A mixologist can come to your room to make you cocktails.
Eat: Chef Jake Kellie—formerly of a Michelin-starred restaurant in Singapore—is heating up Adelaide with its first fully open-flame restaurant, Arkhé. Don’t skip dessert, which includes s’mores made from a dark malted rye biscuit, smoked chocolate, and rhubarb marshmallow. Then, sneak down to Deli Cellar, a speakeasy bar hidden below a deli for one last drink.
Play: Taking inspiration from Europe’s beach clubs, Moseley Beach Club is Australia’s only beach club located directly on the beach. Entry is free, drinks are free flowing and there’s live music and DJs every weekend.
Stay: A stay at Mindil Beach Casino Resort is a holiday in itself. Overlooking Fannie Bay, it’s only minutes from Darwin’s CBD. In addition to the on-site casino, there are two restaurants, two bars, an infinity pool and resort-style lagoon pool, and walking tracks that border the hotel and beach.
Eat: The multi-award-winning Snapper Rocks celebrates Australian beach and barbecue culture, with a focus on locally sourced ingredients and beverages. (It’s also behind micro-distillery Northern Distilling.) Expect fresh and casual meals, with burgers, poke bowls and bao buns on offer.
Play: Visit MAGNT (Museum and Art Gallery Northern Territory) to gain a deeper understanding of the Northern Territory, its landscape, and its people. Exhibits include “Gumurr’manydji Manapanmirr Djäma”, a photo exhibit from Arnhem Land, and MAGNT’s most famous resident, Sweetheart, the saltwater crocodile.
Stay: The new DoubleTree By Hilton Perth Waterfront has both the views (overlooking the Swan River and the Perth city skyline) and the location (it’s adjacent to Elizabeth Quay). Take advantage of both at the rooftop bar or in the outdoor infinity pool.
Eat: With a Latin American-inspired menu, Indigo Oscar is a playful beachside venue in the suburb of Cottesloe. Bright and breezy, this is where you can get your fill of freshly shucked oysters, alongside creative cocktails.
Play: Perth residents make no secret of their love for rugby, which is why one of their top attractions is Optus Stadium’s brand-new Halo rooftop tour. This guided experience will take you high above the playing field, as well as behind-the-scenes to learn how the stadium runs on game day.
Stay: Situated within a recently refurbished 1930s Art Deco building, Aiden Darling Harbour offers both affordability and luxury in a prime location next to the Maritime Museum. Its rooms are comfortable and compact, but size shouldn’t be a concern. After all, did you really come to Sydney to hang out in your hotel room?
Eat: Considered one of this year’s most anticipated restaurant openings, Enoteca Ponti is a modern Italian restaurant in the heart of Potts Point. The menu changes seasonally, but expect plenty of seafood, fresh-made pastas, and homemade sorbets.
Play: Learn more about the history and culture of Australia through the eyes of an Indigenous guide. The Australian Museum’s new Waranara (meaning “to seek”) tours are led by members of the museum’s First Nations team. Over an hour, visitors will learn more about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural objects housed in the museum, including those used in sustainable fishing practices.
Melbourne, Victoria
Stay: With its central location on Downie St, everything is just a short walk from Australia’s first Hyatt Centric hotel. Rooms are well-appointed, while the 25th-floor bar has sweeping views across Melbourne’s Yarra River.
Eat: Hidden in a basement location, it could be easy enough to miss the subterranean Dessous, but to do so would be a grave error. The hip underground restaurant and bar has a menu designed for sharing, with inventive dishes such as buttered cabbage with miso sour cream and beurre noisette, and spanner crab doughnuts with salmon caviar.
Play: The Lume is the first permanent digital gallery in the Southern Hemisphere, which transforms the world’s finest art into immersive sensory experiences, including through visual, olfactory, and auditory cues. Starting Oct 26, the Lume will play host to the new Monet and Friends Alive exhibit.
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