Recently I have become very popular with friends and relatives. This is because the National Gallery of Australia is having a very popular exhibition "Masterpieces from Paris: Van Gough, Gauguin, Cézanne & Beynond; Post-Impressionism from the Musée d'Orsay". I saw the works in Paris at the Musée d'Orsay. (as I never get tired of saying, when asked if I have seen the Canberra exhibition). d'Orsay is in a wonderful building converted from a railway station (don't miss the restaurant inside the clock tower with views of Paris through the clock face).
The Canberra exhibition is drawing such a crowd it can be difficult to find accommodation on weekends, so my apartment is very popular. On weekends the queue has stretched from the front door of the gallery, past the High Court of Australia, to the National Portrait Gallery, past the front of that gallery and the half way back down to the national gallery again. This is the queue for people who already have tickets, there is another queue to get a ticket.
Visiting the gallery mid-week there was only a queue of a few dozen people (the gift shop at the end of the exhibition was still crowded). The queues are only for the French exhibition and the rest of the gallery is free. The portrait gallery with an excellent exhibition of portrait photography is also not crowded. It is possible to get a table at the outdoor deck of the portrait gallery and watch in comfort as the exhibition queue shuffles past (many wearing paper hats made from the exhibition poster).
The National Library of Australia is also not crowded, with its own exhibitions and excellent coffee cafes. If the bookplate cafe in the foyer is too busy, try the Paper plate cafe on the lower floor of the library.
After a hard day's culture, a pleasant way to relax is at the Pork barrel Cafe, a low cost annex to the upmarket Lobby Restaurant, set in the park in front of Old Parliament House and overlooking rose gardens. Beware of sitting outdoors this time of the year, as the parrots feed in the trees above and drop twigs on those below. With a table reserved indoors, looking out at the roses (and people being pelted with twigs), there can hardly be a happier place to be.