Australian Capital Territory

The capital city of Australia, Canberra boasts national museums and attractions that hold and share the treasures of our nation. Celebrate Australia’s proud sporting achievements, delve into our unique political history, and reflect on our young nation’s experience on the international stage. See our country and people through the eyes of our artists, and experience Australian character through sound and film, books and exhibitions.

Home to 325,000 people, Canberra is one of the world’s few planned cities, a city in a park, with golden autumn leaves and glorious spring blooms. Surrounded by native bushland, Canberra is perfect for getting back to nature.

But hidden beneath the leafy surrounds is a thriving modern city with stylish restaurants, hip bars, boutique shopping, fun for the kids and a busy calendar of events and festivals. The surrounding region offers more than 30 wineries, historic townships, beautiful coastlines and the famous Snowy Mountains.

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) was established in 1911 to create a capital for the newly federated country of Australia. Some 2330 square kilometres (900 square miles) was set aside, 53 per cent of which today remains nature park or reserve. Canberra, the urban centre of the ACT, is a thriving modern city with stylish restaurants, hip bars, boutique shopping, fun for the kids and a busy calendar of events and festivals.

The surrounding rural areas and stretches of natural bushland are home to charming rural townships such as Tharwa and Hall, award-winning wineries, and stunning nature parks. Just 45 minutes drive from the city is Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve which offers walking trails, ranger-guided activities, Australian animals in their natural habitat, delightful wildflowers during spring and rich Indigenous and pioneer heritage.

Namadgi National Park, also 45 minutes’ drive from the city at the northern end of the Australian Alps, is perfect for a picnic or bushwalk on the numerous marked trails, or to experience native flora and fauna and enjoy spectacular wildflowers in spring. The Indigenous rock art and Aboriginal shelters are easily accessible. Camping is possible in pleasant bushland settings with fishing and horse riding permitted in designated areas.

Snowy Mountains

Base yourself in Canberra to explore the nearby high country. A two-hour scenic drive from Canberra takes you to the Snowy Mountains, where you can find beautiful alpine flowers, top ski resorts, wild brumbies, fishing, trekking, horseriding and much more.

Travel to the top of Mount Kosciuszko National Park for spectacular views, or take a bushwalk and see the famous Snowy Mountains brumbies (wild horses). At the Yarrangobilly Caves, you can view stunning frozen waterfalls, limestone caves and underground pools.

Lake Jindabyne, Lake Eucumbene and Blowering Reserve attract thousands of anglers each year, while Perisher Blue, Thredbo and Selwyn Snowfields offer lots of fun in the snow, from skiing and snowboarding to snow shoeing and tubing.

South Coast

Canberra is the perfect base for exploring the unspoilt coastlines of the South Coast. Just two hours’ drive away, try whale watching or kayaking, learn to surf or laze away a day on a beautiful beach.

Take a dolphin watch cruise or a kayak excursion and see the pristine beauty of Jervis Bay, or charter a fishing boat or go whale watching on the beautiful Sapphire Coast. Not far away, the Kangaroo Valley offers 80 kilometres of river perfect for all types of canoeing, and is also great for a guided bushwalks or bicycle tours.

At the Old Mogo Town Pioneer Village, you can experience the 1850s Gold Rush and learn about Australia’s ‘bloodiest’ bushrangers, the Clarke Gang. Not far away, Mogo Zoo offers everything from an African lion, a snow leopard or a Bengal tiger to giraffes, alligators, iguanas and pythons.

Location

Canberra is located in the Australian Capital Territory, which is surrounded by New South Wales. The city is 150 kilometres inland and 571 metres above the Pacific Ocean, 281 kilometres from Sydney and 660 kilometres from Melbourne.

History

Located on the ancient lands of the Indigenous Ngunnawal people, Canberra’s name is thought to mean ‘meeting place’, derived from the Aboriginal word Kamberra. European settlers first came in the 1830s, and the area was chosen for the federal capital in 1908. Canberra’s special contrast of nature and urban living was planned in 1912 by master designer, Walter Burley Griffin, a Chicago architect who won an international design competition. The provisional Parliament House was opened in 1927 in what was then a treeless paddock.

Weather

The national capital’s four distinctive seasons, each with their own beauty and charm, make Canberra a rare treat amongst Australian cities. Canberra’s wonderful seasons turn the city into a kaleidoscope of colour throughout the year.

Spring is truly glorious. The city bursts into colour as the trees reveal their spring blooms and the regional vineyards awaken with the first bud bursts. You can expect moderately fresh mornings, bright sunny days and brisk nights.

Summer offers endless opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors, especially ojn Lake Burley Griffin where plenty of water sports and activities await. The days are warm to hot, with plenty of sunshine and little humidity and are followed by mild balmy nights.

Autumn is a delight as the city’s parks and gardens take on a special appeal. Canberra’s stunning landscape changes as leaves of red, gold, russet, ochre and crimson emerge and are balanced by the soft greys and greens of native eucalyptus and coniferous trees alongside them. The season is blessed with cool nights and warm days.

Winter is the perfect time to snuggle up in front of a fire with a big glass of cool climate red wine. The nights and early mornings are brisk, but frosts and occasional fog generally clear to striking sunny days, so you can still get pleasure out of bike riding and walks by the lake on the cool fresh days.

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