Canberra

Canberra is the capital city of Australia. Situated approximately 90 miles inland, it is also the country’s largest inland city and the eighth-largest Australian city overall. Its residents, or Canberrans, as they are known, number approximately 370,000. Many of them understandably work as civil servants, though life in Australia’s capital certainly isn’t all about work. The city is culturally rich, has a thriving arts scene, and plays host to more than its fair share of fun festivals. Canberra is also known for its growing food and wine culture, and whether you are a resident or a visitor, it is worth considering a trip out to such nearby regional attractions as Namadgi National Park and the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. In reference to the Canberra weather, the city has a relatively dry oceanic climate. Summers tend to be warm to hot, while winters are cool to cold. The highest recorded maximum temperature in the city was 108 Fahrenheit (42.2 Celsius), while the lowest recorded minimum temperature was 14 degrees Fahrenheit (-10 Celsius).

History

Prior to European settlement in the early 1800s, the area that would eventually become the city of Canberra was seasonally inhabited by the native Ngunnawal people. Evidence suggests that the general region was inhabited by humans for at least 21,000 years. Once established, the European population slowly grew throughout the 19th century. In 1908, the relatively new Commonwealth Parliament of Australia decided to make Canberra the country’s capital. This decision was a compromise of sorts, ending the rivalry to become the capital that had developed between Australia’s two largest cities – Sydney and Melbourne. Canberra wasn’t much of a city when this decision was made. In fact, it wasn’t yet a city at all. After an international design competition, a Chicago architect named Walter Burley Griffin won the right to design what would become Canberra. Together with his partner, Marion Burley Griffin, Walter Burley Griffin designed a city that was based on a series of geometrically precise circles and axes. The construction of Canberra began in 1913, and by 1927, the city had its first Parliament House. This “provisional” Parliament House was replaced by a newer, more “permanent” Parliament House in 1988. Both of these Parliament Houses are found near one another and figure among the city’s main focal points. Canberra and the associated Australian Capital Territory (ACT) became a self-governing territory in 1989.

Canberra Parliament House & Museums

Canberra Parliament House & Museums
Canberra Parliament House & Museums

The Old Parliament House in Canberra, or the Provisional Parliament House, as it is also known, served as the house of Parliament of Australia from 1927 to 1988. Today, it serves as a museum, as well as a venue for lectures, concerts, and other events. The museum at the Old Parliament House is known as the Museum of Australian Democracy (at Old Parliament House), and while it charges a small admission fee, tours are free. Sitting above the Old Parliament House on Capital Hill is the current Parliament House, and it too offers free tours, as well as personalized tours for a fee. Arguably a museum in part, the new Parliament House features numerous works of Australian arts and crafts. Political enthusiasts, however, might find more interest in watching the Parliament at work. Public viewing areas are found in both the Lower House and the Upper House. Canberra visitors who are interested in culture won’t want to limit themselves to the city’s two Parliament Houses. Several wonderful museums are found around town, with examples including The National Science and Technology Centre (Questacon), the National Museum of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery, the National Film and Sound Archive, and the National Gallery of Australia.

Other Canberra Attractions

Other Canberra Attractions
Other Canberra Attractions

Complementing the Parliament Houses and the city’s many great museums are a variety of other interesting Canberra attractions. Among the most notable of these attractions is the Australian War Memorial. More than just a monument that honors Australian troops, this memorial is multi-faceted and offers something for a variety of interests and ages. The Black Mountain Tower is another attraction that Canberra visitors are encouraged to keep in mind. This landmark features both indoor and outdoor observation decks, and the panoramic views of the city and countryside are splendid. Should you be looking for even more things to do in Canberra, such attractions as the Australian National Botanic Gardens and the National Zoo and Aquarium deserve a look. Watching a local sporting event is just one more way to stay entertained in Canberra, and should some recreation be the aim, the city has numerous sporting fields, skate parks, tennis courts, golf courses, and swimming pools that are open to the public. Basically, this city has a lot to offer. 

Canberra Hotels and Lodging

Canberra, Australia
Canberra, Australia

Canberra has plenty of hotels and motels to suit a range of budgets. The lodging choices don’t end there, however. Hostels provide backpackers and other budget-minded tourists with a low-cost lodging option, and it is possible to get rooms at residential colleges during university breaks. Among the other accommodations that can be found in around Canberra are bed and breakfasts, self-contained or serviced apartments, caravan parks and campgrounds, and rural farmstay properties. Canberra visitors should be happy to know that the city’s accommodations are much cheaper on the whole than the accommodations that can be found in most of Australia’s other state capitals. Also, since many people visit the city during the week, it is often possible to secure cheaper weekend rates. Either way, it is always a good idea to inquire about special deals.

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