Canberra is one of the world’s few cities specifically designed to be a capital city. Modern, progressive, engaging, and beautiful, Australia’s capital has more volunteers, more university graduates, and a lower average age than the rest of Australia. Surrounded by stunning natural beauty, it is often referred to as ‘a city in a park’ with wildlife (especially kangaroos!) at every turn.
Canberra offers an array of experiences. Its iconic galleries and museums hold and share Australia’s stories. You can ride Mount Stromlo’s bike trails or drift above the green city in a hot air balloon or taste spectacular cool climate shiraz to our award-winning coffee. It’s the best of Australia, brought together easily for any visitor. With a calendar of vibrant events celebrated across four distinct seasons and Canberra’s location within easy reach of both beautiful NSW beaches and ski fields, it’s the perfect place to suit all tastes.
POINTS OF INTEREST
Elevated at a higher altitude, rare for the cities of Australia, sits Canberra. An inland city unlike any other, it was purpose-built roughly halfway between Sydney and Melbourne. With the Brindabella ranges providing a striking backdrop, visionary planners mapped out their idea of what a perfect city might look like for future residents.
The original plan that established the capital is the result of a global competition won by Walter Burley Griffin and his wife Marion Mahony Griffin. All around Canberra visitors can spot examples of the design — from the iconic buildings and national attractions to the parks that sweep across the city. The city is easy to explore and is centered around the stunning Lake Burley Griffin, with spectacular views of the iconic Parliament House always in view.
NATURE AND WILDLIFE
It’s hard to miss the native Australian wildlife in the Canberra region. The Territory is more than 50% nature park, so residents share the city with wildlife, including lots of kangaroos and many varieties of beautiful native birds. Two small mountains close to the city are Mount Ainslie and Black Mountain. The summit of Mount Ainslie can be reached on foot in about 45 minutes. The reward at the top is the view, where visitors will have the opportunity to fully appreciate the city’s design. It’s best enjoyed at sunset when Canberra’s skies are often a magnificent pink.
Black Mountain is a 10-minute drive from the city, where visitors can go inside the iconic telecommunications tower, Telstra Tower, and see a 360-degree panoramic view of the city, rolling hills, and bushland beyond. Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is a short 45-minute drive out of the city, with visitors having a good chance of spotting Australian wildlife including koalas, kangaroos, platypus, birds, and more in a beautiful natural setting.
MUSEUMS AND GALLERIES
One of Australia’s greatest galleries, the National Gallery of Australia showcases both international and Australian masterpieces, including the world’s largest collection of Indigenous art. It’s also home to Australia’s art collection. Next door is the National Portrait Gallery, where visitors can come face-to-face with images of iconic Australians, including sporting and film stars.
Visiting the Australian War Memorial, one of the world’s great war museums, for the Last Post ceremony is an incredibly moving experience. Each day at 4.55 pm the ceremony honors one of the 62,000 that have given their lives in-service. At the opposite end of the lake is the National Museum of Australia. This unique and custom-built and engaging social history museum contains over 210,000 pieces that depict Australia’s history and culture, preserving and interpreting the timelines of the nation.
Canberra is a rare treat among Australian cities, providing a kaleidoscope of color, activity, and experiences during four distinct seasons. Spring (September-November) is a festival of flowers and a gorgeous blue sky. In summer (December-February), visitors can explore the superb parks, lakes, rivers, and reserves close to the city or cool off indoors at the national attractions’ major exhibitions. Autumn (or fall from March-May) is a beautiful time of year to visit, as Canberra’s stunning cityscape plunges into shades — of red, gold, russet, ochre, and crimson, with a packed events calendar. Winter (June-August) is chilly but with little rainfall, it’s the ideal time to make the most of winter sports and indulgent dining with local wines while relishing the view of snow dusting the Brindabella mountain ranges nestling Canberra.
SOUTH COAST AND SOUTHERN HIGHLANDS
For self-drive visitors, there are various options looping from Sydney to Canberra that offer the opportunity to experience the best of the Capital, coast, and countryside of Australia. A short drive from Canberra is the pristine South Coast, famed for whale watching and white sandy beaches. The bush meets the beach in Jervis Bay, where visitors can walk from beach to beach with swimming and sunbaking in between, and they’ll likely meet the resident dolphins along the way.
Just two hours from both Sydney and Canberra, the unspoiled Shoalhaven is a nature and adventure lover’s paradise and a great place to stay. Charming heritage towns like Berry, Milton, and Kangaroo Valley have great food and shopping. Another option is to stop at the charming vineyards and villages of the Southern Highlands. In this region, various scenic tourist drives offer spectacular scenery and countless things to see. Visitors will stand before breathtaking waterfalls surrounded by seemingly endless bushland. The area has a rich heritage and magnificent gardens. It’s home to renowned artisans working along an art studio trail. There are challenging golf courses, numerous cycle tracks, and lots of events — including a delicious pie festival!