Australian Capital Territory

The Australian Capital Territory is a special region where Australia’s Federal Government is based.  The ACT is located in southern New South Wales and exists solely because when Australia became a Federation of January 1, 1901 there was a disagreement between Australia’s two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne, about where the Nation’s Capital should be located, so a compromise was reached and an area between the two cities was chosen.  As a result a sheep farm became a special zone called the Australian Capital Territory which was administered by the Federal Government, and the city of Canberra was built to become the Seat of Government. Canberra is a totally planned city.  It was designed by Walter Burley Griffin, a famed American architect, in a circular grid that if dominated by the Parliamentary Triangle. At the centre of Canberra sits Parliament House.  This massive building must be the only national assembly that you can actually walk over.  Built into the side of a hill, it has a grassy hill as a roof which visitors can wander across.  Visitors are welcome inside the building as well, which has a collection of modern Australian art, and where you can watch parliamentary proceedings. As you would expect from a national capital, Canberra has a plethora of important buildings including: The National Library, The National Museum of Australia, The High Court, The National Gallery of Australia, and so on and so on.   There are actually some great attractions, and my favourites are the National Film and Sound Archives and the Australian War Memorial, which has some truly outstanding displays, memorabilia and information about those who have served in the defence of Australia. Canberra is built around Lake Burley Griffin, which is highlighted by the Captain Cook Jet, a fountain that shoots water 147 metres into the air.  There are many hills surrounding Canberra and great views can be seen from Black Mountain and Mt Ainslie.  There are many walks around Canberra, plus an efficient system of cycle tracks around the lake and suburbs.   Being a national capital, Canberra has plenty of accommodation, much of which is discounted on weekends when the politicians and lobbyists leave Canberra.  There are some great restaurants there too which offer a range of cuisines.  Canberra also has a number of clubs where you can get food and drinks at very reasonable cost.  These are similar to the clubs in New South Wales in that if you can prove that you are a visitor to Canberra, by showing your driver’s license or passport, you can usually be signed in to enjoy the facilities. Getting to and from Canberra is very easy – it has a busy airport, and there is a regular shuttle service into the city, also Canberra is an easy drive from Sydney and it has a rail service.  Canberra is easy to drive around, but there is also a Hop On Hop Off Explorer tourist bus. Many visitors ignore Canberra in favour of visiting Australia’s larger cities, but it is a very interesting place to visit simply because the city has been built to cater for short term visitors.    In fact, there is much to do and see in Canberra, so can be keep busy and learn a great deal about Australia simply by visiting some of Canberra’s many museums, galleries and buildings of national importance. Weather in the ACT is very cold in winter and hot and dry in summer.  Because it is located near the Australian Alps, Canberra does have four distinct seasons, so it is very pretty in both spring and autumn (fall).

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