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First things first... The Australian Capital Territory (ACT), dominated by the modern city of Canberra, is much more than just the national capital. For starters, it looks a whole lot different.

Canberra was planned from the start, as evidenced by the circles, triangles and green spaces. Apart from the grandiose buildings of state, most of the ACT is national park and forest, with an abundance of bushwalks.

Visit visitcanberra.com.au for more info.

 

Getting to & around Canberra

Only a short flight from Sydney or Melbourne. By car, Canberra is about a three-and-a-half hour drive from Sydney. You can also get to Canberra by coach or train.

The main coach terminal is in the Jolimont Centre in the city. For timetables, go to action.act.gov.au. Canberra is also ideal for cycling around as it’s quite flat.

 

Canberra accommodation

There are plenty of good quality, reasonably priced hostels in central Canberra.

Places to look for any kind of long-term accommodation are The Canberra Times (canberratimes.com.au) on Saturday, online at domain.com.au or university noticeboards.

Things to do

As the epicentre of the federal state, Canberra is the hub for much of Australia’s most important art, culture and, of course, politics.

Plus, many of its main tourist attractions are free. Parliament House forms the symbolic and geographical heart. Just down the
road is Old Parliament House, now a museum with the Aboriginal Tent Embassy out the front.

The best of the rest are the National Gallery of Australia, home to Sidney Nolan’s iconic Ned Kelly paintings, the incredible and vast Australian War Memorial, the National Museum of Australia, the National Zoo & Aquarium and Questacon (National
Science & Technology Centre).

Space enthusiasts should gape in awe at the giant satellite dishes at Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex.

Sports fans will enjoy being given a tour of the Australian Institute of Sport by one of their elite athletes, while bushwalkers have no chance of getting bored, thanks to Namadgi National Park covering about 40 per cent of the ACT.

 

Out on the town

Believe it or not, the national capital does have a somewhat lively nightlife, mainly thanks to the city’s student population.

Civic is the main den of after-dark entertainment, while Dickson is Canberra’s version of Chinatown, offering cheap eateries and taverns.

Canberra’s other nocturnal party nexus is Kingston, but there are many other great watering holes around town, so keep an eye on the local street press.


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