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Australian Capital Territory and Canberra

Travel to the Australian Capital Territory to rub elbows with politicos in a lively intellectual center. Known for its museums, monuments, sprawling parklands and chic eateries, Canberra, the capital of Australia, will be an interesting addition to your Australia vacation.

The area that was originally carved out of New South Wales in the early twentieth century to harbor the nation’s capital city, Canberra, has in recent decades forged a vibrant identity as Australia’s legislative and historical epicenter. 

Canberra is a city beget by the rivalry of its neighboring heavyweights, Sydney and Melbourne. When the nation was federated in 1901, neither would accept the other as Australia’s capital, so a compromise was reached by establishing an entirely new national center, roughly equidistant from the two cities.

An enclave of New South Wales, The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is the smallest self-governing internal territory of the Commonwealth of Australia. Regularly referred to as Australia’s ‘Bush Capital’, the landscape around Canberra is made up of rugged plains, hills and mountains, and plenty of trees. This countryside leads into New South Wales from all directions, with nearly 40% of the landscape composed of the Namadgi and Koscuiusko National Parks.

Deliberately laid-out to showcase Australia’s democratic process and political institutions, Canberra is brimming with museums and historical monuments. Explore the country’s political heritage and modern democracy at Old Parliament House and Parliament House. Visit the National Institute of Sport and Science to hear the exploits and accomplishments of Aussie sporting heroes, and witness the creation of man-made lightning at Questacon—the National Science and Technology Center.

Canberra is also home to the Australian War Memorial, the National Gallery of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery, the National Archives of Australia, the Australian Academy of Science and the National Museum of Australia to name a few. Also in Canberra, the National Library of Australia is required by law to hold a copy of every book published in the country.

A fantastic base from which to explore the many treasures of the surrounding region, Canberra is in close range of historic townships, natural wonders, beautiful coastlines and the famous Snowy Mountains. Take time to enjoy the wildlife, walking trails and Aboriginal rock art of Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and Namadgi National Park in the northern Australian Alps. Drive the Poacher’s Trail to the wineries, farms and galleries of the surrounding scenic countryside. Hike past wildflowers and glacial lakes in the Snowy Mountains and spot dolphins from pristine beaches on the South Coast.

Beneath the foliage, Canberra offers stylish restaurants, hip bars, and boutique shopping along with a nonstop calendar of festivals and events, including many venues for live music and theater. The Canberra Theatre and Playhouse, host to many major concerts and productions, and Llewellyn Hall, a world-class concert hall, are two of the largest in the city. The Albert Hall was the city’s first performing arts venue, opened in 1928. It was the original performance venue for famed theater groups such as the Canberra Repertory Society.

People travel to Canberra from all over to attend the celebrated festivals and annual events held in the region, including the National Folk Festival, the Royal Canberra Show, the Summernats Car festival, the International Music Festival, the Canberra Multicultural Festival, and the Celebrate Canberra festival, which is held over 10 days in March in conjunction with Canberra Day.

Reinforcing its international presence, Canberra shares a special sister-city bond with both Nara, Japan and Beijing, China, as well as friendship-city relations with both Dili, East Timor and Hangzhou, China. City-to-city relationships encourage communities and special interest groups, both locally and abroad, to engage in a wide range of exchange activities. The Canberra-Nara Candle Festival held annually in spring, is a community celebration of the Canberra-Nara Sister City relationship. The Festival is held in Canberra-Nara Park on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin.

When it comes to accommodations in the area, the newly refurbished Crowne Plaza Canberra is known for its friendly service, easy accessibility to Canberra Airport, and for offering all the features required to meet the needs of both business and leisure travelers.

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