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Travel guide Australian Capital Territory


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Canberra
  • Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
  • New Parliament House

Locals often refer to Canberra as 'Australia’s best kept secret'. The nation’s capital is frequently passed over when people make holiday plans, due to its lack of beaches – that, and of course the fact that every young Aussie had to study Canberra and its role in national politics at some point during their schooling.

But in reality, Canberra is a beautiful planned city with a large-man made lake, stunning architecture and countless fascinating attractions. The Australian War Memorial, Parliament House, national galleries and museums are just a few of the must-sees. And for those days when you just want to relax, there is plenty of parkland to enjoy complete with bush walks, native animals, and soothing creeks to cool your feet.

Put your credit card away – just about everything is free!
The best attractions in Canberra don’t cost a cent to visit. The Australian War Memorial, Parliament House, National Museum of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Australian National Botanical Gardens and many more provide admission free of charge!

Something old, something new…
Canberra is home to not one, but two parliament houses. Old Parliament House is a modest but beautiful 1920s building that housed Australia’s parliament for 61 years. In contrast, Parliament House is a large, modern architectural masterpiece that is actually built into Capital Hill to allow people to walk over the top of the government while enjoying panoramic views of Canberra. Both old and new offer tours (although there is an admission charge to visit Old Parliament House) and both tours are well worth taking. Better still, visit Parliament House during Question Time at 2:00pm each sitting day, to catch a glimpse of our government in action.

Lest We Forget
The Australian War Memorial is enormous and will take a minimum of a day to visit. And it is worth every second of your time – there are many exhibits to explore, often using dioramas put together with great attention to detail. Every war is represented, including Vietnam, Korea, and the Gulf War. Be sure to stay for 'The Last Post' at 5:00pm every evening.

National Galleries, Museums and other must-see attractions
View the ever-changing range of artwork at the National Gallery of Australia, and afterwards enjoy a walk around Lake Burley Griffin. See how money is made at the Royal Australian Mint, and discover the 99,000 native plants at the Australian National Botanical Gardens. Push buttons and have fun exploring Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre and see how Australia trains its world-champion Olympic athletes at the Australian Institute of Sport (admission fee involved for both attractions). Find details about each of these attractions and many more at visitcanberra.com.au

Out and about
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is a favourite place for local Canberrans to go for a picnic. Head out in the early morning or close to dusk for the best animal-viewing experience, and enjoy watching kangaroos, wallabies, emus, native birds, and other native animals wander around. If you are lucky, you might encounter some koalas during your visit – be sure to look up into the trees and ask the park rangers for tips on finding them.

The National Zoo and Aquarium is a fun place to take the kids – as well as seeing lots of animals and fish, a simple picnic could lead to an emu encounter. Be sure to sit at a designated picnic table instead of a blanket on the ground, or you may find yourself packing your hamper in a hurry as these long-necked creatures try to grab your sandwiches straight out of your hands.

When to go
Canberra is worth visiting year-round. During the winter months, you can add a day-trip or weekend getaway to the snowfields only a couple of hours away in the mountains. The summer months experience a dry heat, and are a perfect time to enjoy picnics in nature reserves or by the lake. 

How to get there
Planes, trains, and automobiles will take you to Canberra. There is a major international airport, train station, and bus terminal. Major highways enter Canberra from all directions. The only way you cannot arrive in Canberra is by boat…

Accommodation
Sleep in a vintage 1935 train carriage set on a peaceful farm, enjoy the warm hospitality of a bed and breakfast, or bask in the luxury of a five-star hotel. Travel with a group and sleep dormitory style in shearers’ quarters, or enjoy a large self-contained cottage with your friends. These and many other great options are available in Canberra through TakeABreak.com.au

Ideal length of visit
It would take weeks to see the many must-see attractions of Canberra, including art galleries, museums, war memorials, nature areas, and shows. A week is ideal to catch a good sampling, however you will likely want to return for more on another vacation. Canberra also makes a lovely weekend getaway as each major gallery or monument takes about a day to explore, including a relaxing picnic by the lake.

About the Author
Kylie-Jane Degeling is a freelance writer who has lived in Adelaide, Yulara (Uluru), Alice Springs and Canberra, as well as five different countries throughout the world. After backpacking around Australia, she worked as a tour guide in Central Australia, before training for her Commercial Pilot License and working as a flight instructor, scenic flight and charter pilot. She later worked as a travelling IT trainer for the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, which involved spending time in each of their 16 District Offices around the country on a frequent rotating basis.

Having experienced Australia as a backpacker, tour guide, pilot and business traveller, Kylie now enjoys family holidays with her husband Alex, and children Jezzy and Jordan. She says, “I have been lucky to see Australia from a variety of perspectives, and as a travel writer can use this experience to inspire others to find holidays they would enjoy.”

Kylie currently works as a travel writer in addition to being a government writer and columnist for two parenting magazines.

Further information
Check out Visitcanberra’s comprehensive holiday planner for more tips before you head out to the Australian Capital Territory.

About the Author

Kylie-Jane Degeling is a freelance writer who has lived in

Adelaide

, Yulara (

Uluru

),

Alice Springs

and

Canberra

, as well as five different countries throughout the world. After backpacking around Australia, she worked as a tour guide in Central Australia, before training for her Commercial Pilot License and working as a flight instructor, scenic flight and charter pilot. She later worked as a travelling IT trainer for the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, which involved spending time in each of their 16 District Offices around the country on a rotating basis.

 

Having experienced Australia as a backpacker, tour guide, pilot and business traveller, Kylie now enjoys family holidays with her husband Alex, and children Jezzy and Jordan. She says, “I have been lucky to see Australia from a variety of perspectives, and as a travel writer can use this experience to inspire others to find holidays they would enjoy.”  Kylie currently works as a travel writer in addition to being a government writer and columnist for two parenting magazines.

About the author
Find out more about Kylie at http://bit.ly/h_experts



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