The capital city of Australia has all the perks of a nation’s center, with stately buildings, museums and monuments, unmissable public parks and wonderful bakeries, cafés and restaurants. With so much to do and see, it’s hard to choose between urban fun and exploring nearby Aussie wilderness and nature; this “river” city (divided in two by Lake Burley Griffin) in the middle of New South Wales has plenty to offer its visitors. Don’t get too dizzy with all of Canberra’s roundabouts!
Much like Washington, D.C. or other capital cities, points of interest in Canberra are, by-and-large, important government buildings and museums. Out-of-towners enjoy the Australian Parliament House, a giant complex on the south side of Canberra that cost over a billion dollars to construct in 1988—and looks it, with an aerial and side view reminiscent of two boomerangs and grandiose illumination by night. The Old Parliament House across Lake Burley Griffin is now home to the Museum of Australian Democracy, which provides an overview of civic engagement in modern Australia and a historical archive. If government doesn’t pique your interest, visit the National Museum of Australia, which includes a vast collection of Aboriginal artifacts, or the prestigious art mecca that is the National Gallery of Australia.
In Canberra, one won’t be too far from the city center in a posh apartment complex, perhaps in one of the adjacent neighborhoods to either side of Lake Burley Griffin, like Kingston, Turner or Braddon. Quieter, more spacious housing can be found south of the lake in Deakin, where options like a room in a former embassy aren’t too pricey. Regardless, most if not all accommodations in town are apartments, varying from high-rise to a low-key condominium.
Within the Australian Capital Territory tucked into the greater area of New South Wales, Canberra sits near quite a few hiking and climbing sites, both big and small. Take a drive less than an hour south to Namadgi National Park, where forests, kangaroos and other wildlife awaits—a good start to figuring out where to go can happen at the visitor center in Tharwa. Hundreds of ways to experience these outdoors can take place on trails for vehicles, hikers, horses and bicycles; lots of rock climbers really dig the huge boulders and interesting formations of the “Australian Alps”. Advanced outdoors enthusiasts might want to go further into the Bimberi Wilderness, or more specifically the Rendezvous Creek Valley.
Canberra-bound fliers within Australia (and Singapore and New Zealand) can fly to the nation’s capital nonstop, while travelers from other destinations will have to transfer at Sydney (SYD), Melbourne (MEL) or another regional city before arriving at Canberra Airport (CBR). You can also get to Canberra by train using NSW TrainLink, which connects Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. In the city, UberX is available, along with taxis and the local bus system, although downtown Canberra is quite walkable by most counts.
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