You'll enjoy the Canberra lifestyle
The name Canberra means "Meeting Place" in the local Ngunnawal Aboriginal language.
It has a population of some 325,000 which makes it small enough to be relaxed and sociable, yet it offers all the facilities and cosmopolitan lifestyle of a much larger city.
There are excellent entertainment and sporting venues, schools, hospitals, great shopping, and affordable public transport, not to mention a wide range of clubs, cafes and restaurants offering dishes from a wide range of national cuisines.
Lake Burley Griffin
The city is built round Lake Burley Griffin and you can see a good deal of it by taking a cruise around the lake. Lunch cruises, offering good cooking at reasonable prices, are particularly recommended.
Many Canberra families enjoy a picnic by the lake at Commonwealth Park, Weston Park or Black Mountain Peninsular: others walk or cycle around the lake for exercise. A visit to nearby Black Mountain Tower offers a 360 degree view of the city and its surroundings. If you're feeling adventurous, you can see even more by drifting serenely above the city in a colourful hot air balloon.
Take a Virtual Tour Right Now
You don't really need a balloon flight to see Canberra. You can take a virtual 360 degree tour here!
Our City Plan
North of Lake Burley Griffin is Canberra's original Central Business District, generally called "Civic", and the suburbs of North Canberra.
On the other side of the lake is the Parliamentary Triangle, where both the old and new Parliament Houses are located, and the suburbs of South Canberra, where numerous embassies and high commissions are located.
Since the 1960s, Canberra has expanded rapidly by the building of planned "new towns": Woden and Tuggeranong to the south, Belconnen and Gungahlin to the north. The University of Canberra is situated in Bruce, a suburb of Belconnen in Canberra's north-west.
Old Parliament House with the present Parliament House behind it.
National Institutions to Visit
- the National Gallery of Australia
- the National Library of Australia
- the National Museum of Australia
- the Australian National Botanic Gardens
- the National Portrait Gallery
- the Museum of Australian Democracy (Old Parliament House)
- the Parliament of Australia (New Parliament House)
- the Australian War Memorial, including an extensive museum of Australians at war and excellent audiovisual presentations.
Parks and Nature Reserves
Australia's "bush capital" is surrounded by a variety of parks and reserves. We particularly suggest a visit to the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve for those interested in our region's landscape, wildlife and early settlement. A walk along one of Tidbinbilla's trails is a good way to exercise the body and relax the mind.
See our Transport page for details.
Canberra, like Ottawa, Brasilia or Islamabad, was developed in the twentieth century as a new national capital.
The six Australian states became a Federation in 1901, and the first Federal parliament met in Melbourne. The search for a new site to build Australia's capital city began, and a site was finally chosen on the Monaro Plains, near the existing towns of Yass and Queanbeyan. You can see a beautifully restored example of pastoral settlement in pre-Canberra days at Lanyon Homestead just south of the city.
A competition was held to choose a master plan for Canberra, and this was won by the American architect and town planner Walter Burley Griffin. So we've been a planned city from the very beginning.
Canberra was officially proclaimed as the nation's capital in 1913 and the original Parliament House was opened in 1927. But the lake that Burley Griffin had planned had to wait until 1963, when the Molongolo River was dammed to create it and two bridges had been built to cross it.
The countryside around the capital is perfect for outdoor activities such as bushwalking, horse riding, cycling or camping. In winter the snow and ski fields of the Snowy Mountains and the Kosciusko National Park are just a couple of hours drive away, as are the white sand beaches of the New South Wales South Coast for swimming, surfing, diving and fishing in summer.
Canberra has four seasons:
- Spring (September to November) Sunny and temperate
- Summer (December to February) Hot and sunny
- Autumn (March to May) Sunny and temperate
- Winter (June to August) Cold and dry. Don't forget to bring your warm winter clothes!
The average annual rainfall is 629 mm with an average of 108 rain days per year. Rainfall is reasonably evenly distributed throughout the year with the wettest month being October (65.3 mm) and the driest being June (39.6 mm).
Canberra is the home of many different religious communities. There is a mosque, a Hindu temple, a synagogue and several Buddhist centres as well as Christian churches of many denominations. The chaplains at the University's Spiritual Meeting Place can give you more information.
On-line Guides to Canberra
For more information about shopping, food, entertainment and various attractions in the region please visit
Feel Human Again!
a message from ACTourism
We look forward to seeing you soon!
Images at the head of this page were created by Nick Dowling (Russell Offices) 'Huwr' (Tuggeranong Valley) 'Bidgee' (Belconnen Town Centre) and Glen Dillon (Deep Tracking Station, Tidbinbilla) and were downloaded from Wikimedia Commons.