Canberra is the purpose built capital city of Australia, located in the Australian Capital Territory in the south-east of New South Wales. It is a planned city, with national monuments, museums, and galleries all built around large man-made lakes. A bush capital - Canberra is also a great place to enjoy the outdoors, with excellent cycling, gardens, parks, bushwalking and nature reserves.
At the time of Australia's federation in 1901, the Australian Capital Territory, and it's main settlement of Canberra, was created by the Australian constitution. This brought the rivalry between Sydney and Melbourne to an end, after Melbourne had been the de-facto capital for the previous 12 years. The Australian Capital Territory was created from land inside New South Wales and put under the control of the federal government. The planned creation of this new city was not without critics - cynics having said it was a "waste of a good sheep pasture".
Canberra is a highly planned city, its primary design conceived by the American architect Walter Burley Griffin, built on the shores of an artificial lake (Lake Burley Griffin). Populated at first largely by politicians and public servants, it took some time to develop its own identity and culture. Extensive building of national facilities have made it a unique destination.
Lake Burley Griffin divides central Canberra. The central shopping and commercial area, known as "Civic", on the north side and the parliamentary triangle and embassy area is on the south side. National institutions are likewise divided, examples being the National Museum of Australia and the Australian War Memorial on the north side and the National Library and National Gallery of Australia on the south side.
There are suburbs surrounding central Canberra, and also suburbs surrounding several outlying town centres. These town centres are Belconnen and Gungahlin to the north, and Molonglo Valley, Tuggeranong and Woden to the south. The ACT also has surrounding towns, such as Murrumbateman, which boasts a strong cool climate wine selection. The historic villages of Hall and Tharwa are also on the outskirts of Canberra.
Many people who live in Canberra are not originally from Canberra, having usually moved there to study or take up employment with the Australian Government. A common pattern is that people from other parts of Australia move to Canberra, study or work for a few years and then return to their place of origin or move on to elsewhere. As this means a constant influx of new arrivals to Canberra, you should not be reluctant to ask for directions and the like from locals - they are more than used to it and usually only too happy to help. Today there is a population of 350,000 people within the city.
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Check Canberra's 7 day forecast at bom.gov.au
Canberra can get just as hot as anywhere else in Australia during the summer months, with temperatures above 30°C a frequent occurrence from December through to March. It can get bitterly cold during the winter months (June–August) owing to its altitude and proximity to the Snowy Mountains. Overnight temperatures in winter frequently drop below zero and tend to hover slightly above 10°C during the day. However, it is usually a clear, brisk cold, and rarely a dull, damp cold. It almost never snows in Canberra, because the below freezing temperatures (at night) usually coincide with clear skies. Most Canberrans believe that late Autumn (mid-April to May) has the city's best weather.
Canberra is less humid than Australian coastal cities. The hottest days are often mitigated by welcome, cooling, mountain breezes, particularly towards the end of the day, and the temperature drops overnight. It's generally a good idea to bring a light pullover or coat when visiting in Summer as the nights can be surprisingly cool.
Canberra and Region Visitors Centre, Regatta Point, Barrine Drive, Parkes ACT 2600, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 9am-5pm M-F; 9am-4pm Sa-Su. The ACT Government operates a comprehensive visitors centre co-located with the National Capital Exhibition at Regatta Point on Lake Burley Griffin. It provides information on attractions in Canberra, and staff can book accommodation as well as tickets to local events.
Foggy mornings at Canberra Airport
Canberra Airport is frequently affected by morning fog from around May to September, causing extensive delays or cancellations. Many Canberrans avoid morning flights if they can at this time of year, and travellers will probably want to do the same. Aircraft parked at the airport overnight can generally fly out through fog, so early departures are normally unaffected. However, arrivals and subsequent departures can be greatly delayed even after the fog lifts, typically by about 10am. The airport has advice on what to do in the event of fog on its website here.
1 Canberra Airport (IATA: CBR) not only serves Australia's capital city, but also many nearby towns across the border in New South Wales. Airlines serving the airport are Qantas, Virgin Australia, Tiger Air, Fly Pelican and Singapore Airlines with flights between:
- Adelaide operated by Qantas and Virgin Australia; up to three flights daily.
- Brisbane operated by Qantas and Virgin Australia, at least eight flights daily.
- Dubbo operated by Fly Pelican; six flights per week.
- Gold Coast operated by Virgin Australia, six flights per week.
- Newcastle operated by Fly Pelican; at least two flights daily.
- Melbourne operated by Qantas, Virgin Australia and Tiger Air, at least 16 flights daily.
- Perth operated by Qantas; one flight daily.
- Singapore operated by Singapore Airlines; four flights per week.
- Sydney operated by Qantas and Virgin Australia; at least 26 flights daily.
- Wellington operated by Singapore Airlines; four flights per week.
Canberra Airport is developing international connections, with Singapore Airlines connecting the city with both Singapore and Wellington. Otherwise Sydney Airport is the closest international airport with connections to most important worldwide destinations.
The current terminal building, completed in 2013, is fitted with all the trimmings of a small modern airport, including aerobridges for jet flights and enclosed terminal areas. There are few food or retail options inside the terminal. ATM's and payphones are located on both sides of security. Additionally, Qantas and Virgin both have their own airport lounges within the terminal. To keep yourself entertained you could venture around the terminal and its grounds to try and locate six public art sculptures that are on display.
Taxis are available from the indoor taxi queue on the ground floor and cost $25 to Civic. Fares to Canberra's suburbs can be much higher, for instance at least $50 to Tuggeranong or Belconnen.
Ridesharing service Uber operates in Canberra and is usually cheaper than taxis. Canberra Airport has a dedicated passenger waiting lounge located 20 metres from the ground floor exit of the arrivals hall.
Canberra Airport is connected to Civic by ACTION bus route 11. Services arrive and depart from outside the baggage claim area on the ground floor of the airport every 30 minutes or less during weekdays, and hourly on weekends. Single adult fares between Civic and the airport are $4.80 each way, or less if using a MyWay card.
The Royale Group also runs a shuttle which costs $10 one way to/from Civic. Frequency is 30–60 minutes, the ride takes 20–30 minutes and it operates daily 07:00-18:00 (reduced frequency on weekends).
Several car rental services have kiosks in the Arrival Hall. Internationally known and reputable companies like Budget Car Hire, Thrifty, Hertz, RedSpot, Avis, and Europcar are available. When returning car rentals, there is a Caltex petrol station adjacent to the terminal.
It is possible to use Canberra's off-road cycleway network to reach the airport. Follow the cycleway along the north side of the lake. A section of cycleway was recently completed alongside the Molonglo River underneath the Monaro Highway Bridge which veers left and passes underneath the Pialligo Avenue bridges. Turn right, cross the creek (beware of the gravel surface at this point), cross over Fairbairn Avenue, use the airport service road through the airport precinct, and make your way to the terminal.
There are ample-sized covered and uncovered car parks within walking distance of the terminal. The uncovered car park is cheaper. Expect to pay $20–25 per day, with special weekend rates.
For arriving passengers expecting a pick up, the pick up area is in the closest uncovered car park 100 m from the terminal exit. Private cars have a 10-minute grace period to enter and leave that area. Close by, there is a Caltex station/Subway Restaurant with limited parking spaces where cars can wait.
Sydney to Canberra on a budget
Thanks to an expansive NSW TrainLink network and capped pricing, you can travel from Sydney to Canberra, via Goulburn, on the cheap. First you must take an unbooked train service from Sydney to Goulburn, costing $8.60, and a subsequent booked Xplorer service to Canberra, ranging between $11-17 depending on your travel period. This can equate to a saving of $20-30 compared to the direct Xplorer option. Unless you do want to spend time in Goulburn, refer to the timetables to minimise your layover.
NSW TrainLink runs Xplorer train services from Sydney to Canberra three times daily, taking around 4 hours 20 minutes from Sydney's Central Station. Despite being slower than a bus or driving, the train journey takes a very scenic route through the Southern Highlands and the Molongolo Gorge, compared to an unexciting freeway journey by road. Economy train fares cost $56 in peak season (Christmas and New Year period or school holidays) and $40 in off-peak, with discounts sometimes available on last minute or advance bookings. If you do take a Bicycle on board they must be boxed and checked-in as luggage on NSW TrainLink services. There is a fee of $12.10 per bicycle and there is room for only three on any train. On some days it is possible to do a day trip by train from Sydney and get 5–6 hours to spend in Canberra.
The train terminates at 2 Canberra Railway Station in Kingston, a suburb located south-east of the main centre of Canberra (Civic). If you are light on luggage, the cheapest option is to take one of the local ACTION buses which service the station, costing $4.80 to Civic (less if you use a MyWay card). On weekdays, bus routes 200 and 80 run every 15 minutes to Civic, with route 980 operating on weekends on reduced services. The other alternative is to take a taxi, which always meet each train arrival and is a much more convenient option, particularly if you are not staying within Civic. You may even be able to walk from the station to your accommodation if you are staying on the the southern side of Lake Burley Griffin, taking up to 25-30 minutes depending when you stay.
NSW TrainLink also runs a once-daily train/bus between Melbourne and Canberra: the bus runs from the centre of Canberra (City Bus Interchange) via the Barton Highway, Burley Griffin Way and the Olympic Highway to the town of Cootamundra, where travellers switch to the XPT (NSW TrainLink) to Melbourne's Southern Cross Station; tickets cost $91 in off-peak and $107 in peak season.
V/Line runs a competing train/bus service (Canberra Link) between Melbourne and Canberra daily. Coaches depart from the Jolimont Centre coach terminal (across the road from the City Bus Interchange). Services run relatively directly via the Barton and Hume Highways and change for the train at Albury. Tickets cost $46.
V/Line also run a Canberra service to connect with their Melbourne train at Bairnsdale. This service is called Capital Link. Services run twice a week (three times a week during Victorian school holidays). At Bairnsdale a road coach will take you via Orbost, Cann River and Cooma to Canberra, with stops at Canberra Railway Station (Kingston) and the Jolimont Centre (across the road from the City Bus Interchange). Tickets on this service also cost $46.
3 Jolimont Centre is the sole coach terminal servicing Canberra, with all coaches stopping here even if they are just passing through Canberra. Located in Civic, the centre itself has limited amenities, including showers, internet access, a few eateries and phones to call the tourist centre and accommodation. Due to its location, it is only a short walk to many hotels or shops and is near the City Bus Station, where all local ACTION busses will pass through.
Murrays, tel +61 132251, Murrays operate up to 10 daily express services between Sydney (Central Station) and Canberra with extra services on peak days. They are the main operator on this route. Service takes around 3 1/2 hours. They always have $15 fares available on the web, for the early or late services and $18 for some others. Popular services or last-minute booking is around $35. The service is non-stop (with some services via Sydney International Airport). Murrays also run a daily service from Canberra to Wollongong and Canberra to Narooma. The coaches are more cramped than the trains. Seats are unassigned, so it helps to be there early and not to have luggage to go under the bus, as that lets you get on first and secure your window seat. Buses often fill to capacity, and can experience delays due to peak traffic into and out of Sydney, although the non-stop nature means that they have been known to arrive 10–15 minutes early on a good run.
Greyhound Pioneer, tel +61 131499, operate a bus service competing with Murray's. Fares seem to be either $15 or $36, so you might get lucky and get a cheap ride. Note that it may not be possible to get the $15 fares when booking a return journey; if so, you probably need to book each leg separately. They also offer a direct service to Melbourne. Greyhound's coach services usually include video entertainment. The Greyhound services have stops which make the service slower than Murrays'.
V/Line, tel +61 13 61 96. V/Line have two services which connect Canberra to Melbourne. The fastest option is a bus from Canberra to Albury with a connecting train to Melbourne. This takes around 8 hours. The more scenic option is to travel to Melbourne via Cooma, Sale and Bairnsdale. Likewise, this service connects with a train at Bairnsdale allowing you to continue your journey southwest towards Melbourne.
The drive from Sydney to Canberra is 290 km and takes around three and a half hours from the Sydney CBD, less from outer suburbs in Sydney. The road is dual-carriageway, freeway-like conditions from the Harbour Bridge all the way to Canberra, mostly with a 110 km/h speed limit, via the M5 Motorway, Hume and Federal Highways. There are three sets of on-road services located on the Hume Highway between Sydney and the turn-off to the Federal Highway to Canberra, as well as many well-maintained and often scenic rest stops with toilets and picnic tables ideal for a picnic. Take drinks, as the rest areas have no water, or tank water which is not recommended for drinking. A third option which will enable you to see more of the countryside is to stop at one of the small towns in the Southern Highlands on the way, all of which boast many cafes and restaurants.
It is rare to make the entire trip between Canberra and Sydney without at least one police speed trap. The city of Goulburn, on the way to Canberra, is the training centre for New South Wales police officers who often send new recruits to run speed checks on the freeway. There are also several fixed speed traps, all of which are signposted in advance.
The drive from Melbourne to Canberra is 650 km and takes roughly eight hours on the Hume and Barton Highways, again mostly on dual-carriageway roads. A great alternate driving route uses the Monaro Highway and travels through interesting terrain in the Snowy Mountains.
Canberra is a car-centric city with excellent roads, and tourists who want to travel away from Civic and the main tourist attractions are generally better off hiring a car than relying on the infrequent, though generally reliable, bus services.
ACTION buses cover the majority of Canberra, with reduced services on weekends/public holidays.
Fares are $4.20 for adults and $2.10 for concessions (have your student or concession card ready to show the driver. For international students, it's always good to have an ISIC Card because many drivers—although not strictly supposed to—will accept these). An all day ticket costs $8 for adults and $4 for concessions.
If spending more than $20 on tickets, consider purchasing a MyWay stored value card , which is more convenient, and offers discounts on travel. Value can be added onto the card , but there are no refunds. Apply for concession fares at a MyWay agent  e.g. ANU students need to do so at the ANU Union annually.
The inter-town routes (the Blue Rapid and Red Rapid) are frequent, reliable, have fewer stops and travel quickly between interchanges. They also can be crowded during peak times. The Blue Rapid is referred to as the 300 series and includes 300, 312, 313, 314, 315, 318 or 319. On weekends, it runs as the 900 series, on a different time table. These services are not of much use to tourists, however, as they do not pass any attractions. Route 200  runs from Civic to near the Australian War Memorial and the Parliamentary Triangle every 15 minutes. Routes 2 and 3 stop at Parliament House and the other main attractions in the Parliamentary Triangle. ACTION maintains a useful list of the services to the main tourist attractions on its website .
Other services are less frequent, even less-so during off-peak and weekends. Some meander slowly through suburbs. Check routes and timetables carefully on the ACTION website. It's generally a good idea to arrive at suburban bus stops 5–10 minutes before the bus is due during the middle of the day and in the evening as they often run fast.
During weekends, there is easy parking at Woden, Belconnen and Tuggeranong car parks, which makes the Blue Rapid a good alternative to parking in Civic. During weekdays, a Park and Ride permit  is required. ACTION often provides free one-off services from city centres to major events e.g. between Belconnen/Woden etc. to show days, Skyfire, sporting events, Floriade or the Arboretum. These are announced on the ACTION website and through social media.
Bicycle cages along the inter-town routes can be used without additional charge. However, they are only available to registered MyWay card users, who have further applied for access to individual cages .
Users can plan ACTION bus trips on Google Maps. In addition, various smartphone apps display the same data in different formats. e.g. TransitTimes+.
Tips for riding the buses:
- The rear doors only open at bus interchanges and busy bus stops.
- If you need to change buses to get somewhere, ask for a transfer ticket; it'll let you on to as many buses as you need within 90 minutes of getting on the first bus.
- Tell the driver where you need to get to (and how quickly if that's important) and ask them what your options are. Some buses snake through the suburbs and can take a while to cover a relatively short distance while others may be more direct or express services.
- Buses do not operate after 7PM on Sundays and public holidays. They do not operate overnight, after midnight or before 5AM. There is however a 'flexibus' or 'nightrider' system with certain routes running at these times—for a flat fare of $10—that operates on weekends in early summer, but not throughout the year.
- Many buses (including inter-town routes) have a bicycle rack attached in front.
- If using a MyWay card, remember to tag off before alighting.
Explorer Bus, ☎ . The Explorer Bus provides a fairly infrequent and expensive hop-on and hop-off service between Canberra's main tourist attractions. A combination of ACTION services and taxis will probably work out better for tourists without their own car.
Bicycles are a practical way to get around Canberra while visiting, and will get you to most attractions using a well developed network of off-road cycle paths. Visitors can rent bicycles from several businesses, including Cycle Canberra. There are also several bicycle shops along Lonsdale Street just north of Civic.
Canberra also has generally well developed on-road cycle facilities but the on-road cycle lanes sometimes end and start in utterly inexplicable places.
The attractions around the lake are accessible on fairly flat paths, and hilly segments are short. Attractions which involve “mountains” e.g. Mount Ainslie, Black Mountain, the Arboretum or the Stromlo Observatory will obviously have steep access. However, travel from the Civic towards Belconnen or Canberra University is mainly uphill. Pedal Power  has a list of commuter and other routes. Bicycles are permitted on footpaths in the ACT (except when passing shops during trading hours).
There are bike racks to lock your bike up at most shopping centres and points of interest. Bike helmets are compulsory.
Most ACTION buses have front bike racks which can carry 2 bicycles at no additional cost. The bike racks have clips, so no additional equipment is necessary. Only 20" tyres or larger bikes are carried. Kids must be accompanied by adults, and child seats and other accessories must be removed from the bike.
A new bicycle map is available online . Openstreetmap shows cycle paths and water fountains . Some books which feature local rides are Cycling Around Canberra by Bruce Ashley, and Where To Ride Canberra by Bicycling Australia.
Drivers are often confused by the many signs around Canberra that direct you to the "Town Centre". The unanswered question that the sign poses, is "Which Town?". The city centre, also known as "Civic", is its own centre, but the other Canberra "towns" are Belconnen and Gungahlin (to the north of the lake), and Woden, Weston Creek, Molonglo and Tuggeranong (to the south). Each of these towns has its own suburbs. You will see signs directing you to each of these towns, but once you get closer the sign will simply direct you to the "town centre". You need to know which town you are in for the sign to make sense.
The major car rental agencies have offices in Civic and at the airport.
Canberra roads are generally of excellent quality and relatively uncongested.
Most of the major attractions provide free parking. During working hours high demand, from both visitors and employees, can see parking spaces very limited in the Parliamentary Triangle (which contains the National Library, Questacon, Old Parliament House, National Gallery, Commonwealth Place etc.).
The default speed limit on all roads in the ACT is 50 km/h, unless signposted otherwise. Major roads in the ACT have speed limits between 60 and 100 km/h. Occasionally, the same road has a different speed limit for traffic heading in opposite directions. The ACT also has the highest number of speed cameras per capita in Australia. Fixed speed cameras have warning signs in advance via overt signage; red light/speed cameras have much smaller warning signs, usually not coupled with a sign reminding of the speed limit. Mobile speed camera vans operate in the ACT (typically, but not always, on major roads); these may be overtly or covertly parked, and are identified by a large white sign on the roof.
40 km/h school zones are active throughout the school day (unlike surrounding New South Wales where they only operate for an hour or two at the beginning and end of the school day). School zones are rigorously policed.
The main shopping and commercial area of Canberra is known as Civic, but you will never see a signpost to Civic. It is signposted as "City".
Take change for parking meters in Civic if you want to park on the streets, or in the government parking lots. Parking in the town centres is difficult on weekdays. It is also difficult to park at night in Civic. There are several multi-level carparks near the Canberra Centre with ticket pay-stations and pay-booths. Note that all day parking in the Canberra Centre is cheaper on the rooftop level. You will need to collect a parking entry ticket from the first boom gate and then feed the ticket into the second boom gate as you enter the rooftop level.
Petrol/fuel. There are few fuel stations on the main roads; instead they tend to be located near local shops, off the main roads. Look for the small blue fuel pump signs pointing off the main roads. Start looking well before you run too low. There are several petrol stations just east of Northbourne Avenue at Civic. Petrol is also more expensive in Canberra than Sydney.
Museums and other institutions
City area - North of Lake Burley Griffin
1 Australian War Memorial, Treloar Crescent, ☎ . Daily 10AM-5PM. Not just a memorial, this is one of Australia's premier museums, covering Australian military history from Federation to the present day and including fascinating exhibits of equipment, memorabilia and battle dioramas. You could easily spend a full day here (it has a café, or bring a picnic lunch if the weather is nice and sit on the lawns at the front). Anzac Parade, leading up to the War Memorial has a number of memorials to different wars and those involved in wars. Free entry, allow 4–7 hours. The AWM opens its large storage warehouse in the industrial suburb of Mitchell to the public once every few years (usually in September or October), and this is a must-see event for people interested in military history.
Australian National University Classics Museum, Ground Floor, A.D. Hope Building, Acton (Located off the main walkway into the ANU from University Avenue). M-F 9AM–6PM (except public holidays). One of the few classics museums in Australia, this museum houses a small, but well displayed and interesting, collection of ancient Greek and Roman artefacts. The A.D. Hope building also has a range of anthropological displays on Indigenous Australian and Pacific island cultures. Free.
4 Drill Hall Gallery, Kingsley St, ☎ . W-Su 12PM-5PM. This small gallery operated by the Australian National University hosts interesting and well-selected temporary exhibitions of Australian and international contemporary art. One of Sir Sydney Nolan's best works, Riverbend, is on permanent display at the rear of the building. Free.
5 National Capital Exhibition, Barrine Drive (Located in Commonwealth Park), ☎ . M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa-Su 10AM-4PM. See an exhibition about the original Burley Griffin Plan for Canberra and how the city was planned and built. Good views over Lake Burley Griffin out to the museums on the Lake's south shore. Free.
6 National Film & Sound Archive, 1 McCoy Circuit, ☎ . M-F 9AM-5PM. A unique collection of Australian sound and film recordings of which a small selection showing iconic moments in Australia's cultural history is explored in this museum. It also hosts the Arc Cinema  with regular showings of movies from all over the world and covering the entire history of film to the modern day. Free.
7 National Museum of Australia, Lawson Crescent, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. Daily 9AM-5PM. This museum presents a thematic rather than a chronological account of Australian history, and spent its early years embroiled in a controversy over whether its displays were politically biased. The NMA has recently been revamped and expanded and includes some excellent galleries on Indigenous Australia and many interesting items, but the museum as a whole is somewhat underwhelming and not likely to be of much interest to non-Australians. Free, except special exhibits.
Parliamentary triangle - South of Lake Burley Griffin
8 High Court of Australia, Parkes Place, Parkes. M-F 9:45-4:30 excluding public holidays. This vast building is the home of Australia's highest court and contains a vast lobby and three main courtrooms that are open to the public. Tours are available, though restricted when the court is sitting. There is a cafeteria in the building as well. As a matter of etiquette, when you enter or leave a courtroom in session, remember to bow down.
9 National Archives of Australia, ☎ . Queen Victoria Terrace, Parkes. 9AM-5PM. Includes a small, but interesting, permanent exhibition of historically important documents as well as temporary exhibitions often focused on contemporary issues. The Queen Victoria Terrace building also houses one of the NAA's main reading rooms.
10 National Gallery of Australia, ☎ . Parkes Place, Parkes. 10AM–5PM. Located by Lake Burley Griffin, this modern structure is one of the country's largest art galleries. It has a vast collection of paintings and sculptures collected from Australia and the rest of the world and has excellent Aboriginal artwork. A nice gift store and a large bookstore on the ground level. Free except for special exhibits. The Gallery offers free public one-hour tours: Australian and International art at 11AM and 2PM daily, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art at 11AM on Thursdays and Sundays. Allow at least half a day and possibly more.
11 National Library of Australia, ☎ , fax: . King. The library is primarily a research centre, but houses a permanent display of historically significant items as well as temporary exhibitions showing parts of the collection. Also notable for its neo-classical architecture. The library is adjacent to Commonwealth Avenue Bridge on the southern side of Lake Burley Griffin near the National Gallery of Australia and Questacon, and is a short walk from a bus stop on the Inter-Town route. It is open 9AM-9PM Monday-Thursday, 9AM-5PM Friday-Saturday and 1:30PM-5PM on Sundays.
12 National Portrait Gallery, King Edward Terrace, Parkes (adjacent to High Court and National Gallery of Australia), ☎ . 10AM-5PM, except Christmas Day. The Gallery opened to the public on the 4 December 2008, and displays some 400 portraits of people who have shaped and who continue to shape the nation. There are gallery spaces for the collection and temporary exhibitions, public areas including a café, shop, function room, theatrette, education and school group areas, and basement car parking. Portraits are in various media, depending on the era. Galleries are themed by era. The web site gives a good idea of the content. free except for major exhibitions.
13 Old Parliament House (featuring the Museum of Australian Democracy), King George Terrace, ☎ . The headquarters of Australian government from the 1920s to 1988, this building is a must for political and/or historical junkies. The building gives a real feel of what it was like when it was in use and has in the past regularly featured rotating exhibitions on the controversies and scandals that rocked Australian politics. It is now a permanent museum. Most of the main rooms - the Prime Minister's office, the Cabinet Room, the various party rooms, the two houses - are open to visitors, as are many smaller rooms like the whips' offices and the broadcasting area. There are also historical photos of Canberra as it used to be, including the times prior to the creation of the artificial lake that show Canberra under snow during winter (the lake warmed up the city and snow falls rarely on the city now). The gift store has decent souvenirs. Parking is free, admission is A$2 for adults, A$1 concession. Allow 2–3 hours.
14 Parliament House of Australia, Capital Hill, ☎ , (for recorded information). The seat of Australia's federal government and legislature and a remarkable piece of modern architecture. Outside, the forecourt faces Federation Mall and has iconic views. Much of the inside is open to the public during business hours (your bags are x-rayed and persons pass through a metal detector at the entrance). When inside the building, do not miss: Queens Terrace upstairs towards the forecourt, and the roof (via an elevator close to walkway to the House of Representatives). Various art, including portraits of past prime ministers are hung in the hallways. Enthusiastic guides perform free tours daily at 10AM, 1PM and 3PM (no booking required). Tours are shorter when Parliament is sitting as the chambers are occupied.
Parliament sittings. On sitting days, you are allowed to view proceedings in the public gallery from 2PM onwards. Your belongings, including electronic items will be cloaked, and a secondary security check is required. No further arrangement is needed to sit in the Senate chamber public gallery. To view Question Time from the House of Representatives galleries, preferably book your free seat by calling the Serjeant-at-arms on 62774889 before 12:30PM. Expect queues to collect tickets, during the secondary checks, and then while waiting for sessions to begin. Consider bringing a small book to read during the wait. Members of the public can also observe hearings conducted by the parliament's various committees. Allow 2–3 hours. On-site parking can be limited when parliament is sitting.
- Gardens. Back outside, the Formal Gardens are east of the main building. This is a small, tranquil green space, with flowers in warmer seasons, artwork, and the Bali Memorial. Here, or Queens Terrace, or the Parliament House roof, the lower slopes up the sides of Parliament House, or Federation Mall are nice places to take a breather. To explore the grounds further, feel free to walk (or ride) along tracks (within Capital Circle) both east and west of Parliament House in cool shade. Find the entrances along the corners of Parliament Drive. Another shady track runs along the base of Capital Hill (between Capital Circle and State Circle). Find this track midway down the access road to Kings Avenue, on the right side, and proceed clockwise. You can exit the track at any point along the length, and the other end is close to Surveyors Park. If in Canberra when Floriade is held, there are additional tours of the Parliament House gardens.
15 Questacon (The National Science and Technology Centre), King Edward Terrace, Parkes, ☎ , toll-free: 1800 020 603. 9AM-5PM. Questacon is an interactive museum of science with exhibits illustrating scientific ideas from the principles of physics to the motion of an earthquake. Great for kids and excellent science books can be picked up here. Allow at least half a day. $15.50 adults, $10.50 concessions, $9 children, and $46 for a family of 2 adults and 3 children..
In the suburbs
16 Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), Leverrier Crescent, Bruce, ☎ , fax: . The AIS runs tours a couple of times a day. The tours are usually run by in-residence athletes. See the training areas and find out about the development and strategy of the facility. At the end of the tour there are interactive exhibits to try various sports. The pool here is open for public access during certain hours. $15.
17 Cockington Green, 11 Gold Creek Road, Gold Creek Village, Nicholls (Located about 13km north of the City via the Barton Hwy), ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 9:30AM-5PM. One of Canberra's most well-known attractions, a miniature display village featuring a traditional English village and international display. Train rides and tea room also available. Adults $17.50 Children $9.50 Family $49 Seniors $12.50.
- Embassies. As the national capital, Canberra hosts the embassies of most countries, listed below in Embassies. Many of the embassies are built in an architectural style typical of their country. In Yarralumla (the closest embassy district to the city), the Embassy of China, Embassy of Papua New Guinea, and The Royal Thai Embassy are particularly worth a look. The Embassy of the United States of America is also worth a drive past, being the oldest embassy in Canberra. It is best to have a car or bicycle for touring so you can stop and have a look around. Most of the embassies in the suburb of O'Malley are converted houses, and none feature interesting architecture. Several of the embassies hold annual open days on weekends in Spring and Autumn which usually include stalls serving their native food.
Government House (Yarralumla), viewing platform off Lady Denman Drive, Yarralumla. The main official residence of the Governor-General of Australia, representative of Queen Elizabeth II in Australia. Closed to the public except for open days, which take place approximately twice a year. There is a viewing platform off the Lady Denman Drive, or glimpses can be seen from the main gate at Dunrossil Drive, Yarralumla, or Weston Park, Yarralumla. Often kangaroos are to be spotted munching grass on the lawns, so be careful driving along the ride that gets to the viewpoint, especially at dusk.
The Lodge, Adelaide Avenue, Deakin. The Prime Minister's official residence. Generally closed to the public and one can only see part of the garden from behind the wall. There are open days about once a year and if you are lucky to be in Canberra then, it shouldn't be missed.
National Dinosaur Museum, Cnr Gold Creek Road and Barton Highway, Gold Creek Village, Nicholls (Located about 13km north of the City via the Barton Hwy), ☎ , fax: . Mon-Thur, Sat-Sun 10AM-5PM. The largest collection of dinosaur and prehistoric fossil material in Australia. Adults $16, children $9.90, concession $11, family $45.00 (2 adults 2 children or 1 adult 3 children, extra children $4.00).
Nature and scenery
With Canberra unofficially crowned a bush capital, it is no surprise there is plenty to see when it comes to exploring its natural scenery. There are many hiking paths to explore around Canberra along with plenty of great vantage points to view the city, with many being accessible by car or by foot. Wildlife are commonly found in the surrounding nature reverses, but on lucky occasions you may spot wildlife that venture into the suburbs. Kangaroos occasionally penetrate into Civic, and hop down Northbourne Avenue from time to time. If ever you encounter wildlife on your visit be sure to admire from a distance.
20 Australian National Botanic Gardens, Clunies Ross St. Daily 8:30AM-5PM. Located at the base of Black Mountain in Acton, the ANBG has the largest collection of Australian native flora in the country. It also has some interesting water dragons that live in the water features around the gardens. A delightful place for a picnic, try to grab some food from the city centre first to take with you for lunch. If you are there during summer, call and ask about the jazz evenings. These are held on the weekend and many families attend with evening picnic and champagne in tow, to chill out to the sounds of jazz in the balmy evening temperatures. Free entry, parking $1.40/hr or $7 all day.
21 Canberra Reptile Zoo, O'Hanlon Place, Gold Creek Village, Nicholls (13km north of Civic via Barton Hwy), ☎ . Daily 10AM-5PM.. A whole range of Australian reptiles on display, with thematic exhibits related to various climatic conditions. Be sure to check out the 'Snake Tales' program to get up close and personal with some of the reptiles. Adults $7.50, children $6, concession $7, family tickets (2 adults & 3 or more children) $29, discounts available for group bookings.
22 National Arboretum, Forest Drive (off Tuggeranong Parkway), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. 6AM-8:30PM during daylight savings, 7AM-5:30PM during non-daylight savings. The National Arboretum opened in February 2013 as part of the celebrations of Canberra's centenary. While the plants still need time to grow, the site has good views over Lake Burley Griffin. While you are there you can also visit 23 Dairy Farmers Hill. Situated within the Arboretum, this viewpoint offers spectacular scenery looking east along the length of Lake Burley Griffin. Free.
24 National Zoo and Aquarium, 999 Lady Denman Drive, ☎ . 10AM-5PM. This privately owned zoo and aquarium offers the standard service plus special tours that allow interaction with the animals. The range of tours offers opportunities to interact with animals (feed or touch) including tigers, lions, cheetahs, giraffes, bears, dingos, elands and snakes. The tours are quite special and certainly worth it if you love animals. Make sure that you turn up at the 'Check in time' for a tour instead of the start time as the two are different. Adult $38, senior/student $31, child $ 21.50.
25 Black Mountain Tower (Telstra Tower), Black Mountain Drive, ☎ , fax: . 9AM-10PM daily. This functional communications tower rises 195 m above the summit of Black Mountain, providing 360 degree views of Canberra and the countryside around it from a viewing platform 60m up the tower. While the interior may seem a little outdated, the view from the tower is quite impressive, although the viewing platform is only another 60m above the mountain. Within the tower is also a revolving restaurant and a telecommunications history display. Adult $7.50, child/senior $3, under 4 years free, family pass (2 adults, 2 children) $17.
26 Mount Ainslie, Mount Ainslie Drive. Many argue that the view from Mount Ainslie rivals those offered from the more popular Black Mountain. Vehicular access is available off Fairbairn Ave, or if you are up for a trek you can walk up the mountain, starting from the eastern side of the Australian War Memorial. Free.
27 Mount Pleasant, General Bridges Drive (access via Royal Military College). Vehicle access 7AM-7PM. A good site to visit after Mount Ainslie. A short drive from either Mount Ainslie peak, or the War Memorial. Drive will take you through a military academy. And the view will include Russell Offices, the Australian-American Memorial, and also a wonderful view along the length of the lake.
28 Mount Majura. Located to the north of Mount Ainslie, access to the peak is by walking tracks only despite there being a service road, it is not available for use by the public. One of the popular walking trails starts near Antill St, Watson.
29 Mount Taylor, Waldock St. Partial vehicle access is available as you will need to walk to reach the peak of Mt Taylor.
30 Red Hill, Red Hill Drive. Offers two lookouts of the greater Canberra area. Vehicular access is available and a restaurant is at the peak.
As the development of Canberra didn't take off until the 1950s, the city has few noteworthy historic buildings. In addition to those which host major national institutions described elsewhere, the following buildings are considered historically significant:
Blundell's Cottage. A historic cottage of some of the earliest settlers of the area. Guided tours and school tours available. $7 adults $5 concession $15 family.
Calthorpe's House, 24 Mugga Way, Red Hill. Sa and Su 1PM-4PM. Historic house picturing life in Canberra in the early days of the territory. $7 Adult $5 Concession $15 Family. Note a three site pass covers here, Lanyon (near Tharwa), and Mugga Mugga in Symanston.
Manuka Pool, New South Wales Crescent, Griffith, ☎ . Open from late October until mid-March. This swimming pool was built in art deco style and opened in 1930.
Royal Military College - Duntroon, Staff Cadet Ave, Campbell (Enter from Morshead Drive or Fairbairn Avenue). The Australian Army's officer training college was established in 1911 and is one of the oldest institutions in Canberra. Duntroon is open to the public and includes a number of historic buildings (though it is generally not possible to enter them as they remain in use). A chapel built by Australian prisoners of war being held in harsh conditions at Changi in Singapore during the Second World War has also been relocated to Duntroon, and is located halfway along Miles Road. Free.
Shine Dome, Gordon Street, Acton (Across the road from the National Film & Sound Archive), ☎ . This unusual dome-shaped building owned by the Australian Academy of Science has been a Canberra landmark since the late 1950s, and is nicknamed the 'martian embassy' by locals.
St John the Baptist Church, 45 Constitution Avenue, Reid, ☎ . Consecrated in 1845, this Anglican church is the oldest church in Canberra and pre-dates the establishment of the city by almost 70 years. It has a small museum.
Sydney and Melbourne buildings, Corner of London Circuit and Northbourne Avenue, Civic (The Sydney Building is on the east side of Northbourne Avenue, and the Melbourne Building is on the west side). These two large buildings in the centre of Civic were the first commercially-funded buildings in Canberra, and have been important local landmarks since the 1920s. Both buildings are surrounded by loggias modeled on those of buildings in Florence, Italy. They are currently occupied by a mix of restaurants (most of which are quite good), nightclubs, pubs and small businesses, but much of the Sydney Building is in a fairly poor state of repair. Plans to revivalise the buildings are regularly proposed, but never go far.
Floriade. Festival of flowers, a yearly event held in spring (September–October), not to be missed. Tulips are the main feature but many other colourful flowers and floral displays are featured. There are also sculptures, garden stalls, makeshift restaurants, activities, live music by local performers and sometimes there is even a gnome or scarecrow festival where children (and some adults) paint gnomes or make scarecrows and enter a competition to choose the best. Great for a photo opportunity!
Summernats. A festival of modified cars, car cruising, burnouts, etc., which takes place first thing in the new year. If you are not into this culture, this is a good time not to be in Canberra, as even the most civilised hotels are overtaken by drunken 'nats'.
The Multicultural Festival. A must to visit, has many events, such as concerts, performances and an International Food Fair with over 200 stalls selling food of different countries. Happens every year in February.
Thai Food & Cultural Festival. Annual festival held in September at The Royal Thai Embassy in Yarralumla. The Festival is a bonus for floriade visitors and Canberrans alike and it's the Embassy's biggest free event of the year. Exotic event hall and beautiful court yard with 2 outdoor stages for live performances plus Thai food & beer, "made-in-Thailand" quality products, and fun & games for children. Do not miss this! The Philippines, Sri Lanka and some other embassies do similar events sometimes.
- Diplomatic Charity Bazaar - held occasionally. Great place to buy original things specific to various countries, sold by staff of the embassies.
- The National Folk Festival - held every Easter over 5 days, featuring local, national and international folk musicians, dancers and craftspeople.
The Canberra Show, Exhibition Park, ☎ . Held in February featuring shows, amusement park rides and agricultural competitions. Has most of the features of the Sydney Royal Easter Show, but on a smaller scale with less crowds.
Canberra Balloon Spectacular. Claimed to be "one of the top three hot air ballooning events in the world", hot air balloons fly over Canberra on most mornings in March. The balloons typically take off from the Parliamentary Triangle, and fly over the lake and centre of the city. The numbers of balloons flying tends to be greatest during early March and on weekends.
- Check out the Canberra Times  newspaper on Saturday for upcoming events.
Canberra Truffle Festival. Held June - August, an eight week celebration of the local Black Perigord Truffle harvest
The majority of the Australian Capital Territory is actually not Canberra city and there is a large area of national park encompassing the northern part of the Australian Alps. While most people don't spend any time outside of the city there is plenty to do if you want to get away from the museums and attractions for a while.
Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, 421 Discovery Drive, Tidbinbilla, ☎ . Daily 9AM-5PM; closed Christmas day. The Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (often called the "Tidbinbilla Tracking Station") is part of a network of three NASA facilities worldwide used to maintain contacts with probes launched from Earth. The facility is visually impressive, and claims to have "the largest antenna complex in the southern hemisphere". It also has an interesting visitors centre. The complex is about a 45 minute drive from Civic. Free.
Lanyon Homestead, Lanyon Drive. Tu - Su 10AM-4PM. Historic homestead of early Canberra settlers, guided tours, walks and a maintained garden. Cafe for lunch, coffee and cake. Note a three house pass for $15/10/30 covers Lanyon, Calthorpe's House and Mugga Mugga house in Symanston. $7 Adult $5 Concession $15 Family.
Namadgi National Park (via Tharwa Road and Naas Road (some parts accessible via Weston Creek, Cotter Dam Road and Brindabella Road further north)). The National Park making up most of the ACT and the most northerly of the Australian Alps national parks. Lots of walking tracks, including scenic views over the Brindabella Ranges, mountain bike trails and scenic drives (on unsealed roads), rock climbing at Booroomba Rocks. Inside the park are Honeysuckle Creek and Orroral Valley, the former sites of tracking sites for the Apollo Moon Landings. Enquire at the visitors centre on Naas Road or see the website for further details. In winter roads in the park may be closed because of snowfall. Free (charges apply for camping).
Tharwa Village (via Tharwa Drive, accessible from the Monaro Highway south of Canberra or at the end of the Tuggeranong Parkway). A small village, one of the original settlements in the ACT area. See the old bridge over the Murumbidgee River, visit Lanyon Homestead (see below) and Cuppacumbalong Pottery. Tharwa is also the gateway to Namadgi National Park and Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.
- Explore Lake Burley Griffin - on or off the water. You can:
- Hire a paddle boat, canoe or kayak and mess around on Lake Burley Griffin. Hire is available from:
Lake Burley Griffin Boat Hire, ☎ . Acton Jetty Acton. (Note: The lake may be closed when algae blooms are significant)
- Alternatively, take a scenic cruise on the lake with Lake Burley Griffin Cruises. Phone +61 419 418 846.
- If you're up for some exercise, you can walk, run, cycle or skate around Lake Burley Griffin. A shared path runs along the edge (the eastern edge at Kingston is interrupted), and the 2 bridges intersect it into 3 “loops”. The Western Loop is 16 km, the Central Loop (“bridge to bridge”) is 3.7 km, and the Eastern Loop is 9 km; visitors can travel along each, or combine them as fitness or time permits. Each segment has its own highlights. The entire circumference is approximately 25 km. Hire is available from:
- Hire a paddle boat, canoe or kayak and mess around on Lake Burley Griffin. Hire is available from:
- Ride Canberra's Mountain Bike Trails: There are several locations around Canberra to ride mountain bicycles, many of which are considered some of the best in Australia. See Canberra Off Road Cyclists (CORC ) for locations. Canberra is also home to the largest 24 hour Mountain Bike Race in the world (Scott 24hr ), held in early October each year.
- Go bush walking: Befitting the term “Bush Capital”, the “bush” is frequently very close to housing areas. e.g. in non-winter months, it’s not uncommon to see families walk through the local nature parks after dinner time. Or for locals to climb up a hill after work before heading home. One of the most popular with visitors is the walk to the lookout atop Mount Ainslie. Others include Cooleman Ridge, Mount Taylor, Oakey Hill, The Pinnacle, Red Hill etc. Territory & Municipal Services lists some sites . Otherwise, CANwalk and ACT Walking for Pleasure have maps, and schedules each week .
- Helpfully between Civic and the War Memorial, walk through the Heritage-listed suburb of Reid. Observe the houses with leafy surrounds, the wide roads, little walking paths and recreation areas, in one of the oldest untouched Canberran suburbs. As (some) locals would say: “as Burley Griffin intended”.
Geocaching. Canberra has an incredibly active Geocaching community.
- Explore Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, which is about a 40 minute drive south of Canberra via Tuggeranong Parkway and Tharwa Drive. There are a large number of walks which offer stunning views of the Brindabella Mountains. You can also take Ranger-guided walks or have fun with the hands on displays such as the interactive computer program on Tidbinbilla's bird species and look at the live animal displays. The gift shop sells an interesting range of clothes, toys, books, cards and souvenirs. Coffee and light refreshments are also available.
- Go tobogganing in
Corin Forest, Tourist Drive 5, ☎ . Weekends, ACT school & public holidays, 10AM-4PM. This alpine recreation facility features a bobsled ride in summer, and snowplay and tobogganing in winter. It is high enough to receive natural snowfalls. Check the website or call before heading up that the road is open, and that there is snow. Free entry, rides from $7, all day pass $35.
- See the stars and planets at Mount Stromlo Observatory, Cotter road, Weston Creek. ph +61 2 6125-0230. Mount Stromlo is Australia's premier astronomical observatory. Badly damaged in 2003 bushfires, the partially rebuilt observatory reopened in October 2004. They run a Saturday night star gazing event for the public, call +61 2 6125-0232. The site's damaged buildings and equipment remain and may be fascinating for tourists.
- Go wine tasting in the Wineries around Canberra (most are outside of the ACT but all very close to Canberra). They are described as cool climate wines and some are very well known and regarded. Try Jeir Creek, Gallagher, Clonakilla and Lark Hill, just to name a few. There are '33 wineries within 35 minutes of Canberra'. Visit the Canberra Wineries website for more information .
- Take a scenic drive into the southern ACT - recommended by locals:
- Head south to Tharwa, and then take the road to Adaminaby. Take the signed road to Honey Suckle Creek. Very important historical site, this is where the signals from the Apollo 11 space landing were received, and then beamed around the world. Also a nice drive, and a very good camp ground.
- On the same road, not far off the Adaminaby Road is a walking (Fire ranger) trail to the top of Mount Tennant. About a 5 hour round hike, but worth every step. Go back onto the Adaminaby road, and head south. Another site of a space centre on the right down the road, worth a look, but not as interesting
- Remaining on the road for another ten kilometers, entering the Namadgi National park, and two hundred meters after a single lane bridge is a signed turn off to Yankee's Hat. This is a four km drive, any car can take it, and look for Kangaroos. Hundreds either side of the road. The walk to Yankee's hat will take you to see aboriginal art.
- Road to Adaminaby. If you have a robust vehicle, take the road south. The country is magnificent. It takes about an hour from Yankee's hat.
Molonglo Gorge Recreation Reserve (Molonglo Gorge), Sutton Road Queenbeyan East. Scenic walks, picnics, camping, swimming
- The Australian National University (ANU)  is in the suburb of Acton, bordering the city centre. It is highly regarded internationally and is rated as one of the best universities in the world in the various international rankings. It is also locally known for its expansive green campus which boasts an interesting sculpture collection . The ANU often hosts public talks by Australian and international academic experts and politicians, and includes a small classics museum  which is open during weekdays.
- The University of Canberra (UC)  in the suburb of Bruce (about 8 km (5 miles) NW of the CBD). While not as large as the ANU, UC delivers courses across a wide range of subject areas.
- The Australian International Hotel School (AIHS)  awards undergraduate and graduate degrees in business and hospitality fields, and is well regarded internationally.
- The Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) , a campus of The University of NSW, provides teaching for military and civilian undergraduates and postgraduates.
- The Australian Catholic University (ACU)  Canberra campus is in the suburb of Watson, currently offers Education, Nursing, Social Work and Theology
As the national capital, Canberra is also home to a number of research-oriented facilities. The National Archives of Australia, Australian War Memorial and National Library of Australia are important research centres, including for people researching their family history. Readers cards are available for free to Australian residents, though the institutions charge for photocopying. The National Museum of Australia, ANU and several government departments also maintain specialised archives and facilities which are available to researchers. The ACT Heritage Library serves as Canberra's state library and administers a collection of items related to the history of the territory.
Canberra Antiques Centre, ☎ , fax: . Ph/. 10AM-5PM seven days at 37 Townsville Street, Fyshwick. Over a dozen professional dealers, both local and interstate, offer a top variety of antique and retro furniture, funky vintage clothing, vintage fabrics, militaria, numismatics, pottery, vintage needlework tools & accessories, electricals, silver, art glass, quality bric-à-brac and designer items. Well presented with great music playing and a nice vibe throughout.
- Jamison market - every Sunday near Jamison centre, in Belconnen. Fresh produce stalls and flea market. Come and get your bargain. Vinyl records, second hand clothing, furniture, bric-à-brac.
1 Old Bus Depot Market, 21 Wentworth Ave, ☎ . Su 10AM-4PM. As the name would suggest, the markets are located in an rundown bus depot that is no longer in use. Most of the stalls sell a wide variety quality arts and crafts, with a few food and produce stalls in the mix. There is often live music being played and occasionally they run theme days to keep the markets interesting.
- Gorman House market - every Saturday in Braddon, just north of the city (easy walk). Crafts, second-hand items, antiques, international food in a lovely, grassy setting.
- Tuggeranong Market - First Sunday of every month in the lovely Tuggeranong Homestead opposite the Calwell Shops. Lots of stalls, selling amazing stuff.
- Trash and Treasure Market in Woden is hosted by Rotary and held every Sunday morning. Expect a mixed bag of books, plants, and assorted household junk.
Belconnen Market, ☎ , fax: . Lathlain St, Belconnen (off Benjamin Way), ACT
3 Capital Region Farmers Market, Old Wells Station Rd (Within Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC)). Sa 7ː30AM-11ː30AM. An exceptional fresh food market with products being sold direct from the producer. Stalls sell fruit, vegetables, meat, seafood, honey, preserves, cakes, wine and plenty more. Be sure to come early for the freshest produce and grab a coffee or something to eat from one of the pop up stalls. It is a fair distance from Civic, but the trip is well worth it if you can make it.
Southside Farmers Market. Woden CIT (formerly Woden High School) (Ainsworth Street near Hindmarsh Drive, Phillip) - Sunday mornings 9AM-12PM. Sellers are the producers. Stalls are all food related.
Gold Creek Village, Barton Highway, Gungahlin (From the city, take Northbourne avenue to the Barton Highway (left) then follow about 5km to a major roundabout; go straight on about 2km and follow signs to turn right.). shopping hours. This is a 'village' of specialty shops, attractions, hotels (for drinks), coffee shops, a native reptile 'museum', a butterfly enclosure, and garden supplies, in a group of separate buildings in a strip about 1 km long. Locals and visitors alike use the area, especially on weekends.
Hartley Hall Markets, Hall Village Showground, Hall ACT 2618 (via Barton Highway), ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. first Sunday of every month (except January) between 10AM and 3PM. The historic village of Hall (which pre-dates Canberra's founding) hosts a monthly market that raises money for local charity Hartley Lifecare. There are hundreds of stalls selling gifts, art, craft, baked goods, plants, furniture, clothing, pottery and children’s toys.
4 Canberra Centre, Bunda St, ☎ . Is a large shopping mall in Civic, covering a large section of the central Canberra shopping district. It has department stores, food hall and eateries, specialty shops for adults and kids fashion both upmarket and basic. There are also electronics, books, CDs, souvenirs and Australian made products.
5 City Walk. An outdoor pedestrian mall located in Civic that is home to a large range of shopping outlets, alfresco dining and a few bars. The mall is also home to the Canberra Merry-Go-Round and the Canberra Times fountain.
- Belconnen Mall is the name of the enclosed shopping centre owned by Westfield located within the Belconnen Town Centre to the north. Although it does not have as many clothes stores, it features a Myer department store and a K-mart, as well as two supermarkets and a food court. It is located over three levels.
- Woden Westfield and Tuggeranong Hyperdome are the two major enclosed shopping centres to the south, located within the Woden and Tuggeranong town centres respectively. Woden Plaza features a David Jones department store, a BIG W, two supermarkets, as well as approximately 200 speciality stores and a food court. The Tuggeranong Hyperdome (further south) features a K-mart and a Target, as well as supermarkets and a food court plus speciality clothing stores.
- Fyshwick is the suburb to shop for appliances and technical stuff, along with furniture and homewares. It is also Canberra's 'red-light' district. Most of Canberra's antique shops and several second hand bookshops can also be found here. The large Canberra Outlet Centre is also located in Fyshwick.
- Lonsdale Sreet in Braddon (close to Civic) houses a growing number of boutiques which specialise in independent clothing labels and other designer objects as well as many, many, coffee shops and casual restaurants. The southern end of Lonsdale Street is also the home to many of Canberra's outdoor clothing and camping stores as well as several bicycle shops.
- Manuka is another area that has boutiques and restaurants. Millers of Manuka boutique sells leading women's fashion brands like Max Mara and others. For less expensive women's clothing try Witchery. Booklovers would do well to check out Paperchain bookstore.
- Kingston is yet another shopping and restaurant area not far from Manuka.
Many of the most interesting shopping experiences are at the national institutions, almost all of which have specialist shops inside. The National Gallery has a superb range of art books, both overseas and indigenous. Likewise the National Library, the Questacon Science Museum, the War Memorial, the National Museum at Acton, the Film and Sound Archive, and so on - if you're looking for unique Australian items, these are the places to go.
While Canberra is a bookish city, it lacks a stand-out bookshop. However, there are several good options:
Alexander Fax Booksellers, Shop 10, Mawson House, Southlands Shopping Centre, Mawson (Near the post office), ☎ . Second hand bookshop which specialises in military history.
Beyond Q, 41 Curtin Place, Curtin (Located down a set of stairs near the Coles supermarket), ☎ . Open 7 days from 9AM-6PM. Large second hand bookshop. Includes a cafe which offers live music in the afternoons on most weekends.
Clouston & Hall Booksellers, Shop 1 Bailey's Corner East Row, ☎ . 9AM-5PM Monday to Saturday, 10AM-5PM Sundays and Public Holidays. This unusual bookshop stocks a wide range of discounted books on specialist topics, many of which are rather eccentric (The Complete Chicken Encyclopedia and a large supply of English-Albanian dictionaries, for instance). It also has a warehouse in the industrial suburb of Fyshwick which is open to the public.
Dymocks Canberra, Shop CL17 Canberra Centre, Bunda Street, Civic (Located behind the escalators in the Canberra Centre's food court), ☎ . While part of a fairly unexciting national chain, this branch of Dymocks has a unusually well-chosen stock. Other, and less interesting, Dymocks branches are located in Belconnen Mall and the Tuggeranong Hyperdome.
Harry Hartog, Ground floor, Westfield Woden, ☎ . An independent bookshop with a good range, though focused mainly on fiction
Muse, East Hotel, Corner Canberra Avenue and Giles Street. Kingston, ☎ 02 6178 0024 . 6:30AM-10PM Monday to Friday, 7AM-10PM Saturday, 7AM-3PM Sunday. This combined bookshop and cafe runs a busy program of literary events, often featuring high-profile authors.
National Library of Australia Bookshop, Parkes Place, Parkes, ☎ . Not surprisingly given the venue, this store stocks an excellent range of Australian books.
Paperchain Bookstore, 34 Franklin Street Manuka, ☎ . Open seven days from 9AM to late. A medium-sized independent bookstore with a good range. Popular with journalists and politicians.
Portrait Gallery Store, King Edward Terrace, Parkes (Located just inside the entrance of the National Portrait Gallery), ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. The National Portrait Gallery's store stocks a large range of recently-released art and non-fiction books and is very popular with Canberrans.
Canberra has many fine eateries, but beware - many will be closed on Sundays. There are large clusters of restaurants in Civic, Braddon, Dickson, Kingston and Manuka. An unusual feature of the Canberra dining scene is that some of the city's best restaurants are hidden away in small suburban shopping centres - locals often nominate these as their favourites.
All public buildings in Canberra are smoke free.
Dumpling Inn, 1/1 Lawry Place, Jamison Group Centre, Macquarie, ☎ . . Excellent Chinese food with Yum Cha lunch on Saturday and Sunday. Very popular with locals and booking might be required.
Griffith Vietnamese Restaurant, Griffith Shops. Cheap, no frills place with little/no décor and ordinary 'Australianised' Vietnamese food.
Hansel & Gretel, 42 Townsend St. Philip. Great European style shop and cafe.
Kenny's, 19 Woolley Street, ☎ . Dickson. Chinese Style Restaurant for fast dine in, BYO & Take away. 11:30AM-11PM (7 days).
Kismet, Flinders Way Manuka. Another wonderful Turkish eatery at easy on the pocket prices, Kabak and Falafel are easily one of the best in Canberra if not Australia.
Pide House, 2 Lawry Place, ☎ (Jamison), (Woden). Jamison Group Centre, Macquarie (near Belconnen T/C) and Woden Plaza, Corinna Street, Woden. Nice, inexpensive Turkish food in a proper restaurant (not a takeaway outlet). The Woden location is open all day (one of the very few in Canberra).
Piyaros, ☎ . Lonsdale St, Braddon (close to the city). Great quality, cheap, Thai food. 11:30AM–2:30PM Lunch Mon-Fri, 5-10PM Dinner 7 Days. Take away available.
The Front Gallery and Cafe, Lyneham Shops, Wattle Street, Lyneham.. Enjoy a coffee and explore an art exhibition. Comfy couches. 8AM–10PM Tues - Sat & 8AM–6PM Sun - Mon.
Yarralumla Halal Pide House, 45 Novar St, ☎ . Yarralumla. High quality Turkish at a reasonable price, no alcohol allowed on premises. Absolutely delicious and very generous kebab rolls - local favourite. Take away available.
Civic Asian Noodle House, ☎ . Sydney Building, 34 Northbourne Avenue. Good laksa at reasonable prices ($15). Relaxed atmosphere.
Belluci's Restaurant, ☎ . Cape St (cnr Woolley St), Dickson. Popular Italian restaurant.
Blue Olive Cafe, 56 Alinga St, Canberra, ☎ . Famous for their delicious New York style sandwiches. Great coffee and breakfast menu, wonderful service.
Bruno's Truffels, ☎ . Unit 2, 106 Mawson Place, Mawson. Nice cafe and shop for locally made chocolates and pastries.
Cafe D'Lish, ☎ , fax: . Shop 3, Duff Place, Deakin. Swiss owner, nice pastries made on premises.
Dickson shops. This is the Canberra equivalent of Chinatown. Lots of great Asian food and a few pubs/clubs to have a beer at. This shopping centre is located a 10 minute bus ride north of Civic, just off Northbourne Avenue, and has a fantastic eat street, with everything from Thai to Turkish to Vietnamese at reasonable prices. Turk Oz has a delicious spinach and feta pide. Dickson Noodle House makes a terrific Laksa and is quite cheap. Au Lac is an excellent vegetarian Vietnamese place with delicious soy-based versions of everything.
Four Rivers Sichuan Chinese Restaurant, Unit 66, The Coventry Apartments, 12 Challis Street, Dickson, ☎ . Very tasty, authentic Sichuan cuisine. Yum-cha lunches.
Thirst Winebar and Eatery, 20 West Row, ☎ . Civic. Tasty Thai food in modern styled restaurant. Two-for-one mains on Monday and Tuesday make this a top option! Otherwise expect to pay around $25.
Ginseng, 15 Flinders Way, Manuka, ☎ , . Try either the traditional or vegetarian Singapore noodle and the Laksa. Book in advance and ask for a table on the second floor, you will get the best view of the Manuka tree tops!!
Italo-Australian Club, Franlin St, Forrest. You can obtain a temporary 28 day membership for $1 upon entry. You can get a hearty Italian pasta dish for around $15, with drinks both alcoholic and non-alcoholic reasonably priced.
Koko Black, Bunda St Canberra Centre North Quarter. Warm and tasty Chocolate shop with a second to none chocolate selection as well as an innovative and interesting Hot Chocolate and Drink Menu. Nice, welcoming decor.
Maestral Seafood Restaurant, 13 Trenerry Street, ☎ . Weston Creek. Mediterranean/Croatian, lots of fresh seafood and steak.
- New Asia Chinese Restaurant, Unit 75, The Coventry Apartments, 2 Cape Street, Dickson, +61 2 6262-8860. - Offer authentic Shanghai, Sichuan, Cantonese, and some Malaysian cuisines. Some of the signature dishes include: Crispy Fragrant Duck, Yu Xiang Pork and Egg Plant Hot Pot, Shantung Lamb and Shantung Chicken. The food is fresh and the service is friendly. Very popular with Chinese oversea students and local communities. Open 7 days a week (except Saturday and Sunday lunches). Fully licenced. BYO for bottled wines only. Setting capacity: 34 people.
- Rama's, Shop 6, Pearce Shopping Centre, Hodgson Crescent, Pearce. tel +61 2 6286 1964 or +61 2 6286 9437. Fijian/Indian, best (and hottest - no joke) curries in town. Can be very noisy.
- Red Belly Black, located near the ACT law courts in Hobart Place. Excellent coffee, good breakfast menu, mid priced lunch menu, great cakes. Only open Mon - Fri from 7:30AM-4PM. A good way to start the weekday morning.
- Sammy's Kitchen Bunda St Canberra Centre North Quarter. This Canberra institution serves a menu inspired mainly by Malaysian but also Cantonese flavours. It is hugely popular with locals, and the staff sometimes hurry slow eaters along to free up their table - it's not a place to linger over a meal.
Silo Bakery and Cafe, 36 Giles St, ☎ . Kingston. Good breakfast, however almost always very crowded - expect 'attitude' instead of service. They also have a dedicated cheese room.
Sukothai, 27 Bentham Street, ☎ . Yarralumla. Inexpensive non-authentic Thai food. Eat in and takeaway.
Tu Do, 7 Sargood St, ☎ . O'Connor. Cheap and tasty Vietnamese, very popular with the local Vietnamese community. Good bar nearby too.
Aubergine Restaurant, 18 Barker St, ☎ . Griffith. Food is very good, but beware the cancellations policy when changing a booking - you could be charged for the meals your party did not eat.
Courgette Restaurant, 54 Marcus Clarke St, ☎ . Acton. Sister restaurant to Aubergine Restaurant, fine dining.
Ottoman Cuisine Restaurant, ☎ . Cnr Broughton & Blackall St Barton. Consistently awarded best Turkish in Australia, great atmosphere.
Rubicon, ☎ . 6A Barker St, Griffith. Consistently excellent food, extensive winelist and BYO (bring your own) are accepted. Great atmosphere, romantic rear indoor courtyard.
The Chairman & Yip, 1 Burbury Cl, Barton, ☎ . Lunch noon-2:30 Tue-Fri. Dinner 6-10:30 Mon-Sat. East/West fusion of great repute.
- The Promenade Cafe at the Hyatt Hotel, Commonwealth Ave, offers daily buffet dinners in its restaurant from 6PM and high teas from 3 to 5PM.
Canberra's many bars and clubs will be closed on Sunday nights and early into the week. Civic can appear to be a ghost town but there are areas such as Bunda Street where you will always find some happening funky bars.
In the city:
The Phoenix, 21 East Row, ☎ . Canberra City, About as rustic and dingy as a Canberra establishment is likely to get, this pub attracts a varied crowd, with more than its fair share of bohemian types.
- PJ O'Reilly's (West Row - City, and Tuggeranong Town Center). Another Irish themed bar like King O'Malley's.
Mooseheads (East Row - London Cct - City). A bar with local history. Recently burnt down and restored, Mooseheads is famous as an Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA) hangout.
- White Rabbit Cocktail Room (Northbourne Ave - City). Cocktail and tapas venue with polished floors and patterned wallpaper, hosting DJ nights
- Shooters (East Row - City). Rough and tumble reputation.
- King O'Malleys in Civic (inside City Walk Hotel building, Ground floor). Large Irish pub with a relaxed atmosphere, does pub-style meals lunch and dinner and a home for all types.
- The Wig and Pen Llewellyn Hall, William Herbert Pl, +61 2 6248 0171, . Serves a wide range of award winning beers brewed on the premises, as well as a selection of other boutique and independent brews.
- Hippo Lounge (Upstairs, Garema Place, Civic). Cocktail bar with an intimate setting amidst Baroque-meets-student-digs decor. There's also live Jazz on Wednesday nights.
- Old Parliament House. Every Friday afternoon (5PM-7PM), the courtyards of Old Parliament House have DJs and reasonably priced cocktails. It is very popular with graduates after work, before heading off to other places.
Academy (Bunda St Civic). Two-tiered nightclub, Canberra's largest, is a converted movie theatre which retains the old projection screen. Enjoy the dance floor downstairs or sit back in the cosier cocktail bar upstairs.
Cube, 33 Petrie Plaza, Civic (downstairs from Antigo's cafe), ☎ . Opens Thu 8PM, Fri 9PM, Sat 10PM, Sun 9PM. Closes 5AM. Canberra's only gay nightclub with a variety of theme nights. Fridays and Saturdays are busiest.
Parlour Wine Room, (Civic) (Behind Rydges Lakeside). Very intimate comfortable lounge bar, great selection of wines.
In the other suburbs:
- Kingston Hotel (Off Canberra Avenue, near Manuka Oval). One of Canberra's longest running pubs, offering a 'cook your own' style open grill bistro, comprehensive restaurant, several pool halls, a drive-through bottle shop and bare bones backpackers accommodation (though usually occupied by long-term tenants). Once notorious for being rough, it is now a safe and friendly pub. Same ownership as Civic Pub and Uni Pub.
- Trinity Bar (Just behind the Turkish Pide House in Dickson). This is a great lounge bar with impressive cocktail menu and jazz/DJs playing each evening Thurs-Saturday. Sunday afternoons/evenings are also busy during Summer.
- Tilley's Devine Cafe Gallery (Lyneham Shops). Originally a "female only" establishment, it now opens its doors to everyone and is a fantastic venue for acoustic and jazz local and international acts. Food and coffee available, along with a large bar selection.
- Duxton (O'Connor Shops). Recently expanded bar in a suburban shop setting. Great for pre-dinner drinks before moving on to one of the small restaurants in the area.
- Das Kapital (Narrabundah Shops). Intimate lounge bar, $5 Homemade Pizza and $10 jugs of Beer Wednesday-Thursday. DJ's and Bands most weekends.
Durham Pub, (Kingston). Good selection of beers on tap, warm atmosphere, Trivia on Tuesdays and Karaoke on Wednesday
Knightsbridge Penthouse, 1/34 Mort Street, Braddon, ☎ . Great DJ and lovely selection of cocktails. Good crowd, lots of dancing. Often a line after 10PM.
Most of Canberra's hotels are located in or around Civic or the suburbs which are adjacent to the Parliamentary Triangle. In recent years a small number of hotels have opened in the Belconnen, Gungahlin, Tuggeranong and Woden town centres. Note that the availability of accommodation can be tight during periods in which Parliament is sitting - the schedule for parliamentary sittings is available here.
Belconnen Premier Inn, 110 Benjamin Way, Belconnen ACT 2617, ☎ , toll-free: 1800 672 076, fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Belconnen Premier Inn is one of the few accommodation options if you want to stay in the Belconnen area. The motel has standard rooms, deluxe rooms and two bedroom apartments, and is situated within walking distance of Belconnen Town Centre - useful if you need to visit one of the offices situated there (e.g. Department of Immigration and Citizenship, Australian Bureau of Statistics, etc.) Full Rates range from $190 for a standard room to $320 for a 2 bedroom apartment.
Best Western PLUS Garden City Hotel, 55 Jerrabomberra Avenue, NARRABUNDAH ACT 2604, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. This motel is situated in Narrabundah which is located away from Canberra's main attractions so having access to a car is highly recommended if staying here. Rooms are small but provided you have a car, accommodation tends to be substantially cheaper than accommodation options in Civic. Full Rates range from $150-220 for a standard room.
Rydges Eagle Hawk Resort, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Federal Highway. A large resort, a few kilometers from the outskirts of Canberra, with motel-style accommodation. It is on the Federal Highway just across the border. Rooms include small kitchenettes, and it is possible to get two interconnecting rooms for families or groups (at less than the price of two rooms). The resort has a large pool, a breakfast room and restaurant, and a small spa and sauna area. Double rooms $140 per night without breakfast and $170 with breakfast. Rates may be as low as $110 if you pay in advance and agree to a 48 hr cancellation period via the Rydges Direct system.
Novotel Canberra Hotel, 65 Northbourne Avenue, Canberra ACT 2600, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: H2796-RE@accor.com. In Canberra's Civic Centre on Northbourne Ave, Novotel Canberra accommodates business and convention visitors, and families travelling with children. Directly above the Canberra Coach Terminal. Rate range $150 – 250.
Rydges Lakeside Canberra, toll-free: 1300-857-922. London Circuit, Rydges Lakeside Canberra is on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, walking distance to Civic.
Rydges Capital Hill, toll-free: 1300-857-922. Cnr Canberra Avenue & National Circuit Forest. Located across the lake from Civic, close to Parliament House.
- University House, 1 Balmain Crescent Acton, ph: +61 2 6125 5276 email: UniHouse@anu.edu.au, . This hotel is located on the campus of the Australian National University about halfway between Civic and the National Museum of Australia. Accommodation options range from single rooms with shared bathrooms ($95 per night) to two bedroom apartments ($185 per night). Several of the ANU's residential colleges also offer tourist accommodation over the summer months .
Hotel Kurrajong, National Circuit, Barton, ☎ , fax: . Each of the Kurrajong’s 26 rooms have King size beds, mini bar, tea and coffee making facilities, in-room safe, free in-house movies.
Bed and Breakfast
- There are a number of Bed and Breakfast places just off Northbourne Avenue, in Canberra's inner north. These tend to be mid-range, cost-wise, but are comfortable and refreshing if you are looking for a 'home away from home'.
Serviced, short-term apartments are widely available throughout Canberra and are available for stays as short as one night. Amenities typically include kitchen, washer and dryer, and separate bedrooms. A full range of properties exist from budget to 5 star.
Canberra Serviced Apartments, Resident manager at Kingston Terrace Apartments, 16 Eyre St Kingston, ☎ , toll-free: 1800 655 754, fax: . Located in Kingston, the apartments are within easy reach of Canberra’s main attractions.
Pinnacle Apartments, 11 Ovens St, Kingston. More apartments in Kingston. If you don't mind staying in serviced apartments that obviously started out as an apartment complex built in the 1970s, this place is not too bad. Certainly good for families or large groups as you can get 3 bedroom units.
Canberra is a very safe city and enjoys one of the lowest crime rates in all of Australia. However, be cautious, especially around bus interchanges, where some youths may tend to be hostile.
Despite its apparent affluence, Canberra has people who live 'rough'. Particularly around Civic, it is not unusual to be asked for money. This is a well-organised activity targeting both visitors and locals: if you simply say that you don't have any money, the beggar (real or fake) will usually move on to the next available person.
There are no public lockers. If you want to store your luggage, book a room or keep it at a friend's place.
Once you leave Civic, Canberra is fairly spread out. For much of the year, evenings can become cold and windy fairly quickly. Don’t count on adequate lighting even in otherwise popular or marked footways/cycleways. Similarly, when traveling on such routes in between city centres, or when in the bush, it is possible not to see any one else for an entire journey. Ensure your mobile phone is charged, have a map and appropriate clothing. On hot days, carry water. For bicycle riders, having the means to fix a puncture, and having proper lights is particularly necessary in Canberra.
Do not swim in the lakes (including Lake Burley Griffin) until you check online, as the water quality frequently makes it unsafe. Few Canberrans ever swim in the lakes due to the frequent algal blooms in summer.
Death cap mushrooms (Amanita phalloides) are common in many Canberra suburbs, and ingestion of a single one can cause death .
Unlike other cities which have small, specified off-leash parks for dogs, most recreation grounds in Canberran suburbs are off-leash areas and have no signs. These include grounds through which cycleways pass. Check out where you can take your pets 
Free wifi is available in Civic, the town centres and some other areas of Canberra through the CBRfree service provided by the ACT Government.
The National Library of Australia provides free Wi-Fi and free internet access on 40 computer terminals (webmail is blocked on some computers, so ask the staff to show you which ones you can access webmail from).
All the ACT public library branches  have free Wi-Fi and computers. Membership or proof that you are not a resident of the ACT is required to use the computers, and you may have to book a few hours in advance due to high demand.
McDonald's restaurants in Australia offer free Wi-Fi, no purchase required. The restaurants in Civic are at: corner East Row & Alinga St, and corner Cooyong Street & Northbourne Avenue.
The Pancake Parlour at Civic (in the Sydney Building, near bus bay 4) offers free Wi-Fi to customers, along with power points at several tables.
Embassies and High Commissions
This is a list of foreign missions in Canberra. Some countries may have their representative in other cities, and the Department of Foreign Affairs keeps a complete list.
- Queanbeyan - located just across the NSW border
- Yass - Service town, near the road to Melbourne
- Goulburn - Country town, worth a visit if you are travelling onward to Sydney.
- Snowy Mountains - its possible to spend a day skiing from Canberra, leaving early, and returning late.
- Batemans Bay - the closest ocean beaches to Canberra - just under two hours away.
- Collector - a small historic town 30 minutes drive towards Sydney. Famous for a kidnap and murder by bushrangers. A quick stop on the way to Sydney, or part of a local loop day-trip.
- Gundaroo - a small historic town north of Canberra, you can follow the range from Gundaroo through to Collector as a scenic alternative to the federal highway. Some dirt roads are involved (between Gundaroo and Collector, the road between Canberra and Gundaroo is all sealed).
- Bungendore - a small town 20 minutes drive from central Canberra, via Queanbeyan.
- Braidwood - a heritage listed town on the highway to the South Coast of New South Wales about an hour from Canberra
|Routes through Canberra|
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