Canberra became the capital of Australia as a compromise choice to the bickering of rival cities Sydney and Melbourne that both competed for that honor.
As the seat of Australia’s government, Canberra is the site of the Parliament House, the High Court, and home to numerous government agency headquarters. But this lush garden city is also the location of many nationally significant social and cultural institutions in Australia: the Australian War Memorial, Australian National University, the Australian Institute of Sport, the National Gallery, Australia’s National Museum and the National Library. Here, too, you’ll find the National Archives, the Australian Academy of Science, and the National Portrait Gallery.
Fun family sites to visit include the National Zoo and Aquarium, where you’ll meet both native species and exotic animals from all over the world, the intriguing and educational National Science and Technology Center, and the National Dinosaur Museum – always a fun destination for the younger set!
Several historic homes are open to the public, and give visitors a realistic look at the lifestyles of the earliest settlers. These well-preserved homes and the possessions they house are a repository of Australia’s culture and art, and are a fascinating peek into Australia’s past.
Canberra has many venues for live theater and music, and regularly hosts major concerts and stage productions. The Stonefest Celebration at the University of Canberra is a two-day music festival known throughout the country for lively entertainment and eclectic acts. Canberra also welcomes the National Folk Festival every year, as well as the Royal Canberra Show and the Summernats Car Festival. In February, the Canberra Multicultural Festival takes place, and Celebrate Canberra is 10 days of fun in March. The city pays tribute to sister-cities in China with the Canberra Nara Candle Festival held in the spring.
Sports-mad Aussies enjoy the outdoor lifestyle in Canberra, and there are many sporting ovals, golf courses, skate parks, tennis courts and swimming pools that are open for public use. Bicycle and hiking paths are abundant in the city for recreational use by families. Lakes in and around Canberra make water sports an easily accessible part of resident’s recreation: sailing, rowing, kayaking, and water skiing are just a few of the activities Canberrans enjoy. In addition to recreation and local sporting leagues, Canberra has a number of professional sports teams that take part in national and international competitions and play their home games to packed houses at Canberra Stadium. Rugby, soccer and netball are among the most popular of these spectator sports.