Canberra Accommodation

Canberra Australia

Australia's national capital, situated in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), is 300km from Sydney and 650km from Melbourne. Canberra is a modern city in every sense of the word. It was founded by an act of parliament in 1909 (the Seat of Government Acceptance Act) and is the only city in the world to have been the subject of an international design competition. Built on a sheep paddock that had been the ancient lands of the Ngunnawal people, it has wide, sweeping views from gentle hills and a circular layout which gives it an introspective, shielded quality.

The winner of the design competition, Chicago architect Walter Burley Griffin (pictured left), laid out the city around an artificial lake – now bearing his name - which enhances the view from almost anywhere in the city as well as offering the opportunity to engage in water activities. In prized positions around the lake sit many of Australia's institutions of political, historic and cultural importance.

Canberra's spiderweb design is at times confusing, but it's such a small city that navigating is easy. For the visitor, biking and walking are the best ways to get around. There's an extensive network of paths through public parkland around the lake linking places of interest. The lake sports the Captain Cook memorial fountain, which is a jet of water shooting as much as six tonnes of water into the air. It operates daily from 11am to 2pm.

Canberra showcases wonderful garden displays, and annual events such as the Floriade in Spring (October/November) (www.floriadeaustralia.com), which bring garden-loving visitors from all over the world. The climate and soils are perfectly suited to not only Australian native flora, but bulbs, roses and flowering trees, which grow in profusion in private gardens as well as public parks.

More than any other city in Australia, Canberra is a city of achievement, identity and patriotism. From its original Ngunnawal inhabitants, through the graziers and sheepfarmers who worked the country after European settlement, and the early visionaries and bright-eyed public servants who conceived and created the city, to the present multinational and multicultural mix of permanent residents, immigrants and embassy personnel, Canberra presents a microcosm of Australia's history and society.

As a city created rather than one that has grown organically, Canberra can seem somewhat artificial, but the deliberate formation of icons and placement of monuments gives a solid base to the creation of Australia as a nation and underpins the growing confidence of the country on the world stage. The world's embassies and high commissions are located here, many exhibiting their country's traditional architecture. On a drive around the boulevards you may be surprised at the proximity of 'Finland' to 'South Africa', or 'Portugal' to 'New Zealand'!

MORE: History of Canberra

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