Canberra is the capital of Australia, which is the largest city built not on the coast but inside the Green Continent. Canberra lies in the southeast of the country, 650 kilometers northeast of Melbourne and 280 kilometers southwest of Sydney. It lies 150km west of the Tasman Sea.
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The exact etymology of the name “Canberra” is not known. The word is believed to mean “meeting place” in one of the Aboriginal dialects. The city is interesting because it was built specifically to serve as the capital. Canberra was proclaimed the capital of Australia in 1908, and the reason for such a decision was the long-lasting rivalry between the cities of Sydney and Melbourne.
The initial draft of the capital building was prepared in 1913, thanks to the talented American architects Walter Burley and Marion Mahoney Griffin. They designed the center of the future garden city in the form of a ring, from which the main streets radially diverged. However, at a later time the outskirts of the capital were built without taking into account the original design.
In 1964, the Molonglo River flowing through the city center was dammed. As a result, Canberra had an artificial reservoir called Burleigh Griffin Lake, named after the architects. Before it was created, floodwaters flooded the streets of Canberra almost every year.
Today the Australian capital has many pleasant walkways, gardens and parks. It’s not for nothing the Australians themselves call it the “bush capital,” or “forest capital.
The city is bursting with greenery The Pedestrian Bridge
Tourists come to Canberra to see the churches and memorials as well as some of Australia’s most famous museums and the National Gallery. Many like to visit the main city of the country during mass holidays. The colorful Floriade Flower Festival, Summernats Car Festival, Fireside Festival, Grand Balloon Festival, Music Festival and Canberra Day, which is celebrated annually in early March, enjoy great polarity.
Australia’s capital city lies in a tropical continental climate zone with wide temperature variations throughout the day. Summers are hot here – in January the temperature rises to +27. +35°С. Winter can be relatively cold, with frosts and fog. Snow covers the foothills. Snow may fall on Canberra’s streets but it melts quickly. In July, the thermometer dips to -10°C, with an average daily temperature of -0.2°C.
The city experiences 108 rainy days annually, with 629 mm of precipitation. Most rain falls in spring and summer, and Canberra experiences frequent thunderstorms from September to March.
Things to see in Canberra
Australia’s government occupies a large parliament building on Capital Hill. Interestingly, tourists can get into the government office quite freely, organized and self-guided tours are even encouraged here. Inside, you can see the halls and rooms where Australian parliamentarians work, including a spacious meeting room.
There are stands and display cases on the floors that tell the story of Australia, and portraits of prominent statesmen hang on the walls. Queen Victoria’s desk and the Magna Carta are on public display. There’s a high mast on the roof of Parliament and a spacious, well-kept flower garden outside.
Panorama of Canberra The wide streets of the city Houses on Childers Albert Hall National Carillon on Aspen Island in central Canberra
A man-made body of water, Lake Burleigh Griffin, occupies the central part of Canberra. It is shaped like a rhombus and is 11 km long and up to 1.2 km wide. Surprisingly, the lake is quite deep – up to 18 meters. On the lake are often held regattas. Here you can see paddlers in kayaks and canoes, surfers and water-skiers.
Lake Burleigh Griffin’s landmark is the huge Captain Cook Fountain. It operates daily from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., and a powerful jet rises to a height of 147 meters. The fountain was launched in 1970 to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the arrival of James Cook’s expedition to Australian shores.
On the shore of the lake rises National carillon. It is a tower 50 m high, which houses 55 bells, weighing from 7 kg to 6 tons. Various pieces of music are often played on the carillon.
The Australian War Memorial is considered the most visited place in Canberra, which is devoted to 102 thousand inhabitants of continent who have lost their lives during the First World War. Australia’s main casualties were in 1916 during the fighting in France. The memorial was opened in 1941. Part of it are the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a sculpture garden created to commemorate the victories of army units, and an exhibition dedicated to the exploits of military nurses.
Australian War Memorial On Commerce Street
Not far from the business center is the Black Mountain National Botanical Gardens (Black Mountain). The area of about 90 hectares is planted with almost every tree, shrub and herbaceous plant found on the Green Continent. At the top of the hill is a 195-meter-high TV tower with a revolving restaurant and an outdoor observation deck. The Black Mountain Tower is beloved by residents and tourists alike.
To the north of downtown Canberra is one of Canberra’s most popular recreation areas, Hague Park. It was named after Douglas Haig, who commanded the British Army during World War I. The very first bushes and trees in the park were planted in 1921 to protect the city streets from wind and dust. Today, rows of exotic trees decorate the green space.
Australia’s capital can easily be called a city of museums and art galleries. The government is committed to preserving a historical record of Aboriginal culture and the history of European exploration. Canberra’s old mansions have been bought back and converted into house museums. On the northeast shore of the lake, for example, is Blundell House, built in 1860. It exhibits objects of everyday life and furnishings of the first settlers from Europe.
The huge National Museum of Australia is in Ecton, the nearest suburb to Canberra. Its rooms exhibit stories of Aboriginal history and tradition, exploration after the first Europeans landed and the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games. The Museum contains Aboriginal drawings they made on tree bark and stone tools.
Another suburb, Gold Creek Village, is home to one of the largest fossil collections on the planet. The National Dinosaur Museum displays 23 full-sized skeletons of prehistoric animals.
The Blundells’ House, built around 1860, is one of the few Canberra buildings built by the city’s first European settlers.
In the capital itself you’ll find the Canberra Space Centre, a museum showcasing the latest technology used to take humanity across the vast expanse of space. There’s also the Railway Museum and the National Capital Exhibition, both dedicated to Canberra’s history.
Many visitors come to Canberra to see art from galleries across the capital – National Gallery of Australia, Nomadic Art, Bilk Contemporary Metal and Glass Gallery, Bungendore Woodcraft Gallery and Australian National Capital Artists. Innovative ideas in art, architecture and design can be found at the Contemporary Art Space, the Centre for Contemporary Craft and Design and the Earth House of Environment and Art.
Holidays in Canberra with kids
Canberra, Australia’s capital, is a long way from the sea and for a more enjoyable experience, the city has built the Big Splash water park for residents and tourists. There are five heated pools, ten water slides and rides, specially equipped playground, cafe and restaurant. The water park is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For over 20 years Canberra’s young guests are welcomed by The Fun Factory play center. This place is designed for children of any age. Various rides, rope towns, play rooms, trampolines, a bouncy castle and a fun café for toddlers await the young visitors.
Funny sheep sculptures The Old Parliament Building Black Mountain Tower
Children can take a ride on the unusual Merry-Go-Round on Petrie Square. It was built for people in Melbourne in 1914, and then moved to Canberra 60 years later when it was restored. The historic carousel is much loved by the locals and most of the figures installed here have their own names. Curiously enough, some of the carousel’s details are made outside of the Green Continent. For example, the elephant and horse figures were brought to Australia from Germany.
In 1979, for family recreation in the Australian capital created the garden “Cockington Green”. In the middle of the picturesque green area installed miniature copies of architectural monuments from around the world. For children in the garden is open playground, operates a small train. Also during a walk through the garden you can look at the exhibition of roses and the Doll’s House. The garden is open daily from 9.30 am to 5 pm.
For typical Australian animals head to any of the capital’s zoos, including the National Zoo and Aquarium, Canberra Reptile Reserve and Canberra Walk in Aviary.
Canberra is a city of motorists, with a well-oiled road network. Most streets have traffic circles, so many visitors prefer to rent a car and get around the city on their own. Fans of bicycles have the same opportunity. Canberra has an extensive network of dedicated bicycle routes, and bicycles are available for rent for a few hours or a full day.
Commonwealth Bridge leading to the Australian Parliament Summernats Car Festival
Public transport in Canberra is represented by Action Buses. The bus network covers not only the central areas of the city, but also its nearest suburbs. Most routes operate daily, but the “weekend buses” serve passengers only at weekends. Fare payments are made by purchasing “MyWay” cards. They can be disposable or reusable, and the cost of the card depends on the day of the week and the age of the passenger.
Cabs are always available in the Australian capital. Cars are caught on the street, taken at a special parking lot or ordered by phone. Cab prices are considered quite affordable, both for trips around the city and for travel to the suburbs of Canberra. All cab companies accept credit card or wire transfer payments.
How to get there
There are no direct flights from Russia to Canberra, so tourists take domestic flights from Sydney or Melbourne to Australia’s Canberra Airport. You can also take the Canberra Xplorer train or a shuttle bus to Canberra from Sydney or other Australian cities.
Australia’s capital city
In 1901, the Australians decided to build a new capital city, Canberra. For almost ten years they chose the place.
In the end they decided to build the new city on the road between Sydney and Melbourne, in a picturesque setting on the shore of an artificial lake. And they chose Canberra as the name for the new capital, which means “meeting place” in Aboriginal language.
Like any other capital city, Canberra has its parliament, supreme court, ministries and banks.
Sydney, Melbourne or Canberra
Many people for some reason now consider Sydney the capital of Australia, and some even call Melbourne. And this is absolutely not true, although it could be. These cities are the largest in Australia, not only in population, but also by the location of the cultural centers of the southern continent.
And they both Sydney and Melbourne claimed the right to be the capital, but after the declaration of Australian independence in 1901, the Australians decided to build a new city for the capital.
Who designed the new capital?
It was announced a special international competition for the best design of the future capital. It was won by the American architect and designer Walter Burleigh Griffin. By the way, for his project Griffin received 1750 pounds and three shillings.
The national government appointed Walter Griffin as director general of planning and design of the capital and under his leadership the new city was built. Griffin’s overall concept of layout and design was maintained, although the design was modified somewhat during construction. Griffin was annoyed that his vision did not come to fruition and left Canberra in 1920, but the city continued to be built. And as early as 1927 Canberra had its first parliamentary session. But it took many more years for the city to look like what Walter Burleigh Griffin wanted to build.
The name of Australia’s capital
It took a long time to choose a name for the new capital. There were many choices, such as: Kangaremu, Engirscot, Melandiperbein, Siddeladperbriessho, but settled on the suggestion of Lady Denman, wife of Australian Governor General Lord Denman, to name the new capital Canberra, which means “meeting place” or “meeting place” in Aboriginal language.
Since then, every year on the second Monday in March, Canberra Day is celebrated.This is how it looks now Currajong Hill, now called Capitol Hill, where on March 12, 1913, Lady Denman officially announced the name of the future capital of Australia.
The layout of Canberra
The layout of the Australian capital is very intelligently and thoughtfully executed. This is a truly business city, providing its residents with excellent living conditions. The center of modern Canberra city is divided by two perpendicular axes: water axis, stretched along the lake Berley-Griffin. The land axis runs south-west to northeast from Parliament House to Mount Ainslie, which contains the War Memorial at its foot. The city consists of two sectors, the north, where the commercial part is located, and the south, Capitel Hill, where on Currajong Hill the Australian parliament building is located.
The government center and residential areas are connected by a network of high-speed roads. And they are designed in advance to ensure their high capacity. Even with an increase in the number of residents several times there will not be traffic jams.
The central part of the city, known as the “parliamentary triangle” is formed by three wide streets: Commonwealth Avenue, Constitution Avenue and Kings Avenue. The city applies a zoning structure in which, in addition to the city center, seven districts are clearly distinguished, which in turn are divided into districts. Each district has its own community and commercial centers.
- The North Canberra District consists of 15 boroughs built between 1920 and 1960.
- South Canberra Constituency consists of 12 boroughs and was settled over a 40-year period from 1920 to 1960.
- Woden Valley District, 13 boroughs, settled in 1963.
- Belkonnen County, 25 boroughs, first settled in 1967.
- Weston Creek County, 8 boroughs, settled in 1969.
- Tuckernong County, 19 boroughs, settled in 1974.
- Kungahlin County, 7 boroughs began to be populated in 1990, currently being expanded.
The placement of suburbs, nearby villages and industrial areas is determined. None of them interferes with the other and at the same time they have a well-established system of interaction. Moreover they are built and populated not chaotic, and planned with an equal loading of urban communications, which are built before the construction of the area.
Features of Australia’s capital city
The North and South Canberra districts were built according to the Walter Burleigh Griffin plan. In 1967, a special commission on the development of the capital adopted the Y-plan for the future development of Canberra. New housing estates are built around a series of “urban centers,” which again are connected with each other by highways. On the plan it looks like a Y, with Tuckeranong District at the base and Belkonnen and Kungahlin at the ends.
Almost all of the districts have their own large shopping centers, which serves several bordering districts, although the districts themselves have many stores, cafes, and boutiques. Schools, child care and health facilities, and utilities are usually located near shopping centers. It’s noteworthy that Australians are fond of their history, and so many Canberra districts are named after former Australian Prime Ministers, famous people or early settlers who settled the land. This is a memorial fountain to Captain Cook.
Canberra’s development, all city planning and land use issues are controlled directly by the government. Everything is based on monetary calculations. So the land on which Canberra sits is leased from the government for 99 years and the city government pays the rent to the national government.
The architecture of Canberra
Canberra is significantly different from other cities in Australia. Due to the fact that the landscape of Canberra something like Switzerland, the capital of Australia looks quite European. Major Australian cities such as: Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, built on the principle of the high center with buildings of 60 – 80 floors and low-rise private sector located around it.
This solution makes them monolithic, resembling one another. The streets of residential quarters of Canberra, the capital of Australia, are ideally clean, orderly and uncluttered.
The new capital of Australia was originally conceived with a spacious layout. The outlying urban districts each have their own center with high-rise buildings that do not contrast with the lower buildings in between. Canberra has many 3, 5, 7 and 10-story buildings, which seamlessly form the parts of the city.
Most of the buildings and structures made by the world’s best architects on individual projects. Their originality is so unusual that even built decades ago, they look quite modern. And the unusual sculptural compositions, located in many parts of the city, emphasize their individuality.
Auto-bloom, a kind of unusual vase for flowers, is very common in Canberra. It seems the city authorities do not mind, and the owners of old cars benefit from not paying for the disposal of their old cars.
Canberra is a very green city. For under four hundred thousand residents of the capital, there are more than eight million trees. Green areas inside the city blend in with the natural landscape and give it a unique look.
Australia’s Parliament is housed in the original building on Capitol Hill in Australia’s capital Canberra.
Black Mountain Tower, Telstra Tower is a telecommunications tower atop Black Mountain in Australia’s capital, Canberra. The most notable landmark of the city.
The height of the tower is 195.2 meters. Visitors can dine in a revolving restaurant or take in views of Canberra from one of three observation decks.
Canberra has a very original design for the city’s bridges, none of which are quite like any other.
Government house, Government house, in Canberra, Australia’s capital city, is the residence of the Governor General of Australia. It is not particularly chic, although it is quite spacious. Several times a year it holds an open house, when everyone can see how the current Governor General of Australia, Peter Gosgrove, lives.
Questacon National Center for Science and Technology is an entertainment and educational institution in Australia’s capital, Canberra, with a large exhibition hall.
The Carillon Bell Tower is a memorial of sorts donated to Canberra, Australia’s capital city to commemorate the 50th anniversary of its designation as the capital. Queen Elizabeth II attended the opening of the bell tower. The carillon has 55 bells, the largest of which weighs 6 tons and the smallest weighs only 7 kilograms. Every quarter of an hour there is a chime. The melodies of the carillon are folk songs and classics.
John the Baptist Cathedral – the Anglican Church of John the Baptist in the Australian capital Canberra was built in 1845 and is still active today.
The Australian War Memorial is one of the most popular attractions in the Australian capital.
The sights of the capital are: the National Library of Australia, the largest library in the country, created on the basis of parliament library. Originally it was situated in Melbourne, then it was moved to Canberra.
Australian National University in the capital Canberra is one of the most prestigious universities, popular not only in his country but all over the world.
National Center of Science and Technology Questacon located in the Australian capital Canberra is a peculiar exhibition of achievements of science and technology and educational bias.
The famous Australian academy building. The diameter of the dome is 45 meters. It was designed by architect Roy Grounds.
Monument to George V, the English king during whose time Australia was occupied by the first colonists, built at the time, is still intact and protected by the state.
The Australians haven’t forgotten about recreation. There are plenty of recreational centers, parks, sports facilities and attractions in the suburbs.
Every suburb has stadiums and sports complexes that not only offer a variety of sports activities, but also provide a place for everyone in the community to play sports.
There are jogging paths along the ponds, and the ponds themselves are used by water sports enthusiasts, of which there are many.
Thus, thanks to the visionary Australian government, the new capital of Australia, Canberra has become an example of urban planning, a real city of the future.
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