Parliament House, Canberra, ACT


Explore Canberra for Australian culture and history at superb monuments and galleries in this city surrounded by parklands and native bushland. Visit Parliament House, the Australian War Memorial, National Gallery of Australia and Questacon. Experience the the Balloon Fiesta in autumn, Fireside Festival in winter, and Floriade in spring. Explore the Australian Alps or Tidnbinbilla Nature Reserve and Murrumbidgee River Corridor, just a short drive away.

Not only is Canberra Australia’s youngest capital city, it’s also the most surprising. The federal capital houses many of the country’s cultural institutions but also supports a thriving arts community and a lively food and bar scene. With its diverse mix of man-made and natural attractions, Canberra is a place of discovery, learning and fun.

Learn about Australia’s culture, history and way of life in our nation’s capital. Explore our political past and modern democracy at Old Parliament House and Parliament House. Find out more about our sporting heroes at the National Institute of Sport and Science and see lightning being made at Questacon. Once you’ve exhausted the monuments and galleries, get into the great outdoors. This planned city – one of the few in the world - is famous for its lake, parklands and native bushland surrounds. Beneath the foliage, Canberra offers stylish restaurants, hip bars, boutique shopping and a non-stop calendar of festivals and events.

Take a crash course in Australian history and culture in Canberra, Australia’s political and administrative centre. The national monuments and galleries of this planned, spacious city are all within easy walking distance of each other, radiating out from the shores of Lake Burley Griffin.  Peer into Australia’s political past and creative culture as you circle the lake, then get up close to its native vegetation in the gardens and bushland. Discuss your Australian discoveries over dinner in Dickson, Civic, Manuka or Kingston. Then nurture your love of nature in Namadgi National Park, where you can hike, bike, horse-ride, rock climb and follow a fascinating trail of Aboriginal and European history.

Immerse yourself in a rich array of Aboriginal art in the National Gallery of Australia. A total of 13 galleries now showcase more than 7,500 works, from dot and bark paintings to watercolours, textiles, prints, ceramics and sculptures. Meander through different rooms, learning about the landscapes, Dreaming legends and historic events entwined with each art tradition. This important collection is a living, evolving expression of the world’s oldest living culture.

In Canberra, mega-malls and international labels take second place to a vibrant home-grown shopping scene. Shopping in Canberra offers markets, boutiques and retail spaces selling regional handicrafts and food and wine fresh from the nearby countryside. Hunt for locally-designed art, jewellery, home wares and fashion along lively Lonsdale Street or trawl hundreds of stalls in the award-winning Old Bus Depot Markets.

Autumn in Canberra is heralded not just by the fiery colours of the deciduous trees, but by the iconic Canberra Balloon Fiesta. Over nine crisp mornings in March, a colourful cavalcade of hot air balloons take to the air from the lawns of Old Parliament House. Watch the magical display with thousands of other early risers or take a hot air balloon ride yourself. Either way, it’s a great way to start your Canberra day, especially when accompanied by a hot breakfast and live entertainment.

See Canberra come alive with a million spring blooms at Floriade, Australia's celebration of spring. For 30 fragrant days in September and October, the garden beds of Commonwealth Park become canvasses for super-sized floral pictures. It’s a colourful seasonal addition to Canberra’s open green spaces and native gardens. Soak up the floral colour while browsing bustling markets and gourmet stalls and attending workshops, exhibitions and live concerts.

Warm your heart and fill your stomach next to a roaring fire this winter. That’s the seductive call of the Fireside Festival, held each August in Canberra and neighbouring villages such as Yass, Hall, Murrumbateman and Gundaroo. Their month-long program of food, wine and entertainment is guaranteed to lift your spirits alongside some chill-combating flames.

You can’t ignore the call of the great outdoors in the Murrumbidgee River Corridor, easily accessible from Canberra. All kinds of natural communion are possible along this short, lovely section of the river’s epic 1,600km journey from the mountainous Australian Alps. Take short walks near Uriarra Crossing or Tharwa or tackle the 27km Murrumbidgee Discovery Track. Swim, kayak and picnic at Casuarina Sands and play cards in the shade of Cotter campground.

It’s only 40 minutes from Canberra to this heavily-forested valley, which sits nestled between the Gibraltar and Tidbinbilla Ranges in the northern Australian Alps. Like neighbouring Namadgi National Park, this relatively undisturbed pocket teems with wildlife and traces of Aboriginal history.  You’ll feel a long way from civilization when you pick up a map at the visitor’s centre and see the strutting emus, grazing kangaroos, wallabies and cockatoos. It’s a great place to spend a summer’s day.

Cross three states, four national parks and some of Australia’s highest peaks on this tough long-distance walk. The trail follows the crest of the Australian Alps for 65km, from Walhalla in Victoria to Tharwa just south of Canberra. Wind up and down the Baw Baw Plateau, Mt Howitt, the Bogong High Plains and the Cobberras in Victoria. Traverse the rugged mountains of Kosciuszko National Park in New South Wales and the rocky wilderness of Namadgi National Park near Canberra.

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