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Study abroad in Canberra

Introducing ACT

The ACT is an intriguing and rewarding destination, a geopolitical creation that's not yet 100 years old but has accumulated many lifetimes worth of memorable political and social events. It was originally established to confine a new national capital, Canberra a spacious, orderly and clean metropolis. Needless to say, the territory has long since developed its own nature-loving sense of place, and many of its inhabitants from government bureaucrats and opinionated artists to a lively population of university students now regard it less a place they may have been 'forced', by circumstance, to inhabit and more an energising habitat they happily enjoy.

The ACT has made its home in a bushy inland plot in the southeast of New South Wales. It covers 2,366 sq km and features rugged blue-grey ranges in the south and west, with Canberra wedged up in the northeast corner. Only a short trip from the city are historic homesteads, hi-tech installations, wild physical activities and an abundance of beautiful natural sights. The splendid ridges, forests and pristine rivers and waterholes of Namadgi National Park cover 40% of the territory bushwalkers, birdwatchers, cyclists, picnickers and others seeking a combination of isolation and beauty will all find plenty to occupy them here.

Territory-Wide Must Sees & Dos

Namadgi National Park Go walking or mountain biking through the stunning regrowth of this park, which was struck by a devastating bushfire in January 2003.

Murrumbidgee and Cotter Rivers Pack a picnic and your swimmers and hunt down one of the many swimming spots along these pretty rivers.

Canberra Space Centre See interesting displays of spacecraft and deep-space tracking technology at this centre located within the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex.

Gold Creek Village Explore this colonial village and its other attractions, especially the Australian Reptile Centre, where you can see the world's three deadliest land snakes...

Lanyon Homestead See this beautiful National Trust property, located beside the Murrumbidgee River, and be sure to also visit the Nolan Gallery (on site, but in a separate building), which contains paintings by celebrated Australian artist Sidney Nolan.


Introducing Canberra

The serenity and orderliness of the Australian capital is not to everybody's taste. However, the days when Canberra was mostly a controlled environment for the public service are long gone, with more than half of the workforce here now employed in the private sector. And the thriving arts scene means that theatres and galleries are full of thoughtful and nicely designed works.

When Australia's separate colonies were federated in 1901 and became states, the decision to build a national capital was written into the constitution. In 1908 the site was selected diplomatically situated between arch-rivals Sydney and Melbourne and in 1911 the Commonwealth government created the Federal Capital Territory. American architect Walter Burley Griffin then beat 136 other entries to win an international competition to design the city. When the foundation stones of the new capital were being laid on 12 March 1913, the city was officially baptised 'Canberra', a name derived from 'Kamberra', believed to be an Aboriginal term for 'meeting place'. Canberra took over from Melbourne as the seat of national government in 1927 and its land holdings were renamed the Australian Capital Territory in 1938.

The city of Canberra is arranged around Lake Burley Griffin. From the north side the main arterial road, Northbourne Ave, intersects compact Canberra City (also known as Civic). The pedestrian malls situated to the east comprise Canberra's main shopping areas. South of the city, Northbourne Ave becomes Commonwealth Ave and crosses Lake Burley Griffin to Capital Circle. This road encircles Parliament House on Capital Hill, the apex of architect Walter Burley Griffin's parliamentary triangle. Located within and near the triangle are several of the country's important buildings, including Old Parliament House, the High Court of Australia and the National Gallery of Australia.

Canberra's Weather

Summer days across Canberra and the ACT range from comfortably warm to uncomfortably hot, though the temperature doesn't often get to 40ºC. Winter days are cool and sometimes gloriously sunny, with little wind, and often start with early morning frost and fog. Winter nights hover around 0ºC during July. Canberra gets a lot of sunshine and receives an annual average rainfall of 630mm, most of it falling in the west. Snow in the city is rare, making fleeting appearances twice a year at most, but is more common in the ranges of Namadgi National Park.

Cultural Overview

Canberra has developed a culture that sees its inhabitants loving the outdoors, amid lakeside parks, green hills and patches of naturally ragged bushland that lie in and around the suburbs. When the locals aren't admiring the autumnal leaves on the millions of trees, the blooming colours of spring or the depths of a waterhole on a hot summer's day, they take a dip in Canberra's array of museums and galleries or satisfy their appetites in one of the city’s many restaurants, cafes and bars. Being a planned city, the centre of politics in Australia and home to many of the country's most important buildings, it's a unique and fascinating place, with countless attractions for visitors to explore.


Don’t Miss...

Canberra's many significant buildings, museums and galleries are splayed out either side of Lake Burley Griffin, while most natural features lie in the territory's west. This city has so many attractions in such a small space, so ask at the Canberra Visitor Information Centre for details of other interesting places not listed following, such as the Australian Institute of Sport, the Royal Australian Mint and the National Library of Australia.
Information Centre:  330 Northbourne Ave, Dickson.  Phone:  1300 554 114  Website:

Jump on bus no 34 and get off at the engaging and architecturally fascinating National Museum of Australia, which uses creativity, controversy, humour and interactive technology in its exhibitions that tell the story of a nation.
National Museum of Australia:  Lawson Cres, Acton Peninsula.  Phone:  02 6208 5000  Website:

Explore the stunning National Gallery of Australia in an imposing building on the south shore of Lake Burley Griffin, which has arguably the best collection of Australian art in the country. Remember to wander through the charming outdoor Sculpture Garden too.
National Gallery of Australia:  Parkes Pl, Parkes.  Phone:  02 6240 6502  Website:

Hire a bike and cycle the 35km around Lake Burley Griffin – there aren't too many hills and it's a great way to get a taste of different parts of the city. You can also check out the lake from its waters: Lake Burley Griffin Boat Hire rents out canoes, kayaks and paddleboats.
Lake Burley Griffin Boat Hire:  Acton Jetty, Civic.  Phone:  02 6249 6861

Join a free guided tour and watch parliamentary proceedings from the public galleries at Parliament House. Down below, Old Parliament House is also definitely worth a look, especially its excellent National Portrait Gallery.
Parliament House:  Capital Hill.  Phone:  02 6277 5399  Website:
National Portrait Gallery:  Old Parliament House.  Phone:  02 6270 8236  Website:

Get a sense of just how carefully designed this city is by heading over to the Australian War Memorial, taking in the excellent view back to the Parliament Houses. Take a look around the moving war memorial, which preserves the history and human toll of wartime.
Australian War Memorial:  Treloar Cres, Campbell.  Phone:  02 6243 4211  Website:

Eat & Be Merry At...

Canberrans have several hundred diverse eateries to choose from. Most restaurants are in Civic, which has raised its menu standards to compete with upmarket selections in Kingston, Manuka and Griffith. There's also a fantastic Asian strip in Dickson and many other possibilities scattered throughout the suburbs. The city’s bars are concentrated in Civic, but some good establishments are also setting themselves up in suburbs such as Dickson, O'Connor and Kingston. The following should get you off to a good start in the eating and drinking departments:

Start your day right with a tasty coffee and tartlet from inviting Silo, but get in early before all the tables are taken.
Silo:  36 Giles St, Kingston.  Phone:  02 6260 6060

Nibble your way through the tapas menu at Legends or try the specialities such as bacalao (salted cod), Valencia paella or duck with fig sauce. The flamenco guitarist performing most nights at this atmospheric Spanish restaurant complements the food nicely.
Legends:  Franklin St, Manuka.  Phone:  02 6295 3966


Eat & Be Merry At... (Con’t)

Try to choose between Chinese, Thai, Laotian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese and Malaysian food in the suburb of Dixon, a smorgasbord of Asian cuisine. Dickson Asian Noodle House, a permanent favourite amongst locals, is a good place to start.Find out why there are so many regular patrons at Phoenix – this bar's mellow atmosphere, rustic decorations and comfortable armchairs are three good reasons.
Dickson Asian Noodle House:  29 Woolley St.  Phone:  02 6247 6380
Phoenix:  21 East Row, Civic.  Phone:  02 6247 1606

Join the diverse crowd at Toast, a relaxed live music venue, where fans of industrial, goth, salsa, retro, cabaret and folk all happily mingle together.
Toast:  City Walk, Civic, upstairs behind Electric Shadows cinema.  Phone:  02 6230 0003

Canberra Events

Canberra has an interesting range of festivals, celebrating everything from flowers to heavy metal. Here's a small selection; contact the Canberra Visitor Information Centre to find out about others.
Information Centre:  330 Northbourne Ave, Dickson.  Phone:  1300 554 114  Website:

Metal for the Brain Australia's biggest all-ages heavy-metal music festival, held in early February.
Metal for the Brain:Website:

National Multicultural FestivalAlso in February, celebrated over 10 days, this event is staged around Canberra's inner city area and includes a 'Food & Dance Spectacular', 'Carnivale' and a festival parade, amongst many other happenings.
National Multicultural Festival:Website:

Celebrate CanberraSay 'Happy Birthday' to Canberra at this, the city's extended birthday party held in mid-March.
Celebrate Canberra:  Website:

Canberra International Film FestivalInternational film festival gala
Canberra International Film Festival:  Website:

StonefestHeld at the University of Canberra, this big-time, two-day music festival is staged at the end of October.
Stonefest:  Website: