It may sound like a very simple question, but if asked, most people would likely get it wrong. If asked, most would likely say that it’s Melbourne or Sydney, two of Australia’s largest and most-known cities. However, in reality, the capital of Australia is a smaller city called Canberra.
What is Canberra?
I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of such a city, even though it’s still a large city, albeit smaller than the likes of Sydney and Melbourne. Canberra, as you already know by now is an inland capital of Australia and is a city built specifically for this role.
A brief history of Canberra
Unlike most large Australian cities, the capital of Australia wasn’t built in colonial times. Instead, in 1901 six separate colonies in Australia joined to form the Commonwealth of Australia and in 1908 they have agreed that the capital will be an entirely new city. And so, the story of Canberra began.
Being an entirely new city, built from scratch, Canberra is the only fully planned city in Australia, designed fully by two American architects – Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin. It’s also not part of any of the Australian states, instead of being part of Australian Capital Territory.
In other words, you can compare the capital of Australia with Washington D. C. and it will be a fairly apt comparison.
What to do in Canberra?
With all that said, Canberra isn’t just the capital of Australia. For one, it’s home to two large universities, the ANU(Australian National University) and the UC(University of Canberra), with ANU sometimes cited as the best university in Australia.
Beyond that, Canberra is also an attractive and popular tourist destination, with 14 international flights to the city every week. To accompany this, the city now has a wide selection of restaurants and hotels to suit any taste.
Styled as the cultural capital of Australia, Canberra hosts several large galleries and art exhibitions, including the National Gallery of Australia, which houses over 7500 works of art, including many examples of Aboriginal art. Another great place to visit if you value art is the National Portrait Gallery, focused, as the name suggests, on displaying a wide range of portraits.
If you’re interested in getting a glimpse at how the government of Australia is run, you can get a free tour at the Parliament’s House. This government building also has several smaller galleries inside it which are open to the public.
If you’re more interested in nature rather than urban environments, then Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve might be right up your alley. It’s only about 40 minutes away from Canberra, but it feels like a proper piece of Australian Outback, full of wildlife, including such iconic Australian creatures like kangaroos and emus.
Another interesting place near Canberra is the National Arboretum, a place you may call a museum for trees. Built on a patch of land ravaged by wildfires, the Arboretum was restored and planted with thousands of rare and endangered trees from all over the world.
And those are just a few of the reasons why it’s worth knowing the capital of Australia.