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Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is entirely surrounded by NSW and is tiny compared to its fellow states. It is a mere 88km long and 30km wide. The ACT was created in 1908 to develop a distinct national capital and in 1927 the federal government of Australia moved to Canberra, the new city created in the north of the state.
It is not all power and politics though- the independently governed state and the capital city work together to make this region ever dynamic and interesting for visitors. City life and wildlife, national monuments and National Parks, festival culture and viticulture, Australia’s capital offers a huge choice of activities and destinations.
Situated about 150 km from the coast, Canberra is Australia’s largest inland city and was named for an aboriginal word that means meeting place. The city was carefully planned to accommodate government and the Molonglo River was dammed to form Lake Burley Griffin, a body of water central to the city’s layout. Surrounded by the almost untouched forest environment, it is a city with a great outdoors to support what appears a conservative lifestyle.
Over half the city proper is pockets of bushland reserve and half the state is classified as national park or nature reserve. The Namadgi National Park and the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve offer majestic and natural scenery and are just a short drive south of the city. Get a taste of country life by visiting historic Layton Homestead or Gold Creek, both working stations and museums.
Canberra is hub of Australian lifeblood and touring the nation’s capital relays the true blue Australian character to the visitor. New Parliament House occupies the central hill with the city planned around its north/south and east/west axis. The huge flagpole and upward movement of the building bespeaks the free spirited attitude of this nation of individuals. Visiting Old Parliament House, The National Gallery of Australia and the Australia War Memorial give an accurate view of the Australian legacy and the country’s global presence.
The Australian Institute of Sport, the Australian Mint and the National Botanic Gardens give a glimpse into the life of Australians today. Science buffs are well served by The Canberra Observatory, where astronomers explain the world beyond and the CSIRO Discovery Centre showcases evidence of science and technological advances lead by Australian research.
A walk around Lake Burley Griffin to the north shore takes visitors to the National Capital Exhibition Centre. Here many of the original plans for the city designed by architect Walter Burley Griffin are on display. Great for getting a feel for the city’s layout. Drive to the top of mountains within the cities limits. Mount Ainslie and Black Mountain offer views over the city and the lake.
Shopping in Canberra and the ACT offers the gambit of Australia’s best. From department stores to boutiques and small art and craft galleries, even the most discerning shopper is satisfied. Eating in the nation’s capital is a true expression of the multicultural experience found in all major Aussie cities today. Immigration from around the world has given restaurants, cafés and bistros unrivalled atmosphere and service.
If Lady Luck is your companion, Casino Canberra is the place for you. On the main floor you can play the traditional gambling games and digital poker and keno are available daily. As for nightlife, jazz bars, dance clubs, acoustic venues and wine bars abound.