Canberra, the capital city of Australia, is a lively city and home to some of the best galleries, museums and parks in Australia. Rather than originating from a small town, Canberra was purpose built as the capital and is therefore extremely well planned. The streets are wide and the gardens and parks are plentiful, making Canberra picturesque and easy to navigate. Canberra hosts a range of annual festivals, international sporting and entertainment events and a large number of art exhibitions. Parliament House is another tourist drawcard for both its architecture and its role in Australian Federal politics.
Throughout the year, Canberra is host to a multitude of local and national events. Australia day in Canberra is not to be missed, with ‘Australia Day Live’ being held on the lawns of Parliament House featuring a great line up of Aussie live music culminating in a breathtaking fireworks display. The National Multicultural Festival, held at the beginning of February, is a celebration of Australia’s multicultural communities and is 10 days of music, food, theatre, comedy and art along with ‘Carnival in the City’ – a Latin American event featuring salsa, tango and samba with vibrant music for hours on end. The Canberra Festival, in early march, is a 9 day long festival, again focused around the arts with a festival highlight being ‘Celebrate in the Park’ featuring a spectacular light show.
There are a number of other festivals and events including a music festival, wine festival and of course the world famous Floriade, held over a month in spring where tourists are invited to stroll through the themed gardens of Canberra’s Commonwealth Park and view the colourful displays of over a million bulbs. Floriade is an extremely popular event, so make sure you book your Canberra accommodation early as many Canberra hotels will be booked out well in advance. Choice Hotels have a selection of three hotels in Canberra and neighbouring Queanbeyan, the Quality Hotel Woden, the Quality Hotel Dickson and the Quality Inn Country Plaza Queanbeyan.
Questacon, the National Science and Technology centre, designed to give a greater understanding of science and technology in an interactive and fun way, is a must visit for all ages. Questacon exhibitions include ‘Wonderworks’ – which delves into why humans invented science and why the world exists as it is, and ‘Eaten alive’ – a look at predators such as sharks, insects and reptiles and why they act as they do. The three theatres in Questacon are host to edge of the seat live performances on everything from tsunamis to dinosaurs and explosions. Every visit to Questacon is unique with a forever changing range of exhibitions, shows and activities.
Cockington Green Gardens is another popular Canberra attraction particularly with children, and features a miniature English town complete with gardens, British architecture, miniature people and even a working miniature steam train that runs throughout the day. Each of the miniature buildings has been handmade to scale and replicates true British architecture. Established in 1979, Cockington Green has been the recipient of many awards and also features a cafe, gift shop and a range of other miniature displays including a 34 room doll house.
Another multi award winning Canberra attraction is the National Dinosaur Museum, boasting the largest collection of dinosaur and other prehistoric material in Australia. The Museum houses 23 skeletons and over 300 fossil displays, and focuses on both education and entertainment offering a wide variety of exhibits and activities including guided tours, puppet shows and even hosts children’s birthday parties.
Other popular attractions include The Royal Australian Mint, Parliament House, Old Parliament House, The Australian Institute of Sport, The War Memorial and the National Museum of Australia. Canberra is also home to many excellent restaurants including fine dining, casual dining and cafes. The main streets of the city are lined with boutiques and shops providing world class shopping with both international and local brands.