It is Australia’s capital but Canberra is also that country’s best-kept tourist secret. This lively, fun and laidback city has a wealth of things to see and do, not only within the city boundaries but also on its doorstep.
Close to the famous Snowy Mountains and the Great Dividing Range, Canberra is also surrounded by some of Australia’s most beautiful landscapes and forests.
From your holiday accommodation in Canberra, you can discover more about this fantastic city and its environs.
A young city even within the young nation of Australia, Canberra was conceived, designed and built from scratch to provide a neutral capital city because neither Sydney nor Melbourne could agree on the other receiving that prestigious status. Designated as the capital in 1908, work then began on Canberra in 1912 after an international design contest was launched and won by the Chicago design team of Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin. Their template saw the city take shape as a series of concentric circles and grids, all designed to complement the natural landscape of lakes and mountains.
Today Canberra is the seat of the national government and a thriving, liberal city with a vibrant arts and cultural scene, brilliant restaurants, bars and cafes, and providing a terrific variety of holiday rentals to suit the budget of every visitor. While there’s plenty to see and do within the city itself, lovers of the great outdoors will want to spread their wings and see more of the extraordinary countryside that makes up the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) with Canberra at its heart. In fact, some 53% of the ACT is actually national parks and reserves, complete with ancient forests, alpine peaks and bushland.
For visitors from the northern hemisphere, the idea of a skiing holiday in Australia may seem bizarre but it’s most definitely possible in Australia’s highest mountain range, the Snowy Mountains. Around a three-hour drive from Canberra, the range was immortalised in the poem, The Man from Snowy River.
The region’s ski resorts are a favourite winter destination while the mountains are a wonderful draw, no matter the season, for nature lovers, hikers and horse riders. Climb Australia’s highest peak, Mount Kosciuszko, and if you can tear your gaze away from the extraordinary vistas, take time to smell the alpine flowers.
Closer to Canberra is Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve where conservation work to retain and restore the natural habitat of many threatened species continues daily. Visitors walk freely among the animals resident here so you can get up close and personal to kangaroos, possums, wallabies and echidnas among other creatures.
For flora and fauna that takes the breath away, head to Namadgi National Park, at the northern end of the Australian Alps, with its marvellous spring show of wildflowers.
The Canberra region is famed for its vineyards – there are around 140 at work here where the cool climate is perfect for making award-winning wines. In fact, they’ve been making wine in this area for more than 106 years. Plan a cellar door tour to experience the very best wine the region has to offer – look for a trip where you will be picked up from your holiday accommodation and so can enjoy the wine without worrying about a designated driver!
Go underground at Yarrangobilly Caves, a 12km long underground wonderland in Kosciuszko National Park. These caverns have been formed over millions of years and visitors can discover their extraordinary interiors in the lit show caves. The complex also includes an amazing thermal pool that is fed by warm water springs and frozen waterfalls.
For a glimpse into what life in this area was like for the early European pioneers – decades before Canberra was even thought of – travel to the Lanyon Homestead, a beautifully restored series of buildings that were originally built by convicts for the grazier owner.
Canberra’s climate is a continental one of warm summers and cool winters. Summers are hot and dry, although thunderstorms within the city can be frequent. Average daily temperatures are around 27?C. If you’re planning a visit during the winter months, particularly if you fancy a skiing trip in the mountains, you’ll still enjoy reasonable temperatures and dry days. Look for Canberra holiday rentals with air conditioning to keep cool during hot summer nights and remember to follow the Australian advice on covering up with sunscreen under the fierce southern sun.
If you’re travelling from the UK to Canberra, you can get a direct flight from London Heathrow Airport to Sydney. The short connecting flight on to Canberra takes around an hour. As the nation’s capital, Canberra is also well served by public transport and there are excellent rail and coach services linking the city with Sydney and Melbourne. The ideal way to see the city and the rest of the ACT is to rent a car and you can arrange car rental when you’re selecting your holiday accommodation.