Destination Guide: Canberra
Canberra is home to 380,000 permanent residents, but as the nation's capital it swells annually with visitors who flock to the city for its rich history, parklands, gardens, climate and culinary arts.
Located in the Australian Capital Territory, Canberra is set on the land of the Indigenous Ngunnawal people. Its name is thought to mean 'meeting place', and as the home of Parliament House, the Australian War Memorial, the National Gallery of Australia and the National Library of Australia, regular tourism ensures the city lives up to its name.
The striking blend of nature and urban living in the city was planned by designer Walter Burley Griffin in 1912, and his hard work remains today as a focal point of this visually appealing area. The cosmopolitan city has plenty of national attractions that make it the heart of the Australian story, with enough modern flair to keep visitors coming back for more.
For a taste of the old and new Australia in one city, book in your Canberra holiday accommodation and check out these local attractions.
National Museum of Australia
The National Museum of Australia offers a fascinating insight into the country's social history. Through its selection of permanent and frequently-changing temporary exhibitions it explores Australia's people and land, with a specific focus on Indigenous histories and cultures, along with European settlement and the relationship between humans and the environment.
Open from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. every day apart from Christmas Day, the Museum has been an architectural landmark since its 2001 opening.
Collections include the National Historical Collection, the Museum's core group of Australian history, and The Springfield Collection, which features fashion from five generations of a single family. Enjoy the Ken Ross Cycling Collection, which has medals from the champion racer, along with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Art Collection. Take a peek at the 1866 Melbourne Cup, believed to be the oldest in its original state.
National Gallery of Australia
Continue your cultural tour with a trip to the National Gallery of Australia. Its permanent collection spans more than 160,000 pieces across Australia, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Asian, European and American art.
The work you see here is part of Australia's national collection, preserved and presented to the people of Australia for education and pleasure. Witness the Pacific art collection, which features some of the finest pieces of work from all around the Pacific region. The Commonwealth Arts Advisory Board collection features remarkable work from the Bismarck Archipelago and the Sepik River, existing as the legacy of three collecting trips taken to Papua New Guinea. There's also a selection of 18th and 19th century Maori art from New Zealand.
Enjoy the sculpture garden, which lies between the Gallery and Lake Burley Griffin. The garden was planted 22 years ago, and its design aims to complement the building and 26 sculptures by International and Australian artists. Particularly interesting pieces include the Pukamani burial poles and Fujiko Nakaya's fog sculpture. Native plants tolerate Canberra's varied weather conditions, with winter, summer, spring and autumn gardens complementing the seasons.
Plan a trip to Parliament House while you're in Canberra to get an up close and personal look at how Australia's government runs. Located on Capital Hill, the building can be described as the nation's meeting place, and is open to the public every day except at Christmas.
A trip here can give you access to the Chambers, Question Time and allow you to catch a glimpse of important historic documents, such as the Magna Carta. The working building blends dramatic architecture with an exquisite collection of art, set amongst a landscaped backdrop that make Parliament House one of the country's best cultural attractions.
Embark on a free guided tour through the building at 10:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. each day of the week. For a more personalised experience, take a customised tour for only $9.50 per person. These can be tailored to the needs of your travel group, though bookings are essential.
Get in on the excitement of the proceedings of both the House of Representatives and the Senate when you sit in the Public Galleries of the Chambers during times the House is in session. There are 388 seats available during sitting times, but you must undergo security screening and observe silence in the galleries.
Canberra District Wines
Not to be outdone by South Australia or Victoria, the ACT is home to 140 vineyards of its own, with more than 33 wineries within a 35 minute drive of the capital city. These wineries are intimate and on a smaller scale than many in other regions, creating a special, interactive experience for guests.
Canberra's wide range of temperatures, soil types, vineyard elevation and creative winemakers ensure wines from this region are unique and refined. Its vineyards cover an altitudinal range of 300 to 800 metres, producing superb cool climate wines including Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Shiraz, Tempranillo and Sangiovese.
Pay a visit to Capital Wines, which has a cellar door and cafe open seven days a week. The Murrumbateman boutique winery is located on an elevate granite view, providing superb scenes over the valley to the Brindabellas. Sip on a glass of one of the winery's three labels, including the sought-after single vineyard Kyeema Wines label that has won 46 trophies since 1995. If you're after value for money, try the Blue Gum range.
Make your way to Four Winds Vineyard and visit the brand new cellar door, opened in 2013. The 33 acre vineyard was planted in 1998/1999 with Shiraz, Riesling, Merlot, Cabernet, Chardonnay and Sangiovese varietals. Indulge in a pizza while you sip on a 2011 Merlot, or consider hosting your next big event amongst the pristine surrounds of the Canberra region.