Canberra is modern city, set within extensive parks and gardens and enjoys four distinct seasons.
Your nation’s capital is the home of the Australian Story. Discover the national attractions which house our shared history, culture, flora, art, knowledge, law and identity with regular displays, tours and exhibitions.
Our climate and geography nourishes excellent food and wine which you can enjoy in our stylish restaurants, cafes, bars and shops.
An extensive network of parks and reserves with walking trails and cycle ways offer wonderful recreation, exploration and rejuvenation opportunities.
With a bustling calendar of events, festivals, exhibitions and tours, Canberra is full of unexpected delights awaiting you.
Follow the links and see for yourself more of Canberra and the surrounding region with facts to help plan your trip, how to get here and get around and how to enjoy the best of your nation’s capital.
Canberra – Australia's Capital Region
Canberra will celebrate its centenary as the nation’s capital in 2013.
Your nation’s capital is the ideal place to stay while exploring the many treasures of the surrounding region. The sapphire blue waters and beaches of the South Coast, the rural tranquillity of Southern Highlands and the highest alpine peaks in the Snowy Mountains are within comfortable driving distance of the city.
The region is home to historic townships, unspoilt nature, excellent wineries, world-class arts and crafts and gourmet produce.
So come, stay a while and enjoy all your nation’s capital and region has to offer.
Essential facts about Canberra at a glance – including information for international visitors.
Canberra is located in the Australian Capital Territory, surrounded by New South Wales. The city is 150 kilometres inland and 571 metres above the Pacific Ocean, 281 kilometres from Sydney and 660 kilometres from Melbourne. The latitude and longitude is 35 degrees south and 149 degrees east.
History of Canberra
Located on the ancient lands of the Indigenous Ngunnawal people, Canberra’s name is thought to mean ‘meeting place’, derived from the Aboriginal word Kamberra.
European settlers arrived in the 1830s, and the area won selection by ballot for the federal capital in 1908. Canberra’s special contrast of nature and urban living was planned in 1912 by master designer, Walter Burley Griffin, a Chicago architect, who won an international design competition.
The provisional Parliament House opened in 1927 in what was then a treeless paddock. For more information on Canberra’s history, visit www.nationalcapital.gov.au.
Since then, Canberra has grown into a vibrant, cosmopolitan city with national attractions housing the heritage, history and national collections that make Canberra the home of the Australian story.
Canberra is home to around 380,000 people.
English. Interpreter services are available for ACT Government services including hospitals and government shopfronts. Government translation services. Available every day.
Canberra Public holidays 2012
|New Years Day:
|New Years Day Public Holiday:
|Family & Community Day:
* note this is the holiday, not the actual day
ACT school terms 2012
||3 February to 13 April
||30 April to 6 July
||23 July to 28 September
||15 October to 21 December
Canberra retail shopping hours
|Monday to Thursday:
||9.00am to 5.30pm
||9.00am to 9.00pm
||9.00am to 5.00pm
||10.00am to 4.00pm
Hours vary at smaller shopping centres and in the nearby city of Queanbeyan.
|Monday to Thursday:
||9.30am to 4.00pm
||9.30am to 5.00pm
Most branches have 24-hour automatic teller machines. Teller machines are also located in many petrol stations, some convenience stores, shopping centres and licensed clubs.
The national capital’s four distinctive seasons bring their own beauty and charm, making Canberra a rare treat among Australian cities providing a kaleidoscope of colour throughout the year.
Spring in Canberra is truly glorious. Canberra is home to Floriade, Australia's celebration of spring. The city blossoms into colour as trees reveal spring blooms and our regional vineyards awaken with the first bud bursts. You can expect moderately fresh mornings, bright, sunny days and brisk nights. Spring is ideal for bushwalking and exploring wildflowers at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and nearby Namadgi National Park.
Canberra's summer delivers endless opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors, especially on Lake Burley Griffin where plenty of water sports and activities await. Days are warm to hot, with plenty of sunshine and little humidity, followed by mild, balmy nights.
Autumn in Canberra is a delight as the city’s parks and gardens take on a special appeal. Canberra’s stunning landscape changes as leaves of red, gold, russet, ochre and crimson emerge and are balanced by the soft greys and greens of native eucalyptus and coniferous trees. The season is blessed with cool nights and mild days.
Canberra winters are the perfect time to snuggle up in front of a fire with a big glass of cool climate wine. The nights and early mornings are brisk, but frosts and occasional fog generally clear to striking sunny days, so you can still get pleasure out of bike riding and walks by the lake on the cool fresh days.
* Degrees Celsius (Degrees Fahrenheit in brackets)
Current Canberra weather forecast from Bureau of Meteorology
- The Australian dollar (A$) is a decimal currency with units in dollars and cents (100 cents to the dollar).
- Most venues, restaurants, cafes, supermarkets, petrol stations and retail shops accept major credit cards and electronic funds transfer at point of sale (EFTPOS).
- Credit cards most commonly accepted include American Express, Bankcard, Carte Blanche, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa and affiliates. Consult your bank before travel to ensure your card is suitable for use in Australia.
- Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) to dispense cash are in many convenience stores, petrol stations and outside banks for 24-hour access.
- Cash your travellers cheques at airports, banks or major hotels as they may not be accepted in some retail places.
While appreciated, tipping is not expected in Australia. If you receive excellent service, particularly in a restaurant or for a taxi fare, a tip is always welcome.
The Australian domestic standard voltage is AC 240 volts, 50 Hertz cycle. The standard electrical plug is a three-prong type. Suitable adapters are available from travel goods stores and some electrical retail stores.
Canberra water comes from Namadgi National Park. It is treated to national health standards and is safe to drink from taps and basins.
There are few direct flights to Canberra from overseas. Generally, overseas travellers coming to Canberra fly into an interstate airport and transfer to a Canberra flight.
- Canberra’s area code is 02 if calling from within Australia or +61 2 from overseas
- The cost of a local call from a public phone is 50 cents. Public phones accept coins and pre paid telephone cards, which are available at newsagents, convenience stores and Australia Post Offices. Public phones are located at shopping centres, malls and at Post Offices
- International calls can be made from pay phones. Charges vary depending on the time of day and distance
- 1800 numbers are free call numbers when dialled from anywhere within Australia
- 1300 numbers are costed at the local call rate when dialled from anywhere within Australia.