Canberra - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Canberra


Australia's capital city, Canberra, had a difficult birth, punctuated by political infighting, wars and the Great Depression, but it is now a thriving modern city which, together with its surrounds, makes up Australia's Capital Territory. Canberra lies 95 miles (150km) in from the East Coast, by road 175 miles (280km) from Sydney and 415 miles (660km) from Melbourne.

Like most capitals of the world, Canberra boasts an architectural heritage in its civic and Government buildings, but Canberra is also blessed with some of the loveliest surroundings of any national capital. There are more than 30 Australian artistic and cultural institutions located in Canberra, ranging from the Australian War Memorial to Parliament House, surmounted by a colossal stainless-steel flagpole and set in 23 hectares of gardens. In the centre of Lake Burley Griffin, the impressive Captain Cook Memorial Jet shoots a six-ton column of water 482 feet (147m) into the air, while on the shore the National Gallery of Australia houses the country's premier public art collection spanning about 5,000 years of international art.

Canberra is also known for its spring festival, Floriade, when the parks and gardens surrounding Lake Burley Griffin explode with colourful displays of massed tulips and other blooms. The city, with its many parklands, is especially beautiful in spring and autumn.

Information & Facts


On average Canberra has seven hours of sunshine a day all year round, which, together with a low rainfall average, makes this a fine holiday destination. Summer weather in Canberra is generally hot and dry with mild easterly and north-westerly winds prevailing. Nights become cooler when autumn sets in, and winter is characterised by the arrival of numerous cold fronts. Temperatures may be lower in winter, but the sun still shines most of the time. October is on average the wettest month, though rainfall is minimal.

Getting Around

Public transport is limited to buses and because Canberra is spread out, with meagre weekend services and no transport after about 10pm, visitors are best off with a car. There is plenty of parking at the tourist sites and the road system is excellent and uncongested; to hire a car drivers must be 21 years of age and hold a valid driver's license, sometimes in conjunction with an international driver's permit. The Action bus company routes cover most tourist attractions from four town centre bus interchanges: City, Woden, Tuggeranong and Belconnen. A day bus pass is available from bus drivers or the tourist information centre. Cycling is also a popular means of transport in Canberra and there is an extensive network of bicycle paths around the city. Taxi ranks are available in most major areas of the city.

English is the official language of Australia.

The Australian Dollar (AUD) is divided into 100 cents. Banks and bureaux de change exchange most foreign currencies. Travellers cheques are also welcome everywhere, but banks take a small commission and it is better to take cheques in major currencies (e.g. US dollars or Euros) to avoid additional charges. Credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are freely available throughout the country. Banking hours are generally 9.30am to 4pm Monday to Thursday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Friday, but some banks offer extended hours and some are open on Saturday mornings.

The Australian National Botanic Gardens, sited on the slopes of Black Mountain, is the world's finest living collection of Australian native plants. Set among natural eucalypts, they provide an ideal setting to display the nation's unique and beautiful floral heritage. The variety of eco-systems in the Gardens encourages a host of birds. Other features include the Aboriginal Track, a Rock Garden, Rainforest Gully, the Mallee and the Tasmanian Garden.

Consistently voted Canberra's premier tourist attraction, the Australian War Memorial is not only a fitting tribute to the men and women who gave their lives in service of their country, but also a fascinating, highly-informative museum, that seeks to educate modern Australians about the conflicts that have blighted their country's past. Housing an in-depth exhibition for every war Australia has ever been involved in, and boasting passionate, knowledgeable tour guides, visitors are strongly advised to set aside at least half a day to do the museum justice. A must-see for anyone seeking a sobering, humanising reminder of how dearly war can cost a nation.

The Canberra Space Centre contains a collection of space memorabilia, models, theatres and interactive exhibits covering the last 40 years of space flight and exploration. Visitors can weigh themselves on the moon and see Mars in 3-D.

Opened to the public in 1979, Cockington Green at Gold Creek Village is an award-winning display of miniature buildings and landscaped gardens and one of Canberra's landmark attractions. As well as the stunning miniature displays and breathtaking gardens, there is a Heritage Rose Walk, a maze, several cafés, a barbecue, picnic and playground areas and a steam train ride that circles the grounds.

The Australian Railway Historical Society Inc operates regular Sunday steam train rides to Royalla on the first and third Sunday of each month, and on the second and fourth Sunday operates rail motor trains to Royalla. Ride the 'Spirit of Tuggeranong' or the 'Tin Hare Express' to Royalla, enjoy a picnic lunch and then hop back on for the return trip. Other trips available include evening railroad dinner and dancing trips. The trains operate from Queanbeyan Railway Station, Henderson Road.

Located on the south shore of the lake, the National Gallery has the best collection of art in the country. The Australian collection ranges from traditional Aboriginal art through to 20th-century works by Tom Roberts, Arthur Boyd, Sidney Nolan and Albert Tucker. Aboriginal works include bark paintings from Arnhem Land, pukumaniburial poles from the Tiwi people and printed fabrics from central Australia. A permanent feature is The Aboriginal Memorial (1987-88), an installation of 200 painted hollow log coffins by the artists of Ramingining in Arnhem Land. The Memorial ,a collaborative work involving 43 artists, is dedicated to all indigenous Australians who have lost their lives defending their country since European settlement. There's also plenty of foreign art from all eras, and many important international exhibitions are exhibited in Canberra on their way around the world. The collection is not confined to paintings; sculptures, prints, drawings, photographs, furniture, ceramics, fashion, textiles and silverware are all on display.

View exotic and native animals, ocean and freshwater fish, reptiles and amphibians. See leopards, lions, tigers, cougars, bears, monkeys, Tasmanian devils, sharks and Barrier Reef exhibits. Feed kangaroos and pat dingoes. The complex is beside Lake Burley Griffin, and large habitats provide ideal viewing for education and enjoyment.

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