Canberra Travel Information

Mother Earth Travel > Australia > Canberra > History

Surrounded on all sides by rural townships and bush landscape, Canberra - "The Bush Capital" - is essentially a small city, but her districts can be worlds apart. The vision for a garden city continues to influence Canberra's development with over half her area still reserved for parkland. From historical to cosmopolitan, each of her districts are distinctly different, but all are neighboured by areas of great natural beauty.

City Centre
With some of the best known Australian landmarks and buildings - Parliament House, the Australian War Memorial, the National Gallery of Australia and Telstra Tower - you cannot forget that you are in the nation's capital. In the bush-landscaped centre of the city, the Canberra Centre forms the busy shopping hub, surrounded by evidence of the Sydney and Melbourne influence in the beautiful historic buildings that date back to the establishment of the city. More recently, looming inner city apartment and business buildings have popped up in abundance, giving the city a 'past to present' feel that makes it difficult to slot Canberra into any one category.

A picturesque landmark of the city is the historic Merry Go Round, which offers entertainment to the children as well as an interesting perspective of Canberra's history and beauty for adults. Most of the city centre is connected by pavements, and a day can easily go by as you wander around enjoying the specialty shops and sidewalk cafes that give the city her cosmopolitan feel.

South Canberra
Only a ten minute drive from the city centre, Manuka has long been regarded as the Mediterranean flavour of Canberra with a vast population of sidewalk cafes. Paved and beautifully landscaped, the shopping district has a relaxed feel and the interlinked arcades and shopping boulevards host a multitude of boutique stores.

In the next suburb, Kingston is making its mark as another stylish centre. Cafes and restaurants in every cuisine imaginable vie for space on the sidewalks and in the courtyard, Green Square. Boutique stores and antique centres are set in a landscape of picturesque apartment buildings.

Gold Creek Village
With the growth of the Gungahlin residential areas nearby, Gold Creek Village has expanded over the years to become a mecca of specialty stores and souvenir shops. But draw cards to the area are the major attractions such as the National Dinosaur Museum, Cockington Green and wildlife centres The Bird Walk and The Australian Reptile Centre.

Belconnen, Tuggeranong and Woden Town Centres
Originally large shopping malls for the residential regions, these districts have in recent years slowly built a reputation for their nightlife. Cafes, bars and restaurants are settling in beside popular live music venues and it is now no longer necessary for residents of these areas to venture into the city to get some entertainment. Each district's centre offers a different type of live entertainment and eateries. Belconnen is host to Turkish and Indian restaurants, as well as taverns with Australian bands. Woden is now becoming the jazz and blues hub, and Tuggeranong is welcoming the Irish pub scene.

These areas are also very close to many of the city's outdoor attractions: Ginninderra Falls is a short drive from Belconnen, Mt Stromlo Observatory and the Cotter Reserve are only a fifteen minute drive from Woden, and Tuggeranong is the gateway to the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.

This beautiful historic rural village is on the way to the Namadgi National Park, and is home to Australia's oldest bridge. Enjoy a picnic at the Tharwa Bridge Reserve, or take time to peruse the Cuppacumbalong Craft Centre during your rural outing.

Settled before Canberra, Queanbeyan, is a typical inland Australian 'city' with a township built around the main street, a welcome lack of high-rises and one shopping mall. While only 15 minutes drive from Canberra's city centre, it can feel like a world apart. Queanbeyan is home to the Molonglo Gorge and the magnificent Googong Dam, which is both an amazing engineering feat and a pleasant spot for a picnic, fishing or bushwalking.

Bungendore is Canberra's historical region. This small rural colonial-style village established in 1880 is now a thriving tourist attraction. Art, craft, and antique stores are great for shopping or just browsing. The Bungendore Wood Works is a must. The beautiful Carrington Hotel in the centre of the village also serves as restaurant and function centre, and even has its own resident ghost.

Captains Flat
Originally a booming mining town, Captains Flat is now a great place for an afternoon drive, being only 45 minutes from the city centre. Tipped to become one of the city's next big tourist venues - as Bungendore is today - it is still a sleepy township that seems miles from anywhere. Enjoy a peacful picnic in the park, a bushwalk or a lazy lunch at the pub while you can.

Another rural village centre, Murrumbateman is an ideal stopping point between Canberra and Yass, and is home to many of the region's noted wineries, such as Clonkilla Wines and Doonkuna Estate, and makes a great outing for wine lovers. Antique stores are also plentiful here.

Plentiful everywhere in Canberra's districts are surprises. Take time to get out and explore, and you will be take away fond memories of the bush capital.