The population of Australian Capital Territory (ACT) is a little over 300,000. The total area of the territory is a fraction over 2,400 square kilometres; tiny by Australian standards. The Capital Territory is surrounded by New South Wales, with the capital Canberra surrounding Lake Burley Griffin, which is man made.
The Australian Capital Territory stretches 88km from north to south and only 30km from west to east. The landscape around Canberra is made up of rugged plains, hills and mountains, as well as plenty of trees. This countryside leads into New South Wales from all directions, with most of the landscape being National Parks.
40% of ACT is made up of the Namadgi National Park, although the ACT is also home to the Kosciusko National Park. There are plenty of walking trails around Canberra, and some beautiful barbecue areas where you can stop along your journey.
The Murrumbridge River runs from south east to north west and offers some great swimming spots. These include the Black Mountain, Casuarina Sands, Cotter Dam, Gibraltar Falls, Kambah Pool Reserve, Point Hill Crossing, Pine Island and Uriarra Crossing. About 30km north of Canberrais Bywong, a replica of an old mining town and settlement.
30km south is the Lanyon Homestead, where the buildings and landscape are truly beautiful. You can also visit the Nolan Gallery, which displays a collection of artwork by Sidney Nolan.
There are several pretty towns around Canberra and ACT which are worth visiting en route, including Braidwood, Bungendore, Gold Creek, Queanbeyan and Tharwa.
A Little History
In 1901 a decision was made to develop a national capital. The move was as a direct result of the federation of colonies in Australia. However, it wasn't until 1908 that the location of the capital had been decided.
The location was a compromise between the two rivals Melbourne and Sydney. This explains why the capital is roughly between the two states; although slightly closer to Sydney.
Who was to design the city, was decided by way of an international competion which was won by an American architect named, Walter Burley Griffin.
Canberra was the name given to the new capital which is rumoured to be a translation of 'meeting place' in aboriginal. Slow progress was made, and until 1927 decisions were still made in Melbourne until parliament was convened in Canberra.
The depression put a further dampener on the developments. It fact things didn't really start happening until well after the second world war.
The Australian National University opened in 1946 followed by the Canberra School of Music in 1965 and is home to the National War Memorial.
Points of Interest
The Floriade Festival
If you like flowers, this festival is for you. Essentially a stunning display of Canberra's spring flowers during the months of October and November.
Upon Capital Hill rests a huge four legged flag mast that marks the location of Parliament House. A large percentage of the building is open to the public between 9am and 5pm, and is well worth the visit.