Australian Capital Territory
Population: Around 365,000
Size: 2,358sq km
State Capital: Canberra
The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) was created at the start of the 20th century as an independent base for what was then Australia’s new capital city, Canberra. It is an island state within New South Wales, made up of farmland and wineries, Namadgi National Park, and the city of Canberra.
Canberra was designed by an American architect in 1912. As you’d probably expect from a planned city, it is symmetrical, calm and orderly, with broad, easy to navigate streets. Getting around is easy. Canberrans are believed to have the shortest commutes to work in Australia and traffic jams are virtually unheard of. Lots of people cycle, making good use of the city’s many bike paths.
Canberra was planned around parks and bushland, so it is very green. It is also much further inland than most other Australian cities, and that – plus its height above sea level – means that it has four distinct seasons, which the many landscaped parklands and gardens show off to great effect. Aside from the walks and bike paths in the parks, there are plenty of other opportunities to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. The bushland that surrounds the city offers great mountain-biking and walking trails. Sailing and water sport enthusiasts flock to Lake Burley Griffin, while the Snowy Mountains ski fields are only two hours away by car.
As Australia’s political centre, Canberra is home to around 80 embassies and high commissions. There is a large international and diplomatic community living in the city as a result, which gives it a cosmopolitan feel. Canberra is also home to many of Australia’s national monuments, as well as to the National Gallery of Australia and the National Museum of Australia. There is a thriving theatre, exhibition and music scene as well as a wide range of bars and restaurants to choose from.