Canberra City - Canberra, ACT

323 kms from Sydney

Canberra is Australia's National Capital. When the Australian States federated in 1901, it was decided to build an entirely new city so that the Federal Government could have complete control over its own seat and also be removed from the influence of any of the State capitals. The Commonwealth Constitution Act 1900 laid down that the city's site should "be in the State of New South Wales, and be distant not less than one hundred kms from Sydney".

A fierce debate then began to determine the site; Tumut, Bombala, and Dalgety being the final contenders in the field. But in 1908 the present Australian Capital Territory was chosen. Its total area is 900 square kms, or 576,000 acres, of which 108,800 acres are the catchment area of the Cotter River and therefore reserved from occupation; 7,680 acres are set apart for the city site; and 100,000 acres are reserved for parks, colleges, and other public purposes.

The design of the city formed the subject of a world-wide competition (in 1911), which was won by the late Walter Burley Griffin, a Chicago architect. His design was a notable piece of town-planning of which the main faults were, perhaps, a too great ambition and a tendency to subordinate practical needs to abstract theories of design. The focal point of the plan was Capitol Hill from which all the main avenues were to radiate. The administrative, commercial, industrial, and residential areas of the town were all sharply separated, although the building difficulties of the post-war period have caused some compromise in this direction. Perhaps the most notable feature to a layman is the way in which many of the streets lie in concentric circles.

Canberra is a garden city. Several million trees and shrubs line its wide streets. In spring, the peach and cherry blossoms and the tulips are at their best; in summer, the roses are a delight; in autumn, the city is beautiful with avenues of golden-leaved poplars, with oaks, cedars, and birches. Canberra's trees and shrubs never fail to impress the visitor with their beauty and they have probably won the Capital more friends than any other feature.


There are many facilities for sport and the desire for beauty extends to the city's playing fields. The golf course is divided by the- Molonglo River and is reputed to be the "show" course of the Commonwealth. The swimming pool leaves nothing to be desired and is a palatial white-tiled structure catering for visitors as well as the city's population. Tennis, bowls, croquet, fishing can all be enjoyed, and camping facilities are available. In winter the snowfields of the Australian Alps, a short run from the city, attract many hundreds of enthusiasts. The trip to the snowfields reveals magnificent scenery.
The public buildings are interesting in their variety of architectural structure. Old Parliament House dominates the Canberra scene from its site on Capital Hill. The building is two storey, covering over four acres and surrounded by parks and gardens. The House is open to visitors for inspection each day, including Sunday and Public Holidays, the exceptions being Christmas Day and Good Friday.

One of the most interesting buildings is Action House erected by the first settler in 1826 and is now used as Court House and Police Station. The century old Church of St. John the Baptist, with its graveyard, is reminiscent of England.

On the summit of Mount Stromlo stands the Commonwealth Solar Physics Observatory. The winding road to the Observatory is full of scenic interest. Mount Stromlo is regarded as one of the city's natural out-looks. At the foot of Mount Ainslie stands the Australian War Memorial and contains valuable documents and relics relating to World War I. The Memorial consists of a Pool of Reflection, Garden Court and Hall of Memory. The residence of the Governor-General, Yarralumla House, is set in picturesque surroundings a short way from the city.


Canberra, ACT, 2600