Canberra, Australia

27 Central Facts About Canberra

Canberra may not ring a bell for everyone, but it is one of the most important cities in the world!

Believe it or not, Canberra is the capital city of Australia! While many of us tend to assume that Sydney or Melbourne is the country’s capital city, we’d be sorely mistaken.

Yet, how much do you know about this magnificent city? Here are some of the most interesting facts about Canberra.

1. Canberra is situated in the ACT.

As mentioned, Canberra is indeed the capital city of Australia, and is based in the Australian Capital Territory, also known as the ACT, and is about 280 km southwest of Sydney.

As of 2024, around 477,000 people live in Canberra.

2. It’s a pretty young city!

Believe it or not, Canberra was officially founded on March 12, 1913! The city’s name was officiated by Lady Denman at a ceremony on Capital Hill, which, at the time, was still known as Kurrajong Hill.

The name also has a very important meaning. It is believed to be derived from the Aboriginal word “Kambera” or “Canberry,” which means “meeting place.”

3. The city was designed by Americans.

The city’s layout was designed by American architects Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin. They gained the opportunity to design the city by winning an international competition that was held two years prior, in 1911.

American-born Australian politician King O’Malley launched the competition to find the perfect designer for the city’s layout, which he appeared to have achieved! Canberra is known for its unique circular and geometric layout, brought to it by the Griffins!

4. The city is home to Lake Burley Griffin.

If one of the names above rang a bell, it’ll be because it’s the name of the famous lake in Canberra! Lake Burley Griffin was named after its architect – it’s an artificial body of water that measures around 6.8 miles long and 0.75 miles wide. It’s a spectacular sight and day out – take a look at some photos on social media to inspire a visit!

5. The city is home to the country’s Parliament.

Since Canberra is the capital city of Australia, it will probably come as no surprise to you that it is also home to the seat of the Australian Parliament.

In fact, it is also home to the Old Parliament! The Old Parliament House served as the official seat of the Parliament from 1927 to 1988.

Of course, as the capital, Canberra is also home to many foreign embassies and high commissions. In fact, the aptly named Embassy Drive is an area with many of the city’s embassies.

Canberra is also the official residence of the Governor-General of Australia and the High Court of Australia.

6. It is home to the National Library.

Canberra is also home to the National Library of Australia. It is the largest reference library in the country. It reportedly measures around 47,000 square meters.

Construction started on this huge building in 1961, and it reportedly has about 26 million items inside – and a staggering 2.96 petabytes of information stored digitally. That’s over a million gigabytes, or more than 2,800 average laptop hard drives!

7. It is also home to the war memorial.

One of the most famous monuments in Canberra is the Australian War Memorial. This memorial commemorates the Australians who have died in wars and conflicts.

This important landmark is located in Campbell, in Canberra. It includes five separate buildings and a beautiful sculpture garden. The memorial was designed by visionaries John Crust and Emil Sodersten.

Nearby, the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Parade is a boulevard that was also dedicated to the military history of Australia and New Zealand.

8. You can see the National Gallery in Canberra, too.

If you are more interested in seeing art while touring Canberra, then the National Gallery of Australia is the place to go! This gallery plays host to an extensive collection of Australian and international art.

The contemporary building, which is a piece of art in itself, was founded in 1967, and was designed by architects Colin Madigan and Andrew Anderson.

Although, if you cannot make it to the gallery, you will be glad to know that Canberra has numerous public art installations and sculptures all over the city. It’s a city you’re going to want to keep your camera ready for!

facts about canberra 1 scaled

9. You can also see the National Museum in the city.

What is possibly one of the most interesting buildings in all of Australia is also situated in Canberra! The National Museum of Australia explores the history and culture of the nation.

It is a feast for the eyes both outside and inside. It was founded in 1980, and the fascinating building was designed by architect Howard Raggatt.

10. It is a science hub, too.

Aside from history and art, Canberra is also a veritable science hub! It is home to the headquarters of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

Founded in 1916, the CSIRO works with organizations around the world to further scientific research for both national and international purposes.

Canberra is also home to the Australian National University (ANU). It is one of the country’s leading research universities!

If you are interested in science and are in the area, you can also visit Questacon. Questacon is the country’s official National Science and Technology Centre, famous for its family-friendly interactive exhibits.

11. The city is known for its flowers and green spaces.

Canberra is also known for hosting an annual flower and entertainment festival known as Floriade. People from all over the world come to attend this festival. For example, in 2019, a record-breaking 507,550 people attended!

12. Canberra experiences an oceanic climate.

Canberra has a perfect oceanic climate. This means that the city has four distinct seasons throughout the year – though maybe not quite like you’d experience in the US or the UK!

And, although some of us may find it strange for such a warm country, it even occasionally snows in Canberra during the winter months!

And, just like the rest of Australia, Canberra experiences summer from December to February. Worth a warm Christmas trip, then!

Canberra's flowers

13. It is known as the Bush Capital.

You may have heard of Canberra being referred to as the Bush Capital. This is due to the fact that the city is known for its vast areas of natural vegetation and parklands.

For example, Canberra is home to the Namadgi National Park. To be more specific, the park covers about 46% of the territory!

The city is also well-known and much-loved for the spectacular Mount Ainslie, a hill that offers panoramic views of the city and surrounding areas.

Haig Park is another great natural area. In fact, it is a heritage-listed urban forest in the Braddon suburb.

14. You can find stunning portraits in the city.

As mentioned, Canberra is a pretty arty place, overall! The National Portrait Gallery is home to various portraits of prominent Australians. It was founded in 1998, and the building was designed by architect Richard Johnson. In order to make the gallery accessible to the most people, it is completely free to enter!

However, you can be charged to see certain exhibitions, so it’s worth checking before you book!

15. You can see the whole city from Telstra Tower.

If you would like to take advantage of stunning panoramic views of the city, Telstra Tower offers such views of Canberra from the top of Black Mountain. It is one of the city’s most iconic monuments and goes up to 195.2 meters above the summit of Black Mountain!

However, if you are in Canberra at the moment, you cannot go into the tower. It has been closed since 2021 for renovations on the inside. Sadly, the people of Canberra still do not know when the tower will be opened again.

16. You can visit the zoo and aquarium in one go!

Canberra has a very efficient zoo and aquarium set up! The National Zoo & Aquarium is in fact Australia’s only combined zoo and aquarium. The animal exhibits opened here in 1981, and is currently home to over 75 different animal species! It is an incredibly popular spot for families all year round.

However, it is worth noting that getting into the zoo and aquarium is not super-cheap by any means. It costs adults $55 per ticket!

That being said, it is a vast area that will take you a whole day to explore, and it is definitely worth seeing all of the animals!

Canberra National Zoo & Aquarium
Canberra’s National Zoo & Aquarium

17. The AIS is located in Canberra.

The Australian Institute of Sport is based in Canberra, too – providing training facilities for elite athletes.

Founded in 1981, the AIS has brought some of the best Australian and international coaches to train its future elite athletes. And you can even see it for yourself!

There are guided public tours every day at the AIS. To learn more, go to the AIS Visitor Center directly – you do not need to book in advance.

18. You can easily make your way around the city.

Fortunately for its inhabitants and visitors, Canberra has an extensive bus network and a light rail service known as the Canberra Metro.

And, if you are in the area, you might want to visit Lonsdale Street. The area is very popular for dining and nightlife.

On the other hand, if you’re looking for somewhere a bit quieter, Gungahlin is one of the city’s fastest-growing suburbs. Tuggeranong is another major suburb in the city.

19. It is the city of the Raiders!

The Canberra Raiders are the city’s professional rugby league team. The team currently includes players such as Corey Horsburgh, Jarrod Croker, Xavier Savage, Josh Papali’i, and more.

The city is also home to the Brumbies, its professional rugby union team. The team’s logo is a horse standing on its hind legs, meant to represent the feral horses of the area. It’s safe to say there will always be some games worth watching out in Canberra no matter the sport you follow!

20. The city lights up throughout the year!

Canberra is known for its flower festival, but also for its light displays! The Enlighten Festival is an yearly celebration that features illuminations and projections on iconic buildings.

In 2024, the festival took place from March 1 to March 17. But, don’t worry if you missed it – the city frequently plans ahead and hosts its events annually. Be sure to check out the events calendar for Canberra in the future if you’re heading down under in March.

Canberra's Enlighten Festival
One of Canberra’s Enlighten Festival projections in 2014

21. The city is celebrated on Canberra Day.

Canberra Day is a public holiday celebrated every second Monday of March to commemorate the founding of the city. There are plenty of events that take place around Canberra Day to celebrate it properly including Hands Up for Canberra Giving Day, Canberra Festival, Canberra Festival Balloon Spectacular, and more!

22. It is a very green city.

Canberra is well known for being a very green city with vast green spaces and environmental initiatives.

In fact, it is considered to be one of the five most sustainable cities in the entire world!
The city was Australia’s first to achieve an entirely renewable energy supply, and is a net zero city that many others could learn from.

If you are interested in rare natural wonders, the National Arboretum Canberra features a collection of rare and significant trees from around the world.

On the other hand, you could also visit Tidbinbilla, which is a nature reserve and space tracking station located near Canberra.

23. It has a multicultural festival.

Canberra is known for being a multicultural city, but did you know that it even has a Multicultural Festival?

The festival is an annual occasion celebrating the city’s cultural diversity. In 2024, the festival took place from February 16 to February 18. The festival includes plenty of attractions, such as dances, live music performances, cultural workshops, and even cooking demonstrations.

It is a great way for people of different cultures to get together and share their customs, beliefs, and specialties.

24. Sports fans are well aware of the Manuka Oval!

The Manuka Oval is a major sports venue in Canberra, used for cricket and Australian football. The venue opened in 1929 and has an overall capacity of 16,000 people! The area was named after the Leptospermum scoparium’s Māori name, which is Manuka.

The largest sports stadium in the city, however, is the GIO Stadium. This arena has more than 25,000 seats, and it’s thought to be the biggest stadium in the ACT based on capacity alone. It’s here where both the Raiders and the Brumbies play matches!

Manuka Oval
Manuka Oval

25. The city has an important instrument.

The National Carillon is a large musical instrument with 57 bells, ranging about 5 octaves, located on Aspen Island in Lake Burley Griffin. It was opened in 1970 and is still used for recitals and celebrations!

26. It’s a great shopping hub.

Canberra is also a great place for shoppers! For example, some of the most famous major shopping centers include the Canberra Centre, Westfield Woden, and Westfield Belconnen.

That being said, for those looking for a more natural vibe, the Capital Region Farmers Market is a popular market that supplies a wide range of local and goods.

27. It’s the sister city of several worldwide locations.

Canberra is one of the most linked cities in the world – in that it has “sister” connections to the likes of Beijing, China, Wellington, New Zealand, and Nara, Japan.

Canberra’s many international links help to solidify its place as a capital of culture. In fact, every year, citizens can take part in the Nara Candle Festival, which honors the sisterly connection the city has with its Japanese equivalent.

Westfield Belconnen
Westfield Belconnen

FAQs About Canberra

What do I need to know before moving to Canberra?

If you are planning on moving to Canberra, then you will need to make a few key decisions first.

For example, you will need to know whether you want to live on the north side of Canberra or the south. You will also need to consider the transport available to you and the schools (if needed for you or your loved ones) in the areas you are considering.

Interestingly, you will also need to get a license to live in Canberra!

Why is Canberra so famous?

Canberra is mostly famous for being the capital of Australia. As the country’s capital, Canberra is home to the nation’s government, many national monuments, and some fantastic museums!

How many days do I need in Canberra?

If you are visiting Canberra, you will need at least five days in order to be able to visit and experience as much as possible. You should be able to see plenty of the city within the five days, but, the more time you have and the better planned you are, the better!

Do you know any fun facts about Canberra? Share them in the comments below!

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This page was last modified on June 15, 2024. Suggest an edit