Australia’s capital is a truly unique place in many respects, with an open-minded, liberal feel and strong green ethos. Famous for being chock-full of public servants, the locals are sophisticated, well-educated and earn high incomes.
Unusually for an Australian city, Canberra’s layout was entirely planned, like Washington DC in the US or Brasilia in Brazil, so from above it has a distinctively neat radial pattern rather than most cities’ grid-like structure.
Let’s be real, it gets cold (for Australia), but if you love to ski or snowboard, the Alps are right on your doorstep – perfection!
The cost of living in Canberra is about average for Aussie cities, although housing affordability is something of an issue, thanks in part to restrictive property development rules.
Canberra’s public transport system is considered good, with extensive bus services providing transport throughout the city, and a light rail line is currently under construction.
But cars are still the primary mode of transport for many Canberrans. Visit http://www.transport.act.gov.au/ for detailed information on Canberra public transport.
Find out more about Australian public transport in general.
As the nation’s capital, naturally Canberra is home to some pretty important and fascinating attractions. Many government buildings are open to the public and run regular free tours, like the High Court, Parliament House and the Royal Australian Mint.
The city’s centrepiece Lake Burley Griffin is a picturesque manmade lake where you can try your hand at kayaking, rowing, sailing, fishing or stand-up paddle boarding on the water. Or enjoy a brisk walk or cycle along the lakeside paths followed by a picnic in one of the pretty gardens or parks along the water’s edge or a drink and a bite to eat in one of the many cafes or restaurants.
You’ll find the best nightlife in the suburbs of Dickson and Kingston, as well as the city.
A few of Canberra’s historic homes are open to the public. Visit Lanyon and Tuggeranong Homesteads in the Tuggeranong Valley, Mugga-Mugga Cottage in Symonston and Blundells’ Cottage in Parkes for a peek into the everyday life of the early settlers.
Kids in particular will love getting up close and personal with animals past and present and putting their mad scientist hat on at:
Arty types will love the incredible calibre of art and theatre on show at:
Other great places to visit include:
Rugby in all its forms is big news in Canberra. The Raiders (rugby league) and Brumbies (rugby union) both play their home games at GIO Stadium. Basketball and soccer (football) are also very popular with locals. The Australian Institute of Sport is a training institution for elite athletes in the suburb of Bruce that produces the bulk of Aussie Olympians. They offer guided tours where if you’re lucky you might just spot one of your favourite sportspeople in training!
Some of Canberra’s most interesting events are:
While it rarely snows properly in the CBD (the last time this happened was 1968), surrounding areas get lots of snow throughout winter and you can often see the nearby snow-capped mountains from the city centre.
Canberra’s proximity to the Snowy Mountains in the Australian Alps (around three hours’ drive) makes it the perfect Aussie city for snow bunnies. Check out the popular ski resorts of:
The snow season spans June to October but outside of those months in the Alps you can enjoy:
Read about even more fun things to do in Canberra.
Read about more things to do at night in Canberra.
While there are certainly many positives to living in Canberra, consider the relatively high cost of living, less-than-perfect climate and the fact that entertainment options may not be as plentiful as some other Australian cities before you make a decision on your new home in Australia.
Congratulations! You’ll need to get the essentials sorted before you leave or soon after you arrive. Here are some tips on setting up the basics you’ll need to start your new life.