the fp is things-to-do
Things to see and do in Australian Capital Territory
Canberra and Region Visitors CentreAddress: 330 Northbourne Avenue, Dickson,
Australian Capital Territory,
Telephone: 1300 554 114.
Mon-Fri 0900-1700; Sat-Sun 0900-1600.
Attractions in Australian Capital Territory
Aboriginal rock paintings
Gaze at prehistoric sites with Aboriginal rock paintings, rare sub-alpine species of flora and fauna and enjoy spectacular views and walking tracks in the Namadgi National Park (www.australianalps.environment.gov.au/parks/namadgi.html). Keep an eye on the skies at one of the most important bird habitats in the region, which becomes a refuge for large numbers of water birds during drought in inland Australia: the wetlands.
Australian National Botanic Gardens
Bursting with Australia's beautiful and diverse plant life, Canberra's Australian national Botanic Gardens are a refreshing green escape.
Australian War Memorial
Spend the annual ANZAC Day at the Australian War Memorial (www.awm.gov.au) in Canberra, which is deservedly one of the city's most popular attractions, and the scene of the colourful annual ANZAC Parade; it contains archives, galleries displaying relics, photographs and art.
Black Mountain Tower
Peer down at the Australian Capital Territory from the 195m (650ft) Black Mountain Tower (www.blackmountaintower.com.au) on the summit of the 825m- (2,750ft-) high Black Mountain.
Bushwalk, fish or rock climb in one of the parks, forests or nature reserves; the trails allow visitors to embark on a good exploration of Australian bush and even include the chance to see some Aboriginal rock art.
Bywong Town gold mining village
The boom time for this town, 80km (50 miles) from Canberra, was between 1895-1906. Today Bywong is a living history lesson with a recreated 1890s village on the site. See the mine site and the machinery used to extract gold from the ore as part of a gold tour (www.bywongtown.com.au).
If you're planning a few years in advance, 2013 will be a good year to visit Canberra, as it celebrates its 100th birthday of being officially named the capital city. Legacy projects, arts, sports and cultural events and community celebrations are expected to lure the crowds.
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and Namadgi National Park are great to explore and discover by bike. The sanctuary at Tidbinbilla offers a chance to witness the wildlife of the area up close, while mountain biking across the fire trails in Namadgi National Park remains a popular pastime, with 400km (250 miles) of track to cover (www.australianalps.environment.gov.au).
Make time for a round of golf: the Royal Canberra Golf Club (www.royalcanberra.com.au), located on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, is ranked amongst the top 10 courses in Australia; the Federal Golf Club (www.fgc.com.au) features views to the Brindabella mountain ranges.
Take to the skies in a balloon for the perfect vista of Canberra, or for the less adventurous, glance up at a flurry of them at the Festival Balloon Spectacular (www.events.act.gov.au/?/canberrafestival) every year around March and April.
Meet the masters
The National Gallery (www.nga.gov.au) features over 100,000 works of art, spanning collections by European masters such as Van Gogh to indigenous art.
National Museum of Australia
Delve into the depths of Australian history at the National Museum of Australia (www.nma.gov.au), the storybook of the nation. From aboriginal bark paintings to documentation of the Sydney Olympics, all facets of Australia's diverse past are found here.
Observe where parliament used to sit at the impressive Old Parliament House in Canberra's elegant city of wide streets, gardens and parkland; learn more about the role and function of the federal parliament at the more modern Parliament House (www.aph.gov.au).
Picnic in Murrumbidgee
Round off a good walk or horse ride with a picnic in the scenic park area along the Murrumbidgee River Corridor: more than 60km (37 miles) of the Murrumbidgee River meanders through the territory, and there are myriad picnic and swimming spots.
Sheep shearing and boomerang throwing
The Glenloch Sheep Station, located in Belconnen on the outskirts of Canberra, offers a range of stereotypically Australian activities, including sheep shearing, boomerang throwing and sheep-dog demonstrations. These are usually rounded off with a traditional Australian barbecue lunch.
Just a two-hour drive south of Canberra, the Snowy Mountains (www.snowymountains.com.au) are worth at least a day trip out. Travel through historic Cooma and Thredbo village and take a chairlift up to the peaks. Enjoy the Alpine scenery on skis or snowboard in winter or try horse riding, quad biking or a variety of watersports in summer.
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
Enjoy a wealth of Australian fauna and wildlife at the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve in Tharwa; a number of bushwalking trails are provided and visitors can observe kangaroos, emus, wallabies, platypus, bush birds and water birds in their natural habitat.