Australia is officially became a country in 1901, when all individual colonies signed a federation pact. But the country still had a new capital city to be chosen. Sydney and Melbourne were two obvious choices as being the biggest cities, but the heads of individual colonies could not reach an agreement. So instead of an existing city, they decided to create a new city and that would be their capital.
They settled in a rural area 280 km inland from Sydney. In 1911 they separated out the area of New South Wales and called it the Federal Capital Territory (change in Australian Capital Territory (ACT) in 1938). And the Australian capital was called Canberra. It is not as large as either Sydney or Melbourne, it is landlocked and it gets very cold in winter.
It is not very big, so one day would be enough time to spend here. Of course if you have more time, you can stay a few days, but don't skip over Canberra especially when visiting Australia. As the capital Canberra has a number of interesting sights. If you happen to visit in the winter, make sure you bring warm clothes with you, because temperatures below 0 degrees Celsius are frequently reached. In summer it is warmer, but rarely exceeds 40 degrees Celsius.
Canberra is a very bike-friendly city. It's an easy way to see a large part of the city, and is very pleasant when the weather is nice. You can also walk everywhere; it takes only a bit longer. And there are also bus lines that you can use anywhere.
When you're in Canberra you should go to Parliament House. It is located in and on Capital Hill, and from the top you look out over the city. If you want to be inside you have to pass through security, but then you can just walk around on your own. The inside of the building is beautiful and very impressive with lots of marble stone. Upstairs there is a small exhibition of paintings by former leaders and important documents in the history of Australia.
Lake Burley Griffin separates the center of the Capital Hill, where the parliament is. It has a long bridge that connects the two parts. The lake is named after the architect who designed Canberra. It was a big empty swampy area, but it was filled with water in 1963, the construction of Scrivener Dam in the Molonglo River. Around it are beautiful parks so you can walk on a nice day. In 1970 they built the Captain Cook Memorial Water Jet. This is a high water reaches 147 meters high into the air. Take a stroll along the banks of the lake and watch the water.
The Botanical Gardens in Canberra are incredibly beautiful. They climb on to the lower parts of the Black Mountain. Here you will find many native Australian flora, neatly planted and well cared for. There is an Aboriginal Walk (approximately one hour long), who will give you information about the different plants and its possible uses. Visit the small visitor center and bookstore to get a card, or a free tour to do.
This is a free museum with a great collection of Aboriginal art. There are beautiful paintings and woodwork. There are also collections of Asian, Indian and Australian art, but you will found out very fast that Aboriginal art is the most amazing. There are beautiful sculptures and usually a number of thematic exhibitions. Admission is free, but sometimes you have to pay extra for a number of temporary exhibitions.