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Sydney isn’t the capital of Australia!

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Jay Martin – The Veggo Adventurer

Sydney is not the capital of Australia! What is this… Canberra?

Australia is one of those countries with a capital city that isn’t very well known or densely populated. Other examples of countries like this include Brazil with its capital Brasilia, Turkey with Ankara, and Switzerland with its capital city Bern. Foreigners often debate between Sydney and Melbourne when asked what the capital of Australia is, but the correct answer is actually Canberra, ACT. 

Why is Canberra the Capital of Australia? 

Canberra in Australia Capital Territory is a small city of around 450,000 people that sits between Sydney and Melbourne. The site was chosen as the location for Australia’s capital in 1908 as a compromise between the two aforementioned cities. The city was planned out in entirety before being built. Because of this, Canberra is an immaculate city with many tree-lined boulevards, wide roads, lush green parklands, and many nature reserves.

While political rivalries between colonies of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania around the time of Federation (1 January 1901) began the debate on where to locate the Australian Capital and location of parliament house. It was decreed in The Constitution that the Parliament were to choose a site at least one hundred miles (160km) from Sydney, with Parliament to sit in Melbourne until the new capital was built. Yes, Australians in the early 20th Century built a whole new city to be the Australian capital. 

The endearing word on the Canberra ACT streets is that the movers and shakers of the day wanted the Australian capital to be so far inland that it was safely out of reach from harm. The real reason, however, for choosing Canberra, ACT to sit as the Australian capital, is surprisingly, however not shockingly, much more philosophical and climatical. 

NSW Commission Alexander Oliver was appointed to investigate potential sites for the federal Australian capital. A man of the belief that science and personal experience showed that “a warm, moist temperature” was unhealthy, and rather favoured “a bracing, recuperative climate” with “pure bracing mountain air… at the same time a stimulant and a tonic”. A climate suitable for “the various classes of the body politic whose home… will be at the Seat of Government.” A search that led to the creation of the humble Australian capital of Canberra, ACT. 

Canberra’s History

As the home of Australian politics, Canberra has become one of the country’s cultural and historical hubs. If you are fascinated by Australian history, Canberra is the city for you with iconic landmarks such as the Australian War Memorial, Royal Australian Mint, National Museum, National Gallery and, of course, Parliament House.

Canberra also gives visitors the opportunity to learn about the rich history of  Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.  Discover First Nations’ artworks at the city’s galleries and museum or take a tour with a local Ngunnawal elder and learn more about traditional practices with workshops at the National Arboretum.

For 21,000 years the Canberra region has been home to the Ngunnawal people, with Europeans settling into the area we know today as Canberra ACT in the early 1820’s. The first to settle in the area? Joshua John Moore, who established a stock station called ‘Canberry’. A name based on the Aboriginal name for the area ‘Kamberra’ or ‘Kamberry’. 

While the search continued after Federation in 1901, The Australian Capital Territory was founded in 1911, kicking off a whole other round of decision making on entries for an international competition to design the new Australian capital. The winner? Architect partners and husband and wife, Walter Burley and Marion Mahony Griffin. The result? A romantic stretching city of greenery, wide boulevards, lush parklands and a penchant for water features. A setting that we now know as the modern, thriving, and diverse Australian capital city brimming with cultural and natural experiences. 

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Why should I visit Canberra? 

Canberra has not always been top of the list of places to visit in Australia, but it’s incredible natural surroundings, historical landmarks, galleries and vibrant food and bar scene have seen it grow in popularity. It’s no surprise that it’s been voted one of the most liveable cities in the world.

Although an inland city, Canberra has spectacular surroundings with acres of bushland, alpine mountains and rivers. It’s an adventurer’s paradise with incredible hiking trails and other activities, including mountain biking, kayaking, fishing and camping under the clear starry skies. The city itself is not short on natural sites with the beautiful botanic gardens and Lake Burley.

Not only that, but Canberra has a fantastic food and bar scene with award-winning fine dining, sophisticated inner-city bars, quirky cafes and lakeside restaurants. The region is also home to excellent wineries, charming cellar doors and breweries. 

Canberra is also amazing for art-lovers who can wander through the multiple galleries that showcase old and contemporary artworks. Visitors to the capital city can also watch glass blowing at Canberra Glassworks, take an art workshop, or take a cultural tour of the city.   

Where to stay in Canberra?

Ovolo Nishi is Canberra’s best boutique hotel and the perfect base to set out on your exploration of Australia’s capital city. Expect luxury accommodation, world-class amenities as well a range of Ovolo perks including complimentary breakfast, superspeed WIFI, 24-hour gym access, in-room mini bar and more. The hotel has a central location in Canberra CBD near Commonwealth Park and only a 5-minute drive from Parliament House. 

Looking for a bite to eat? Monster Kitchen & Bar is Ovolo’s vegetarian restaurant inspired by Japanese and Middle Eastern flavours. After a long day of exploring, the restaurant is the ideal spot to wind down with a wine and enjoy the menu of incredible sharing plates created using the best local and seasonal produce. 

If you are road-tripping from Sydney to Melbourne, Ovolo also has options on either side with Ovolo Woolloomooloo and Ovolo 1888 Darling Harbour in Sydney and Ovolo South Yarra and Ovolo Laneways in Melbourne. You are truly spoiled for choice with Ovolo’s selection of luxury hotels.

Australian capital, Canberra, is a hidden gem and a highly underrated city that is definitely worth a visit!

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jayJay Martin was born in Brisbane, Australia, but has spent his life traversing the world in search of excitement and freedom. From tearing up the slopes in Canada, the U.S. and New Zealand to backpacking across Europe and living the high-life in Asia, there’s always a new challenge on the horizon for this intrepid adventurer.

After graduating from the University of Queensland with a BBM (Marketing), and working at a few advertising agencies, Jay went out to start his own digital marketing firm. Assisting other businesses build their brands through the development of interesting and exciting content has helped him fine-tune his own passion for writing.

He is currently based between Hong Kong and Australia, with his job allowing him the freedom to travel and work from wherever his next escapade begins- as long as they have internet there.