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Corner Canberra Ave & Nation -
Forrest, AC, Australia

No Visit To Australia's Capital City Is Complete
Without Staying At Rydges Capital Hill (Canberra). Guests Can Enjoy This Boutique Hotel Within The Parliamentary Triangle And A Short Five-minute Stroll From The Shopping And Dining Districts Of Manuka And Kingston. Other Attractions Include The National Gallery Of Australia, Australian War Memorial And Australian Mint. Families Will Enjoy Hands-on, Interactive Exhibits At Questacon,
 Australia's National Science And Technology Center.

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   Australian Capital Territory In the 1820s the first European squatters settled in the valleys and plains north of the Snowy Mountains and established family dynasties on their prosperous grazing properties. Until 1900, however, this remained a remote rural area. When the Australian colonies united in the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, a capital city had to be chosen, with Melbourne and Sydney the two obvious and eager rivals. After much wrangling, and partly in order to avoid having to decide on one of the two, it was agreed to establish a brand-new capital instead: Melbourne was to be the seat of the provisional government until the new capital was completed and the government departments had moved there. A provision in the Constitution Act decreed that the seat of government was to be in the state of New South Wales and not less than one hundred miles from Sydney. In 1909 Limestone Plains, a plain south of Yass surrounded by mountain ranges, was chosen out of several possible sites as the future seat of the Australian government. An area of 2368 square kilometres was excised from the state of New South Wales and named the Australian Capital Territory (ACT). The ACT officially included an adjunct at Jervis Bay, on the coast south of Nowra, to give Australia's capital its own access to the sea and a naval base. The name for the future capital was supposedly taken from the language of local Aborigines: Canberra - the meeting place.

Canberra  is situated on a high plain (600m above sea level) and, unlike the coastal cities, experiences four distinct seasons . In summer, the average temperatures are 27°C maximum during the day and 12°C minimum at night; in winter they drop from an average of 12°C maximum during the day to freezing point (and below) at night. Spring and autumn can be really delightful, though. The mountain ranges to the west and south of the city rise up to 1900m and are snow-covered in winter. Hotel Listings  Canberra  Forest Queanbeyan
  In 1912 Walter Burley Griffin, an American landscape architect from Chicago, won the international competition for the design of the future Australian capital: his plan envisaged a garden city for about 25,000 people, which took into account the natural features of the landscape. There were to be five main centres, each with separate city functions, located on three axes: land, water and municipal. Roads were to be in concentric circles, with arcs linking the radiating design. Construction started in 1913, but political squabbling and the effects of World War I prevented any real progress being made. Little building had been done, in fact, by the time Griffin left the site in 1920, and only in 1927 was the provisional parliament building officially opened. By 1930 some one thousand families had settled in the capital. Then the Depression set in, World War II broke out and development slowed again. After more years of stagnation, the National Capital Development Commission (NCDC) was finally established in 1958, and at last growth began in earnest.

In 1963 the Molonglo River was dammed to form a lake 11km wide, the artificial Lake Burley Griffin that is the centrepiece of modern CANBERRA . Numerous open spaces and public buildings came into existence, as a real city started to emerge. Slowly, the Civic Centre near London Circuit began to live up to its name. The population grew rapidly, from fifteen thousand in 1947 to over one hundred thousand in 1967; today, it is more than three hundred thousand. This population growth has been accommodated in satellite towns with their own centres: Woden , 12km south of the Civic Centre, was built in the mid-1960s; five years later Belconnen was added in the northwest; and in the mid-1970s Tuggeranong in the south. It was this sprawl that fostered Canberra's image as "a cluster of suburbs in search of a centre".

Inevitably, modern Canberra is mainly a city of civil servants and administrators. There are plenty of service industries - especially ones aimed at feeding and watering all those politicians and visitors - but little real industrial activity. Canberra recently gained self-government, with only the Parliamentary Triangle remaining under federal control; the self-financing responsibilities that this entails have placed a premium on tourism revenues. And indeed, the main reason to come to Canberra is for the national museums and institutions you can visit - top of the list is the National Gallery , and the stunning New Parliament House , opened in 1988 and certainly one of the principal tourist sights, with its original architecture intended to blend into the landscape. Canberra is also trying very hard to present an image to counter its reputation as the domain of dull bureaucrats. It hasn't succeeded yet: most Australians still regard Canberra as "pollie city" - a frosty, boring place where politicians and public servants live it up at the expense of the hard-done-by Australian taxpayer. They also complain about its concentric circular streets, which can make driving here seem like a Kafkaesque nightmare, and about the contrived, neat-as-a-pin nature of the place.

But the image-makers have a point, and Canberra is a far more pleasant place than it's usually given credit for. The city has wide open spaces and many parks and gardens, with the impressive architecture housing the national institutions set in astonishingly well-groomed surroundings, so that you can pad barefoot through the grass from the National Gallery to the National Library, peacefully admiring the gum trees. Right on its doorstep are forests and bushland , with unspoilt wilderness just a bit further afield in the Brindabella Ranges and the Namadgi National Park; skiing in the Snowy Mountains or surfing on the coast are only a few hours away.

Canberra's nightlife is also a great deal better than you might expect considering its reputation, in term time at least: the two universities here (and the Duntroon Military Academy for officer material) means there's a large and lively student population (good news for those who have student cards, as most attractions offer hefty discounts). The city is said to have more restaurants per capita than any other in Australia - which is saying something - and there are plenty of pubs and nightclubs to choose from, too. Many of them, though, are tucked away in hidden corners of the city or in the satellite towns. Surprisingly perhaps


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