Canberra - Capital of Knowledge
On a visit to Canberra you cant help but notice the organised and orderly fashion in which this city operates. As one of the worlds first planned cities, established in 1911 to provide a capital for the very young country of Australia, the modernity and efficiency of Canberra is one of its standout features. But thats not the only thing you will notice- located in beautiful natural bushland, Canberra is often more park than city. Leafy outer suburbs are complemented by the large Lake Burley Griffin around which the city centre is built. And just a short drive away lie lush rural lands, friendly country towns and of course the majestic Snowy Mountains- Canberra is a great base to explore all these attractions, after of course discovering the city itself.

Lake Burley Griffin dominates the scenery and the views of the city, just as it dominates the recreational pursuits visitors and locals here pursue. It has a 35 kilometre shoreline which is very popular amongst joggers, and you are able to hire bicycles or skates and join in the exercise. There are also boats for hire in varying sizes depending on what you need to use it for. Tinnies and smaller craft take fishermen around the shoreline, whilst larger engines pull the water skiers and wakeboarders at faster speeds. Of course if its just a bit of relaxation you are after then the shady grassy verges around the Lake are just what you are looking for, and barbeque and picnic facilities mean you can make a day of it. A tranquil sunset cruise with a drink in hand is always a fitting end to a busy end!

The Lake is surrounded by some of the countries most famous landmarks, and its smooth waters and scenic banks provide great vistas from some of the leading museums and institutions of Australia. Canberra is a city which celebrates the cultural, political and sporting history of Australia through documentation and through the talented eyes of artists, and its museums and galleries reflect the essence of the Australian way of life. The National Gallery is at the forefront of this, having one of the most extensive collections of art in the country at over 120 000 people. Its strong focus on indigenous art is enhanced by foreign and local art relating to the early settlement of Australia. In a similar vein the National Museum explores the land and the people of the country through galleries that reveal the stories of ordinary and extraordinary Australians. Both institutions offer an amazing educational experience in awe inspiring surrounds.

Parliament House is the centre of government and economic power in Australia, and is worth a visit to see the inner workings of where our country is run from. Guided tours will show you the impressive architecture, lake views and important rooms of this large centre. Once you have seen the centre of government, then head over to the centre of sport in the country- the Australia Institute of Sport. This is where the development of elite sport in the country occurs, and you are able to go on a guided tour with an athlete who shows you the world class sporting precinct. Try your hand at Sportex, an interactive game that lets you test your skills at a number of sports.

Once your done discovering the city, then set your sights further afield. There are a number of historic rural villages nearby, including Tharwa which is home to Australia's oldest bridge. Bungendore is a lovely colonial style village that was established in 1880 and is now a thriving tourist spot. Full of craft and antique stores, its main feature is the ancient Carrington Hotel which serves great food and drinks and even has a ghost in residence! Moving away from towns altogether make the 2 and a half drive to the Snowy Mountains, where snow capped peaks, rugged views and wide open spaces can be your playground while on holiday here.

If its a diverse, entertaining and educational break youre after that successfully mixes city and country together then Canberra is definitely the place for you. Not only is the history of Australia yours to explore here, but you have a beautiful city with stunning sights in which to spend your holiday. A hire car will give you the independence and freedom to roam Canberra, and it will also make the near lying attractions more accessible so that you can balance out your vacation with jaunts into the countryside. So why dont you give Canberra a go on your next holiday... you might just learn something!

Gavin Wyatt