Australia's capital city, Canberra, had a difficult birth, punctuated by political infighting, wars and the Great Depression, but it is now a thriving modern city which, together with its surrounds, makes up Australia's Capital Territory. Canberra lies 95 miles (150km) inland from the East Coast, by road 175 miles (280km) from Sydney, and 415 miles (660km) from Melbourne.
Canberra from Mount Ainslie © Jason James
Like most capitals of the world, Canberra boasts an architectural heritage in its civic and government buildings, but Canberra is also blessed with some of the loveliest surroundings of any national capital. There are more than 30 Australian artistic and cultural institutions located in Canberra, ranging from the Australian War Memorial to Parliament House, surmounted by a colossal stainless-steel flagpole and set in 23 hectares of gardens. In the centre of Lake Burley Griffin, the impressive Captain Cook Memorial Jet shoots a six-ton column of water 482 feet (147m) into the air, while on the shore the National Gallery of Australia houses the country's premier public art collection spanning about 5,000 years of international art.
Anyone interested in the history and politics of Australia, and the country's artistic heritage, will enjoy spending a holiday in Canberra seeing the sights. The city also caters for the more active, offering plenty of recreational opportunities, most centred on lovely Lake Burley Griffin, like kayaking on the lake, or cycling around it. Canberra is also known for its spring festival, Floriade, when the parks and gardens surrounding Lake Burley Griffin explode with colourful displays of massed tulips and other blooms. The city, with its many parklands, is especially beautiful in spring and autumn.