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Canberra's Treasures: Key Cultural Institutions in the Heart of Our Nation

Although Australia’s capital city may not be the first that comes to mind for many when they think of this country’s most interesting communities, it has some pretty fascinating attractions that both locals and visitors enjoy visiting. In fact, many of Australia’s national collections in a variety of fields, both political and otherwise, may be found here.

Australian National Botanic Gardens

Many who visit the Australian National Botanic Gardens head straight for the rainforest walk, which is incredibly beautiful. Of course, just about anywhere here serves as a picturesque escape from the busy hustle and bustle of Canberra. One-third of the country’s plant species may be enjoyed in this breathtaking setting, and the popular Summer Sounds concert series is held here as well.

Australian War Memorial

This historic attraction opened in the midst of World War II, on 11 November 1941, and it commemorates Australians who served and sacrificed during wartime. Visitors get to learn about Australia’s military history and many of the powerful stories that resulted from these events that helped create the Australia – and the world – that we know today.

National Dinosaur Museum

Children and adults alike enjoy learning about the dinosaurs that predated humans to Australia and the rest of the world by quite some time. Its exhibits include realistic models, animatronic dinosaurs and a fascinating description of the world’s geological history, which shows just how much of an impact dinosaurs had on it.

National Film and Sound Archive

Those interested in cinema are encouraged to visit this stunning Art Deco building as about 2 million audio-visual items may be found inside. These include costumes, documents, photographs, posters, publicity items, recording equipment and scripts as well as a wide variety of television and radio programs and films, which were recorded on audio tapes, compact discs, phonograph cylinders and records.

National Gallery of Australia

More than 150,000 works of world-class art, both Australian and foreign, may be found at the National Gallery of Australia, which houses the country’s national collection.

National Museum of Australia

This social history museum is a great place to learn more about Australia’s social history, including its indigenous history, when Europeans started settling in Oz and more recent events such as the 2000 Summer Olympics. Many visitors also enjoy taking advantage of this museum’s hands-on attractions.

National Zoo and Aquarium

Many feel that the greatest attraction of the National Zoo and Aquarium is how close visitors can get to many of its animals. In fact, direct interaction with bears, giraffes, lions, monkeys, tigers and sharks is available for an extra cost. Of course, the country’s only combined aquarium and zoo is a popular attraction even without that personal attention as visitors get to observe these types of animals and more as they stroll around the grounds.

Old Parliament House and Parliament House

The Old Parliament House was the home of the Parliament from 1927 to 1988, and the beautiful Parliamentary Gardens are situated on both sides of this building. This is a definite stop for those visiting Canberra who have a passion for the history of this country. The Parliament House is where this governing body moved in 1988, and visitors can take tours here and see up close and personal how government works. This building is also home to thousands of pieces of art and historic documents such as the Magna Carta.

Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre

Hundreds of interactive exhibits may be enjoyed at Questacon, which opened in 1980. Visitors can experience what an earthquakes feels like, play a game of air hockey against a robot and take a free-fall side that gives the rider a feeling of weightlessness.

Royal Australian Mint

This building, which opened in 1965, is where all Australian coins are made. Visitors can check out the robots that help create the money and take a look at the fascinating National Coin Collection, which is valued at $23 million and includes quite a variety of historic coins.

Those visiting Canberra during certain times of the year should also considering attending one of the city’s cool events. Australia’s ultimate car show, Summernats, is held in January, the Canberra Balloon Spectacular takes to the sky in March, the National Folk Festival fills the air with music in April, and Floriade Australia, Australia’s largest celebration of spring, takes place from September to October.

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General Manager: Michael Jones