Canberra: Australia’s Capital

I recently discovered there is more to Canberra than the usual stereotypes and clichés. Beneath its well planned exterior, our nation’s capital offers-up spectacular sights, captivating events, access to iconic locations and fantastic wining and dining.

Having moved to the south coast towards the end of 2013, I was excited by the allure of sparkling sapphire waters, charming beaches and quintessential wildlife encounters. Within the first few months of exploration, my girlfriend scored an irresistible job in Canberra, which inevitably would result in repeated visits to our nation’s capital.

At this early stage I had some reservations about sacrificing time exploring the craggy romantic coastline on the south coast – I had bought into a common Canberra misconception.

During that first trip up the Kings Highway one Friday evening, I felt like a lone salmon swimming upstream against the hordes of traffic migrating down the Clyde Mountain to flood the coast. I recall my concern, thinking that any place that experiences that kind of mass exodus doesn’t have a strong weekend allure.

The following morning I wandered outside into the early morning light. It was autumn and a low and gentle mist enveloped the city and the edge of Lake Burley Griffin. Early risers rode and walked on a pathway that snaked its way along the lake edge, whilst shafts of golden light streamed through deciduous trees with mustard and scarlet leaves.

The scene was breathtaking and Canberra has repeatedly surprised me during each visit since the first. Nature prevails in this man-made city and I am continually taken aback by the simple things like the fall of natural light on Canberra’s icons and its surrounds.

I’ve witnessed the spectacular launch of a field of hot air balloons, stared in awe at an historic and educational evening light show projected onto Parliament House, and experienced a proud and sombre moment in the tomb of the unknown soldier only days before the ANZAC 100th year anniversary.

Whilst Canberra has been a weekend escape for me from the south coast, the reverse is also a well-worn path for local residents – there is justification for that mass exodus that I experienced on that first trip. It’s positioned a mere two hour drive from the south coast, a two hour drive from Jindabyne – the gateway to the snowy mountains, and a three hour drive from Sydney.

Its centralized location is certainly no coincidence. The site was selected in 1908 as a compromise between rival cities Sydney and Melbourne. It’s unique among Australian cities, being an entirely planned city outside of any state, similar to Washington, D.C. in the United States or Brasília in Brazil.

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