Find an overview plus handy facts and figures on Canberra, capital city of Australia.
Scenic view of Canberra

Canberra is modern city, set within extensive parks and gardens and enjoys four distinct seasons.

The city is the national capital city and is the home of the Australian story. Discover national attractions and collecting institutions which house our shared history, culture, flora, art, knowledge, law and identity with regular displays, tours and exhibitions.

Our climate and geography provides four distinct seasons and nourishes excellent food and wine which you can enjoy in our stylish restaurants, cafes, bars and shops.

An extensive network of parks and nature reserves linked by walking trails and cycle ways offer wonderful recreation, exploration and rejuvenation opportunities.

With a bustling calendar of events, festivals, exhibitions and tours, Canberra is has so much to see and do in a compact and connected capital awaiting your visit.

Follow the links and see for yourself more of Canberra and the surrounding region with facts to help plan your trip, how to get here and get around and how to enjoy the best of your nation’s capital. Start by downloading and installing our free Canberra Visitor Guide app for Android and Apple devices

Canberra – Australia's Capital Region

Your nation’s capital is the ideal place to stay while exploring the many treasures of the surrounding region on a drive holiday. The sapphire blue waters and beaches of the South Coast, the rural tranquillity of Southern Highlands and the highest alpine peaks in the Snowy Mountains are within a comfortable day's driving distance of the city.

The region is home to historic townships, unspoilt nature, excellent wineries, world-class arts and crafts and gourmet produce.

So come, stay a while and enjoy all Australia's capital city and surrounding region has to offer.

Canberra facts

Essential facts about Canberra at a glance – including information for international visitors.

Location

Canberra is located in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), surrounded by New South Wales (NSW). The city is 150 kilometres inland and 571 metres above the Pacific Ocean, 281 kilometres from Sydney and 660 kilometres from Melbourne. The latitude and longitude is 35 degrees south and 149 degrees east.

History of Canberra

Located on the ancient lands of the Indigenous Ngunnawal people, Canberra’s name is thought to mean ‘meeting place’, derived from the Aboriginal word Kamberra.

European settlers arrived in the 1830s, and the area won selection by ballot for the federal capital in 1908. Canberra’s special contrast of nature and urban living was planned in 1912 by master designer, Walter Burley Griffin and his wife Marion Mahony Griffin, both Chicago architects, who won an international design competition to design the capital.

The provisional Parliament House opened in 1927 in what was then a treeless paddock. For more information on Canberra’s history, visit nationalcapital.gov.au.

Since then, Canberra has grown into a vibrant, cosmopolitan city with national attractions housing the heritage, history and national collections of the Australian story.

Canberra population

Canberra is home to around 390,000 residents. Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics

Language

English. Interpreter services are available for ACT Government services including hospitals and government shopfronts. Available every day.

Canberra public holidays 2016

New Years Day:

Friday 1 January

Australia Day:*

Tuesday 26 January

Canberra Day:*

Monday 14 March

Good Friday:

Friday 25 March

Easter Saturday:

Saturday 26 March

Easter Monday:

Monday 28 March

Anzac Day:*

Monday 25 April

Queen’s Birthday:

Monday 13 June

Family & Community Day:

Monday 26 September

Labour Day:

Monday 3 October

Christmas Day:

Sunday 25 December

Boxing Day:*

Monday 26 December

* note this is the holiday, not the actual day

ACT school terms 2016

Term 1:

1 February to 8 April

Term 2:

26 April to 1 July

Term 3:

18 July to 23 September

Term 4:

10 October to 16 December


View NSW Public School holidays.

Canberra retail shopping hours

Monday to Thursday:

9.00am to 5.30pm

Friday:

9.00am to 9.00pm

Saturday:

9.00am to 5.00pm

Sunday:

10.00am to 4.00pm

Hours vary at smaller shopping centres and in the nearby city of Queanbeyan.

Banking hours

Monday to Thursday:

9.30am to 4.00pm

Friday:

9.30am to 5.00pm

Most branches have 24-hour automatic teller machines. Teller machines are also located in many petrol stations, some convenience stores, shopping centres and licensed clubs. Retail stores, restaurants, petrol stations and hotels accept credit cards, EFTPOS payment and PayWave transactions. Currency conversions can be made at most banks, Canberra Airport and some hotels in Canberra. 

Canberra weather and climate

The national capital’s four distinctive seasons bring their own beauty and charm, making Canberra a rare treat among Australian cities providing a kaleidoscope of colour throughout the year. Canberra is the only major city where you can easily see snow in winter! Each season brings a new delight.

Canberra seasons

Spring

September 1 - November 30 

Summer

December 1 - February 28

Autumn (fall)

March 1 - May 31

Winter

June 1 - August 31

 

Spring in Canberra

Spring is a truly glorious time. Canberra is home to Australia's celebration of spring highlighted by Floriade. The city bursts into colour as trees blossom and regional vineyards and orchards burst in bud.

Pack a few warmer items of clothing as you can expect some cool mornings, bright, sunny days and brisk nights. Spring is ideal for bushwalking and cycling around the lakes.

Canberra summer

Grab your hat and don short sleeves. Canberra's summer delivers endless opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors, especially on Lake Burley Griffin where plenty of water sports and activities await. Days are warm to hot, with plenty of sunshine and low humidity, followed by cooler nights.

Canberra in autumn

Autumn or fall in Canberra is a true delight as the city’s parks and gardens take on a colourful appeal. Canberra’s stunning cityscape plunges into hues of red, gold, russet, ochre and crimson as exotic trees turn balanced by native eucalyptus and coniferous trees. The season is blessed with cool nights and mild days. Bring a warm jacket and hat.

Winter in Canberra

We don’t shy away from our true winters. Canberra winters are the perfect time to snuggle up in front of a fire with a big glass of cool climate wine. The nights and early mornings are brisk, but frosts and occasional fog generally clear to striking sunny days, so you can still can enjoy bike riding and walks by the lake on the cool fresh days. This is the time to step out in your best winter finery. Boots, hats, scarves and gloves are a real comfort as well as a fashion statement.

Season

Average Min*

Average Max*

Spring:

6 (40)

19 (66)

Summer:

12 (54)

27 (81)

Autumn:

7 (45)

20 (68)

Winter:

1 (34)

12 (54)

* Degrees Celsius (Degrees Fahrenheit in brackets)

Check the weather page for daily Canberra forecasts, sun strength (UV rating) and weather warnings.

International visitors to Canberra

Canberra is the capital city of Australia. It is inland between the cities of Sydney and Melbourne, nestled between Australia's highest alpine mountains and the South East Coast of New South Wales. The city is the administrative centre of the federal government and is home to the major national attractions that collect, archive and exhibit the nation's art, cultural, historical and social treasures.

Australian Currency

The Australian dollar (A$) is a decimal currency with units in dollars and cents (100 cents to the dollar).

For the latest exchange rates to foreign currencies, consult your bank or foreign exchange provider.

Most venues, restaurants, cafes, supermarkets, petrol (gas) stations and retail shops accept cash, major credit cards and electronic funds transfer at point of sale (EFTPOS) and PayWave. Personal cheques are not generally accepted for retail transactions in Australia.

Credit cards most commonly accepted include American Express, Diners Club, MasterCard, Visa and affiliates. Consult your bank before travel to ensure your card is suitable for use in Australia.

Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) dispense cash in convenience stores, petrol stations and outside banks for 24-hour access. Some banks may charge you a transaction fee for withdrawal of cash during your transaction.

Cash your travellers cheques at airports, banks or major hotels as they may not be accepted in some retail places.

Tipping

While appreciated, tipping is not expected in Australia. If you receive excellent service, particularly in a restaurant or for a taxi fare, a tip is always welcome.

Voltage

The Australian domestic standard voltage is AC 240 volts, 50 Hertz cycle. The standard electrical plug is a three-prong type. Suitable adapters are available from travel goods stores, airports and some electrical retail stores.

Canberra’s water

Canberra water comes from snowmelt and rain falling in pristine wilderness in nearby Namadgi National Park. It is treated to national drinking water standards and is safe to drink from taps and basins. Canberra's rivers and lakes are regularly monitored and assayed for water quality. If any alerts are issued, you can find them on the National Capital Authority's Water Quality Updates web page

Air travel to Canberra

Canberra Airport is one of Australia’s most modern and was named the 2013 Airport of the Year. You can travel to Canberra from overseas by flying into any Australian state capital and transfer on a domestic flight to a Canberra. 

Canberra telephones

Canberra’s telephone area code is 02 if calling from within Australia or +61 2 from overseas.

The cost of a local call from a public phone is 50 cents. Public phones accept coins and pre paid telephone cards, which are available at newsagents, convenience stores and Australia Post Offices. Public phones are located at shopping centres, malls and at Post Offices and you can locate the nearest payphone with Telstra Payphone Register by searching under ‘Canberra’.

International calls can be made from pay phones. Charges vary depending on the time of day and country you are calling.

1800 numbers are free call numbers when dialled from anywhere within Australia

1300 numbers are costed at the local call rate when dialled from anywhere within Australia.

Canberra has mobile phone coverage for 3G and 4G plus smart phones and tablets. Free Wi-Fi is available at the Canberra and Region Visitors Centre (CRVC) as well as many Canberra hotels and motels, and is also available across the city centre and surrounding precincts as part of one of Australia's largest rollouts of free WiFi called CBRfree 

Key telephone numbers for visiting Canberra

Canberra and Region Visitors Centre  (CRVC)  1300 554 114
Open 9am-5pm weekdays
9am-4pm weekends and public holidays
Closed Christmas Day

Language Interpreter Services 24 hours per day   131 450

Emergency Police, Fire Brigade, Ambulance 24 hours per day   000