Discover how Canberra’s icons are made of Australia

Discover how Canberra’s icons are made of Australia

Canberra is well-known for its impressive collection of national icons. Not only will you find museums and galleries aplenty, Canberra is also home to the National Library, National Film and Sound Archive, Royal Mint, Questacon plus Parliaments old and new.

With all located just a short walk or drive from each other, and with many offering free entry, you'll not only discover an affordable weekend away you'll also discover your story in these attractions. Each showcasing a unique perspective of the Australian story, a journey through these cultural icons is a journey through our hopes, our dreams, our history, our future, our legends, and your story. 


Here’s 12 reason why you should visit Australia’s Cultural Icons at least once in your lifetime. Just remember, bookings, even for free attractions, are currently required.

  1. 1

    Stories of courage and sacrifice at the Australian War Memorial

    Learn the stories of men and women who have served our nation in war, conflict and peacekeeping operations and whose sacrifice connects the spirit of our country’s past, present and future for generations to come. Free, timed bookings are essential to attend the Memorial with the moving Last Post ceremony just before closing each day telling the story of an individual on the Roll of Honour.

  2. 2

    See where the big decisions are made

    Watch democracy in action on a visit to Australia’s Parliament House. A range of free guided tours are offered including Yeribee, an Indigenous themed tour, to art and architecture tours of this impressive ‘mini city’. Tours are a great way to discover interesting stories of the people and big decisions made in this building that have impacted Australians. While tickets are free, bookings are essential for all visits.

  3. 3

    Where our nation’s collective memory lives

    At the National Archives of Australia you can trace the events and decision that have shaped our nation, learn intriguing stories from Australian history or make your own discoveries on the interactive digital wall. You might even find a piece of your family history on file. Bookings required for the Research Centre and some events.

  4. 4

    Learn the story of our nation’s capital

    How the capital came to be is explored at the National Capital Exhibition at Regatta Point. Discover how an American architect and his wife won a design competition resulting in a modern, planned city where the natural landscapes of the area have equal importance with the built environment. With free guided tours daily, it’s the perfect spot to begin exploring the story of Canberra on a weekend getaway.

  5. 5

    The home of Australia’s audiovisual history

    The National Film and Sound Archive is the nation’s repository for its audiovisual history and is one of the capital’s hidden gems. Watch snippets from TV and movie classics that shaped your childhood and learn about the significant conservation underway to preserve our collective memories. Enjoy a rolling exhibition program, interactive exhibitions and the Arc Cinema experience all housed inside the building that was formerly the city mortuary. 

  6. 6

    Admire the art collection that you own

    Every Australian owns a piece of art. See your art collection, part of the National Art Collection, at its home at the National Gallery of Australia. Significantly, the Gallery is the home of more than 7500 works in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art collection, the largest in the world. An ever-changing exhibition program means you’ll need to make regular visits.

  7. 7

    See the stories of Australia reflected in faces

    Be inspired by the portraits of Australians hanging in the National Portrait Gallery. From the famous to notorious, remarkable to glorious, there’s a portrait or two that every Australian will connect with. It’s the perfect place to gain a greater understanding of Australia’s identity, history, creativity, culture and diversity. Look out for its exhibition program which explores more topics in depth.

  8. 8

    Discover the nation’s library of stories

    The remarkable collection of 10 million plus items is the true home of your story. The free tours of the National Library of Australia are a great way to discover what’s inside this iconic lakeside building. The Treasures Gallery highlights a remarkable collection that shares and maintains the stories of Australians for generations to come.

  9. 9

    Where Australia’s stories live

    With free entry and regualr tours the National Museum of Australia is the ultimate museum for an Australia 101 history lesson. The galleries depict and tell the stories of Australia from its ancient First Nations' heritage through to modern day, with fascinating displays and objects – there are 210,000 items in its National Historical Collection alone. A new environmental history gallery and children’s Discovery Centre opens late 2021.

  10. 10

    See where the big decisions were made

    So many big decisions impacting Australians have been made inside the building that is known as Old Parliament House. Now the home of the Museum of Australian Democracy, its exhibitions celebrate the stories and spirit of Australian democracy. You can also tour the building, stepping inside the authentically restored Prime Minister’s Suite and House of Representatives.

  11. 11

    Inspiring young minds at Questacon

    Australian scientists are world renowned. A visit to Questacon – the National Science and Technology Centre might just inspire a future star in the world of science. Engaging kids is the aim of Questacon, with interactive galleries, science shows and enthusiastic science educators on hand to chat to kids and the big kids accompanying them.

  12. 12

    Coins that commemorate moments in time

    Watch robots on the factory floor making Australia’s coins at the Royal Australian Mint. They’re a world away from the Holey Dollar and Dump, Australia’s first minted coins made by a convicted forger. The Mint’s shops sells collectors coins reflecting milestone events and Australian icons such as Ginger Meggs.

Explore Canberra's Cultural Icons for yourself and plan your ultimate weekend away.