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AREA: 2,358 sq. km.,
POPULATION: 314,171 (2001)
CAPITAL: Canberra (300,000)
LOCATION: In the South-eastern corner of New South Wales. CLIMATE: Highest temp. 42.2° C and -11 °, both recorded in Canberra.
It’s main claim to fame - it’s the federal (parliamentary) capital of Australia. The ACT can be very hot in summer, has a high rainfall and is very cold in winter due to its proximity to the Australian Alps, but in autumn it is truly spectacular with all the autumn colours of the trees and foliage. Suprisingly enough, it’s also a great party town, has fine restaurants and good nightlife, and in general has a lot to see and do. Whatever you do - do NOT miss visiting the Australian War Memorial - it’s easily as good as the Imperial War Museum in London.
The Federation of Australian States came to be in 1901 and until then the representatives of the various states met in Melbourne, Victoria. The site for Canberra was chosen in 1908, resolving a long running debate about where the National Capital should be located. Main rivals were Sydney and Melbourne, and the midway choice of The A.C.T. and Canberra was a diplomatic compromise. A feature of the city is Lake Burley Griffin, named after the city's architect.
It was not until 1927 the first federal parliament sat in Canberra in the old Parliament House, which was replaced in 1988 by a new parliament house building behind it. Besides being the parliamentary capital of Australia, Canberra is also the repository of much of its history and art. It is located 40 miles from the Hume Highway between Melbourne and Sydney, and is about 200 miles from Sydney. Transport to Canberra is provided by extensive air links and daily train and coach services.