Canberra is Australia's capital city and is a major hub for western New South Wales as well as being the largest inland city in Australia.
The Canberra area was home to the Ngunnawai tribe for 21,000 years. Later, the Aborigines lived there with their sheep. They were present when the Europeans settled in the region after it was discovered by three explorers in 1820 when they crossed the hills beside Lake George and reached what is now the site of Canberra.
After Federation in 1901 and the Australian Capital Territory being proclaimed on January first, 1911, Chicago architects Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin won an international contest to design the city. An interesting fact is that it was actually Marion who urged Walter to enter the competition, and she was responsible for the winning drawings. She was the world's first licensed female architect.
Construction on the city began in 1913. Influenced by working for Frank Lloyd Wright as well as the Garden City and City Beautiful movements, Canberra was planned by the Griffins with green areas around the settlement, wide boulevards, formal parks, water features and large buildings. The interiors of houses with stained glass, carpet, beautiful fabrics and other accessories were as important as the exterior of the buildings.
Being the seat of the federal government, Canberra boasts many cultural landmarks such as the Old Parliament House, the High Court, the National Library of Australia, the Royal Military College and others. The federal government is the largest single employer, so unemployment is lower and the average income is higher.
The Old Parliament House was opened in 1927 and was the political and social heart of the new capital until 1988. This working parliament was where Australia declared war in 1939 and dismissed the Labor Government in 1975. Today it is a popular historical place to visit and continue to be a museum to show the history of Canberra.
Many major Canberra attractions are free or have a low admission fee, and there are many that appeal to all ages. You can see the Southern Hemisphere's largest antennae, learn about NASA and view a small piece of a moon rock that is 3.8 billion years old at the Deep Space Communication Complex.
The National Zoo and Aquarium is on 25 acres of land and is just five minutes from the center of Canberra. The zoo has a large collection of animals, including white lions, bears, otters, wombats and giraffes. Here you can have bears lick honey right from your fingers, pet a cheetah and other animals, chase kangaroos and hand feed tigers. The aquarium also has Australia's largest inland saltwater tank.