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About Canberra - Accommodation - Tours and what to do - Transport - Photos - Map

Tours and what to do in Canberra

Visit Old Parliament House to experience how the Australian Government used to work

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Many Aussies regard Canberra as a boring place, but you will find this is a totally undeserved reputation, there are countless things to see and explore around Canberra;

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Aboriginal Tent Embassyaboriginal tent embassy in canberra

The Aboriginal Tent Embassy is a controversial semi-permanent assemblage claiming to represent the political rights of Australian Aborigines. It is made of a large group of activists, signs, and tents that reside on the lawn of Old Parliament House in Canberra, the Australian capital. It is not considered an official embassy by the Australian government.
On the 26th of January 1972 at 1 a.m. four Aborigines, led by Michael Anderson, established the Aboriginal Embassy by ramming a sun umbrella into the lawn outside Old Parliament House in Canberra.
The Tent Embassy was established in response to the McMahon Coalition Government's refusal to recognise Aboriginal land rights and saw a new general purpose lease for Aborigines which would be conditional upon their ‘intention and ability to make reasonable economic and social use of land’ and it would exclude all rights they had to mineral and forest rights.
In February 1972 the Aboriginal Tent Embassy presented a list of demands to Parliament that were rejected, and in July 1972, following an amendment to the relevant ordinance, police moved in, removed the tents, and arrested eight people.
In October 1973, around 70 Aboriginal protesters staged a sit-in on the steps of Parliament House and the Tent Embassy was re-established. The sit-in ended when Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam agreed to meet with protesters.
In May 1974 the embassy was destroyed in a storm, but was re-established in October.
As well as political pressure, the Aboriginal Tent Embassy has also been under attack from criminal elements, having been fire bombed on a number of occasions.
Some local Aboriginal Ngunnawal people have also called for the eviction of residents of the tent embassy.
The Embassy remains intact and plans for the annual Corroboree for Sovereignty are still going ahead. Corroborree for Sovereignty is always held on 26 January, Australia Day, known to some Indigenous Australians as "Invasion Day".

Annual events

Annual Canberra floriade, photo by Robyn

Floriade - Australia's Celebration of Spring, is a 30-day floral extravaganza. The festival of flowers and fun is complemented by entertainment and events right throughout the nation's capital. Usually run end September/early October.

Subaru Rally of Canberra - annual rally event staged as a round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC). The APRC attracts a world class field of competitors and takes place throughout Asia and the Pacific, usually held in April.

Botanical Gardens

The Australian National Botanic Gardens cover 90 hectares at Black Mountain and are well worth a visit.
Some of the highlights are the Aboriginal Pant Use walk and the Rainforest Gully, there are guided walk available and there is a pleasant cafe.

City tours

Parliament House
© Idol Moments

You can find your own way around Canberra but the best way to get to know the place is on a tour with a guide who has in-depth knowledge of the place;

This full day private tour will let you experience the heritage and history of Australia's Capital city as well as the flora and fauna of uniquely Australian wildlife. Combine Parliament House and the Australian War Memorial with Koalas, Kangaroos and Emus.

Optional Extra: In Depth Tour of Parliament House
This tour is suitable for people with a particular interest in politics, architecture, art or landscape design. A specialist guide will take you on an exclusive one to one tour of Parliament House. Idol Moments will also try to fit into this tour, 'Question Time', when Parliament is sitting (between 2pm and 3pm). This is a unique and lively debate that brings all our members of Parliament into the Senate or House of Representatives Chambers. This tour requires you to list your contact details as secutiry is strict.

Enjoy Canberra's finest fresh produce set in a light picnic lunch. After lunch, your tour will depart the city and on the outskirts of Canberra you will find National Parks, nature reserves, rural properties and Canberra's Deep Space Centre. At the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, Australian birds and animals can be seen in their natural surroundings, from water birds to Koalas and kangaroos. More info on this daytour...


Australian National Library
© Canberra Tourism Events Corp

Shorter tours;

Canberra in two hours; If you are visiting Canberra for a short time and would like to learn about the history that lies within Canberra and its sights, this tour will fit into your busy schedule. Idol Moments will guide you around the city sights, the Parliamentry Triangle and the unique embassy area, within two hours. You can also choose to take the tour during the day or the evening, the choice is yours, more info on this tour...

Half day lookouts tour; visit the four major lookouts in Canberra. Gain views over this well planned city, including views of man-made Lake Burley Griffin and the impressive Parliament House. This tour will help orientate you with Australia's capitol and delight you with stunning views over this dynamic city, more info on this tour...

Half day wildlife tour; Wander amongst wallabies and wombats on this half day small group tour to the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. This is a nature photographer's dream. See native birds and wildlife in their natural surroundings. Hear the sounds of the Australian bush as you discover the nature trails. Nestled in the mountains surrounding Canberra, more info on this tour....

Australian Institute of Sports

Australia has competed in every Olympics held since 1896. The best performance in the Olympics was when they were held at home in Melbourne in 1956 where our athletes managed to stop a total of 35 medals, including 13 gold ones, from leaving the country. In contrast 20 years later in Montreal they were pathetic winning only one silver medal and no gold what so ever. This prompted the government to start an Institute of Sport to better prepare our athletes for this sort of event and it worked as the Aussies dragged twelve medals away from the next 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and at the Sydney 2000 Olympics the Aussie athletes managed to keep 16 gold medals in the country.
Now you can visit this institute where an elite athlete will escort you on a guided tour. Test your sporting skills with the various interactive displays and take time to browse through the AIS shop.

Australian National Botanic Gardens

Situated off Clunies Ross Street (near the Telstra Tower turn off), 2.4 kms from the city centre. In these gardens you will find a collection of over 6000 species of Australian native plants from the rainforest, the desert, the mountains and more in a series of specially created environments. 1-1½ hour tours can be booked for groups. Hudsons in the Gardens' cafe is set among the lawns and duck ponds. Open daily 9am - 5pm (8pm during summer). Call the Visitor Centre on 6250 9540 for more information on the Summer Concerts. More info on their website.

Australian War Memorial

war museum in canberra
Canberra's War Memorial

Australia has never been invaded in its just over two centuries existence but it has sent its soldiers overseas on numerous occasions. In the first and second world wars to Europe, to Korea, and to Vietnam.
This memorial is to honour the scores of soldiers that have died in those situations.
More recently Australia has also sent soldiers to Timor, the Solomon Islands and Iraq but these were fairly smooth operations with minimal casualties.
Located at the head of Anzac Parade, the memorial contains galleries displaying relics, documents, photographs and art.
The Hall of Memory, where the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier is located, is the centre of the formal commemorative area.
You can enjoy some lunch at The Outpost, the Australian War Memorial Kiosk, on the lawns outside the memorial.

Go bush!

Australia's Fauna - Emu
© Rachel C

Interested in a tour that combines Australia's Native flora and fauna, with Aboriginal rock art? Then look no further, as this is the tour for you. This tour will visit Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and Namadgi National Park, allowing you to encounter Australia's native wildlife which may include Platypus, Kangaroos, Wallaroos, Wallabies, Emus, native birds, Water-fowl, Lyrebirds, Echidnas and Wombats. More info on this tour....

Visit the tranquil Japanese Garden at Cowra
© Go Bush Tours

Or head further out of the city on this tour which includes a leisurely day of touring to enjoy the delights of Cowra which is situated on the Lachlan River. Visit the Japanese Gardens and Cultural centre, the World Peace Bell and the site of the Cowra P.O.W breakout. This tour allows you to enjoy the friendly and relaxed atmosphere of this bustling town and learn the history of Cowra's involvement in WWII. More info on this tour....

Lake Walter Burley Griffin

canberra lake burley griffin with parliament house across the water
Lake Burley Griffin with Parliament House across the water.

In 1964, the Molonglo River was dammed to form Lake Burley Griffin, the lake is named after the American architect that designed the layout of Canberra. It will take you about an hour to walk around this lake and you will find on the north side of the lake the National Capital Exhibition Centre which has many of Burley Griffin's original plans on display, together with a model of the city as it is today - great to get your bearings.

Musea and galleries

canberra's oldest house
Canberra's Oldest House and Building
© Idol Moments

If galleries and museums are your scene, then this is the tour for you. This private tour will take you to a selection of exclusive Australian contemporary galleries and to view Indigenous collections at the National Gallery of Australia or the National Museum of Australia. Take your pick, the choice is yours! More info on this tour...

National Dinosaur Museum

You'll find this place on the corner of Gold Creek Road & Barton Highway. This is the largest privately owned collection of dinosaur material in the world and takes you on an exciting journey into pre-history. There are full size replica skeletons, dinosaur bones and skulls, including the Muttaburrasaurus, the fair dinkum Aussie dinosaur. The mueseum is opened daily 10am-5pm. Group tours can be booked on 1800 356 000 or 02 6230 2655 or see their website for more info.

National Gallery of Australia

You will find this gallery at Parkes Place, 3.1 kms from the city centre, open daily 10am-5pm. Admission to the permanent collection is free. As well as housing the national art collection of more than 100,000 works, the National Gallery of Australia is home to an ever-changing series of exhibitions.Half hour tours are conducted by voluntary guides in a friendly and informal atmosphere. Ring 02 6240 6519 for groupbookings or for more info on their website.

National Museum of Australia

The Garden of Australian Dreams inside the National Museum of Australia

Situated on Acton Peninsula, 5 kms from the city centre,and opened 9am-5pm daily, the National Museum of Australia uses the latest technology and interactive exhibitions. General admissioncc is free. Fees apply to guided tours (book on 02 6208 5000 or 1800 026 132) and special exhibitions. More info on their website.

National Zoo and Aquarium

Well worth a visit. Located at Scrivener Dam, Lady Denman Drive, 6.6 kms from the city centre. Set in seven hectares of landscaped bush, the park offers lots of amazing animals, freshwater tanks with a Riverland walk-through tunnel, BBQ sites, a coffee shop and free parking. Opened daily 9am-5pm. Group tours of 3.5 hours can be booked on 02 6287 8400 or see their website for more info.

Nolan Gallery

sidney nolan canberra
Constable Fitzpatrick with Kate Kelly 1946
Buy this picture and others at

You'll find the Nolan Gallery on Tharwa Drive, next to Lanyon Homestead, in the grounds of historic Lanyon Homestead on the Murrumbidgee River, 30km south of Canberra. It houses a collection of paintings by Sir Sidney Nolan from the 1940s and 1950s including some of his famous Ned Kelly images and works on other Australian themes. There is also a regular changing program of 20th century Australian art, including contemporary work. Opening hours are Tues-Sun 10am-4pm summer hours 10am-5pm. You can arrange guided tours on 02 6235 5688 or see their website for more info

Sidney Nolan was born in Melbourne on 22 April 1917. He studied intermittently at the National Gallery Art School, Melbourne, from 1934, and engraving and lithography under S.W.Hayter at the Atelier 17, Paris in 1957.
During the Second World War, Nolan was conscripted into the army and served at Dimboola in the Wimmera District of Victoria 1942-1945. In 1946 he began a series of paintings on the theme of the bush ranger Ned Kelly, and later painted personal interpretations of historical and legendary figures such as Eliza Fraser and Burke and Wills, in which he expressed the feeling of the country and the timelessness of the myths. Nolan also painted a series of works portraying Central Australia.
From 1950 Nolan lived mainly in Britain and became Australia's most internationally celebrated painter. He also designed sets for ballet and opera and provided illustrations for books. He died in London on 28 November 1992, aged 75.

Old Parliament House

Canberra’s original Parliament House, opened in 1927 when the Federal Parliament moved from Melbourne to the newly built national capital, and it housed Australia's government for 60 years..
This building houses the Museum of Australian Democracy which has many well designed realistic scenes and it is an interesting time-warp like experience to walk through corridors and offices alive with the sound of telexes and voices.
Outside on the lawn there is the Aboriginal Tent Embassy, an assortment of tents filled with Aboriginal activists, more info above on this page.

Parliament House

parliament house canberra australiaParliament House in Canberra, home of the Australian government

Learn about Australia’s Parliament on a free guided tour, departing every 30 minutes, a large percentage of the building is open to the public between 9am and 5pm, and is well worth the visit.
For more info (and things they may not tell you on this tour) see our politicians page.
Or see our laws page to see some of the results of the activities in this building.

Royal Australian Mint

Located in Denison Street, Deakin, 6.5 kms from the city centre and opened Mon-Fri 9am-4pm, Sat, Sun & public hols 10am-4pm. Here you can see the Aussie money being made, displays of coins dating back to the First Fleet and a coin shop where you can browse among a wide range of collector coins and medallions. You can also mint your own "C" mint marked $1 coin during your visit or have some lunch at the Royal Australian Mint Cafeteria. Book guided group tours on 1300 652 020 or for more info see their website.

Skiing and snow fun

Snowboarding and skiing at Thredbo

At Thredbo there is something for everybody. From Friday Flats beginner runs through to steep tree runs, board park and half-pipe. Thredbo also guarantees snow, as it has the largest snow making facilities in the southern hemisphere and boasts the highest lifted point in Australia. The combination of long runs and lots of vertical terrain, means less time traversing and more time ripping up the slopes.
There are also plenty of challenging off piste runs filled with natural hits and powder filled chutes. The more advanced boarders will enjoy the 110 metre long half-pipe, in Thredbo's extreme board park. So join us as we head to Thredbo for the all round snow experience!

Perisher Blue
Tear up the powder on the slopes of Perisher Blue. The year 2005 marks Perisher's 10th birthday, so this year's snow season looks to be action packed with plenty to do in the village and on the slopes. Perisher Blue offers an amazing natural experience surrounded by great Australian scenery. Enjoy the largest skiable area in the southern hemisphere, for all levels of skiing and boarding, from beginner to the radical, thrill seeking skier or snowboarder.
More info on a 3 day 3 night package....
More info on a 6day 6 night package....
More info on a 2 day 2 night package....

Snowy Mountains

canberra tours to snowy mountains
Pondage at Khancoban
© Go Bush Tours

Many Australian's visit the Snowy Mountains Region in Winter for the obvious reason of skiing down steep slopes in the snow. However, this two day tour will give you to opportunity to see the beauty that summer brings upon this area, with the alpine flowers in bloom and the rivers flowing with water, come and experience the magic of this region. More info on this tour...

Telstra Tower

Telstra Tower on the left, sitting high up Black Mountain.
In the foreground the Governor General's residence.

Sitting high up Black Mountain this tower provides spectacular 360 degree views of Canberra and the surrounding countryside. You can visit the exhibition room, snack bar, coffee shop or revolving restaurant. itself.


To see animals in the wild you don't have to go too far from Canberra. Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve on Paddys River Road is a short and scenic drive south of Canberra. Here kangaroos, wallabies, koalas and emus run wild. There are a number of sightseeing tours available and in the summer months there are spotlight tours after dark. Entry to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is free and the reserve is opened 9am - 8pm in summer and the visitor centre: Mon-Fri 9am - 4.30pm weekdays, 9am - 5.30pm weekends and public holidays. For more info phone 02 6205 1233.

Wine tasting

Australian wines are becoming increasingly famous and are produced all over the country, and Canberra is no exception. You can visit the Kamberra Wine Tourism Complex, Australia's newest urban winery and the centre of the region's wine industry. Facilities include the Cellar Door, the Meeting Place Bistro, the Federation Centre (VIP function rooms), a Demonstration Winery and an amphitheatre.

canberra tours winetasting
Canberra's Vineyards
© Canberra Tourism Events Corp

Or combine your sighseeing with wine tasting on this tour!

Begin this tour by driving through the unique embassy area to one of the oldest gardens in Canberra. This former farming property is now a city dwelling, with a garden that hints to how life may have once been, over 150 years ago. This tour will take you to the tranquil shores of Lake Burley Griffin, a favorite spot for picnics and enjoying the outdoors.
Other tour highlights include a walk through the sculptured gardens of Parliamentary Triangle, a guided tour of Parilament House, home of the Australian Federal Government and a visit to the Australian War Memorial.

Following the Heart of the Nation tour, you will be whisked away to a nearby grazing property that has diversified into wine growing and curing meats (including Kangaroo and Emu) and vegetables. Their award winning gourmet foods and wine, services the top hotels and restaurants in Australia and their rustic Smokehouse Kitchen, will provide you with mouth-watering temptations and a most stunning lunch.

The Murrumbidgee River corridor produces some of Australia's best wines and this tour will give you the opportunity to meet the wine-maker at another nearby vineyard, before returning back to your hotel in Canberra. More info on this tour...


About Canberra - Accommodation - Tours and what to do - Transport - Photos - Map

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