With the great increase in the Canberra's population in recent years new districts and satellite towns have been developed. Among them are Woden and Tuggeranong to the south and Belconnen to the north-west. After the government offices and shops close Canberra is an empty city; thereafter life continues in the suburbs and outer districts.Round the city are many picnic and barbecue areas, nature reserves, old settlements and other features of interest (e.g. space observatories).
About two hours south of Canberra by car are the Snowy Mountains, which rise to a height of 2228 m; they are popular all year round, offering hiking, water sports, fishing and skiing in winter.
Tidbinbilla - Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex
A particular attraction is the space station at Tidinbilla, from which the flight paths of manned space missions and satellites can be tracked. Models and some very interesting film and photographic records of various space missions can be seen in the visitor center.
The historic homestead of Lanyon (protected as a national monument), set in attractive parkland on the Murrumbidgee River (40 km south of Canberra), recalls 19th C rural life. Nearby there is a gallery of Sydney Nolan's paintings.
Address: Tharwa Drive, Tharwa, ACT 2620, Australia
Opening hours: 10am-4pm; Closed: Mon
Always closed on: Christmas Eve - Christian (Dec 24), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in AUD: Family $15.00, Adult $7.00, Child $5.00, Concession or reduced rate $5.00
Guides: Guided tour available as optional extra.
Typical Visit: 1 hour
Mount Stromlo Observatory
Mount Stromlo Observatory features large silver domes, housing the huge telescope of the Australian National University.
Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
About 40 km south west of Canberra is the Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve; as well as kangaroos and koalas, there are examples of several particularly shy Australian species such as the duck-billed platypus and the wallaby.
Corin Forest Recreation Area offers ample scope for walking and, when snow falls, for winter sports.The bushland setting allows for the focus on mountain sports and activities including the bobsled slide and flying fox.
Lake Cotter, an artificial lake 22 km west of Canberra, has excellent picnic sites, play areas and camping grounds.
The old settlement of Cuppacumbalong with its homestead, outbuildings and facilities for visitors (picnic areas, craft shops, swimming in river) is on the Murrumbidgee River.The Cuppacumbalong Craft Centre contains galleries displaying works of Australia's leading crafts people.
Namadgi National Park
Namadgi National Park to the south of Canberra, established in 1985, covers an area of 940sq.km, about two-fifths of the Australian Capital Territory. It includes expanses of alpine and sub-alpine wilderness, as well as areas in which the original bush vegetation is being allowed to recover, while paths for walkers, camping sites and picnic areas are to be created. Here too can be seen some remains of Aboriginal culture, particularly at Yankee Hat and Rendezvous Creek (stone settings, rock paintings, hunting grounds), and evidence of European settlement from 1830 onwards.Namadgi National Park joins up with Alpine National Park in Victoria and Kosciusko National Park in New South Wales.The park also offers visitors a chances for hiking, biking, fishing, and horseback riding.
It is 150 km from Canberra to the beaches on the Pacific at Batemans Bay, a favourite holiday resort at the mouth of the Clyde River (bird reserves) and the nearby old gold-mining towns of Mogo and Araluen.
Nine km north of Canberra on Barton Highway is Cockington Green, a pretty English village in miniature, adjoining the township of Ginnederra.
Address: 11 Gold Creek Road, Nichols, ACT 2913, Australia
Opening hours: 9:30am-5pm
Always closed on: Day after Christmas, St Stephen's Day, Boxing Day (Dec 26), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in AUD: Family $42.00, Adult $15.00, Senior over 60 $10.50, Child 16 & under $8.00
Useful tips: Last entry at 4:30pm.
Disability Access: Full facilities for persons with disabilities.
Facilities: Gift shop
Transit: Action bus service, 50 and 52.
Typical Visit: 1 hour
Ginnederra which adjoins Cockington Green is older than Canberra and has craft shops and workshops.
National Dinosaur Museum
In the immediate vicinity of Ginnederra, by Gold Creek, is the National Dinosaur Museum with its many exhibits.The museum houses the largest permanent display of dinosaurs and other prehistoric fossil material in Australia. There are 23 complete skeletons, and over 300 displays of individual fossils.
Address: Gold Creek Village, Gungahlin, Canberra, ACT 2912, Australia
Opening hours: 10am-5pm
Always closed on: Christmas - Christian (Dec 25)
Entrance fee in AUD: Family $32.00, Adult $10.00, Concession or reduced rate $8.00, Child 16 & under $7.00, Senior $7.00
Useful tips: Last admissions at 4:30pm. Open from 9am on ACT & NSW school holidays.
Goulburn (pop. 24,000) is the center of a wealthy farming district (wool, wheat, stud cattle and horses) at the junction of the Wollondilly and Mulwarry Rivers beyond the Southern Highlands. The area was explored in 1818 by Throsby, Hume and Meehan. Goulburn was originally a pastoral farming center until the finding of gold at Braidwood, 87km south, brought it wealth. The railway reached here in 1869.Many handsome buildings bear witness to the town's prosperity in the 1870s. Of particular interest are Riversdale House, St Clair House, Garroorigang House, the town hall, the courthouse and two cathedrals. On Rocky Hill is a first world war memorial. On the western outskirts of the town is the Big Merino, a concrete monster 15m high containing a small shop and a wool museum. In the adjoining Big Merino Tourist Complex there are presentations on sheep farming daily at 10am and noon.
37km northwest of Goulburn is an old gold-digging settlement. There were gold-diggers' camps and bushranger hideouts in other villages in the area. 60km north of the town on the Bathurst road are the Abercrombie Caves.The writer Dame Mary Gilmour was born in nearby Coota Walla.
The little settlement of Berrima (pop. 360) was founded around 1830 and has changed very little since then; it is now protected as a national monument. The site of the settlement was selected in 1829 by Thomas Mitchell, surveyor-general of the colony. The importance of the place as a commercial and transport center declined sharply when the railway bypassed it. The population dwindled and the houses fell into disrepair. In the last few decades, however, the beauty of the Georgian buildings has been rediscovered, artists and potters have settled in the little town and there are interesting art galleries, restaurants and shops.In addition to a number of old inns there are the Gaol (jail), which was built by convicts, the Courthouse, and Australia's oldest hotel, the Surveyor General (1835).
Mittagong (pop. 4970) is the gateway to the Southern Highlands and the birthplace of Australia's iron and steel industry. The town was founded in 1850 by steel workers from Sheffield (hence its other name of New Sheffield), but its ironworking industry proved unsuccessful and was closed down around 1880. Mittagong was discovered in 1798 by explorers who encountered koalas and lyrebirds here. As a busy stopover on the way to Goulburn in the 19th c. the town is well equipped with hotels and inns, including some historic old buildings.
Five caves make up the Wombeyan Caves system (Wollondilly, Kooringa, Fig Tree, Mulwaree and Junction Caves) which all have an excellent network of paths for visitors. Access on side road to Wombeyan and a narrow winding road through impressive mountain scenery. The obligatory route for caravans is via Goulburn, Taralga and Richlands.
Braidwood (pop. 1100), an early settlement of around 1830 surrounded by the large grazing farms of the southern highlands. After the finding of gold in 1853 the town became the center of the goldfields in the surrounding area.Many old buildings survive from the period of the gold rush, including handsome churches, old hotels, restaurants, galleries, art and antique shops.In the Old Royal Hotel is an interesting museum, which covers both the history of the local Aboriginal community and gold mining.
Bungonia State Recreation Area
3836ha.The park is the gateway to the wild country of the Shoalhaven valley and farther east to Morton National Park (Moss Vale). The main features are the Bungonia cave system and views of the limestone gorge through which the Bungonia Creek flows before its junction with the Shoalhaven.Magnificent walking country.
Moss Vale, Australia
Moss Vale (pop. 5690) lies on a site granted to Charles Throsby in 1819. It is now the agricultural and industrial center of the Southern Highlands.On the Illawarra Highway is Throsby Historic Site, with a number of interesting old farmhouses.
Morton National Park
162,400ha.Parts of this national park were declared recreation areas and nature reserves in 1938; the park itself was established in 1967. The dominant feature of the park is a sandstone plateau, with steep rock faces, deep gorges, river valleys, waterfalls and patches of subtropical rain forest. Metamorphic rocks lying under the sandstone have been carved into jagged shapes by erosion. The park's main attraction is the Fitzroy Falls.Camping sites are at Fitzroy Falls and Gambells Rest, a visitor center is located at Fitzroy Falls. The park has many picnic spots, walking trails and viewpoints.
Address: Nowra Road, Fitzroy Falls, NSW 2577, Australia
Entrance fee in AUD: Adult $10.00, Vehicle plus all occupants $7.00, Child $5.00
Useful tips: Access northern part of the park: via the road from Moss Vale, or from the Illawarra Highway via Avoca. Southern part: from Braidwood to Nerriga; coming from the Princes Highway via Nowra to Sassafras. Admission cost is per vehicle per day. Adult and child fees are for camping only and apply per night.
Disability Access: Partial facilities for persons with disabilities.
Guides: Audio-visual presentations available.
Facilities: Restaurant or food service
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