There are a lot of things to see in Canberra, but there are some things you must see. As Australia’s capital, most of the landmarks in the city are related to government and Australian history. A planned city, even Lake Burleigh Griffin is a man-made lake and all of the major landmarks are within easy reach of one another. These are five Canberra landmarks you not only must see, but are almost impossible to miss – plus one more, just in case you can’t get into the Prime Minister’s Lodge.
Captain Cook Memorial Water Jet
When you see the Captain Cook Memorial Water Jet, you will definitely be impressed by this towering 500 foot plume of water coming straight out of Lake Burley Griffin, but unless you’ve read about it here or elsewhere, you won’t know what it signifies. As its name implies, it is dedicated to Captain James Cook, who discovered the east coast of Australia in the late 1700s. While impressive enough from land, take a steam-paddle boat cruise on the lake and see it close-up. You’ll be amazed.
A great way to get the lay of the land is to take a ride to the top of Telstra Tower. A working telecommunications center, it has also been a favorite Canberra landmark since it was built in 1980. A great time to go is at lunchtime, when you can dine in the revolving restaurant and get a 360 degree view of Canberra and surrounds from the comfort of your table. Also check out the museum and gift shop while you’re there.
New Parliament House
An stunning example of modern architecture, New Parliament House rivals the Sydney Opera House for sophistication of design. It also serves an important function as the seat of government in Canberra. As you enter, take note of the 48 marble pillars, an architectural representation of an iconic Australian eucalyptus forest and notice the fine detailing of the stone sculptures inside. The best way to make sure you don’t miss anything is to take a guided tour first and then wander around on your own.
Old Parliament House
Old Parliament House was built in 1927. Never intended to be a permanent parliamentary building, it is an impressive structure nonetheless. Since the completion of New Parliament House in 1988, Old Parliament House has become an historic landmark. The main attraction today is arguably the National Portrait Gallery, but don’t leave out a look at the Prime Minister’s office, the Corridors of Power and the House of Representatives Chamber.
The Lodge is the official residence of the Prime Minister of Australia. Located in the fashionable Deakin district, it is an impressive structure from the outside and even more impressive inside. It’s not always open to the public, but when you’re in Canberra, be sure and see if you’ve come at the right time for a guided tour inside the Lodge.
If you miss out on the Lodge (or even if you don’t), check out Albert Hall. A stunningly designed Georgian-style structure, it is a wonderful place to visit, even if you choose not to attend a concert or event. However, since so many of Canberra’s major events and carnivals are held inside Albert Hall, you’re likely to want to attend whatever’s going on when you happen to be there.
If you are planning a holiday to Canberra with the family a good alternative to hotels and motels are the many serviced apartments Canberra has available to families visiting the city.