It’s a common misconception that Sydney, being the largest city in Australia, is the capital of our country, but the truth is that our capital is Canberra. Located in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Canberra is one of our smallest cities with a population of just over 373,000 people. Nevertheless, it receives many workers and visitors to its doorstep as it is the home of parliament. Canberra has a dry climate and is prone to frosty conditions during the thick of winter. Expect temperatures as low as zero in winter (July) or as high as 28ºC during summer (January to February).
Australia’s capital city is divided in the centre by Lake Burley Griffin. To its north is the shopping and commercial area as well as the Australian War Memorial and National Library. Further north of these are the suburbs, where many government workers tend to reside.
Suburbs like Ainslie and O’Connor are popular areas for families living in houses, while Braddon and Civic are more popular for smaller numbers of occupants, with the majority of its residents living in flats, units or apartments.
To the south of Lake Burley Griffin is the Parliamentary triangle and embassy area. While it does have residential areas, it’s population is around half of what is in Canberra’s north, and features more expensive, waterside properties such as those on the Kingston Foreshore.
Canberra is a highly planned city, so it isn’t hard to maneuver your way around. Traffic jams and toll roads don’t really exist here with most car journeys taking little more than 20 minutes. As it’s a flat city, many of its residents choose to walk or cycle into work – depending on how convenient it is for them to commute from home to work/the shops.
In terms of public transport, because Canberra is so small it doesn’t rely on a suburban train or tram system. It does however provide a thorough bus network, and has a main train station and interstate buses to connect it to other cities and townships.
As Canberra houses parliament, many of its residents are public servants working for either the Australian or ACT Governments. Despite this, it’s interesting to hear that over half of the city’s workforce is employed in the private sector, making it a destination for business people.
In recent years, Canberra has begun to show more interest in cultural activities, and may soon develop more employment in the cultural sectors. Canberra might not be the business mecca of Australia, but it does offer a low unemployment rate, and the highest average full-time income in Australia, making it an enviable place to work in.
Both international and local students have a wealth of choice when it comes to higher education in Canberra with the University of Canberra (UC) and Australian National University (ANU) offering undergraduate and graduate awards in arts, business, engineering, legal studies and more.
ANU is also regarded as one of the top 20 universities in the world. More trade-based schools such as The Australian International Hotel School (AIHS), which teaches hospitality and business, and the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA), which teaches military and civilian undergraduates and postgraduates, are also options for study in Canberra.
According to the REIA’s June 2014 report, the ACT is the most affordable state or territory in Australia to purchase a home. That is, when you consider the proportion of income required to meet loan repayments. In its December quarter 2013 report, it estimated that the median cost to purchase a three median room was $520,000, while to rent a three-bedroom home the median cost was $445 per week.