About Canberra

In 1901, with the formation of the States, which were combined to form the federation that is Australia, a need arose to create an Australian Capital Territory. This decision was made due to the constant disputes between two of the country’s biggest cities – Melbourne and Sydney – over which one would effectively become the nation’s capital.

In the following year, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives got together to decide on a site on which to build the headquarters of the national Government. An area of 2,356 km2 in the Southwest of New South Wales was selected, and on 1 January 1911, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) was built. The boundaries of the land were thoroughly planned so that the capital would be located on the railway route between Melbourne and Sydney. The name of this rural, sheep farming area, which was called Canberry, meaning “meeting point” in the Aboriginal language, was changed to Canberra.

In 1913, the city of Canberra, designed for a population of 75 thousand inhabitants, came into being. Designed by architect Walter Burley Griffin, the city has wide, tree-lined avenues radiating out from a large circle towards two smaller circles. The most important Government bodies are located at the edges of a lake, which is named after the architect. The satellite suburbs follow the same wheel and spoke design as the Capital Hill, with avenues linking circles. Each suburb has its own self-contained town centre, enabling it to grow independently.