Created by local experts, find out more about the city and how to enjoy your time studying and living in Canberra.Read more
Skip to main content
We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the ACT, the Ngunnawal people and recognise any other people or families with connection to the lands of the ACT and region.
Just arrived in Canberra? Here’s what you need to know.
The first thing you’ll notice about Canberra is that it’s a spacious city, with approximately the same geographic footprint as London, but with much lower density. The city centre (called ‘Civic’ by locals) is spread across many blocks, with malls, shops, cafés, restaurants, night clubs and bars well spread out.
Outside of Civic you’ll see why Canberra’s nickname of The Bush Capital is earned from the leafy parks and nature strips that form the borders of its large suburbs. These suburbs are divided into the ‘satellite’ areas of Belconnen, Gungahlin, Inner North, Inner South, Weston Creek, Woden and Tuggeranong, with each area hosting many suburbs within. In the middle is the iconic Lake Burley Griffin, which roughly splits the city into north and south, with a good-natured rivalry between the two.
On the northside of Lake Burley Griffin there’s Civic, the leafy Inner North where you’ll find many student houses and the Australian National University, Dickson’s delicious Woolley Street (nicknamed the Chinatown of Canberra) and Belconnen’s bustling hub that plays host to the University of Canberra and expansive Lake Ginninderra.
Gungahlin, Canberra’s most northern region, includes some of Canberra’s newest suburbs and boasts fast connection to the city via Light Rail, not to mention Canberra’s own bettong sanctuary at Mulligan’s Flat and great views from the walk up One Tree Hill.
To the south of Lake Burley Griffin, you’ll find Canberra’s prestigious Parliamentary Triangle and Inner South where the National Gallery of Australia and National Library of Australia sit shoulder to shoulder with Parliament House. This is the political heart of Australia, and the surrounding suburbs are filled with a fascinating mixture of heritage and modern architecture as well as foodie hubs in the suburbs of Manuka and Kingston.
The Kingston Foreshore is a modern destination for food, coffee and people watching, while further south, Woden town centre boasts an impressive collection of bars, pubs, and restaurants. A little further again, Weston Creek offers one of Canberra’s most extreme past times—Stromlo Park’s world-class downhill mountain biking trails—and is also a gateway to the Brindabella’s scenic hills and waterways.
Canberra’s southern-most area of Tuggeranong is perfect for families, with sweeping views of the Brindabella ranges and natural beauty spots like Mount Taylor. Beyond Tuggeranong you can discover National Parks like Tidbinbilla and Mount Gibraltar at the edge of the Australian Alps.
Need things for your new home? Make sure to visit the suburbs of Majura and Fyshwick where you’ll find stores like IKEA, Bunnings and many homewares’ stores. Like any new city, it will take some time to get to know the landscape. The good news is, as one of only a few planned cities in the world, getting around is easy. No matter where you decide to live, you’ll never be far from campus and other important amenities.