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TRAVEL & ACCOMMODATION GUIDE TO AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY

Brisbane Town Hall at Night Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
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City Skyline and Brisbane River at Night, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
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TRAVEL READING ON AUSTRALIA:

Brisbane - Top things to do and see just an hour from the CBD    by Matthew Lawson

Queensland is a big place. To put that in perspective, it's four times the size of Japan, nearly six times the size of the UK and more than twice the size of Texas. It actually takes up 25% of the land mass of Australia.

Every year, millions of local and international visitors flock here to soak up its stunning attractions. Adjectives don't do it justice. Few places offer as much...from a brilliant climate and magical scenery, to tropical islands and rain forest greenery. Queensland has everything, including the grandest attraction of all -The Great Barrier Reef. But what about Brisbane? It's well worth a closer look.

Let's hear it for Brisbane.

"Beautiful one day. Perfect the next." Ask any Aussie and they'll know this justifiably famous tourism slogan. It put Queensland on the map as Australia's most popular holiday destination. Brisbane is the capital city of Queensland. Once considered a sleepy backwater for retirees, over the past few years it has undergone a sort of extreme makeover. From fuddy duddy to fabulous. A vibrant metropolis, filled with culture and charm, where 300 sunny days a year and a year-round temperate climate are a way of life. It's no wonder that Queenslanders are so laid back. They're on a permanent vacation!

The Storey Bridge and City Skyline Across the Brisbane River, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
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Looking back.

Brisbane lies on The Brisbane River in Moreton Bay. For trivia buffs, it was named after Sir Thomas MacDougall Brisbane, a soldier, astronomer, and colonial administrator from the 18th Century. While not on a sea coast as such, the river is a drawcard for boating and good times. To get a good look at the city, jump on a high speed catamaran and take in the views of the downtown, Story Bridge, Botanic Gardens and surrounding suburbs.

Where to stay.

If you're organizing accommodation, Brisbane can offer you every type to match your budget, from superb 5 star names to smaller boutique hotels, with plenty in the mid-price range. Check out sites such as http://www.hotel.com.au/brisbane for ideas, value and instant booking. You can make savings by booking online - giving you more to spend on sight seeing.

A fresh approach to good times.

Brisbane offers visitors a truly relaxed vacation experience. (Must be the weather.) There's no end to outdoor activities as you would expect, such as sailing, swimming, surfing, hot air ballooning and 4WD excursions.

If you prefer less strenuous activities, head for some retail therapy in the air conditioned malls and shopping centres dotted around the city. Whether you're looking for a street market bargain or having a splurge on designer labels, you can find it here. You'll also discover a hotbed of creative free thinking with local artists and designers showcasing their individual style and fashion.

Island pleasure grounds, an hour from the city.

Can't make it to the Whitsunday Islands or The Barrier Reef? Never mind. Get a taste of the tropics less than an hour from town. Lucky Brisbane has not one but two secret escapes, Moreton Island and North Stradbroke Island, popularly know as Straddie to the locals. Naturally beautiful, with miles of white sandy beaches and crystal water. Explore and enjoy. Kick back and chill out. Top up your tan, snorkel, scuba dive or rev up some thrills on a quad bike. At Tangalooma Wild Dolphin Resort, you can even hand feed bottle noise dolphins.

A whale of a time.
 
You don't have to sail the high sees to see the ocean's greatest creatures. On the eastern side of Moreton Island, you can now experience whale watching from the comfort of a high speed catamaran. Through floor-to-ceiling windows you get uninterrupted views, so you won't miss any of the action. Whale watching season is June to November and you are guaranteed to spot humpback whales as they migrate. What a memory to take home.

Crikey. The good things keep coming.

With so much going on in and around Brisbane, you definitely won't run out of things to see or do, you may simply just run out of time! Here are some more top spots and theme parks, recommended for your travel plans, all within 30 minutes to an hour of town.

Australia Zoo at Beerwah: the zoo that celebrates Steve Irwin's legacy. You don't have to be a wildlife warrior to enjoy this fabulous experience, with over1,000 native and exotic animals.

Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary: the world's first and largest Koala sanctuary on outskirts of Brisbane's city centre, with 130 koalas.

Old Windmill, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
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Underwater World: Queensland's largest oceanarium and aquarium, filled with sharks, stingrays, seals, star fish - over 25,000 sea creatures. If you're game, you can dive with sharks and swim with seals.

Dreamworld Theme Park: so many worlds in one. Native and exotic animals, thrilling rides, TV show attractions and more.

Whitewater World: a brand new theme park. If you love getting wet, this is the placed to be for every last drop of fun. Jaw-dropping water slides and thrilling rides, the pipeline plunge and a playground for under 5's.

Wet 'n' Wild Water World: If you're looking to get wet, then you can't go past this exciting water park, located only 45 minutes from Brisbane.

Last but never least, The Gold Coast: 50 miles south east of Brisbane. It's bright and brash, colourful and lively, a full on beach holiday experience. Think Florida with that unique Aussie touch. Famed for its consistent weather and days filled with sunshine, you'll find plenty of beach and natural attractions, with a glittering night life.

Brisbane. The big city with something for everyone under the sun.

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Discovering Canberra   by Jenny Brewer

Australia's capital city is one of beauty, culture and order, which is obvious as you drive through the ordered rows upon rows of suburban streets with sweeping leafy vistas and beautiful surrounding parklands. It is ideal for a driving holiday with plenty of accommodation, nearby attractions to visit and day trips to enjoy.
 
Canberra is located almost 300 kilometres or three hours drive south from Sydney, it is easily accessible from all directions as long as you stick to the highway. With great historical museums and galleries to explore at your leisure, you can be sure that you will learn more about the Australian heritage here than probably anywhere else in the world.

If you are looking for a welcoming place to stay, the Canberra Retreat Bed and Breakfast is close to eight kilometres from the city centre and is a great base to see the rest of the city. Cotter Campground is for those looking for some bush camping, but with the trimmings. There is plenty of space here and the facilities are excellent.

One of the best times to visit is September to October, when Canberra's hosts what is now Australia's largest floral festival - called Floriade. Held in Commonwealth Park, there are millions of tulips, annuals and every type of flower proudly on display for tourists from all over the world to enjoy. There are also interactive events and entertainment for the whole family.

Parliament House with Mosaic in Foreground, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
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There is every type of food outlet, restaurant, café and club available here and you will find some of the best restaurants in West Row, found in the Melbourne Building. Two of the main shopping centres are also Kingston and Manuka which offer every type of cuisine imaginable, so make sure you visit.

One of the obvious tourist attractions is Parliament house, which is one of the most well known buildings in Australia, being the centre of government and the countries economic power. The flagpole is over eighty metres high and perfect for that inevitable Kodak moment.
Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in Canberra, Australia
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A popular activity for seeing the city from a different angle is to hire a bicycle for the day. Lake Burley Griffin is one of the most enjoyable spots for a picnic and rest while you choose between the thousands of cycling tracks around the city. 

It really is one of the loveliest cities to visit, with the streets planned so perfectly around the central city, and smooth bike tracks taking you through parks, across bridges and to beautiful look outs.

you a closer look at the Great Barrier Reef, sharks and creatures from the depths of the ocean.

Known for its great athletes and sporting facilities, Canberra also boasts the Australian Institute of Sport which offers interactive tours at the Sportex exhibition. The Canberra Museum and Gallery is a must, with plenty of exhibitions running throughout the year, and a great collection of history ranging from centuries ago to the recent bushfires, and a diversity of local photography and art. It would be worth at least a few hours to take in its treasures on display.

One of the most enjoyable attractions, especially for the family, is to the National Zoo and Aquarium, which are really two attractions in one. It is centrally located and boasts the largest number of big cats in Australia. There seems to be every type of animal from all over the world here, with monkeys, African animals, Australian natives, birds, reptiles and plenty of unique animals which will keep you enthralled. The Aquarium also gives 

Take a day trip to tour some of the hundred or so wineries located on the outskirts of the city. The countryside surrounding Canberra is beautiful, and is worth taking some time out to explore the national parks and rolling hills stretched with vineyards and rural vistas. Take some time out to enjoy a lunch in one of the wineries and sample the local produce.

It is easy to catch the spirit of Canberra. You can base yourselves here, hire a vehicle with www.discovery-carhire.com.au and drive in any direction for an enjoyable day trip, or spend weeks visiting the national treasures just waiting to be discovered. This city has been planned so carefully that it is a pleasure to drive its streets, perfect at any time of the year, and beckoning you to keep visiting.


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