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Canberra is a fascinating 20th-century creation that has struggled to establish itself as the focus of Australia´s national history, pride and identity. Canberra has long been perceived as the ´fat cat´ of Australian cities, a town of politicians and bureaucrats living off the hard work of their countryfolk. Step outside the Parliamentary Triangle, however, and this idea swiftly disappears.
Canberra has grown from a Federation baby into an adult city with all the problems and delights that being a grown-up brings. Many Australians knock Canberra for being a city without soul, but many who spend a bit of time there develop a soft spot for the place. Carefully planned, Canberra´s suburbs are separated by swathes of native bushland, while its main tourist attractions - the National Gallery, Parliament House and other inhabitants of the Parliamentary Triangle - are set around a pleasant artificial lake encircled by bike tracks. If you´re enamoured of the bush and lungfuls of fresh air, but don´t want to be too far from a decent café latté, you´ll be in heaven in the national capital. Canberra is also a great base for visiting the nearby delights of the Snowy Mountains and the New South Wales south coast.