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A Guide to Living in Canberra

Ranked by Lonely Planet as third in the ‘Best in Travel’ rankings for 2018, there are plenty of reasons to choose Canberra as your study destination.

With high quality institutions, amazing libraries and numerous museums, Australia’s capital makes an excellent choice as your study city. Add some hip cafes, exciting clubs and diverse shopping to the mix and you’ve found yourself the perfect place to live.

Australia’s capital city, Canberra, is surprisingly small and creates a feeling of familiarity pretty much instantly. Surrounded by Australian bushland, and with the beautiful Lake Burley Griffin at its centre, Canberra has the peaceful feel of a country town, offering you the quietness of the country in the heart of the city. With an estimated 35,000 students, and over 9,000 of those international, you’ll feel right at home in this great community.

Things to do

Get political

Visit Parliament House and Old Parliament House and learn more about Australia’s past, present and future. You can even have a look at the country’s politicians in action if you visit Parliament House during one of their sessions. Old Parliament House will give you a better understanding of how Australia was established as a nation whilst also offering some hands-on exhibitions.

Spend time at the museum

Canberra has a lot of different museums and art galleries on offer. You could pick a different one every day and it will take you quite a while until you run out. Wherever your interests lie, you will find a museum or gallery to match!

Check out Mt Ainslie

Hike up Mt Ainslie and get the best view of Canberra. You will get to enjoy views of Lake Burley Griffin, the Australian War Memorial and parliament.

Average weekly costs

  • Rent: $250-450
  • Food: $100
  • Electricity/gas: $20-60
  • Transport: $40
  • Internet/phone: $25
  • Other: $50+
  • Total: $575-760



Buses are the only form of public transport in Canberra. The city’s public bus service is called ACTION and has four bus interchanges, Civic, Belconnen, Tuggeranong and Woden.


There are many taxi ranks located around the city and each town centre, including most campuses. Taxi ranks are specific areas where you can line up and get a taxi, otherwise you can try hailing one from the side of the road.


Uber arrived in Canberra in October 2015, and was regulated from the very beginning, including regulations around driver background checks, vehicle inspections and insurance requirements. So whether you want to catch a cab or call an Uber, you know you can choose either with peace of mind.

Canberra’s suburbs

Civic and Acton

Civic and Acton is Canberra’s cultural hub with plenty of options to shop, eat and sightsee. You can choose from a range of different museums and galleries to visit, surrounded by a selection of local pubs and bars.

Braddon and Dickson

For those living – or travelling – on a smaller budget, Braddon and Dickson are the places to go. Dickson is often known as Canderra’s Chinatown whilst Braddon is where people go to get their coffee fix. If you’re looking for some physical activity, make sure you wander around Haig Park with its dense, green trees.

Parkes and Kingston

Canberra is filled with insightful museums and art galleries. However, to get a deeper understanding of the city’s beauty, make sure you take a look across the lake from Civic. You will spot the beautiful Kingston, Foreshore and Parkes.

Bruce and Belconnen

These areas are also known as the hub for students. With their world-class sporting grounds and largest shopping centre in Canberra the areas attract local and international students alike. Come here for reasonably prices eateries and exciting nightlife options.

Canberra’s Top 5s


  • National Museum of Australia
  • Australian War Memorial
  • Museum of Australian Democracy
  • Canberra Railway Museum
  • National Film & Sound Archive of Australia


  • National Portrait Gallery
  • Belconnen Arts Centre
  • Canberra Museum & Gallery
  • Canberra Contemporary Art Space
  • Drill Hall Gallery


  • Old Bus Depot Markets
  • Capital Region Farmers Market
  • Handmade Market
  • Belconnen Fresh Food Markets
  • Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets

Music venues

  • Transit Bar
  • UC Refectory
  • The Basement
  • The Phoenix
  • Smith’s Alternative

Quick facts

State: Australian Capital Territory

Population: 400,000

Popular sports: Australian Rules Football, Rugby, soccer, cricket, netball, and basketball

Traditional owners of the land: Ngunnawal people

Famous Canberrans: Patty Mills, Carl Valeri, Mia Wasikowska

Things to see if you had 24 hours in Canberra: Parliament House, Australian War Memorial, National Portrait Gallery of Australia

International student support: Study Canberra (and IDP, of course)

Public transport: Transport Canberra

IDP office: Click here

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Group of Eight Australia

The Group of Eight (Go8) is a coalition of leading Australian universities, delivering a comprehensive range of general and professional education.

Australian Technology Network (ATN)

The Australian Technology Network of Universities (ATN) brings together six of the most innovative and enterprising universities in Australia

3.1.3 Australia Foundation Program_T1_370x242.jpg

Australia Foundation Program

Foundation courses help International students who may not initially meet entry requirements to undergraduate study at Australian universities and colleges.

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