Portal:Australian Capital Territory

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The Australian Capital Territory Portal

Flag of Australian Capital Territory
Coat of Arms of the Australian Capital Territory
Location within Australia

The Australian Capital Territory, formerly known as the Federal Capital Territory until 1938 and commonly referred to as the ACT, is a federal territory of Australia containing the Australian capital city of Canberra and some surrounding townships. It is located in the south-east of the country and is an enclave within the state of New South Wales. Founded after federation as the seat of government for the new nation, all important institutions of the Australian federal government are centred in the Territory.

On 1 January 1901, federation of the colonies of Australia was achieved. Section 125 of the new Australian Constitution provided that land, situated in New South Wales and at least 100 miles (160 km) from Sydney, would be ceded to the new federal government. Following discussion and exploration of various areas within New South Wales, the Seat of Government Act 1908 was passed in 1908 which specified a capital in the Yass-Canberra region. The territory was transferred to the Commonwealth by New South Wales in 1911, two years prior to the capital city being founded and formally named as Canberra in 1913.

While the overwhelming majority of the population reside in the city of Canberra in the ACT's north-east, the Territory also includes some surrounding townships such as Williamsdale, Naas, Uriarra, Tharwa and Hall. The ACT also includes the Namadgi National Park which comprises the majority of land area of the Territory. Despite a common misconception, the Jervis Bay Territory is not part of the ACT although the laws of the Australian Capital Territory apply as if Jervis Bay did form part of the ACT. The Territory has a relatively dry, contintental climate experiencing warm to hot summers and cool to cold winters.

The Australian Capital Territory is home to many important institutions of the federal government, national monuments and museums. This includes the Parliament of Australia, the High Court of Australia, the Australian Defence Force Academy and the Australian War Memorial. It also hosts the majority of foreign embassies in Australia as well as regional headquarters of many international organisations, not-for-profit groups, lobbying groups and professional associations. Several major universities also have campuses in the ACT including the Australian National University, the University of Canberra, the University of New South Wales, Charles Sturt University and the Australian Catholic University.

A locally elected legislative assembly has governed the Territory since 1988. However, the Commonwealth maintains authority over the Territory and may overturn local laws. It still maintains control over the area known as the Parliamentary Triangle through the National Capital Authority. Residents of the Territory elect three members to the House of Representatives and two Senators to the Australian Senate.

With 419,200 residents, the Australian Capital Territory is second smallest mainland state or territory by population. At the 2016 census, the median weekly income for people in the Territory aged over 15 was $998 and higher than the national average of $662. The average level of degree qualification in the ACT is also higher than the national average. Within the ACT, 37.1% of the population hold a bachelor's degree level or above education compared to the national figure of 20%.

Selected article

Government House at Yarralumla
Yarralumla is a large inner south suburb of Canberra, the capital city of Australia. Located approximately 3.5 (2 miles) south-west of the city centre, Yarralumla extends along the south-west bank of Lake Burley Griffin. (The lake was created after the Second World War though the blocking, with a dam, of the Molonglo River.)

Europeans first settled the area in 1828, and it was named Yarralumla in 1834 from the indigenous Ngunnawal people's name for the area. Frederick Campbell, grandson of Robert Campbell who built nearby "Duntroon", completed the construction of a large, gabled, brick house on his property in 1891 that now serves as the site of Government House, the official residence of the Governor-General of Australia. Campbell's house replaced an elegant, Georgian-style, stone homestead. Among the old Yarralumla homestead's most notable occupants were Sir Terence Aubrey Murray, who owned Yarralumla sheep station from 1837 to 1859, and Augustus Onslow Manby Gibbes, who owned the property from 1859 to 1881.

The modern suburb of Yarralumla was officially gazetted in 1928 and today is home to approximately 3000 people and many diplomatic missions. In recent years, it has become one of Canberra's most desirable and expensive suburbs because of its wide leafy streets, attractive lakeside setting and central location.

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Blundells' Cottage in 2005
Credit: PDH

Blundell's Cottage is a five-roomed stone cottage on the shores of Lake Burley Griffin, in Canberra, Australia. It was built by George Campbell in about 1858 for his ploughman William Ginn. Ginn lived there with his family until c1870 and then Flora and George Blundell moved in and remained there until about 1920. Flora was a midwife and George a bullock driver for Campbell. After their departure in the 1920s the cottage was planned to be demolished. However Lord William Holford proposed that the cottage be kept as a museum. The National Capital Development Commission renovated the cottage and in 1964 gave it to the Canberra and District Historical Society.

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Lake Burley Griffin in the foreground, Commonwealth Place and Old Parliament House in the middle, and Parliament House in the background
Credit: Adz

Parliament House is the meeting place of the Parliament of Australia. It is located in Canberra, the capital of Australia. It was opened on 9 May 1988 by Queen Elizabeth II. Its construction cost was over $1.1 billion. Prior to 1988, the Parliament of Australia met in the Provisional Parliament House, which is now known as "Old Parliament House".

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