Canberra is an entirely planned city with Lake Burley Griffin, named after the city’s original architect, at its centre. The ANU is centrally located just north of the lake and west of the Civic Centre in the suburb of Acton.
The central Canberra suburbs are divided into the Inner North (closest to the ANU) and Inner South. Inner North suburbs are: Acton, Ainslie, Braddon, Campbell, City, Dickson, Downer, Hackett, Lyneham, O'Connor, Reid, Russell, Turner, and Watson. The Inner South suburbs are: Barton, Capital Hill, Deakin, Forrest, Fyshwick, Griffith, Kingston, Narrabundah, Parkes, Red Hill, and Yarralumla. Most suburbs have their own set of shops with groceries, restaurants, and pharmacies.
The climate in Canberra is relatively dry with four distinct seasons. Winters are cool with frequent frosts and summers can be hot. The city is known as the “Bush Capital” because of its abundance of hills and nature parks which feature many bike paths and walking trails. Closest to the ANU are Black Mountain and Mt. Ainslie. These are good places to spot kangaroos, a wide variety of birds, and other wildlife.
For visitors staying at the ANU, the nearest grocery shopping is at the City West IGA, just northeast of campus. A wider variety of groceries can be found at Supabarn in the Canberra Centre shopping mall in the Civic Centre, as well as department stores, a cinema, a Borders bookstore, and other shops. (Note that besides the supermarket, cinema, and Borders, retail stores will close around 5pm all days except Friday when they stay open late.) For bigger purchases, such as furniture, most stores are located in the suburb of Fyshwick.
Canberra’s utility provider is ActewAGL, responsible for water, gas, and electricity. The subsidiary TransACT also provides telecommunications services.
Canberra is fairly spread out and most long-term residents own cars. However, the city has many bike paths as well as a bus system for those without automobiles. The public transportation system is called ACTION. Visit their website for maps and timetables. Two taxi services are also available in the city: Canberra Elite and Cab Xpress.
Being the nation’s capital, Canberra is home to a wide array of museums and attractions, including the Australian War Memorial, the National Museum, the National Gallery, National Library, Parliament House, Australian National Botanic Gardens, the National Zoo and Aquarium, and Questacon- the National Science and Technology Centre.
Both the rugby league Canberra Raiders and rugby union Brumbies play at Canberra Stadium, and Manuka Oval also hosts various sports events. The Australian Institute of Sport is the country’s premiere sports training facility and also has a pool and fitness centre open to the public. Closer to the ANU, the Canberra Olympic Pool has an indoor and outdoor pool open to the public in Canberra’s Civic Centre.
Just across the street from the Coombs Building, the National Film and Sound Archive, not only houses a museum but also hosts regular film screenings at the. The nearest commercial cinema, Dendy, is located in the Canberra Centre. Another option for ANU film lovers is the ANU Film Group which hosts screening in the Coombs Lecture Theatre. Canberra also hosts many live music and theatre events at the Canberra Theatre, the Street Theatre, and the ANU School of Music’s Llewellyn Hall, as well as other venues.
The Visit Canberra website and Live in Canberra website both have useful information for people visiting or relocating here.