“Canberra is home to the Australian story and therefore has a connection with all Australians that no other city in the country does. It is the custodian of our nation’s cultural assets and scientific achievements.”

Image of Parliament House

Why take your Students to Canberra?

For many young Australians, the only time they will ever visit their National Capital is when they participate in an excursion to Canberra with their school.

By visiting Canberra, students develop a deeper understanding of how we’re governed and our Australian Identity, fostering a sense of national pride.

Participating in a wide range of programs in Canberra builds students understanding of how we are governed, how laws are made, electoral processes and rights, Australian identity, history and heritage and so much more.

A teacher's perspective on Canberra Excursions

For many years now, our school’s Year 6 Canberra excursion has proved to be an exceptional way to get students excited and involved in learning about Australian government and our Australian identity. Macquarie Educational Tours readily tailors our program to suit our students, and in just 4 days we cover a huge range of activities, the majority of which address NSW HSIE outcome SSS3.8, ‘Explains the structures, roles, responsibilities and decision-making processes of State and federal governments, and explains why Australians value fairness and socially just principles’.

Our tours of both Old and New Parliament Houses give our students an inside look at the way our country is run, and we even have an opportunity to participate in a role-play of the decision making processes of our Federal government. Visiting the Australian War Memorial allows students to gain a greater appreciation for the sacrifices that have been made to help Australia develop into the nation it is today. When our students return from the excursion they have a much stronger understanding of the structure, roles and responsibilities of the Australian government, and are much more enthusiastic and engaged in class activities on these topics.

As a teacher, I wouldn’t contemplate teaching this unit of work without the trip to Canberra; it enhances learning as well as the social development of our students in so many ways.

Amelia Urquhart – Year 6 Teacher, St Philip’s Christian College, Newcastle Campus

War Memorial

Canberra Programs

In Canberra, there are so many amazing programs and experiences awaiting discovery by your students, the hardest part is narrowing down your choice of activities!

Wherever possible, we recommend you choose a facilitated program or guided tour at your choice of venues. The feedback we receive from teachers is that much clearer outcomes are achieved through participation in facilitated programs as opposed to self-guided activities. In Canberra, facilitated programs are available at many venues at minimal cost.

Federal Government

  • Parliament House tour: includes the Senate and House of Representatives chambers. Learn about the role and function of Australia’s Federal Parliament.

  • Parliamentary Education Office program: a range of role-play programs explore how the Parliament works, including:

    • How elected Members of Parliament represent the people

    • How the Government is formed

    • How the Parliament makes laws for Australia

    • How the Parliament scrutinises the Government and its decisions.

  • National Electoral Education Centre: a fun and interactive way to learn about Australia’s Electoral system with a range of programs to suit various ages and interests. Using multimedia and hands-on activities students learn about the history of democracy and elections as well as the electoral process in Australia.

  • Museum of Australian Democracy: programs are based around the stories and events that have shaped our Nation and our democracy, allowing students to experience democracy for themselves in an engaging and accessible environment.

  • Government House: gain further understanding of what it means to be an Australian citizen, how governments work, and the special role of the Governor-General.

Parliament HouseOld Parliament House

History and Australian Culture

  • Australian War Memorial: Discover the Australian experience of war and how it shaped the nation, told through stories and objects in the galleries. Programs are aligned with the Australian Curriculum. For primary aged groups, we highly recommend inclusion of the Discovery Centre as part of your visit. For High School groups there’s a range of facilitated programs available to choose from.
  • National Museum of Australia: is where OUR stories live! A facilitated program is highly recommended – many to choose from. The Museum offers programs in four main areas: Australian History; Indigenous Culture and History; Australian Environment; Historical skills.
  • National Archives: students can experience an educator-led program in the “Memory of a Nation” Gallery. The program covers a range of Australian history including a dictation test designed to exclude potential migrants during the early years of Federation; birthday ballots for conscription for the Vietnam War and so much more. View key documents of Federation which are not open to the general public, including the Australian Constitution, the Royal Commission of Assent and the Royal Proclamation of Inauguration Day.
  • National Film and Sound Archive: programs support the Australian Curriculum. Explore some of the historic and contemporary moving images and recorded sounds that have shaped our national identity and values – from their 19th century beginnings to their 21st century possibilities.
  • National Capital Exhibition: Discover the people, events, history and design of our unique capital city Online education resources available at
Australian War Memorial Australian War Memorial


  • CSIRO Discovery: students investigate current CSIRO research through hands-on experiments and 3D theatre. Topics may include health, gene technology, climate change, energy, environment and biodiversity.
  • Questacon: explore the science behind the world we live in through eight themed galleries. Free fall down a 6.7 metre slide, see lightning created before your eyes or look at the world up close with a microscope, launch a hydrogen rocket, find out what makes water so special, learn about geology and meteorology. See a fun & interactive science show combining humour with scientific concepts.
  • Geoscience: curriculum linked education programs engage students in hands-on geoscientific activity. Themes may include Natural Hazards; Rocks and Minerals; Plate Tectonics; Geography & Mapping; History of the Earth.
  • Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex: A vital part of NASA’s Deep Space Network, sending and receiving data and commands from spacecraft studying the planets of our solar system and beyond. Guided tour and educational program available. Note, allow an hour to travel south of Canberra to this venue, and then an hour to return to Canberra after your visit (this limits the number of other activities that you can include in your Canberra itinerary).
Science Science

National Institutions

  • Royal Australian Mint: Learn how coins are made, see robots at work, and discover interesting facts about the history of coins in Australia. What coins did the First Fleet bring with them? How did the discovery of gold in Australia change our coinage system? Who decides what design goes on a coin? How is technology used at the Mint and what do the robots do? Find the answers to these questions and more during your visit to the Mint.
  • Australian Institute of Sport: An athlete guided tour gives your students insight into the life of an AIS athlete and includes the interactive sports experience “Sportex’ where your students can try wheelchair basketball, virtual downhill skiing, rock climbing, football penalty shootouts and more! A valuable resource “Healthy Active Classroom” is available at
  • National Gallery: The gallery houses the nation’s largest and most valuable art collection. Guided Discovery Tours provide an introduction to the collection and help to develop skills in analysing and appreciating art.
  • National Library: Discover the Treasures Gallery, with early maps and atlases, books and manuscripts such as James Cook’s Endeavour journal, paintings, drawings, photographs and objects. Guided tours and programs can cover topics such as Sharing Australian Stories; Understanding the Library; Developing Research Skills; and Exploring Collections.
  • National Portrait Gallery: guided tours and facilitated programs help to increase the understanding and appreciation of the Australian People – their identity, history, culture, creativity and diversity – through portraiture.
  • High Court of Australia: a guided tour includes an overview of the history, role and powers of the High Court, as well as an explanation of the workings of the courtrooms visited. Tours of the artworks and hands-on art activities are also available.
  • Australian National Botanic Gardens: various facilitated programs are available. Explore how the Australian environment has shaped our unique plants; or how native plants have been used for food, tools and survival by Indigenous Australians, European settlers and Australians today; or learn about your State’s floral emblem. Night time spotlight tours also available.
Australian Institute of Sport Australian Institute of Sport Australian Institute of Sport

There are also many other recreational and night time activities available to create an exciting itinerary with a balance of learning and fun. Contact our friendly team to discuss your Canberra itinerary requirements and let us design the perfect excursion for your students.

Visiting Canberra is cheaper, easier and warmer in Term 1!

  • Save money – you can take advantage of cheaper deals offered by some accommodation venues for schools travelling to Canberra in Term 1.

  • During Term 1, many of the Canberra venues offer specials and extras, ranging from upgrading your visit from a self-guided to a facilitated program, offering a memento of your visit, or reducing or waiving program fees.

  • At the time of quoting on your Canberra excursion, we can advise you of which specials apply to your choice of venues.

  • Because there are less school groups in Canberra in Term 1, you can move around venues such as the War Memorial and Questacon more freely and experience much more of the exhibitions.

  • The Canberra climate is predictably much warmer in Term 1 compared with Term 3. You can comfortably enjoy outdoor lunches, scenery and activities at this time of year.

Old Parliament House

There is a shortage of accommodation in Canberra

  • Many ‘school group motels’ have either been bulldozed to make way for apartments, or have chosen to no longer service the school-group market – preferring to take on government accommodation contracts. This has increased the pressure on availability of beds during the most popular times of year.

  • Because many schools traditionally visit Canberra in Term 3, the available beds and programs book out extremely quickly.

  • Don’t get caught with booking difficulties by leaving it too late to book. We are currently taking school group bookings for 2016, 2017 and 2018.

Are you planning to visit Canberra from other States and Territories?

We're here to help you!

  • Let us plan, book, conduct and manage your entire East Coast excursion including stop-overs en-route to / from Canberra.

  • A basic Canberra excursion from interstate can be completed within 5 days, including travelling days to and from. However you may wish to increase your itinerary to experience much more of what Canberra has to offer!

  • If you are flying via Melbourne, we can incorporate a Melbourne or Sovereign Hill experience en-route.

  • We can also design a more comprehensive East Coast itinerary that includes any or all of the following: Sydney, Blue Mountains, Bathurst or Mogo (for gold history), Canberra and the Snowy Mountains. Itineraries are designed to suit your required inclusions.

  • Sydney and the snow are the most popular additions to Canberra itineraries. They are both located within easy driving distance from Canberra, and they both offer unique experiences that are not readily available to families located in the North and West of Australia.


Did you know?

Our Federal Government actively encourages school teachers to take their students to visit Australia’s National Capital, by providing a travel subsidy. The Parliament And Civics Education Rebate (PACER) is a sliding scale rebate based on schools’ travelling distance to Canberra, with rebate amounts ranging from $20 to $260 per eligible student (conditions apply). Click here to find out more…