We can discover ourselves through local art and culture

When Lonely Planet rated Canberra among its Top 10 Cities to visit in 2018, many regular Aussies were just a little bemused.

There are no beaches, no water sports to speak of, no massive theme parks full of rides, and at first glance, there seems to be nothing different to any other major centre in terms of shopping and theatrical entertainment (although you quickly discover that's not true as soon as you take a proper look).

Lonely Planet included other cities around the world that were similarly devoid of places to just waste time bumming around in the sun.

Their list suddenly made sense, though, when you look at their usual criterion for a destination, whether be it a city or a region.

What visitors would see: Experience local creativity and culture through our own region's attractions. Pictured is the National Gallery of Australia. Photo: Visit Canberra.

What visitors would see: Experience local creativity and culture through our own region's attractions. Pictured is the National Gallery of Australia. Photo: Visit Canberra.

It speaks volumes for the different types of travellers many of us seem to be when we stay local compared with travelling internationally.

All the things Lonely Planet pointed out as justifications for its decision were about experiencing the local art and culture and history.

Learning and discovery were key themes, as was seeing the world in a new way.

The same can be said for almost all Aussie locations. There's lots to observe, absorb, learn and experience to expand your mind and outlook on life. Canberra is especially blessed in this regard however, with all the national repositories like the National Gallery of Australia, National Library, National Archives, National War Memorial and more, along with science exhibits like Questacon, our own cool-climate wine region and many smaller artistic attractions.

Artistic expression is important too, with wide and varied and examples that include painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, videography and model making, written art like books and poetry, and performances like theatre, opera, and music. And there's plenty more.

"From ever-changing street art and world-class museums to iconic opera performances, Australia is home to countless cultural treasures," a Tourism Australia spokesperson said.

We can learn a lot about a particular culture through its artistic expression too, so let's learn about our own.

Also, since the hiatus of international leisure travel began last year, "domestic holiday choices are set to be largely driven by experiences, rather than making a decision solely based on a specific state or region," the spokesperson said.

"With international travel off the cards for the time being, Aussie travellers have a unique opportunity this year to look at their bucket list and actively seek out iconic Australian experiences they might have previously put off in place of an international holiday."

So try to experience our own backyard in the way outside visitors would.

Doing so has the potential to have you see yourself in a new way too, giving you a sense of how our pocket of the world is presented to the rest of the planet's population when they visit us.

Everywhere in the world is a tourist destination from someone's perspective, so take a look around here in the way that an outsider would, and support our local tourist spots at the same time.

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