When the Australian colonies united in the Commonwealth of Australia in 1901, a capital city had to be chosen, with Melbourne and Sydney the two obvious and eager rivals. After much wrangling, and partly in order to avoid having to decide on one of the two, it was agreed to establish a brand-new capital instead. In 1909, Limestone Plains, south of Yass, was chosen out of several possible sites as the future seat of the Australian government. An area of 2368 square kilometres was excised from the state of New South Wales and named the Australian Capital Territory, or ACT. The name for the future capital was supposedly taken from the language of local Aborigines: Canberra – the meeting place.

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