Saturday, 10 November 2012

Life in Australia: Canberra, Australia's Captial


Sorry I haven't blogged for a while. I've been getting on with the plan of get a job, get a place. So I'm living in a lovely suburb called North Strathfield to the west of Sydney and I'm doing a 6 week temp job placement in an office.

The job is regular hours so last weekend I decided I needed to go and see something new because staring at a computer screen for 5 days a week does not make you feel like you are having a fun travelling time!

Canberra, Australia's capital city is 4 hours by train away from Sydney. It exists between the two largest cities, Sydney and Melbourne because apparently it could not be decided between the two which would be capital. So Canberra is a purpose built capital and you can see that very clearly in it's design, inspired by Washington DC.

For my one full day that I had in the city I chose to use the Explorer Bus. This is a hop on, hop off service but not like the ones you are used to! Much more personal and much more specific. The bus is run by a wonderful man called John and he talks you through the drive. The best way to use the bus is to join for the whole day, this way you see 4 places. And John will come and pick you up from your hotel! His number is on the website and he doesn't mind being called too much, because I did!

So my explorer bus tour starts with the war memorial. This is the view from the war memorial down to Parliament house. See what I mean about Washington?


And again from within the war memorial.


You are looking at the flag on top of Parliament house there in the distance. There's actually an old Parliament house which is a white building making the 'washington' look but is now a museum. The new Parliament house was built into the hill behind.

The war memorial was really interesting, after all the Australians fought for us so the history lesson was fascinating but I had to leave the tour because of moving onto my next stop. I could've spent the whole day in any one of the venues I saw.


The next stop I chose on the tour was the National Portrait Gallery because this is my area of interest. It was so interesting to see all the early pieces were "Joe Blogs moved to Australia in 1880..." All of them! Because Australians weren't Australian before. A whole lot of them were English. And that's why they fought for us.

The gallery also had an exhibition just because of the Queen's jubilee. I felt glad that I chose to stop and see that in the little time I had.

Next stop took me to the other end of Anzac Parade, now we can see the War Memorial in the distance.


This is my favourite picture of the trip. You can see everything including the importance of the Parliament house that the people can stand on top of!

My final stop of the day was the National Museum of Australia. This wonderful place shows a real, honest story about the history of Australia focused on the Aboriginals but also climate and animals and hoping for a better future.

The museum is built right next to Lake Griffin, the man-made lake all part of the city design. This picture shows the Black Mountain Tower which I would go to another time.


This picture shows the National Carillon, a bell tower on it's own private island that was a gift from the Queen for Canberra's 50th anniversary. Apparently they do concerts there using the bells with an orchestra which sounds amazing and I would love to see that. It was actually the first thing I saw lit up from my late night taxi arrival.


And then in the panorama you can see Canberra's business centre and one of the bridges over the lake to Parliament house. The huge jet of water is the Captain Cook Memorial, an intense power jet that runs a couple of hours in the morning and again in the afternoon.


That was more than enough for one day. On the Sunday morning before my train I found a lovely market in Kingston housed in the old bus depot. Finally I just want to share with you this image of the train station because I was shocked when I arrived. This is the Capital city but it is the end of the line, one platform and you are still a good 20 minutes from the centre. No more trains. Sydney on the other hand has an underground system and Central Station is as big and as busy as Clapham Junction! And for my weekend visit it was dead apart from a few tourists. I hear the roads are packed during the week becuase of all the goverment buildings but still it's an odd place!


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