Saturday, 25 August 2012

Canberra - Australia's capital

Most capital cities are large but that's not the case with Australia's capital Canberra. This difference is historical as when the States of Australia agreed to form a Federation in 1901 neither NSW or Victoria (who were the largest cities at the time) would agree on the other city being chosen. So Canberra was selected due to its proximity to both Melbourne and Sydney.

Canberra was originally the home of the Ngunnawal people who occupied the land for 21,000 years as evidenced by rock paintings at Namadgi National Park and Birrigai Rock Shelter at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve.

A competition to design the capital was won by American Architect Walter Burley Griffin.     Influenced by both the City Beautiful and Garden City movements of the time; Burley Griffin designed a city with a large man made lake at the centre, green areas, wide boulevards and formal parks with water features.

Lake Burley Griffin

The original Parliament House was opened in 1927 and served Parliament until 1988 when a new and modern Parliament House replaced it. Today old Parliament House is a tourist attraction featuring a museum  dedicated to telling the story of Australian democracy.

Old Parliament House

On the land opposite old Parliament House is the site of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy which was established in 1972 as a protest to the Government's refusal to recognise Aboriginal Land rights.  

Site of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy

New Parliament House, built on the top of a hill, dominates the skyline and can be seen from many surrounding locations. 

Visit Parliament House when Parliament is in session and you can see our Politicians at work. Parliament House also has an amazing collection of art and  is a venue for many functions.

New Parliament House

Heritage listed Government House is the home of the Queen's representative in Australia the Governor General. Surrounded by 54 hectares of grounds the House is used for many official occasions including receptions, dinners for visiting Royalty and functions for community and special needs groups.

Government House

As the location of the Commonwealth Government Canberra tends to be a city that many people commute which makes many people think Canberra is a boring place to visit. I don't agree there is so much to see. 

National Gallery of Australia

On the cultural side visit the National Gallery of Australia with more than 100,000 works of art including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art, Australian art and international art.

View of the road between the National Gallery of Australia and the National Portrait Gallery

National Portrait Gallery of Australia

At the National Portrait Gallery you can view portraits of more than 400 people who have shaped Australia's history, diversity and culture.

The Australian War Memorial commemorates the sacrifice of the men and women who served Australia in war. There is an enormous amount of history to explore and the Hall of Memory with the tomb of the unknown soldier evokes a sadness and respect for what the memorial represents.

High Court of Australia

Questacon is Australia's National Science and Technology Centre and a fantastic place to visit if you are holidaying with children. There are regular exhibits, displays and lots of hands on activities that provide a fun learning experience. 

There are many other interesting buildings in Canberra including a range of Embassies many designed to visually represent their home nation.

The Eagle

Memorials are also a regular sight like the Australian-American Memorial symbolises the strong relationship between these 2 countries. Its located on the forecourt of the Defence Offices.

From a nature and the outdoors perspective I like the Australian National Botanical Gardens which include a range of beautiful plants. Various garden designs represent a Rainforest Gully, Rock Garden, Eucalypt Lawn and Mallee Shrub lands. 

Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve provides a great spot for a picnic or BBQ lunch.  You may also see a range of wildlife including kangaroos, koalas, possums and the endangered Brush-tailed Rock Wallaby.  Tidbinbilla also is the location of the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex which was a real surprise as it features  a number of "big dish" antennas that receive data from and transmit commands to a wide variety of spacecraft.

Burbury Hotel 

I stay at the Burbury Hotel located in the Realm precinct. The Realm Hotel located across the road is also a great option. 

Eat in Kingston or Manuka.

Great shopping at the Fyshwick Markets or DFO also located in Fyshwick. 

For more information see Canberra Tourism