Published: May 18th 2008April 10th 2008
We got to Canberra at 5am after our first trip on The Greyhound Bus (a hop-on, hop-off bus that runs 24 hours). In the interest of saving money we'd decided to take the night bus to save on a night's accomodation. Unfortunately, we hadn't been prepared for the air conditioning to be blowing full-strength all night and froze the entire way (we were in shorts and had no warm jumpers with us on the bus). We, therefore, didn't get much sleep. Hopefully we can blame this for what happened next.
When we were in Melbourne we bought a really cheap second-hand Australia Lonely Planet, again in the interest of saving money. It was five years old but we didn't think this would be a problem. When we got to Canberra we consulted said guide book for the distance between the coach park we'd been dropped off at and the hostel we were staying in and realised it was far too long to walk. As it was too late at night for buses or anything to be running we decided to get a taxi. This we did and were dropped at our hostel for the sum of fifteen dollars.
The hostel we
were dropped at was quite far out of the city and seemed very much like a residential area. It also seemed very, very quiet and dark, which confused us seeing as we'd rang ahead to ask if there was a 24 hour reception. Perhaps we should have also confirmed the address with them too because this was where we saw a poster declaring that 'The YHA hostel has moved to '. It was too far to walk, again.
Turning at the speed of light, well at the speed of a badly slept, grumpy pair of girls, we were just in time to see our taxi drive out of sight. So we called the same company, again and ordered another taxi. When it pulled up we half expected it to be the same driver, but luckily we were spared the embarrassment. When we actually pulled up to the right hostel, about an hour after we'd arrived in Canberra, we were pretty distressed to find it one block away from the coach park. We'd essentially paid thirty dollars to turn a corner, we could have walked! So buying a cheaper, out-of-date Lonely Planet actually cost us more money!
We were lucky enough to have a friendly receptionist who let us check into our room five hours before check-in time and then slept for half the day.
With all that aside, though, our trip to Canberra was actually very productive. As it is the capital city we decided we should go and see it, even though many people miss it out. We are obviously very cultural types...
We took a tour bus, which consisted of us and elderly types from accross the globe (they took very kindly to us young types) and went to visit Parliament.
Canberra is a city that doesn't receieve much acclaim, in fact it receives pretty much the opposite. When Australia decided to form thier own government there was too much confusion about where to place the Capital City. The two main cities of Melbourne and Sydney were fighting tooth and nail for the honour so in order to keep everyone happy they decided to just build a new city instead. The problem with the city is that it is built it in the middle of nowhere on flat farmland and it really has the feel of a planned out city, rather than one that has just evolved. It is like one big park-infested grid system. It looks a bit like a city that you would build on SimCity2000. (if you were as much of a geek as I am and still played that)
It was, interesting, anyway to visit Parliament House, and learn about Australian government. It basically, runs pretty simarly to English government, although interestingly it is compulsary for everyone to vote in Australia.
After this, we went to Old Parliament House, which was the temporary building set-up while the main one was being designed and built. We didn't do quite as much learning here, though, as we found all of these costumes and decided to play dress-up...
There are more photos below