Published: June 14th 2008May 16th 2008
Australia and Canada
You can get this photo of the Australian and Canadian flags from the Canadian Embassy.
Canberra, the capital of Australia, does not usually make the list of 'Places I'd like to see in Australia' however I eagerly accepted Matt's offer to meet him while he was there on business. He did live in Canberra for a bit and thought we could spend the weekend seeing the sites. It's a 3 hour drive South of Sydney or a really short flight. I chose to fly Friday night and drive back with Matt but got teased since the only one who normally flies to Canberra is the Prime Minister (Kevin Rudd)! The only hitch to this plan was that I had to drive from Pymble to Manly (45 min), take the ferry from Manly to Sydney CBD (30 min), the train to the airport (20 min) and catch my 6pm flight! It was all going well until a fire truck with siren blaring forced me to the left lane a little too far and into the curb. Yup, flat tire #2 - second in a month. And it was really flat. Luckily it happened right outside of our Frenchs Forest location so I limped to the parking lot and was able to catch a ride with Jane (a
A little piece of Canada in the Australian Capital - The Canadian Embassy.
fellow Canadian who could empathize with the driving issues). Thanks to Jane (and Nick for changing my tire for when I returned on Monday) I made my flight and landed in Canberra around 7pm.....into the cold weather! Yikes!! Although it's not far from Sydney (or Manly) wow is it colder! The highest temperature we saw all weekend was 15C. Took a little getting used to but I guess on the upside it felt like home... We had one of my favourite dishes for dinner - salt and pepper squid - and some wine from the Canberra region.
Canberra is, like Ottawa I suppose, all governement (Parliament House, the High Court of Australia, government departments and agencies). This means it is busy with government workers during the week and a bit of a ghost town on the weekends. It's in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) a little territory by itself, surrounded by New South Wales. Story is that it was chosen (and purposely built) to be the capital as a compromise between feuding Sydney and Melbourne. Unfortunately, in my opinion, since it was totally designed, it lacks a heart - there's no pulse to the city - it feels a
A view of the Parliament Building from the Australian War Museum.
bit empty or something. It is very clean, organized and has wide roads though so that's something.
After a leisurely breakfast at one of the cafes, it was off to the National Gallery of Australia for the exhibit 'Turner to Monet - the triumph of landscape' See http://www.nga.gov.au/ABOUTUS/press/Turner.cfm for more info. Although I am not very educated in the arts, the show was amazing. To see an original Monet (and JMW Turner, John Constable, Gustave Courbet, Camille Pissarro, Paul Cézanne, Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin) in person was pretty spectacular. We had the guided tour through headphones which gave us an idea of what we were supposed to be looking for, I also bought a book that has each of the paintings we saw with some information so I can learn a bit more. My favorite ..... Water Lilies, Claude Monet.
Then, since it was cold and overcast (it looked like snow clouds to me) we went to the Australian War Museum instead of rollerblading around the lake as planned. It was interesting but you'd need a whole day to go through it properly and we were just about 'museumed' out. There is a great view of the
This photo is not mine but was taken a few days after we were there (reference devyver4 on Flickr).
Parliament House from here though. We had some wine and snacks and warmed up then headed out to the pub. We ended up spending the night at King O'Malley's Irish Pub for a night of steak and guiness pie, cider, beer and live music.
Sunday was still cold so we did some more touristy things....after another late breakfast, we visited the Canberra Glass Works (a glass store/museum/art gallery located in an old powerhouse building) which was worth a visit but we missed the demonstration which was too bad. And then, we followed the crowds of people to the next building which turned out to be a big Sunday market so we took a tour through that. Lots of wool items, art, crafts, prints, etc. Also worth stopping to check out. We decided to spend the afternoon (the sun popped out) getting some exercise strolling through the Australian National Botanic Gardens and a quick stop at the Canadian Embassy before heading back to Sydney.
There's not much to see on the drive back along the Federal Highway with the exception of 'Lake’ George, which was fascinating to me for some reason. When there's water in it, it is the largest body of fresh water in Australia and is seven metres deep and covers more than 900 square kilometres. However, it has been empty for at least a few years now and has become a pasture for sheep and cattle. It was just so bizarre to see this huge expanse of totally flat land that looked like it should contain water.
A fun and cultural visit but I was happy to get back to the warmth of the oceanside!!.....I did have one lasting souvenir which was my first Australian cold and a day off work blowing my nose and sniffling.