Canberra - A Visit to the Capital

Trip Start Aug 16, 2003
Trip End Apr 21, 2004

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Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Following a bus ride through the night from Melbourne, which included a fantastic sunrise, we pulled up at a freezing Canberra bus station at 6.15am. After a hot drink to thaw us out, we set off in search of accommodation. Luckily we found a budget hotel right in the centre which allowed us to check in at 8am so we were sound asleep a few minutes later, catching up on some much needed sleep in a warm bed.

By midday we'd recovered suitably to venture out in to the, by now, gorgeous sunny afternoon. We decided to go for a walk around the 'Parliamentary Triangle' to take in our new surroundings and get our bearings. Defined by Lake Burley-Griffin, Commonwealth Avenue and Kings Avenue, the triangle gave us a lovely scenic tour of Canberra. We stumbled across 'Floriade' the Canberra Spring Flower Show which, much to his excitement, I dragged Dan around - the flower displays were based on a 'Planets' theme and were beautifully displayed against the backdrop of the sparkling lake. The summit of our triangle saw us reach Parliament House on Capital Hill which offers fantastic views right across the city - we got there just as the sun was setting and decided to come back the next day to look around the building inside.

The next morning we caught a bus to the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS), which is a few miles outside the city. Our guided tour was led by one of the sportsmen who has a scholarship there, neither Dan or I were surprised to learn that he was a volleyball player - all 6ft 5in of him! The tour began with a 45min session in 'Sportec', an imaginative and fun interactive exhibition which allowed us to test our flexibility, strength, reaction times, balance, throwing, shooting and catching skills. Surprisingly Dan and I had to be dragged out when our time was up - we were fair enjoying the competition (although I have to admit that I was no match for him when it came to shooting baskets from a wheelchair - I now realise just how difficult that is!)

We continued the second part of the tour by visiting the venues for all the different sports, from gymnastics, swimming, volleyball and boxing, to hockey, rugby, netball, basketball and athletics. There are currently over 500 scholarships and a significant number of Australia's medal winning Olympians have graduated from the AIS (including Cathy Freeman). The whole campus is really well maintained and there is a really good friendly atmosphere among all the sportsmen and women from various different backgrounds and disciplines. Unfortunately Bisham Abbey and Crystal Palace fall somewhat short of the mark nowadays!

That afternoon we headed back to Parliament House and took some photos from the roof of the building. I stayed on and took advantage of the guided tour of the building which was pretty informative (I feel quite guilty that I've never actually looked around our very own Houses of Parliament).

Next morning, the first stop was the nearby shopping centre - I needed to buy some trainers (I've got a huge selection at home but didn't think to bring any) as my feet are badly blistered from my sandals.

Once we'd switched rooms at our hotel (they'd run out of doubles for our last night, so we were moved into a much bigger room with five beds), I decided to have a look around the Australian Museum of Art. Meanwhile Dan was updating the internet travelogues for Thailand as we're beginning to struggle to keep up! Unfortunately my visit only served to confirm my previously held suspicions that I have absolutely no appreciation of modern art - I'm sorry but I just don't get it! Nevertheless I still enjoyed my aimless wander around the gallery.

That afternoon, I eventually boarded the right bus for the National Museum of Australia and spent a couple of hours taking in the various exhibits which focused on the history and unique culture of the country.

Once reunited with Dan, we went next door to O'Malleys (a large proportion of the pubs in Oz seem to be Irish) and we made the most of the happy hour. In fact we spent most the evening there - it was pouring down by now and and the pub was one of the liveliest venues we'd witnessed since arriving in Canberra, which for a capital city is incredibly quiet!

So that's it really. The following morning we were up early to catch the bus to Sydney. Canberra is definitely a very picturesque city with lots of important buildings and landmarks to visit.

Andrea and Dan
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