Trip Start Jul 25, 2013
Trip End Jul 24, 2014

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Where I stayed

Flag of Australia  , Australian Capital Territory,
Saturday, January 11, 2014

We're up fairly early for the long drive to Canberra. It’s not a beautiful, classic drive, but it’s one that takes us through three 'states’ in one day (Victoria, New South Wales, and Australian Capital Territories). It’s not an exciting drive, but it’s interesting to see how the landscape changes over the 500km or so, from farmland, through wide-open planes, and into dense forests.  By late afternoon we’ve passed over into ACT, not really a proper state as it was created after Australia was formed from the union of all the other states, but home to the capital city Canberra, and the Australian parliament.  Sat nav guides us through central Canberra on our journey to north Canberra (where we’re staying) – and it’s extraordinarily quiet!  OK, it’s a Saturday and parliament is currently in recess, but there’s barely any traffic and we’re able to navigate up the super-wide, super-straight avenues very easily!  Looking at it on a map, it’s fairly easy to work out that Canberra is a designed city – it’s also easy to do the same when driving through it.  We arrive at our hotel in the north of the city and it feels like it’s in the middle of suburbia!  Fortunately, after a quick drive out, we find we’re near a fairly busy shopping and social area where we can grab some food and drinks.

We head out the next morning to visit the famous local markets where we pick up some presents for our return to Sydney.  Then we head up to parliament, and are incredibly surprised that we can park right underneath the building – and for free!  We head upstairs and into the building (UK take note: the Australian parliament is free and open for all) and after a chat with one of the guys inside we end up taking a tour of the building – and very interesting it was too, to learn something of the design of the building and also about the way the Aussie electoral system operates (largely copied from the UK system, but with some good improvements made over our system of politics). The building is quite impressive and we leave feeling a little more enlightened about the Australian political system.  We grab the car and decide to head up to the war museum and memorial, and after enjoying a picnic lunch and a brief tour of the various memorials scattered around we into the museum (and home to the main memorial and tomb of the unknown soldier).  It’s all quite sombre – seeing names of the dead cast in bronze with thousands of poppies attached is sobering.  We investigate the museum and spend the next couple of hours in there.  The museum shuts at five in the afternoon, and we didn’t realise but they have a closing ceremony outside, where the story of one of the names on the wall is told, a wreath ceremony takes places for anyone who’s lost loved ones in war, and the last post is played by a bugaleer.  It’s actually quite moving and we head back to the car in quiet reflection.  It’s a quiet night as we pack and get ready for an early start in the morning.
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