Museum Mania

Trip Start May 18, 2003
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Australia  ,
Wednesday, February 23, 2005

This morning I checked out of my room at the Kingston Hotel and left my bags in their locked office for the day. This allowed me to continue with my relentless Museum tour of duty. Here's the summary:

ScreenSound (1/5) - Give this one a miss unless you are really interested in the Australian film industry. I spent about twenty minutes here as it was on the way to the National Museum.
National Capital Exhibition (3/5) - All you ever wanted to know about how Canberra came to be, including runner up designs from various city architects (one of which was from the man who designed Bournville in Birmingham). There is an impressive laser-lit model of the city, which gives a good sense of bearings for the first time visitor to Canberra. After spending an hour here (that's all you need) go to the balcony for some impressive views across the lake.
Australian War Memorial (?/5) - Didn't get to the actual museum in time (everything closes at 5pm) so I can't really give it a score. There are an impressive array of war memorials along the ANZAC Parade leading up to it. Worryingly there are vacant lots set aside for even more monuments to the dead. Taking a walk up and down both sides of ANZAC Parade and looking at all the monuments close up will take about an hour.
National Museum of Australia (4/5) - This building had the most striking exterior of all the museums in Canberra. Inside there were good exhibits, if a little sporadic. Give yourself half a day to see it all.
National Archives of Australia (2/5) - Perfect for if you want to trace your family in Australia. There are a few exhibits and displays also.
Parliment House (5/5) - Whether you are interested in politics or not this is a must see. The very professional guided tour explains both the history of the building's construction and it's present day usage. The tour lasts about an hour and then you may want to spend another hour or two visiting various exhibits and rooms in the building.
Old Parliment House (?/5) - Spectacular rose gardens outside but I didn't get to go in as I was distracted by the Aboriginal Tent Embassy outside...
Aboriginal Tent Embassy (2/5) - A little subdued but definitely a breath of fresh air after visiting all the capitals domineering stone buildings and monuments.
National Gallery of Australia (4/5) - Great variety of works, give yourself at least two hours to do it all justice.

All of the above were either free admission or very cheap to get into. And with a daily off-peak bus pass only costing $3.50 Canberra is a great place for Museum junkies. I only just scratched the surface; there were plenty of other places on my list I didn't have time to get to including Questacon, CSIRO Discovery, the National Mint and the Telstra Tower.

This evening there were certainly more people about in the city, but still nothing compared to the human traffic on Sydney streets at night. In less than half an hour I shall be leaving Canberra and exiting the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) on my overnight bus to Melbourne. I have not visited the state of Victoria before, which has Melbourne as it's state capital. From what I have learned of Melbourne it is the only other city in Australia to rival Sydney. Depending on who you talk to or what you read, Sydney is the only city in Australia to rival Melbourne. I'll just have to find out for myself.
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