The Nations Capital
Trip Start Jan 14, 2012
24Trip End Mar 13, 2012
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There were blue skies and it was surprisingly warm when we went for a walk in Goulburn, so much so that it was necessary to change into cooler clothes in the caravan, after finding a car park big enough for the van
We soon were booked into the Riverside Caravan Park at Queanbeyan. Our allocated site on the river side was a challenge for Mike to unhitch the caravan because a rain water gully caused the tow bar to be so close to the ground that we couldn't attach the jockey wheel. A cold drink was definitely necessary after Mike had dug tirelessly to eventually make a hole deep enough for the jockey wheel to be fitted to the A frame and raised so that the car could be uncoupled
The caravan park we are staying at is in the old town of Queanbeyan in NSW (New South Wales) on the border of ACT (Australian Capital Territory) and 12kms from the Canberra City Centre. In books about Canberra, Queanbeyan is described as a good place to stay for easy access to all that Canberra has to offer. There is so much more to this city that we are staying in for a week and the book on Queanbeyan describes itself as a "prospering river city on the move. For more than 175 years people have been moving to Queanbeyan and the district in search of a better lifestyle.." With a population of approximately fifty, Queanbeyan was officially proclaimed a township in 1838. By 1972 the town met the requirement of 15,000 people to become a city and today 42,000 bodies call Queanbeyan home. The town had a natural beginning as early settlers together with their stock were attracted to a beautiful plain with the river giving them a good water source
Whereas Canberra had a very different beginning. After Australians voted for the States to become a Federation it was decided that the Federal Parliament should not be in either of the established big cities but that a new site should be located to build a capital city to house the Federal Government. After many sites were suggested, in 1908 the exact location was decided upon and a world wide competition to plan this new capital city was won by Walter Burley Griffin, a Chicago Architect.
It took us a couple of days to get used to the layout that Burley Griffins thought to be an ideal city with wide streets circling the city connected by roads with many roundabouts. With the New Parliament built on Capital Hill and the old Parliament, War Memorial and Ainslie Mountain all situated on the same axis giving it a beauty of its own especially with Lake Burley Griffin and its Geneva like fountain featured in the centre. We could get good views of the city layout after driving to the top of Mt Ainslie and Black Mountain. From the lookout platform of the Telstra Tower visitors can get magnificent 360 degree views of both the city and surrounding plain with its ring of mountains in the distance.
Our first couple of days here were spent visiting the interesting War Memorial Museum, National Museum, Canberra Museum and Gallery and the Canberra Exhibition Centre built close to Lake Burley Griffin. Nearby is the well known fountain spraying its jet of water high into the sky making it visible from much of the city. In the evening we telephoned Shannon and Rod, whom we had met in Cowra and exchanged details with, and were invited round for coffee and a chat. It was an unexpected pleasant surprise to also catch up with Heather and David, who we also met at Cowra, and Shannon had invited round to see us. Chatter went on for a few hours and we eventually said our goodbyes at around 11pm.
Early the next day we had a quick breakfast and headed into the city for tours of the New Parliament House in all its splendour with its magnificent marble and wood decor and later in the day, the wood panelled, less ornate, smaller Old Parliament House. By Thursday we needed a city break and headed out to the delightful Bungedore Village, a drive of 40 kilometres into the countryside. The pamphlet says it all: "Bungendore is a wonderful place to visit. Settled in 1837, it is an historic village with many well preserved old buildings. It is a thriving community, a country town where locals still say G'day." We spent the afternoon walking around and admiring some old buildings, including the quaint police station and some lovely country houses, walked through a half acre antique shop and yard, the leather shop with an interesting variety of leather work, art galleries, the railway station and the Wood Works Gallery
Its now Friday morning and the rain has been falling steadily throughout the night, it must be good for sleeping because we both did just that until almost 9 o'clock. After the customary shower and breakfast we decided that, although not really sightseeing weather, we would visit the National Gallery and Library where we could get our fix of culture without getting too wet. So around 1030 we hit the road for the 20 minute drive into Canberra. First stop was the Art Gallery where we spent about two hours looking at pictures and sculptures from this part of the world including Papua and Malaysia. Then we moved on to the Questacon, really a thing for children to explore the mysteries of science
The weather certainly did improve over the weekend even reaching 34C when we left Cockington. First we needed the sun to dry our laundry while we had a relaxed breakfast before walking into Quenabeyan where we have been staying all week but not exploring. All the heritage sites are fairly close to the Information Centre which was originally built in 1925 as the Council Building till they moved to their new premises close by in 1975. The building housing Walsh's Hotel was originally used in 1875 as a millinery shop for ten years until it became the Globe Hotel
We woke on Sunday with the sun streaming through the caravan window, our first stop was at our churches sister church WPC Belconnen. After the service we stayed for tea and talked to a good cross section of the congregation. We then drove out to the Cockington Green Gardens and Miniature English Village where buildings made exquisitely to a scale of 1/12 typify the houses and public buildings in various areas of England. A second section has a display of miniature buildings from around the world and inside the Rose Room Gallery is featured a "Waverly" 34 room Dolls House. After walking around this meticulously kept extensive garden, we headed across the road to the King George Inn for a good pub lunch. We then drove through the Canberran CBD for our last look at the National Capital before reaching our Caravan Park and prepared for our departure tomorrow morning