In the Capital

Trip Start Feb 25, 2006
Trip End Feb 25, 2007

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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Hey everyone

Hope you are all well?

Since my last update I have travelled from Melbourne to Sydney via Canberra, therefore completing my loop from where my Mum and I set off a couple of months ago.

Unfortunately the planned road trip didn't happen, but Shelina and I had a great few days nonetheless!

After a few days back in St Kilda just generally chilling out - catching up with the long termers at the hostel, paying my last visits to the amazing cake shops on Acland St, sunbathing, etc. (it's a hard life!), Shelina and I got the Greyhound bus from Melbourne to Canberra on Monday morning. After a 5.30am start and an 8.5 hour bus journey we arrived in the nation's capital.

A bit of history and background for those of you who don't know - Canberra was founded by an act of Parliament when Australia's colonies underwent federation in 1901. After heated debate around whether the capital of Australia should be Sydney or Melbourne, a site was selected in 1908 and the foundations of Canberra were laid in 1913. Canberra is believed to be an Aboriginal term for 'meeting place' and was designed by American architect Walter Burley-Griffin, who the lake in the centre of the city is now named after. See, I do pay attention to what I am told!!

Our first impressions of Canberra were that is a very neat and orderly city, pretty much as we expected, but also an attractive city, which we didn't expect. Shelina and I stayed at Victor Lodge in Kingston (about 10 minutes by bus from the city centre) which was nice enough and had breakfast included in the room price.

Our first evening we went out for a very nice meal in nearby Manuka, then returned to Kingston for some more wine in a bar called The Holy Grail, which considering it was a Monday night wasn't too quiet.

Our first full day in Canberra we headed to the Australian War Memorial which is situated at the end of a long Pall Mall-like stretch of road with memorials dedicated to War nurses, the Navy, other countries, etc. dotted along it. The War Memorial itself is an impressive building, and as it had been Remembrance Day a few days prior to our visit there were lots of flowers and wreaths outside thad had been placed there by the different embassies (that are all based in the capital).

After a quick look around the memorial we attempted to ascent Mt Ainslie to get a good view of the city, but we soon discovered that we didn't have adequate footwear (flip flops) or supplies (one small bottle of water) so we quickly gave up and headed into the city centre for lunch instead!

After an amazing lunch at an outdoor cafe in the bright sunshine we walked down to Lake Burley Griffin for a look at it and the Captain Cook Memorial Jet (similar to the Jet D'Eau in Geneva) and then walked across the bridge and to the National Gallery of Australia. After a quick walk around the Sculpture Garden there we had had enough of walking for the day so we headed back to the hostel for dinner and an early night (hardcore we certainly are not!).

Our second and last day in Canberra, Shelina and I were rebels! We had been talking about getting a piercing for the last 6 weeks or so and decided that the nation's capital would be the place to do it! We therefore headed into the centre where we had booked an appointment to be pierced the day before (nothing like a bit of build up to increase the anxiety and apprehension, but the piercer unfortunately didn't work on Mondays!). We both got a 'Tragus' - the middle sticky out bit of your ear (Kate, for those that know her, has it done). The pain only lasted a split second, and despite it being sore for the rest of the day we think it looks pretty cool (although I am sure others will beg to differ!). I guess it will be something to remember my travels by?!

So, after our masochistic behaviour, we took a sedate walk back down to the lake and crossed over to Parliament House, passing a few of the embassies (including UK and Canada, which Shelina and I though apt!) on the way.

Parliament House is another impressive building that is built into a hill, and in keeping with the surrouding area has grass right over the top of it (hard to imagine but looks pretty cool!). Inside it's all shiny marble and large pillars, and outside has a huge construction holding a single Australian flag. On Level 1 we went outside to the Queen's Terrace (complete with statue of Queenie herself) to look at the great views down to Old Parliament house and a straight line right to the Australian War Memorial we had visited the previous day - pretty impressive. I will try to upload some photos soon so you can see what I mean!

In the afternoon we were back on the Greyhound bus to Sydney, which took a mere 3.5 hours, and it kind of feels like I have come home!! I am staying with Helen & Derek, the ever hospitable hosts, and have plenty to keep me busy in catching up with people before Michelle arrives on Sunday (hurrah!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!).

The weather in Sydney is not good at the mo, a chilly 12degs today, but it's set to get better tomorrow and by the weekend should be back in the mid-late 20s where it belongs, which will be very welcomed by Michelle I'm sure!

So, I will bid you farewell until next time. Take care all and hope to hear from you with your news soon.

Love and sore piercings
Sharon x
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