Letho's Blog

Canberra – what a strange city

by on Okt.04, 2010, under Traveling Australia

After having spent time in the country side where except for (great) animals and landscapes was nothing to be seen it was great to go back to a city. We had heard and read slightly negative things about Canberra but of course wanted to find out by ourselves. Fortunately, we had found a couchsurfing host (no. 2) , Sarah, Roof and Jacob, we could stay with.

Breakfast in Canberra

Breakfast in Canberra

The first impression of Canberra was that there are long, wide and very straight roads and lots of good signs to show you where to go.

Canberra: View from Capital Hill

Canberra: View from Capital Hill

When we went to the city the next to day to have a look at the city centre (Saturday afternoon) the shops were already closed and not many people were around. The city seemed empty and almost like a ghost city with its huge streets. Apart from being empty due to the long weekend (Monday was Labour Day) where many Canberra citizens left the city, it doesn’t seem to be very crowded there anyway. Everything seems exactly constructed (and probably has been) and there seems to be no historical character to Canberra itself.

One great thing about Canberra is its many parks and lakes, e.g. the Commonwealth Park and Lake Burley Griffin which goes from west to east directly through the middle of the city.

We went to the Floriades Exhibition in the Commonwealth Park – tulips everywhere ..

Floriades Exhibition, Commonwealth Park, Canberra

Floriades Exhibition, Commonwealth Park, Canberra

Our cultural trips were in contrast to the impression of the city very good: We went to the National Gallery of Australia where they had an exhibition on Indigenous Art (meaning the native Australians) which was extremely interesting because it was so different to „normal“ art and several other pictures for example Andy Warhols „Elvis“.

We also took a walk to Capital Hill where the newly built Parliament House of Australia is located and strolled down to the Old Parliament House, the former government residence.

Furthermore, we went to the War Memorial and learned about the ANZAC attack (First World War) and other subsequent wars as well as incredible planes that were exhibitioned there, e.g. the first turbine-driven jet plane Messerschmitt ME-262.

It was interesting and educational although we didn’t like the ANZAC glorification and a couple of other things. But we always had to remind ourselves that it was a memorial not a museum. We liked the neutral style of the presentations – there was no jugdement but no further background (political etc.) either.

So .. Canberra was great. We met great people we surely want to meet again, learned a lot about Australian history and the city itself. As with all travels – finally we had to move on. Next stop: Melbourne! 🙂

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