Categories
Personal

Canberra: Australia’s Capital

With the weather not on our side for our Campervan adventure, it made perfect sense to drive a couple of hours northwest to Canberra on Saturday morning.

Canberra ranks as one of the oddest capital cities I’ve ever visited. On a Saturday, when most cities are heaving with people, Canberra is dead. It’s weird, especially considering 300,000 residents call it home. I need to read up on all the details, but as far as I’m aware, Canberra was purposely built about a century ago to house the parliament buildings and other capital things, like a major museum, art gallery, etc.

They mapped the entire city out before they built it. Therefore, pretty much everything has its place; nothing is an afterthought. This is good for navigating your way around. But, it lacks the charm and character of most cities. In Melanie’s words, “it’s sterile”.

Parliament House

The first place of interest we came across was Parliament House. Being Saturday, we could go around most of the building.

I found it interesting, especially reading up on how the parliament was formed initially, the difference between the Senate and the House of Representatives, what it means to be a federation, the first Prime Minister, seeing paintings Prime Minister’s from the past, and being in the rooms where all the action takes place. If you can call it that.

The building itself, even though it’s been up quite a while, still seems very modern, with clean lines, open spaces, and a lot of deliberate symmetry.

The War Memorial

After the Parliament House and a bite to eat, we spent the rest of the afternoon at the award-winning War Memorial, which sits opposite Parliament House, separated by Anzac Parade.

A few folks had advised us that the War Memorial in Canberra was well worth a visit to the city. After being there, I’d have to agree. I’m not an avid historian, and my lack of historical knowledge frustrates me. Thus, I enjoy the opportunity to learn more, especially in decent museums.

Canberra War Memorial (Parliament House in the distance)

That’s what you find at the Canberra War Memorial: a worthy memorial, and an excellent museum covering aspects of most of the wars Australia has played some part during its brief history. The World Wars take up most of the museum, and it was good to learn about how they affected Australians. The curriculum in the UK, which gives a lot of attention to the World Wars, focuses primarily on what they may deem the ‘major’ allied nations, UK, France, Russia, and America. It’s short-sighted. Australia lost more men in WWI (relative to population) than any other nation, but I suppose every country is the same, and there’s only so much you have time to learn at school.

To be honest, it has crossed my mind that Australia is yet to recover fully from the losses incurred during the war. Apparently, there is a ‘man drought’ in Australia, and maybe the reason is down to the loss of many men during the wars.

Boat that landed at Gallipoli in WWI.

There are also a lot of life-size models of airplanes, weapons, ammo, and other equipment used in the wars. Above is a photo of an actual boat which landed on the shores of Turkey on the 25th of April 1915. That date is now remembered annually as Anzac Day.

If you’re interested in history (you ought to be), and you’re in Australia, I’d recommend a trip to the War Memorial in Canberra. It’s a real credit to Australia to have such a great museum at the Memorial.

After a Hungry Jacks, we headed south towards the Snowy Mountains and stopped for a kip in a tiny little place on the other side of Cooma, called Nimmitabel. It’s a fairly isolated place (more like a hamlet, to be honest) which sits over 1000 metres above sea level, but it offered a nice little rest area for us to stay at.