After the stormy night we decided to have a walk at the equally stormy ninety miles beach. Frozen to death we went back into our little car and drove on in the general direction of New South Wales. Initially the plan was to climb Australia’s highest mount called Mount Kosciuszko (Hazel told me it is more of a walk than a climb) however the weather forecast for the next day was something like 3 degrees and snowing which didn’t really match that well with our wardrobe. So mountaineering was scraped from our planes and we decided to directly drive to Canberra. The drive itself was not very eventful but led again through nice and big forests.
lot of Australians and even some foreigners had looked at us in
bewilderment when we mentioned that we intended to go to the capital of
Australia (all Americans anyway thought Sydney is the capital – sorry
that was kind of mean). The looks reminded us of the kind of looks you
would get telling you mother you wanted to climb the Mount Everest or
start an international crime ring.
Apparently Canberra has a
reputation of being boring and not worth the visit. So why bother? Well,
as it happened to be Hazel was spending two years of her life studying
in Canberra and so a “walk down memorabilia road” was a must and in
addition we got free accommodation with a friend of hers. And so we
arrived in the nation’s capital in good spirit and enjoyed a good
Malay/Chinese dinner at a Restaurant called Happy’s which was already
there ten years ago during Hazel’s uni times.
The next day was
dedicated to Canberra’s sights. First stop was the new Parliament House
with stands out due to its special architecture. The parliament house
gave an interesting insight into Australia’s politics. There was also a
gallery of paintings of former Australian Prime Ministers. One picture
was of Harold Holt a Prime Minister who drowned in 1966 while going for a
swim (so you see how dangerous Australian’s beaches are). Ironically a a
public swimming pool in Melbourne was named in his honor after his
death (cruel folks these Australians). This as a small insight into
Later on we had a look around at the Old
Parliament House which is a few hundred meters away from the current
one. In front of it was a small group of Aboriginals demonstrating and
according to Hazel there were similar demonstration ongoing ten years
Unfortunately the National Museum which we wanted to visit
in the afternoon was closed and so I need to tell you a bit of
Canberra’s history instead. Till 1901 Australia was only a lose
federation of the different states (which each state for example raising
taxes as they liked) only in 1901 they decided to united to a nation
(and interestingly New Zealand almost had joined them). At this time a
lot of rivalry between Melbourne and Sydney was going on and so it was
decided that neither of the two cities would become capital. Therefore
in 1913 Canberra was chosen instead. At this time it was not much more
than a small town with a few farms. So quickly a piece of land around
Canberra was cut out of of New South Wales and was named Australian
Capital Territories (ACT) very much after the model of Washington DC in
So after this history lesson we went to ANU, Hazel’s old
university and had a good look around the campus. Interestingly a lot of
the buildings were unchanged from ten years ago.
Our next stop
was the Australian War Memorial which is absolutely impressive and
moving. Huge tables showed hundreds of names of fallen Australian
soldiers since WWI and an excellent museum had exhibits from the last
hundred years of Australian military history. We even had the chance to
witness the daily closing military ceremony.
After so much sightseeing we were happy to have a peaceful dinner with a friend of Hazels.
last day in Canberra was used to service our car and watching the new
James Bond movie (which we thought was pretty average). A lovely Korean
BBQ ended this relaxing day.
Contrary to the opinion of a lot of
Australian we thought that Canberra is quite a cool city with a lively
restaurant and bar scene. In summary we had a very enjoyable time in
Australia’s capital city.