8-10/4/16. Arriving in Canberra mid-afternoon, we checked into the campsite (brilliant facilities, slightly ropey site, only $25 – a good one!) and then headed into the centre.
In some ways it has the feel of a new town (not surprising since it is only about 100 years since it was decided to make a small town between Melbourne and Sydney into the capital) but in others it is really impressive. The river running through the centre has been dammed to form a large lake which provides a focal point.
Our first visit was to the new parliament building which has been incorporated into Capitol Hill with the biggest flagpole we have ever seen – a really serious piece of kit!. We only had an hour and a half to look round before it closed but that served to focus the mind and we had a thoroughly enjoyable time.
The next morning we headed for the Australian War Memorial, based on the recommendation of the Lonely Planet guide, and were among the first visitors when it opened at 10. We immediately joined a free guided tour which was given by a guy who was a bit of an odd fish but who made the whole thing fascinating. We started in the section that remembers the dead where the names of all the 102,000 Australians killed in action since the country was founded are listed. It was moving as such places often are.
The Memorial is unusual for combining the “memorial bit” with a military museum, which was where the tour went next. The guide gave us a flavour for the place by speaking in some depth about a small number of the exhibits. There were some very impressive dioramas of battles in WW1 which he brought to life by explaining the context in which they were fought.
The tour lasted just over 90 minutes and was brilliant. Thoroughly recommended.
In the afternoon we had a lovely walk around the lake, enjoying the views and listening to the National Carillon while enjoying the autumn sunshine. The seasons are definitely changing with many trees turning colour. It is also noticeable in the overnight temperatures in Canberra, which is at about 2,000 feet, as they fell to 6 or 7° – really chilly compared to what we have been living in for the last 5 months. If the sun is shining things warm up quickly to a very pleasant low to mid 20’s.
After Christine attended an early church service we set off on the 350 km drive to Sydney along the highway/motorway. While the scenery was nice it was a fairly unremarkable journey apart from us both getting increasingly fraught as we approached the Big Smoke and the much busier traffic. We made our way to Botany Bay for a late picnic lunch before heasing for the campsite near the airport where we had stayed a few weeks earlier.