Howdy all and here we are on another fine Sunday, possibly, or not I mean I don’t know people read this blog in various different countries and for all I know it could be hailing outside where you are. Look, as the year slowly but surely comes to some sort of close, it’s time for another ‘Sunday Spotlight’, and the destination I am shining that particular spotlight on today happens to be the Australian capital, Canberra.
Canberra is an interesting beast I guess. Like countries such as, well, Kazakhstan and hey, the USA, Australia’s capital is a purpose built capital designated as the nation’s capital before the city was actually built (although in the case of Nursultan/Astana there was a town there). After Australia became federated in 1901, it was decided not to award the title of the nation’s capital to an existing city, rather to create a small territory (not designated a state as the population was not large enough) which would become the ACT – the Australian Capital Territory.
It seemed largely agreed that this would be located somewhere in New South Wales, but the state government of the time had a hard time in agreeing just where abouts it would be. It was not until 1911 that the region of Canberra was agreed upon and ceded to the Federal Government to form the ACT. The area takes up a little over 2000 km squared making it the smallest state or territory in all of Australia.
The contract to design the original layout of Canberra was won by Walter Burnley Griffen and Marion Mahony Griffen of Chicago, Illinois. The main lake in Canberra is named ‘Burnley Griffen’. Interestingly it was not until 1927 that the Australian Parliament officially moved to Canberra and the country was finally run by this purpose-built capital!
Today it makes an interesting couple of days to those who choose to visit it. The original 1927 Parliament House is worth a visit if you’re at all into your politics. I do – although I do try not to get too political in life and especially in blog (not always possible). You can enter all the different chambers – all of which simply got outgrown as the nation got bigger and more representatives were needed.
The modern Parliament House can also be visited. Right now, probably not but I went three or four years back now and was able to see at least one of the chambers (the House of Representatives) and there is a viewing platform for those who want to watch parliament in action (or watch it on ABC for about five minutes and I suspect any interest in seeing it is probably gone in that time). The new parliament house is a much more modern design, although it’s now decades old, and has much more room for the press etc. Check out the Prime Minister portraits and see if you know any of them!
Canberra is a pretty spread out city – population a little over 430,000 in case you wanted to know. It’s actually very pleasant, but in winter it can get dreadfully cold and very very occasionally sees light snow fall. It’s open and the roads can be somewhat confusing with a lot of one way roads and roads that seem to loop the loop.
The Australian War Memorial is certainly one of the main reasons Australians visit there nation’s capital. It’s actually very beautifully done and moving. The National Gallery of Australia is a pretty good one, personally I enjoyed visiting the Mint because I love different currencies and coins etc. Take a drive up Red Hill for views of the city from there.
Like Washington DC (to a much smaller extent) there is an air of governance and importance, of being in the place where the big decisions get made and all the deals get done in Canberra, which I rather liked (in both cities). It’s not a place with a million things to see and do, but there is a lot of parkland to wander and stretch the ol’ legs in and if there weather is right, well, it’s actually a pleasant place to spend a few days.
Only real downside is the public transportation – buses and not that many of them around the city. Most people have a car (I drove there and so so did I) which for the international visitor, whenever we may see one of those return to our shores, is a negative.
Thanks so much today for joining me with a little look at destination Canberra. Take care and of course – May the Journey Never End!