Two Days in Canberra – Part One

A well planned city

The building of Canberra only began from 1913. It was a completely planned city, well laid out and designed. Unlike most (much older) capital cities that have just evolved over centuries or have been bombed and rebuilt using dodgy architecture etc…

In many ways it helps that there was lots of land available and the population remains relatively low for a capital city. Still only around 400,000.

The first thing we did was head for the lookout at Mount Ainslie. There was only one decent place at the “lookout” to see the city from. For some reason – despite building and maintaining the roads etc up to this “lookout” – they have also seen fit to allow the trees to grow wild. It is a common thing here in Australia. Kind of annoying – see below for examples…

The classic shot of the city from Mount Ainslie. War memorial in foreground above treeline, ANZAC parade leading to the parliament buildings.
Higher up at the peak of the “lookout” the classic cityscape is obscured by the trees.
Just around the corner this is the “view”. Grrr…

Parliament House

From the “lookout” we went to visit the Parliament House buildings. The last time I was here it looked like this…..

The thin blue line
…but apart from this, the police were low-key

Access to the buildings was clearly prohibited. This time however, it looked like this….

Only a few “protestors” this time. and no police line.

Yes there were still a few hardcore protestors on the field in front of the main Parliament building but no ring of police stopping the public from reaching the buildings. I think some people are just what you might call ‘professional protestors’ or just love to do it. I may not agree with them on all of their grievances but I defend their right to protest about them. Actually this lot were singing some of their own  protest songs which were actually quite good (and funny). At least I thought so…

Dani outside parliament house with Mount Ainslie in the far background

History and Architecture…

The seat of government in Australia used to be in Melbourne when the country’s state united into a Federation back in 1901. The government finally agreed to move to Canberra as recently as 1926. Technically, Canberra as the capital of Australia, is still a few years off its centenary. Unbelievable eh?

The classic view at the front of the buildings.

The buildings are well designed and were only opened in 1988. There are elements of art deco design and other classic architecture. Incredibly perhaps, for something built in the 1980s, it really does not seem at all dated. OK, I know it is only 34 years old, but it seems (to me) that it will not look dated in another 34 years time.

Main entrance hall from above
Main entrance hall – pillars and ceiling
One of the many places to relax inside parliament house
The wooden interior design uses woods no longer available commercially.
Almost art deco but different…
Marble stairways

The two houses are obviously based largely on the British system but have their own Aussie identity.

Inside the Senate
Inside the house of Representatives

You can wander around on your own or take a guided tour. We took a guided tour which always gives you that little bit of extra information. Like the upper level of the public galleries you can see with glass windows. Those areas are for school trips (especially young kids) and the glass is soundproof. Obvious when you know eh?

They have even made a LEGO model of the buildings. Who doesn’t love these things?

LEGO model of the Parliament

And if you look carefully, around the back, tucked away in a kind of small courtyard, you can see this…

The magic money tree… You see, it does exist.

Yes. It’s the mythical money tree. It really does exist! Sure enough right now, with Federal elections just a month away, the politicians are stripping this tree bare. Whoever built this model certainly had a sense of humour.

National Art Gallery

Not much to say about this really. Not my cup of tea let’s say. Dani was bored too. But we played along as Dani’s mum really wanted to see it. The highlights (and that is pushing it) are here…

The Bent Spoke – A fine craft ale brewery

I noticed this place after the protest back in February.But as I had to drive back to Sydney I couldn’t really partake. This time however….

Nice engineering inspired sampling paddles. Someone probably suggested using the spare bits left over after installation. I liked them.

My verdict on this little brewing enterprise is a definite thumbs up!. I tasted four beers on the sampling paddle – Barley Griffin, Sprocket, Hop Buffalo & Stratus – followed by a schooner of Crankshaft ale. The Bent Spoke lies just off the main bar and restaurant area – called Lonsdale Street – in the heart of the CBD.

There are so many of these little breweries now in Australia. Ever town however small seems to have one. But you won’t hear me complaining. Unless I can’t get to sample their wares…

2 thoughts on “Two Days in Canberra – Part One

    1. Cheers John. I try to mix in a bit of information with the touristy stuff. Hopefully Daniel will appreciate it when he gets around to reading these posts.

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