Legend has it, that years ago Melbourne and Sydney got into an argument about which city was best placed to be the capital city of Australia. Most countries would figure out their differences with handbags at dawn, but not Australia. Apparently, someone pencilled in a place halfway between the two cities and then set about building a new capital city. Everyone was happy and got on with their lives, content that they might not have been awarded capital city status, but then neither had the other.
Canberra is in its own state, ACT or Australian Capital Territory which by all accounts, is a poor effort at a state name. My first impression of Canberra was that it felt a bit American, and like it had been designed by a visionary with a knack for what the future might look like. Researching the city, I found I wasn’t far off. It is indeed an American design and the odd thing is, it feels designed. Most cities feel natural, like they started as some building and then naturally extended into the surroundings. Not Canberra. Everything feels like it is supposed to be there and for me that really takes away from the feel of the place. I soon got over that when I realised that virtually every museum in the city was free. And that means a lot. Four kids and I quickly become a high tariff, even when my 5-year-old rolls back his years to being just 3. Or 4.
The numero uno place in Canberra for us, was the war memorial. It would be criminal not to visit what for me, and all of us is simply one of the most beautiful and well stocked museums we have ever had the privilege of visiting. Meticulously crafted it represents a journey through history of the Australian military. Stories are told through artefacts, exhibitions, and enough props and activities to keep you occupied for days. I gave us 3 hours, we spent the entire day. Even passing Canberra, this is a worthwhile stop few will regret.
Parliament House and the National Museum are worth a gander, though the latter does feel like it was designed by your grandad, it is free and in the basement kids can design robots and then pit them against each other, albeit virtually.
Canberra for us was also the first place we really saw kangaroos, for a time they seemed to be everywhere, and when we left our hotel room for dinner, we saw loads of them on our lawn. We all probably got a little excited that night.
Read the full trip…
We then drove through the Australian Outback to Coober Pedy, Ayers Rock, Alice Springs got robbed in Tenant Creek and the finished up at the top end in Darwin. The full journey can be read here: The Outback