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  • Fiona

Canberra Australia

Updated: Jul 16, 2020

Such a variety of weather in two countries so close together! So far we have gone from a cool and windy Wellington, to a temperate Auckland then into a muggy Byron Bay, followed by a cool, rainy Melbourne and after that into the hot, dry furnace that was Canberra.

We stayed with Alan's brother BJ and his daughter, the fabulous Sophie-Anne. Louise was working in Fiji and so unfortunately we missed her.

BJ and Sophie-Anne were the most wonderful hosts showing us around Canberra - a city in Australia that I hadn't been to before and they even managed to find some Kangaroos for us!

(see post - Roo spotting, a picnic by the lake, a stunning sunset and the SIEV X memorial)

Canberra is the capital city of Australia and it is a relatively new city.

There are a number of reasons why the capital city was built in Canberra. My favourite is that it resolved a dispute over whether Sydney or Melbourne should be the national capital. The compromise was to build a new capital in New South Wales, so long as it was at least 100 miles (160 km) from Sydney, with Melbourne to be the temporary seat of government while the new capital was built. The capital city's location was declared as The Australian Capital Territory on the list of January 1911 and the building of the city began in 1913.

Canberra is the custodian of significant cultural stories about Australia and it has many monuments and iconic buildings including the Australian War Memorial, Old Parliament House (now known as the Museum of Australian Democracy) which began housing the national Parliament in 1927, the new Parliament House, opened in 1988 and the National Library of Australia.


We began our visit to Canberra by viewing the city from Mt Ainslie in the North-East and Black Mountain in the West. The views from these elevated points were perfect to show the setting and geometric design features of this purpose built capital city.

Lake Burley Griffin is an artificial lake in the approximate centre of Canberra and is named after the American architect of the city. From Mt Ainslie we could see how the lake stretched from east to west and divided the city in two; a land axis perpendicular to the lake's centre ran between Capital Hill and Parliament House in the south across the lake to the North where the Australian War Memorial is located.

We could also see greater Canberra from these viewpoints - the outer suburbs and the plains and hills beyond the city limits.

Because of the heat and the bush fires the ground was very dry and many of the trees were blackened and appeared to be dead. You could also see the smoke from the nearby bushfires in the sky moving toward Canberra - the smoke would blanket the city at dusk.

The smoke still lingered In the mornings when we walked beside the lake before the heat of the day set in. The smoke meant that the air was quite murky and that together with the crows flying around and cawing reminded us of New Delhi in the winter.


Back down the mountain and we stopped to visit the Australian War Memorial.

The Australian War Memorial, was built in 1941 to commemorate the Australian soldiers and their sacrifice.

When we arrived we paused to take in the outside of the Memorial building - it stands at the top of a wide ceremonial avenue - it's a sandstone building with a copper-clad dome in an Australian setting of lawns (the only green lawns in Canberra!) and eucalyptus trees.

As we walked up the steps and through the front entrance to the Memorial, our attention was immediately captured by the Commemorative Courtyard.

The Australian War Memorial houses a large museum, a shrine and an extensive archive; the museum is continuing to tell the stories of Australians who have served in modern conflicts; connecting the spirit of the past, present and future.

The building is large and the collections are extensive and beautifully curated - we spent a couple of hours there and it was barely enough time to take in the WWI exhibits and the commemorative courtyard.

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