Today was our day to “do” Canberra. We walked over 20,000 steps and enjoyed all the sights we saw.
After a quick FaceTime with Corey first thing this morning, we walked to the closest cafe for breakfast.
The National Museum of Australia was our post-breakfast destination and we walked and drove through a thick fog. After a half hour at the museum we noticed that the fog had burned off and it was another beautiful, sunny day! The National Museum of Australia focused on the human history of Aussie-land and how all the different stories are interwoven and connected. One sad, but interesting aspect of Australian history is the time period when the AU government decided that Aboriginal children would have a better life if they were removed from their homes and brought up in white homes. I knew of this practice, but was surprised to learn how long it went on. It started in the 1800’s and continued until 1980!! There are still organizations whose mission is to try to reunite the children who were removed with their biological families.
After the National Museum of Australia we drove the 2.6k to the Australian War Memorial and Museum. This too, was very well done. The museum took us through all the wars in which Australia has participated with displays of weapons, medals, uniforms and lots of stories of soldiers. The memorial portion was a respectful and reverent place. The Shrine of Remembrance at the memorial featured beautiful stained glass windows and mosaics that honored the various participants in WWI and WWII. Outside of the shrine were long, open air walkways with bronze panels filled with the names of all the service men and women who gave their lives for Australia. People had decorated these panels by placing small, red paper poppies by the names of loved ones.
Our third museum was the National Gallery of Australia and although we weren’t able to take any photos inside the museum, we did enjoy the various art forms. We toured the Impressionists, the Surrealists, the Colonial Australians and the Aboriginal collections. There was a outdoor sculpture garden, where we were able to take photos and we thought some of the sculptures were just plain fun!
We left the car at the Gallery and walked to the New Parliament building. After going through a security screening, we were able to go through most of the Parliament building. Parliament was not in session, so the place was pretty quiet. This current Parliament building was constructed in 1988, to replace the original building, which became too small as the country grew. We were able to take an elevator to the roof top of the Parliament building where we had nice views around the city.
Our walking tour included a walk along Lake Burley Griffin, the central feature of Canberra. In 1908, the city of Canberra was planned and formed to serve as capital of Australia and end the competition between Melbourne and Sydney to see which city would govern the country. The city has a “new” feel to it and although it is a big city, the farm lands and wilderness are not far from the city limits. We saw a kangaroo by the off-ramp of a major road in the city when we arrived on Saturday afternoon!
Our impressions of Canberra are very positive and we are more knowledgeable about this country because of the things we saw and did during our time here.
Tomorrow we have a 7 hour drive back to Melbourne, unless we find some things we need to stop and do!