Canberra. The capital of Australia, NOT Sydney as people probably think (yes I used to think it too) and a stunning Parliamentary place.
Thanks to an icy cold night, we woke up at Nunnocks campground freezing. Tent packed away, our first hurdle was to navigate our way through a herd of cows walking along and across the road.There were several clouds in the sky and several cows to manoooover (pun intended) round. It took about two hours to get to Canberra. First stop, as always, was the visitor centre. Here, you had the Captain Cook memorial jet which spurts water high into the sky for a few of hours during the day. The memorial jet and globe are situated in Lake Burley Griffin which is a stunning blue lake with a backdrop of the Commonwealth Place.
We drove up to Parliament House and were able to park for free! That’s right folks you heard correct! Free parking in a capital city!! And right underneath Parliament House too! Along the route to the parking garage the streets were lined with the flags of the LGBT community in response to Australia saying ‘yes’ to gay marriage!!Parliament House was opened in 1988 and sits atop Capital Hill. It has a flag mast standing 81m high and you are able to venture up there to have phenomenal views of the city, but I’ll get to that later.The building itself looks very modern with its high flag pole, almost cream walls and terracotta brickwork surrounding a ceremonial pool and mosaic based on the painting ‘Possum and Wallaby Dreaming’ by the Indigenous artist Michael Nelson Jagamara in the centre. From here we followed the Parliament walk which took us alongside the beautiful greenery and down to the Old Parliament House.The view from Parliament House allowed you to see all the way down to the Australian War Memorial, with the towering Mount Ainslie in the background. My photos just don’t do this sensational city justice!! Old Parliament House is a museum dedicated to the democracy of Australia. We wandered down Federation Mall and took a left turn towards Magna Carta Place. Here is a site of significance which was dedicated on 12 October 1997, 700 years after King Edward I sealed the issue of the 1297 Magna Carta. An original copy of the document resides in the Parliament House. We continued our walk down towards Lake Burley Griffin.There are many terraces along the way dedicated to the monarchs of Great Britain. Never one to miss out on a library, we stopped inside the State Library of Australia. There are over six million books in the library! It also hosts a Treasures Gallery, where historical artefacts such as Captain Cook’s journal are kept! Just outside, was the Dame Enid Lyons Terrace. She was the first woman to be elected into the House of Representatives and the first woman appointed to the Federal Council. When she died, she was the most decorated woman in Australia. We had reached the lake. Across the water you could see Captain Cooks Memorial Jet as well as the Australian War Memorial and Mount Ainslie. The walk round here was beautiful. There is Commonwealth Place which had crazy people running and exercising. As a matter of fact, sooo many people seemed to be out for a lunchtime stroll/jog. I still don’t think I’ve seen a chubby Australian and quite frankly, I’m not surprised! They’re so healthy and fit! We were walking and I was sweating! I mean it was nearly thirty degrees…The walk is like a loop. We walked down the left side with Parliament House behind us and walked back up the right side towards it. From the lake, it was a sculpture garden followed by the High Court of Australia. The National Rose Garden was as beautiful as always. A place to sit and enjoy the surroundings. The garden was just outside the Parliament gardens on Queen Victoria Terrace. From here it was a quick walk up to the National Archives of Australia, which holds all the important documents of Australian history, including the Constitution. Back at Federation Mall the view of Parliament House came back into focus.Down by the lake we had people running/walking/running with buggies etc, here up in the Mall, we had people playing bowls in their lunch break! This country is simply awesome.
What we hadn’t realised, is that we could actually go into Parliament House and wander round For Free!!! We were liking Canberra even more than we already did! You go in and get your bags searched (not that we had one) and walk through a scanner. One of the guards noticed Ralf (our rubber duck that’s been all over the world with us) and asked what it was all about. I tried explaining before I realised they were just talking amongst themselves and not to us! Awkward much…
Anyway, we went inside and looked awkward as we didn’t know if it was free at this point until I sauntered over the information desk, picked up a leaflet and we went for a wander.
The marble foyer is what stood in front of us and we took the stairs up to the left. This took us up to the Queen’s Terrace.There were viewing rooms as we walked round to the left and the Magna Carta as mentioned previously, is also on display here. Currently, it is just a copy of it on show. Further down the hallway, we reach the Great Hall.The room was a bit dark but the tapestry across the hall is ‘The Great Hall Tapestry,’ which took more than two years to complete with 13 weavers and is now heralded as one of the largest tapestries in the world.
From the Great Hall, we continued to walk down the corridor past paintings hung on the walls until we reached Members’ Hall.Members’ Hall is where parliament goers meet and mingle as they go to their respective chambers: The Senate or The House of Representatives. The walls surrounding it contain photos of The Queen, Prime Ministers, Presidents and Speakers. We decided to wander into the House of Representatives first.I was like a kid in a candy shop! I have always wanted to see inside Parliament and now we were able to do it for free here! The rooms were amazing. There wasn’t anyone in session today, but you can buy tickets for ‘Question Time’ at 2pm daily. The House of Representatives, contains 150 elected MPs with each one representing one of Australia’s electorates. This is where the government is formed and debates about important issues within the country take place. The other House is the Senate.Another stunning room, this time only housing 76 Senators. The red in the room is a link to the House of Lords in England. Here in the Senate, they scrutinise the work of the government (they’re also known as the House of Review,) as well as debating issues and making/changing Federal Law. I found these rooms truly fascinating.
The lifts just outside take you to the roof for spectacular views over the city.Ok the views would have been better had there not been scaffolding in the way. But you could see all the way down to the Australian War Memorial. We left Parliament House via the Gift Shop and headed to the Australian War Memorial.The courtyard has the names of those fallen on a roll of honour and there are bright red poppies in abundance here.There is a Hall of Memory which hosts the Tomb of The Unknown Soldier and the museum has a fascinating display of the histories of WWI and WWII. It is a fantastic museum. Canberra has been a fascinating and stunning home to the country’s Parliament with a wealth of interesting museums. They mostly are free to get into too! After navigating our way out of the city through the roadworks where they’re building/upgrading the metro, we reached the summit of Mount Ainslie. Standing at 843m high, the views from the top are incredible. After an epic day strolling round my now second favourite city in Australia, we headed to a campsite heading northwest towards Bundaberg. Passing through beautiful towns including Coonwa which won the tidiest town award in 2012, and honestly, there was zero litter!! We played car games on the way.Our campsite was Carcoar Dam. A stunning greenery, with numerous camper vans, a dam, birds and showers!We sat and watched the sunset before getting a solid nights sleep…