Amanda Blog 7: Exploring the capital of Australia

By Amanda Chan (Australian National University, Canberra, Australia).

Do you know what the capital of Australia is? When I told my friends that I am going to the capital of Australia, the common respond I got was either “is it Sydney?” or “is it Melbourne?”. It is Canberra! Canberra was built to be the capital in 1908 as a compromise between rivals Sydney and Melbourne, the two largest cities in Australia. After spending time at ANU which is situated in Canberra, I have decided to explore the place and spread the words, so more people will get to know Canberra and the fact that it is the capital of Australia.

As a celebration of the 100th birthday of Canberra, the ACT (Australian Capital Territory) Government provided the Centenary Loop bus which operates every weekend for free to some of Canberra’s national icons and attractions.

The first stop after getting on the bus at the city centre is Australian War Memorial. To pay respect to the war hero, the old and new parliament house are both directly facing the War Memorial. So at the entrance of the memorial, you could get a good view of the parliament houses.

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the view from war memorial

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After building the new parliament house in 1988, the old parliament house was turned into a Museum of Australian Democracy. Both of them are open for public access.

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Old parliament house
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New parliament house

At the National Film and Sound Archive, other than portraying the history of Australian film and sound industry, there was also an exhibit showcasing the names that were considered to be the capital of Australia, ‘Sydmeladperho ‘ was one of them, probably representing Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.

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Suggested names for Australia’s capital

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Other stops include National Gallery of Australia, National Portrait Gallery, National Library of Australia, National Archives of Australia and National Museum of Australia.

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National Gallery of Australia

Besides the loop bus, another way to explore Canberra is to cycle or walk around the Lake Burley Griffin. While doing so, you might hear music coming from the National Carillon, from time to time. The Carillon, a musical instrument comprising 53 bronze bells, was a gift from the British Government for 50th anniversary of Canberra.

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Along the lake, you would also find series of plinths marking the Australians of the Year. The plinths were not placed randomly, they were placed on five metal strips, in musical note position to the score of Australia’s national anthem.

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Canberra has two main mountains, namely Mount Ainslie and Black Mountain. You could enjoy a brilliant view of Canberra on both mountains. The Telstra tower is situated on Black Mountain which will give you a height advantage.

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View from Mount Ainslie
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View from Black Mountain
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view from Telstra Tower

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Under the Black Mountain is the Australian National Botanic Garden. Just like any other Botanic gardens, you could expect a large variety of plants and leisure walking paths. There is also a Eucalyptus Rainforest.

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Last but not least, there is the Cockington Green Gardens where you can see the miniatures. There is a model village based on British architectures and model of some of the most famous international attractions.

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