Tag Archives: Canberra

Canberra and the ACT

A weird long weekend…

Being the capital usually means a big city. Not when it comes to Canberra…

I had planned to go to Melbourne for a few days first to break up the journey but as there aren’t any sensible buses from Adelaide to Melbourne I decided to go straight to the capital…

I got there at 6am on Saturday thanks to a stupidly long 19 hour bus from Adelaide. It was fine until it got dark but was pretty soul destroying not being able to sleep…

…so Saturday was pretty much a write off. Slept until 2 and managed a quick walk around Dickson/Chinatown before heading into the centre. Then it rained…

Sunday was better, as I had time to see both the old and new parliament buildings. The old one is now a museum and had some pretty interesting stuff about Aussie political history, whereas the new building is far more impressive. It’s not every parliament building that you can legally walk over – doubt anyone would be able to try that in London… and the views of the mall overlooking the old parliament building and the war memorial on the other side of the lake are pretty good too.

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Since I had an extra day to play with, I took a hire car to head out to the Canberra Deep Space Network. I’m undecided as to whether that was worth the effort, mainly as the museum covered space flight which I already know a fair bit about. Was pretty cool to see a bit of moon rock though… and the radio telescopes were impressive.

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I also took the car up to the Telstra Tower – a fairly standard TV tower with a viewing platform. The weather wasn’t ideal but the views were stunning… and it showed just how small the city is. IT may be a planned city but the northern side of Canberra certainly doesn’t feel like that.

I also had a random envelope left at reception to $50 for me! No idea who gave left it either… possibly the owner of the hostel or the 2 Danish girls who were in my room but certainly an unexpected surprise.

Having checked out and returned the car, I spent Tuesday covering a few more museums – the National, Canberra and war memorial. All pretty interesting places but it leads me to the major problem I had with the city…

Basically Canberra is just a city with museums and the political heart of Australia. There’s very little else to do, so it’s not somewhere easy to cover. I left out the National Gallery and Portrait museums as it would have been far too much to take in. It’s certainly a place to go to for a day or two but I probably spent too long there – and it’s the first place I’ve been to that I doubt I would go back to. The backpackers I used was one of 2 cheap options and a bit out of town… good location and Dickson is pretty interesting in it’s own right but the extra charges ($6 for cutlery hire and only $5 on return) definitely put me off a bit, as did the very restrictive rules on cooking. It’s a decent enough place but only as there’s very little in cheap alternatives.

I didn’t help that the weather was pretty bad too – the only properly sunny day was the very last before I got the bus to Sydney (thankfully a much shorter 3 hours) but otherwise was mainly cloudy and the thunderstorms were pretty nasty too.

The other big problem is that most of the museums closed at 5pm – they are at least open at weekends but it leaves very little else to do in the city. And the bus numbers are different at weekends too…

It’s definitely a place to go once, but I doubt I’ll be going back. Sydney on the other hand…