Canberra, Australia's Capital City

Canberra, ACT (Australian Capital Territory), akin to the USA's Washington, DC, was selected for the location of the nation's capital in 1908 as a compromise between rivals Sydney and Melbourne, Australia's two largest cities. It is unusual among Australian cities, being an entirely planned city.

 

American architect Walter Burley Griffin won an international contest to design the city of Canberra. The foundation stones of the city were laid in 1913 and the city was officially baptized Canberra (Aboriginal Kanberra), the meeting place.

Canberra, pronounced keen-brah by the locals (as far as our ears can determine), is an interesting and modern city primarily concerned with the running of the country. The new Parliament House, shown in the banner image above, was opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1988.

Thank you, Google, for providing a good city map.


Our good friends, Fay & Doug Grimm arrived from the US just in time to celebrate New Year's Eve with us. They, of course, brought lots of boat parts with them...Christmas all over again.

Fay had just discovered some long-lost Aussie cousins in Canberra and decided this was the perfect opportunity to meet them. Our good fortune!

Fay made all the contacts and we just tagged along. It seems that her second cousin, Sam, works for the Governor General of Australia, Quentin Bryce. Government staff was on holiday and Sam offered to be our host for a visit to Australia's capital city. What an amiable, generous, knowledgeable host he was. Along with his partner, Heather, and mum, Ellen, we were treated to two fantastic days of touring Canberra and a most enjoyable time meeting new "family".

Canberra is about a 3-1/2 hour drive from Sydney. We arrived at Noon. Sam met us and whisked us off immediately to lunch and then to Parliament. The Australian flag flies high above Capital Hill.

Sam had set up a well-thought out itinerary for us in hopes that we'd be able to see as many Camberra highlights as possible in our brief 2-day stay.  Above,  Fay & Sam pose in front of the new Parliament building.

The impressive entry hall of Parliament House. Only a few weeks before, US President Barrack Obama had visited here and addressed the joint members of Parliament.


The original Parliament House  was replaced by the new Parliament building in 1988.

The Australian War Memorial was a somber, but most impressive tribute to those men and women who lost their lives to Australian war efforts.

In military tradition, the Last Post is the bugle call that signifies the end of the day's activities. It is also sounded at military funerals to indicate that the soldier has gone to his final rest.

 

 

According to Lonely Planet,
the nickname for Canberra locals is "pubes".
Really! It stands for public servants.

From Mt. Ainslie, high above the city, we had excellent views of the War Memorial and Parliament below.


Government House is home to the Governor- General, Quentin Bryce, for whom Sam works. We were most impressed when we pulled up to the security gates and they opened to allow us admittance.

Many, many important folks have been photographed on Government House's front steps. The important folks today...from left, Heather, Sam, Marcie, Ellen, Fay & Doug. David's snapping the photo.

The grounds of Government House are lovely with rose gardens and tree-lined paths. There's also a mob of kangaroos that grace the property and we found them easily
... or perhaps they found us?


We visited the Royal Australian Mint. Fay collects mint coins and while she chose one, the rest of us explored. Above, the Australian Coat of Arms engraved in marble at the entrance.

The iconic kangaroo is evident everywhere in Australia...even on its coins.

We hammed it up with the help of the Mint's humorous set. No free mint samples allowed though.

One machine allowed us to mint our own ram's head dollar coins while we watched ... for $3. Thanks, Sam!


 

We headed to the Australian National Botanic Gardens which specializes in Australiana flora, but we also saw lots of birds and a dragon or two. Above, a banksia tree, named after Joseph Banks, British naturalist and botanist who sailed with Captain Cook .


 

Our final stop was the Observatory  atop Mt. Stromlo. In 2003, the original observatory was severely damaged when a bush fire burned a significant amount of acreage on the mountain.

We lunched at the Observatory restaurant. The restaurant was out of many selections, what they did have was mediocre and the prices were high ... all of which didn't matter since we were enjoying our last lunch with Fay's newly re-acquainted family and our new friends. We chatted about future plans, about getting together again and about our time together.
 


It was 30 December. All too soon, it was time to head back to Sydney and Nine of Cups so we could get through the Spit Bridge the same evening in order to claim our anchorage spot for the Sydney Harbour New Year's Eve fireworks. Hugs, kisses, prolonged goodbyes ... and we were off.