Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Canberra, Capital Territory, Australia

March 4, 2016

Canberra is Australia’s capital, inland from the country's southeast coast. Surrounded by forest, farmland and nature reserves, it earns its nickname, the "Bush Capital.” The city's focal point is Lake Burley Griffin, filled with sailboats and kayaks. On the lake shore is the massive, strikingly modern Parliament House, as well as museums including the National Gallery, known for its indigenous art collections.

We started off the day by visiting the Australian War Memorials.  They are located on a beautiful, serene setting and there are a number of memorials to Australians who served in their armed forces.  There are too many memorials to list on this blog, but I found a few of them more interesting than others.

Twenty-two years old, English-born and a trade union activist, John Simpson Kirkpatrick was an unlikely figure to become a national hero. Having deserted from the merchant navy in 1910, he tramped around Australia and worked in a variety of jobs. He enlisted in the AIF, expecting this would give him the chance to get back to England; instead, Private Simpson found himself at ANZAC Cove on 25 April 1915, and was killed less than four weeks later.
Simpson would not have made a good peacetime soldier, and he was recklessly independent in war. Instructed to recover and help the wounded he undertook this work enthusiastically. Famously, he used a small donkey to carry men down from the front line, often exposing himself to fire. The bravery of this "man with the donkey" soon became the most prominent symbol of Australian courage and tenacity on Gallipoli.

John Simpson and his donkey

Photo taken from the tomb of the unknown soldier looking down the ANZAC parade grounds.  In the background are the Old Parliament Bldgs and New Parliament Bldgs.   ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps.  

Eternal flame in the reflecting pond in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier
The engraving on the tomb, pictured below, reads "He is all of them and he is one of us."  The whole area was very impressive and very solemn.

Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Beautiful dome above the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

One of four sections of stained glass windows in Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Panorama of Canberra

Australian National Museum
We wanted to see the new Parliament Buildings and went there after spending well over an hour at the War Memorials.  The Parliament building has roads circling it and it was confusing where to park.  Finally we noticed an underground parking lot and pulled in there and found an open space.

Mike at the Parliament House

Federal Parliament meetings were first held in Melbourne until 1927. Between 1927 and 1988, the Parliament of Australia met in the Provisional Parliament House, which is now known as "Old Parliament House". Construction of Australia's permanent Parliament House was delayed while its location was debated. Construction of the new building began in 1981. The principal design of the structure is based on the shape of two boomerangs and is topped by a 266 ft flagpole.
Parliament House contains 4,700 rooms, and many areas are open to the public. The main foyer contains a marble staircase and leads to the Great Hall, which has a large tapestry on display. The House of Representatives chamber is decorated green, while the Senate chamber has a red color scheme. Between the two chambers is the Members' Hall, which has a water feature and is not open to the public. The Ministerial Wing houses the office of the prime minister and other ministers.

Senate Chamber

House of Representatives
We visited the various rooms/chambers of Parliament and were very impressed with the design and grandeur.  We had to pass through a security check that was very thorough before we could enter the grand hall.  Once through that a docent approached us and offered some advice on what to see and what was open.

After 1 1/2 hours of touring the buildings we decided to hit the road for the long drive back to Sydney.  Mike and I sat on a bench while Gerry checked out the gift shop and she exited the area. We were near the entrance, but she couldn't go back that way.  She had to go to the main entrance and back through the security check so she could get to where we were sitting.  I think she had her eye on one of the young security agents, but she denies it.

The road back was very good and we made excellent time getting back to the Liverpool area where Mike lives.  He took us to the Australian Bowling Club for a fish dinner and a couple drinks.  After dinner Mike took us back to Patrick & Vivian's house for the weekend.  

Mike said we drove about 1100 miles and we saw a lot of Australia that an average tourist would never see.  He was a great tour guide and filled us in on the history of each area we traveled to.  Great job Mike.

It was an early to bed night for us since we had more things on tap for Saturday morning.  That was our day, how was yours?

1 comment:

  1. What a neat photo of the Parliament Houses. Very interesting to see the inside. Very pretty.

    The glass windows in the Tomb are gorgeous.