Tuesday, February 23, 2016


We had thought we would be making the rounds of the national museums and galleries, however instead we immersed ourselves in the parliamentary culture and history of Australia. We stayed two nights with new friends and ATC hosts, Susan and Duncan in a suburb about 13 km south of the city. They live in a townhouse overlooking a lake, complete with backyard garden of tomatoes, squash, raspberries and three chickens named K, F and C who each lay one egg a day. When in this very private back yard, it was difficult to remember that there were neighbours close by.

Canberra, the capital of Australia, is a planned city developed in this location in the 20th C because of the rivalry and competition between Sydney and Melbourne. Australia became an independent nation in 1901 when all the former colonies joined together in a federation. Have a look at the map of Canberra and environs... (This is a screen shot from a map app, Maps.me)

It is a web of interconnected Expressways, Parkways, and Drives lined with lots of trees, with two concentric circles around the Parliamentary buildings on Capital Hill. There are lots of trees, most of them recognizable to us as deciduous trees from the Northern Hemisphere. The trees effectively screen the suburbs, neighbourhoods and towns from the expressways, so it's not until leaving these main roads did we get a sense of how the neighbourhoods are laid out...in pods of curving streets.
We parked in the "Parliamentary Triangle", a large leafy and shaded space, first stopping into the High Court to enjoy its majestic architecture and then walking up to the "new" parliament (dating from the 1980s) on the top of the hill. 

We were in time for the free 11 am tour, and one of its highlights was seeing this enormous woven tapestry of a bush scene hanging in the Great Hall. 

We enjoyed the tour so much we signed up for the paid "behind the scenes" tour at noon, getting a good dose of Australian history. And in between we also went up by the roof for a good look, then to the cafe for lunch, and finally Question Period at 2 pm which was just as raucous and unruly as the BC Legislature and Canadian Parliament. We'd had enough within about 15 minutes. 
Out the front doors looking towards the "old" parliament (now a fascinating museum of Democracy including a good section on the Magna Carta and why it is important)...

In the background is the War Memorial just below Mount Ainslie, and so we drove up there next to get a good view looking back...

Yesterday we drove through the hills to Wollongong which is on the coast about an hour and half south of Sydney. We wanted to be within striking distance because we have to drop the car off by noon, but first want to drive into the city and leave all our stuff at the hotel. It's hot here! Yesterday the temp was in the mid 30s and one of the first things we did was go to the beach, a five minute walk away. I then sat in my damp bathing suit with my knitting in the shade...

Next posts from Sydney!

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