19.11.2009 - 24.11.2009 95 °F
Canberra, ACT, Sydney…..miles travelled…..587
After making our initial contact with Aussie culture in Melbourne we headed north to the Australian Capital Territory and the city of Canberra. We went on Tiger Air, which was convenient and affordable, but finding their terminal in Melbourn is a bit tricky (hint look for T4 or follow the tiger prints on the curb!). Canberra is the current residence of Angela, Paul (her husband), and Isabella (their daughter age 10 weeks). As we descended the stairs “old school style” onto the tarmac in Canberra a blast of hot dry air struck us. It reminded us of our first experiences in Arizona. Ahh, the “dry” heat. Angela and Isabella met us at the airport, and after eighteen years Sara and Angela still recognized each other in the airport crowd.
During our first few days, we hung out at home with the family, visited downtown Canberra, viewed the city from the heights of Mt. Ainslie, and enjoyed home cooked meals and hospitality. Canberra, while a small city, boasts nice shopping and restaurants in a pedestrian friendly center. Paul and Angela encouraged us to visit Sydney, Sara was ready, but Mike was hesitant about the three hour drive.
It turns out that my hesitations were unfounded, and the trip to Sydney was amazing. We saw the opera house from across the bay. We crossed the Harbour Bridge that Mike’s grandfather had flown under against orders during WWII. We lunched at beautiful Darling Harbor, walked and went to Mass in “The rocks” neighborhood. The Rocks is an older neighborhood which has been resurrected into a hip part of the city. We also walked through Hyde Park, and went to the Olympic Village.
We returned to Canberra tired and travel worn but glad to be back with our friends. The following day, we visited the National Museum of Australia (brilliant and free) and learned about Australian history, environment, culture, and people. We especially enjoyed the exhibit about the Aboriginal civil rights movement, which interestingly was happening at the same time as our own civil rights movement in the States. One evening, we went and saw 2012 at the local cinema to prepare for the end of the world. On our last night, we ate dinner with Angela, Paul, and Isabella and shared our tradition of celebrating with a bottle of sparkling wine. In this case a nice local one, Sacred Hill $5.99 at your local IGA grocery store.
Our last day, we visited the National Gallery of Art and Parliament House. The art museum (free again =) was really fun and had some really unique exhibitions. We loved the sculpture garden out back. At Parliament, we had a tour of the main building, as the entire building is made up of 4000 plus rooms! The architect designed the building to represent the past, present, and future of Australia. We even had the opportunity to sit in on session of the senate. We watched the senators banter back and forth over immigration issues and climate change. It was a heated debate for sure and we were surprised at the way the senators mocked one another and disrupted those who were speaking.
As a send off we had drinks and snacks at Tilly’s, a cute local café/pub that was near to their home. The vibe is relaxed in Canberra, but it has all of the conveniences and offerings of a large city. Paul and Angela’s hospitality was amazing and we had a great time catching up and getting to know each other again. The send off at the airport was a little sad, but it was a real delight to get to know one of the newest Australians. Next episode: How many babies are there in Australia anyway?