Visiting the Australian Capital Territory
Since moving to Australia, I've been trying to see and do as much as I can. While in the USA I love spending time in Washington, DC so of course Canberra was on my list here. My husband and I visited the Australian Capital Territory last weekend and had such a great experience. We took a fun 4 hour road trip from Sydney on Saturday morning and arrived to our hotel around lunchtime. We had delicious grilled chicken sandwiches (chicken burgers as they say in Oz) in the casual lobby restaurant at the the Crowne Plaza Canberra. We then headed to our first stop, the Australian War Memorial.
Before walking into the main points of interest, the memorial and museum, we were greeted by decommissioned armored vehicles from wars which Australia's military served. We then went to the museum that has halls designated to the war history of WWI, WWII, conflicts since 1945, and a lower level dedicated to Indigenous Australians. The purpose of the memorial is to commemorate the sacrifice of those Australians who have died in war. There is quite a somber feeling throughout the memorial but it is beautiful in its own right. Bright red, paper poppies are attached to names of the fallen on a remembrance wall. The poppies signify the flowers that covered the battlegrounds in Belgium, France, and Gallipoli during WWI. The Australian War Memorial was voted the number one landmark to visit last year by Trip Advisor.
Saturday night we had a relaxed dinner at a sporty spot called The Pedlar and then enjoyed some chocolate and pistachio ice-cream back at the Crowne Plaza Canberra. The food was really tasty at the restaurant so after a morning workout in the hotel gym, we had a big buffet brekkie (complete with Vegemite of course!) Had to fuel up for our final two stops! The Parliament House and the National Gallery of Australia. Fortunately they were both really close to the hotel too. Everything was!
We took a free 9:30am tour of Australia's Parliament House that lasted a little less than an hour. We got to see where the House of Representatives and the Senate conduct business, the Great Hall, portraits of previous prime ministers, and my favorite part, the grassy rooftop that has 360 degree views of Canberra. The formal name for Oz is the Commonwealth of Australia. It is both a representative democracy and a constitutional monarchy. Malcolm Turnbull is the 29th and current Prime Minister of Australia. Queen Elizabeth II is Australia's head of state.
From Parliament House we went straight to the National Gallery of Australia. This was my first time seeing such an extensive amount of original Australian artwork from colonial to contemporary periods. One of my favorite parts was seeing the Ned Kelly series by Sidney Nolan, because it had recently come up in a family conversation, and I wasn't familiar. I also loved seeing the Aboriginal and international collections. Any chance to see some Claude Monet waterlilies or anything by Henri Matisse or Andy Warhol is a real treat!
On our road trip back to Bondi Beach, Sydney... we had to make sure we stopped to see the Big Merino in Goulburn. What is the Big Merino? It's basically a massive statue... aka tourist trap as many of Australia's big roadside attractions are... such as the big prawn, big banana, big wine bottle, big trout, giant ant,etc.... but the Big Merino symbolizes the strength of the Aussie wool industry... and you almost can't take a bad picture there! I enjoyed reading about the Big Merino in Bill Bryson's book, Down Under. I enjoyed seeing it in person even more!
I hope you enjoyed this blog with my highlights of Australia's Capital Territory. If you have a question or comment don't forget to drop me a line on social media. I love hearing from you! ;-)
Thanks Crowne Plaza Canberra for providing accommodations.