Canberra is the capital city located in the Australian Capital Territory. After Melbourne and Sydney were fighting over who would get to be the capital after federation, a compromise was reached with a specific territory in between the two. Today, Canberra has a population of about 400,000 and is known as the ‘bush capital.’
On our way into the city from the airport, we stopped at Mt. Ainslie to have an all-encompassing view over the city. Canberra was planned by Walter Burley-Griffin and is made up of wide boulevards, concentric circles, and a triangle stretching across a man-made lake. Mt. Ainslie is the perfect place to take in the layout, as it lines up with the wide Anzac Avenue and, across the lake, the old and new parliament buildings.
Lake Burley-Griffin Foreshore and Captain Cook Jet
The lake was named after the planner of the city and is a major focal point of Canberra. It divides the CBD from the centre of government.
In the middle of the Lake is the Captain Cook Jet. It commemorates the bicentenary of Cook’s first sighting of the east coast of Australia. The jet can reach a maximum height of 147 meters tall!!
National Museum of Australia
This museum was a combination answer to the Natural History Museum and the Museum of American History–it covered Australia A-Z. My favourites were the Australian animal specimens, the original Wiggles shirts, and (checking a very Australian thing off my bucket list) taking a selfie with a quokka, the happiest animal on Earth!
The courtyard represented a to-scale map of the continent with all kinds of symbolic sculptures and land features. It was really fun to walk around where each step was 100 km.
National Gallery of Australia
This national art museum has a fantastic collection of Aboriginal art from all regions. One of the main indigenous art pieces is the installation of hand carved/painted burial tubes from many different groups. It is interesting to be able to compare the differences so directly.
There were also many other galleries and types of art, including a well-known portrait of Nick Cave, a Jackson Pollock, and a Monet.
After trying many crazy milkshakes in Melbourne, I had to go to the place that started it all in the unlikely city of Canberra. The home of the FreakShake was bustling, even in mid-afternoon.
Here’s what we got:
- Neat Freak-Mint Condition —> The Neat Freak is a plain-old milkshake. However there were still some inventive flavours like Thai Tea and Passionfruit/White Chocolate.
- FreakShake-Cheshire Cat —> “Awesome strawberry cheesecake shake, real strawberry sauce, vanilla soft serve, rose Pashmak [candy floss], Graham cracker crumbs, freeze dried raspberries, and a strawberry injection”
- FreakShake-The King —> “Peanut butter white choc, maple bacon crumb, salted caramel, choc fudge, chocolate soft serve, cinnamon doughie bites, toasted marshmallow, salted caramel injection”
They were all insanely delicious, and photogenic, and the original definitely lived up to the hype.
National Royal Botanic Gardens
The highlights here were…
- the Rainforest Gully-a rainforest in the middle of dry, dry Canberra–amazing
- the Eucalypt Lawn-dozens of species of eucalypts all on a wide, flat lawn perfect for lounging
- the Red Centre Garden-with plants different to any I’ve seen before and very specialized for taking advantage of the little water the Red Centre gets, this garden was the most interesting to me
One of the things we liked best about Canberra was the beautiful autumn colours on the changing trees. The trees by where we live are mainly eucalypts and plan trees, which don’t change colour. It was so nice to see the reds, yellows, and oranges of the leaves and it really and truly made it feel like autumn.
There are also gorgeous views from every direction and not matter where you’re standing in the city, you can see the Australian flag rising from the top of Parliament.
Another amazing city lookout viewing spot as well as the resting place for General Bridges whose grave is the only physical item that Walter Burley Griffin designed in Australia. Mt. Pleasant is situated right over the Royal Duntroon Military Academy.
Australian-American War Monument
The super-tall eagle monument honored the American soldiers who aided Australia in WWII.