My Diary Down Under – Day 10 – Canberra

Almost 2 weeks since I last touched my blog. No big deal, for someone who writes when she has time, not as a professional blogger or a writing addict, it’s normal that the blog is left untouched for weeks, months, even years.

I started my new job on May 23 for a French pharmaceutical firm, while at the same time maintaining my freelance job as an online editor for a themed tour company. Those 2 jobs, plus my social life almost ripped me from other hobbies. But I’ll try to post at least once a week, because, after all, this is the only time I can write exactly what I want to write, with no censorship, no bosses telling me my opinion is wrong, or not politically correct.

So.. Day 10 in Australia, Canberra!!!!

Canberra, the underrated capital of Australia, the peaceful small “town” of half a million residents, the stop that if you don’t visit, you’ll surely miss out on the whole Australian East Coast experience.

Canberra was elected the capital of Australia as a compromise between rivals Sydney and Melbourne – a fact that when I told anyone, they would scoff and deemed ridiculous. And that’s why there is nothing much going on in Canberra, except the ever uptight embassies and parliament houses. There are no skyscrapers, no crowds, few tourists, no noise. As the taxi driver said “A very good place to raise kids” – sounds exactly like my super boring college village Elizabethtown.

About the itinerary in Canberra, mom and I were not on the same page again. Mom would want to fly from Brisbane to Canberra, stay there one night, visit the capital city the following day, and then at the end of that day trip, fly (or take a bus) to Sydney. But I hate checking in and out of hotels too often. Hotels, during my vacations, are not only a place to crash, but a real “home” to me. Plus, if we leave the hotel early in the morning to go sightseeing, and leave the city at the end of the day, we will need to check out early, meaning we will need to drag the bothersome luggage on all the streets, which we did in Brisbane. And I really don’t want that.

So I chose the less-annoying-option, to spend 7 hours total commuting from Sydney to Canberra and back. Mom almost screamed. She never had to sit 3 hours in the renowned NYC yellow cab just to go from Penn Station to JFK, so 3.5 hours to cover 300 km from Sydney and Canberra was too much for her to handle. Again, no big deal. 🙂

About modes of transportation between Sydney and Canberra. You could pick train, bus, or airplane. I don’t know how much or how long a flight from Sydney to Canberra is, but I’m never a fan of flights, like ever. Trains take 5 hours at least, while Murrays bus takes only 3 and a half hours, leaving right from Central Station on Pitt Street. Bus price is AUD 74 per person for a return ticket, if you book online the night before, and choose the discount option (meaning no changes allowed).

Bus leaves exactly on time, and arrive exactly 3.5 hours later in Canberra, at the Jolimont center, right in the very center of Canberra. Along the road is vast endless meadows with flocks and herds and groups and seas of sheep leisurely walking, chewing on grass. Holy cow of sheep!!!! So many!!! I kept asking the same question I’ve been asking “Where the hell are all the people?” Because it was so quiet, so peaceful, so, let’s say deserted.

First thing we did in Canberra was to go to Mt Ainslie, a place where we could see the whole Canberra city. From Jolimont center to Mt. Ainslie, and back, including about 10 minutes wait for us to take photos, cost AUD 50.

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But my advice is to stop at the Australian War Memorial on the way back. Breathtaking architecture and educational information there for free. Hey, did I mention that like all other capitals on earth, every museums and landmarks in Canberra are free?

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What’s more about the War Memorial? It’s located at 1 end of the ANZAC Road, the red brick road serving as the centerpiece of Canberra urban design, connecting the War Memorial and the new Parliament House. Standing on that road and you can catch this iconic view of Canberra.

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After pondering the beauty of this landmark, you can take the hop on hop off bus (the Red Explorer bus). There’s a sign outside Jolimont Center with brochures and timetables, as well as the exact stops, so you won’t miss this. The bus will go round the city and stop at major attractions: National Library of Australia, National Portrait Gallery, National Gallery of Australia, High Court of Australia, Old Parliament House, Parliament House, Embassies, and National Museum of Australia, before dropping you off at Sydney Building – literally 10 steps from Jolimont Center where you will take the bus back to Sydney. With this itinerary, you have just circled the whole Canberra City, with minimum walking (so good for my mom who can walk 10 steps max), and maximum convenience. We only had time to stop at the Parliament House.

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Outside

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The Grand Hall

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Marble room – the first room you encounter inside the Parliament house

That concludes our super short yet impressed stay in Canberra. Bonus is this beautiful walk along the river bank near the National Library.

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