Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Visit Canberra - Part 1

Canberra, the capital city of Australia is about a 2 hour drive (longer according to Hajar) from Sydney. While it is not surprising for some tourists to give Canberra a miss as it is deemed "boring", we covered quite a number of places during our visits there (we did it in 2 weekends - once in autumn and the other in summer).

So where did we go? Read on to find out.

Malaysia House
Not exactly a tourist attraction unless you are Malaysian. Mr H’s early years were spent here. He does not have any recollection of it except for second hand information he gets from his parents and relatives.

Driveway up to Malaysia House.
Mr H's early years were spent here. Those days, the area was not fenced.

The National Arboretum Canberra
One of the largest tree conservation projects in the world, I did expect to see and walk through lots of trees. What I did not expect to see was the Bonsai collection on display. Located within the Village Centre, there were about 20 bonsais on display (if not more). Some were prettily done, with different colour leaves on one tree.

Pretty bonsais on display.
We then took a slow walk towards Dairy Farmers Hill. Here, there is a lookout that gives you a 360 degree view of Canberra (and beyond) as well as a outdoor sculpture, Nest III.
We walked down a green "oval". Perfect spot for a picnic or just to roll yourselves downhill.
Our approximately 40 minute walk brought us through replanted vegetation and uphill. It was only later we found out we could have actually driven up to the lookout point. Hahaha
Nest III. Sculpture was created by Richard Moffatt in 2007 from abandoned farm machinery.

Parliament House (New)
A visit to Parliament house is a must if you are in Canberra, since it is the capital city of Australia. You are welcomed to wander around public areas on your own or you may opt for a guided tour. Depending on your interest, you may view the proceedings from the public galleries when the Houses are in session. You may also book yourself a ticket for Question Time (booking required only for House of Representatives). 

Mandatory pose on Parliament rooftop
Senate Chamber
House of Representatives Chamber
Not keen on politics? Spend time viewing the art collection instead. Parliament House Art Collection, a significant heritage value is divided to sub-collections which include Rotational Collection, Gifts Collection, Historic Memorial Collections and Outdoor Sculptures among others. 

One of the arts on display
Open to the public every day except on Christmas day, visitors are able to wander around the public areas on your own or take the guided tour. For more information, go to Visit Parliament.

Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House
Until 1988, this building was Parliament House. Today, it is the Museum of Australian Democracy. It is open to public daily except on Christmas Day. There is a small entry fee - 
$2 adults, $1 children and concessions, and $5 family.

Similar to the present Parliament House, visitors are able to visit both chambers and take photos. You may also browse through the permanent exhibitions (I believe there are 4, my favourite is Designing Democracy) as well other non permanent exhibitions.

Part of Designing Democracy - The Illuminations by Wendy Fairclough (2011)
For more information and to plan your visit, go to Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House.

Australian War Memorial
Another must visit attraction when in Canberra. Again, you can opt to join in the various guided tours available or wander at your own leisure. There is so much to see and absorb here if you are interested in history. I am not very into history but I did admire the pretty architectural designs and exhibits available.

When I was there, it was during Anzac Day weekend. Bouquets of flowers were left behind with messages of gratitude, hope and peace at strategic locations within the memorial. 
The Roll of Honour
Lovely stain glass feature inside the Hall of Memory
Lovely stain glass feature inside the Hall of Memory
I think this is called the Commemorative Courtyard which leads up to Hall of Memory. Inside is the Tomb of the Unknown Australian Soldier.

Go to Australian War Memorial's website to plan your visit better.

Other than Malaysia House, I would recommend spending at least 2 hours at each location as there are really lots to see, read and experience. You will not be able to see much in an hour unless you limit yourself to the main attractions.

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