Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Visit Canberra - Part 2

In Visit Canberra - Part 1, I had covered the following attractions: Malaysia House (well not exactly an attraction unless you are Malaysian), The National Arboretum Canberra, Parliament House, Museum of Australian Democracy and Australian War Memorial. Fortunately for us, the third week of January 2015 saw us in Canberra once again.

After visiting the main attractions of this city, where did we go during our second visit?

Questecon - The National Science and Technology Centre
Ever wanted to have better understanding and awareness of science and technology in your day to day life? Make your way to Questecon!

Since we did not make it here on our first trip due to time constraints, we made amends by making this our first stop upon arrival in Canberra. If you thought this place is for kids only, you thought wrong. With over 200 interactive exhibits divided into 8 galleries, Mr H and I had a great afternoon here (spent about 3 hours). We would have stayed on if not for closing time. In fact, we continued our discovery outside the building as there are exhibits located outside too.

The highlight of our visit here would definitely be Free Fall - where it allows you to experience the body's natural fear response and also a moment of weightlessness. Video of me free falling below. 

Questecon is open daily except for December 25. There is a fee to enter: $23 Adults, $17.50 Children (4-16 years). For more information, visit their official website.

Cockington Green Gardens
What I thought was a flower garden turned out to be more than that. Each display would have its own story and would consist of a garden (plants, flowers, trees etc), miniature buildings and figurines. The gardens were initially meant to complement the miniatures. However, they have succeeded into becoming an attractive themselves. 

The displays are also divided into different sections - the original area, International area and Rose Room Indoor Exhibit among others. A lot of walking and appreciation work is required, do wear comfortable shoes! With not much shade available either, it is important to not forget your sunnies and/or a hat and sunscreen.

I would recommend you to spend about an hour or more here. There is an entry fee to enter the grounds, might as well make the most of it. We took a lot of pictures and here's a few to share.
Can't recall the actual name, so I will call it Fairy Garden.
I love how figurines are arranged to narrate a story.
Closest I have ever been to Stonehenge.
Riding the miniature steam train with Imran and Arminia.
Out of the blue, we were greeted by Disney characters!

Still not convinced? Visit Cockington Green Gardens's website for more details.
Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex - NASA's Deep Space Network
Located in Tidbinbilla (ACT), this communication complex is about an hour's drive from Canberra (I slept most of the way). It was about 2:30pm when we got there. At first we were not sure if this was the right place and if yes, was it open? The area was rather quiet and there were no other cars in the parking lot. Our doubts were gone when 2 other cars arrived, parked and the passengers walked through the side entrance.
With 3 active antennas, I expected guards everywhere. The entrance was unmanned. and visitors would just walk through the side gate.
Visitors can wander around and take pictures with antennas that have been retired as long as they are within the allowed perimeter.
Presumably one of the three active antennas
We then proceeded to the Visitor Centre. The centre is open from 9am to 5pm and entrance is free (yay!). Inside, visitors are able to learn more about the space program; the important role Australia plays in exploration of space as well other things you wanted to know regarding space exploration. There are movies to watch, interactive games to play, latest images from the solar system, grab a bite at Moon Rock Cafe and many more.

We spent at least an hour or so browsing through exhibits, taking our time to absorb information that did not seem boring at all (despite some being very technical). 
Space suit photo taking prop
Our visit this time was during Australia Day weekend. We were lucky enough to be able to meet Philip Clark, the author of Acquisition. Clark worked at the Orroral Valley Space Tracking Station from 1966 until its closure in 1985. Not wanting history to disappear just like that, he took it upon himself to pen down his memories and experiences while working there into a book. 

Luqman with Philip Clark, author of Acquisition.
View from Visitor Centre.
If you have the time, make your way to Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve which is just a few kilometres away. Since we were driving back to Sydney that same evening, we gave the reserve a miss. Before your visit, perhaps it is a good idea to go through their official website. It will definitely help in planning your trip better.

On that note, we have come to an end of my Visit Canberra series. With at least 7 attractions to go to, there is no reason to leave out Canberra from your itinerary.

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