Canberra's reputation as a destination sometimes gets a bad wrap, painted as a sleepy hollow where only the politicans go, but a bit ho hum for tourists. And it certainly doesnt have that cosmopolitan vibe of Melbourne that comes with melting pot immigration, bringing dazzling varieties of dining and lifestyle traditions. It is a mistake though to write Canberra off, as it is really an ideal place to go to see Australia, with so much to see in a relatively small area.
Set in a landscape of peacefully grazing cattle and eucalypts, about 30kms drive from Canberra, is the Canberra Space Centre. Here you can be awed by technology and discover Australia's role in the science and exploration of space. On the day we were there, wasps unfortunately were swarming, but within the safety of the visitor centre we were well protected. There was just no alfresco dining!
And you will also get the chance to drive some very lovely country roads.
Mount Stromlo Observatory
On our drive back to our accommodation in central Canberra, we stopped by Mount Stromlo. This was devastated by bush fire in 2003. Walking through the remains of the buildings, with a scattering of people about but otherwise silence, is quite an experience.
No visit to Canberra is complete without yet another view point, this one being the Telstra tower. It provides a terrific 360 degree viewpoint. If you overlook the expensive and uninspiring dining there, it is worth doing at least once.
And there is the Royal Mint. An absolute hit with the sons, you can do tours (although on the day we were here, the tour guide had called in sick), but we were able to wander around, and there is no more interesting shop than this one. We couldnt leave without buying some coins.
And most importantly, the Australian War Memorial.
Set in very beautiful surrounds, it will be hard to not spend a full day here.
Whether you are Australian, or a visitor, you get an overwhelming appreciation for our ancestors history in conflict.
Be sure to fit in a drive around the embassies. You can spend an hour driving past the various embassies, admiring and acknowledging the differing buildings and settings representative of their countries.
Canberra is surrounded by roos, so take care when driving in the evenings. Or you can make some other startling discoveries.
Our last day was spent at the Questacon, a science discovery centre that is out of this world. One can battle a robot in air hockey, amongst other things. There is a serious of connecting rooms, each with different themes and very very hands on activities. There is no way a kid, or adult, can be bored here. Money well spent. We made sure we were here at doors opening, which was a good thing, because it gave us a window to have activities to ourselves. By mid morning it was kid crazy.
Way too soon it was time to head back for Melbourne. Hitting the road early, we got to Gundagai for lunch, and then late evening it was Melbourne, where we discovered our neighbours house on fire due to a stray firework!!
Be sure to take a few of the roads around Gundagai for a taste of old Australian history.