Cruising Through Canberra

Canberra really is a handsome, imposing place and a most suitable home for a federal government. However, I was operating at a distinct disadvantage while I was there. I had just the day before arriving in Canberra finished a camping tour around Tasmania, and before that, I’d spent a week crossing the mountains in Victoria on horseback. I was decidedly in “nature” mode. As a result, the stunningly modern and totally artificial capital required a considerable amount of readjusting—and that wasn’t easy, as I was also weary and quite sick. However, that didn’t slow me down much, and I charged about, seeing Canberra with dazed and slightly disoriented diligence.

That’s not to say I didn’t have a good time. I did. There were wonderful things to see. I just didn’t connect with it on the same level I’d connected with most other places in Australia.

I got a bus pass and spent a day cruising around town, checking out important buildings. Two of these impressive structures are shown below. On the left is the High Court of Australia. On the right is the National Gallery. I admired the first from the outside, but spent several hours appreciating the second from the inside, as it is home to an impressive international art collection.

High Court

National Gallery



Filed under Australia, Book, Travel

5 responses to “Cruising Through Canberra

  1. “dazed and slightly disoriented diligence”. Love it. Of course some see Canberra as artificial – and it is a planned city – but it is also called “the bush capital”. It sounds like you didn’t get to appreciate that aspect. Next time perhaps.

    • Yes—and I hope there is a next time. As I noted, I was rather tired, with the back-to-back camping trips followed by all night on the bus. Plus I had either bronchitis or walking pneumonia (not interested in checking with a doctor, as one would only tell me to take it easy, and I didn’t consider that an option). And to go from everything natural to everything constructed really was disorienting. My whole first day there, I didn’t see any gum trees, and that made it almost seem that I’d somehow left Australia. However, I’m sure that if I were to return more rested and well, I’d find more to engage me. As I noted, I still enjoyed what I saw, I just didn’t connect with it.

      • I was off in Adelaide by the time you wrote this comment and so missed it. That’s really surprising that you didn’t see any gums. Where were you staying. We have a gum tree in our garden here, we had gum trees in our last garden, they are on all the hills (Mt Ainslie, Black Mountain, Red Hill etc) and in the parks such as Commonwealth. Admittedly, in many of the central areas of Canberra there are rows of exotics – largely because we have the sort of climate that supports lovely deciduous trees – but I can’t imagine being in Canberra and not seeing a gum!

        • And I was off visiting my mom when you posted this. 🙂

          As for why I didn’t see any gums my first days in Canberra, I was staying right in the heart of the city, on Northbourne Avenue. I was in a little place just a few blocks from the Greyhound station (which is where I arrived) and just a few more blocks from City Hill. I was on foot for the first couple of days, so I was pretty much just in the vicinity of Lake Burley Griffin and all those impressive buildings. When I did finally catch a bus that took me into the surrounding hills, I was much relieved to see eucalypts –because you’re right — the surrounding hills are far more blessed with gum trees than city central. I’m sure that greater mobility would have changed my perception, but on foot and only in the central area, it looks a lot less Australian than it does when you get out and about.

  2. Pingback: Monday musings on Australian literature: The gum tree in the Australian imagination « Whispering Gums

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