Monday 18 April 2016

Our National Capital - Canberra

Australia's capital city is different to most other capitals as it is not a big city, it isn't easy to get to and it was planned and built specifically to be the nation's capital. 
Canberra was founded in 1908 and in 1911 a competition was run to find a design and designer for the city. American Walter Burley Griffin won the competition but after nine years of disruption he resigned from the job. Development didn't really start until the 1920s. Old Parliament House was built in 1927 and development slowly progressed with a surge in the 1950s.
Over time Canberra has progressed to be a really interesting city, more-or-less based on Walter Burley Griffin's original plan.

Last week we visited Canberra with a group of friends, and the following photos show some of the highlights of our few days in the national capital.

The National Arboretum is a living collection of forests with 100 forests of rare, endangered and symbolic trees from Australia and around the world. This whole area was burnt out in bush fires in 2002-2003 so it will be many years before we can really appreciate this amazing project.

 The National Bonsai and Penjing Collection is housed at the Village Centre, itself an award winning architectural structure.

 You can begin to see the big plan coming into being as each forest grows with its different foliage.

Outdoor sculptures including this one made from rusty pieces of old machinery are scattered around the arboretum.

The Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex at Tidbinbilla is one of three NASA tracking facilities around the world. This 70 metre 'dish' known as DSS 43 was operating when we were visiting, communicating with Voyager IV which is way out into deep space.
Also at the complex is DSS 46 which received and relayed to the world the first historic television images of astronaut Neil Armstrong walking on the moon.

The National Gallery of Australia is home to over 166,000 art works so naturally we only saw a very small number of the collection. Jackson Pollock's 'Blue Poles' is a 'must see', but we also saw some classics like Monet's 'Water Lilies', some Australiana from Sidney Nolan and Fred Williams, and the Tiwi burial poles from Bathurst Island.

                                 Fred Williams 'Landscape',

                                                   'Blue Poles'

                                          and the Tiwi burial poles.

A view of something of Burley Griffin's plan for Canberra with the War Memorial [centre front], looking down ANZAC Parade to Lake Burley Griffin, then to Old Government House then up to the new Government House.

The Australian War Memorial is the most amazing collection of stories and artifacts honouring those that have lost their lives in war. We spent several hours there but you could easily spend a week hearing about appalling conditions and amazing bravery.

      Fred Dyson, my great uncle who died at Fromelles, France in 1916, aged 19. 

                                                   The Wall of Honour World War Two

Edward 'Weary' Dunlop - doctor & prison of war on Thai Burma Railway, war hero, iconic figure, Great Australian and son of Benalla. 

Canberra may be off the beaten track but it is well worth a visit. We hope to return again soon.