The stories of a nation

One of the things that Canberra excels at, is placing people at the heart of the Australian story.

There are museums aplenty, frequent ‘one off’ exhibitions, and numerous monuments to what it means to be a part of this nation’s history.

A tourist brochure promoting the Australian War Memorial with a poppy laid on top.

The Australian War Memorial, part tourist attraction, part lesson, part pilgrimage.

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Canberra’s local tourists

Tourist information centres aren’t just for tourists, they’re great for locals too, and the one in Canberra is a particularly useful resource, especially if you’re new to town and don’t quite know what’s on offer.

We discovered Canberra’s tourist information centre by accident when we were on a research trip to the city a couple of years ago. We left laden with enough reading material to give us cause to check our baggage allowances, and nearly all of it came in handy as we planned our permanent move. In fact, most of the brochures that appear in the CBRbound header came from that impromptu visit.
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Sporting heroes

A participant's ribbon from the mini-triathlon.

The boys definitely participate in sports a lot more in Canberra.

Regular readers will know that my two sons, mini-CBRbound (8) and maxi-CBRbound (11) were big factors in our decision to move to Canberra.

There were all sorts of reasons why we thought Australia would be good for them, but a big one was the prospect of a more outdoor and active life, made possible by the climate and the Aussie obsession with sports.
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Not sulking at all

Long distance shot of a cricket match.

The West Indies take on Zimbabwe at Manuka Oval in Canberra.

For those old enough to recall it, there’s a fabulous episode of the original 1960’s Star Trek series (and a concept revisited many times by its successor shows) called ‘Mirror, Mirror’.

It imagines a world where, but for a turn of fate here, a different decision there, the universe might be a very different place. In ‘Mirror, Mirror’, the end result is an aggressive Vulcan race and a Federation that is more warrior than explorer. It’s kind of ‘Sliding Doors’ for sci-fi geeks.
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When Canberra comes out to play

When we lived in Denmark, one of our favourite days out of the year was the Roskilde Dyrskue, or agricultural fair. It always provided a wonderful mix of great weather, pet and farmyard animals, interesting and bizarre sports, and attractions for the kids. In short, it was the perfect day out and one that we thought we’d miss after our move.

A view of the show's main arena.

Show-jumping in the foreground and a funfair in the background at the Royal Canberra Show.

Not a bit of it, because Canberra has an agricultural show all of its own – the Royal Canberra Show – and it offers all the things you’d expect, plus a few surprises too.
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Changing who we are

Australia’s Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, gave a speech to the Australian parliament last week, largely in response to the security questions raised by the Sydney siege a few months ago, but also in recognition of the lone-gunman attacks in other countries such as Denmark, the trickle of Australian nationals making their way to fight with Islamic State in Syria, and the highly publicised call for attacks on western shopping malls.

A few days before, Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt made a similar address in Copenhagen. But, while Abbott’s speech focused largely on security measures, Thorning-Schmidt included an important additional point: “We have to understand what has hit us, but we must insist on acting as we do. Think and talk like we want to. We are who we are.”

News of the shootings in Copenhagen rolls in on the TV.

The shootings in Copenhagen shocked Denmark.


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God bedring København

Last night, I walked past the main synagogue in Copenhagen with a friend. We’d just had an evening of catching up, having dinner and enjoying a beer in a favourite local bar of mine.

At the synagogue’s gate, a burly man eyed us intently, darkly even, as we sauntered past. I remember making a passing comment about it to my friend who speculated that it was the temple’s security guard. We both agreed that it was very ‘un-Copenhagen’ – a city characterised by its easy informality – and then the conversation turned to other things.

Half an hour later, back at my hotel room, I start to receive messages from friends and family – are you okay? We’ve seen the news? Are you safe? Continue reading

Finding fan fever, far from home

Supporting a sports team is a lifelong commitment, one that defies logic, rises above setbacks and, once established, pulses deep in the veins. But what does that mean for a new migrant, thousands of miles from his homeland, in need of a regular fix of sporting action.

It’s a question that has nagged at me for years, ever since I gave up my Liverpool season ticket when my family moved to Denmark. But at least Denmark was close enough for the occasional pligrimage to see the boys in red play. Australia, well, that’s another matter entirely.

The Shankly Gates, Anfield.

The famous Shankly Gates at Liverpool’s Anfield stadium.

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Canberra’s sporting bonanza

The CBRbound clan likes a bit of sport – we’ve trekked across Europe to see the World Equestrian Games, had season tickets for our favourite football teams, seen the royals play polo, and even been to Wimbledon on men’s semi-finals day, to say nothing of all the sporting activities that the kids actually participated in. But nothing quite prepared us for the feast of sporting activity that is on offer in and around Canberra this southern summer.
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Australia’s dominant religion: cricket

When I was growing up in England, cricket had a much greater presence in the consciousness of the general public. As I recall, football and cricket were held in relatively equal thrall and were largely confined to their seasons of summer and winter, only overlapping for a few weeks at either end. Indeed, some players even played both games – Ian Botham included.

Since then, the behemoth that is football has sucked up nearly all the media attention in England such that, outside of the Ashes and the world cup, cricket has become very much the poor relation in the nation’s sporting line-up.
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