Secrets of the champions

The main visitor entrance to the Australian Institute  of Sport.

The Australian Institute of Sport, home to the country’s elite athlete training programme, but also a fascinating afternoon out.

Tucked away in one of Canberra’s northern suburbs is a university-like campus which serves as a training centre for Australia’s prospective Olympic athletes. Such a purpose suggests a secret camp with high security fencing but, in fact, the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) offers daily public tours of its facilities, where you can see how Australia prepares its future champions… and you don’t even have to be an Aussie to go along.

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Mining Canberra’s history

A floor map of the National Capital Exhibition in Canberra.

The National Capital Exhibition, worth a visit, but worthy of expansion.

As well as being home to many of the institutions that preserve and re-tell Australia’s history, Canberra has a pretty interesting story of its own to tell, but uncovering it has been a frustrating and, ultimately rather unsatisfying experience so far.

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The meeting places: Old and ‘new’ Parliament House

Having visitors is always a good prod to get out and about in your home town and so, when Nanny CBRbound came to visit from England recently, we did a grand tour of all the things Canberra has to offer.

High on our list of ‘must visits’ were the two parliament buildings – I’d been to Old Parliament House once before, briefly, when they held their grand Easter egg hunt for kids, but the place was packed out and I wanted to return on a quiet day to more fully take things in. And despite driving past ‘New’ Parliament House dozens of times, and even running past it during the Canberra 5km, I’d never ventured inside.

The view from the entrance of Parliament House towards Old Parliament House and Lake Burley Griffin.

A visit to Parliament House has been on my wish list ever since we arrived in Canberra.

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A towering opportunity

A sign barring access to the viewing platform at Telstra Tower.

The no admittance sign makes a regular appearance at Telstra Tower.

Canberra has its fair share of critics, and much of the mud thrown at the city is unwarranted, so I want to be careful about criticising any of the capital’s attractions, lest I should unwittingly join  the ranks of the Canberra-bashers.

But there’s one feature here that really could do with a little more imagination and TLC than it seems to have received of late, and that’s the needlepoint landmark that is Telstra Tower.

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Questacon’s magic formula

The Questacon logo on the glass of the building's entrance.

The main entrance to science and technology centre, Questacon.

It may sound strange to have saved our most anticipated family day out for nearly six months but, as I have written before, there really is so much to do in Canberra.

But all this time, ever since our plane’s wheels first touched down here, discussions of every CBRbound clan day out have been punctuated regularly with a single interjection from the kids: “Questacon.”

A model of an astronomer staring skywards.

Questacon’s mission to inspire and educate is clear from the outside.

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A corner of a foreign field

Something we’ve come to appreciate about Canberra is that, unlike other cities of a similar size, which may boast one or two minor tourist attractions to bring in out-of-towners and entertain locals, Canberra’s status as Australia’s capital means it is disproportionately bursting with things to do from its outer suburbs to the city centre.

It’s taking us a while to get through them all – partly because our initial burst of new arrivals’ excitement has been replaced by getting on with real life, but also because we’ve been keeping a few things up our sleeves for when the kids deserved a treat or just needed to get out of the house. Continue reading

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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