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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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
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.Continue reading
The countdown has begun. In just two weeks, we will be rolling out the red carpet for our first overseas visitor, my mum, Nanny CBRbound.
The boys are excited, and I think Nanny is a little bit nervous. This will be the longest trip she’s ever taken, by far.
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.
We’re in our fifth month as Canberrans now, and the place is starting to feel like home.
We’ve been here long enough to notice a few things that seem odd, but also to appreciate things that may not stand out to other locals but which have really wowed us.
Here are our ‘six great things about Canberra’ so far…