A November 2001 trip
to Canberra by billmoy
Quote: Our trip to Canberra, the capital of Australia, was brief but interesting.
The layout of the city plan was by Walter Burley Griffin, who was a pupil of Frank Lloyd Wright. On paper, the idealistic plan is uniquely organized and is laden with symbolism. However, the reality of the plan is that driving can be a confusing loopfest for the uninitiated. Unless you are familiar with the exits and intersections, you could spend much unwanted time circling about on various cloverleafs and roundabouts. The City of Canberra is surrounded by satellite cities (or suburbs, if you will) such as Acton, Ainslie, Campbell, Parkes, and Capital Hill.
To me, Canberra feels more like a big suburb than a big city, featuring a semi-transient population of political types (derisively labeled as "pollies" by some). Even so, Canberra has a noted dining scene besides its interesting assortment of national landmarks and museums.
Some of the beautiful images of Canberra are courtesy of my travel buddy Richard Newell from our trip in 2001.
The breakfast buffet, held in the space known as Bobby McGee's Restaurant in the evening, was included in our room rate. This buffet was extensive and it did provide us with the opportunity to taste some local foods. Vegemite, a popular spread in Australia that has been immortalized in a song by the band Men At Work, is served in little packets. I tried a small dab on my roll, and the unusual flavor overwhelmed the poor innocent roll. Very strong and undeniably distinctive! There was also a plate of candied rhubarb, a curious flavor to this palate at nine in the morning. For the more conservative breakfast consumer, the buffet includes mainstays such as cereal, fruit, sausage, eggs, various breads and jams, etc.
The Rydges lobby is casually comfortable, like thousands of lobbies found in convention hotels around the world. The elevators were old and a little slow (I confess to be spoiled by high-tech elevators in modern high-rises). The Burley Griffin Restaurant resides on the top floor, with stunning panoramic views of the city, including the man-made Lake Burley Griffin. Sneak a peek if you get a chance. The souvenir store was run by a friendly gentleman who was rather chatty. My friend and I had stopped in the store at different times and it seemed like he used the same repertoire of stories (about soccer in Australia, the Afghanistan crisis, etc.) upon both of us! Free parking is available to guests at the hotel. It is also noted that Rydges has an indoor pool as well as a shuttle bus with limited service to its two sister hotels in the area, although we did not encounter either during our stay.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on April 15, 2002
Canberra, Australia 2601
2000-San Jose, Coata Rica
My 2001 Thanksgiving dinner was at Rincon Latino, a little Peruvian/Latin American restaurant tucked away in the City area of Canberra. I had a tender and tasty pork roast with vegetables. My dessert was a serving that resembled some sort of prune jelly, apparently a Peruvian specialty although I had not encountered it in any restaurants in Peru. It was slightly sweet and was served with cream, good but not earthshaking.
Our outdoor cafe seats were great for relaxing and people-watching after a long all-day drive from Phillip Island. Our waiter was attentive and was helpful in explaining the various dishes to us. It has been said that Canberra has one of the best dining scenes in Australia. Rincon Latino may not be the most memorable restaurant in the city, but it is a good choice if you want something that is uncommon in Australia.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on April 15, 2002
5 Garema Place
Canberra, Australia 2601
+61 (0)2 6248 0840
Attraction | "New Parliament"
The most striking element is the central flagmast towering 81 meters over Parliament. The flagmast looks like a gigantic four-pronged tripod (quadpod?). The design of Parliament includes a bermed grass hill over the roof of the building. People have access to this area, from which you can walk around the flagmast and look over all of Canberra. This signifies that the politicians are working for and "under" the citizens of Australia. The natural elements are also emphasized by indigenous trees and flowers in the gardens surrounding Parliament.
Upon entering the building, you enter the Foyer consisting of a "forest" of wood and marble columns. The architects emphasized the patriotic use of products and materials grown and manufactured in Australia. While the high ceiling and fine materials do signify the importance of the space, it struck me as stylistically similar to a shopping center atrium. There are tours of the building starting from the Foyer every 30 minutes; they average 45 minutes in length. You can also conduct a self-guided tour of the vast complex. You can take a peek in the Chambers of the Senate and the House of Representatives. If Parliament is in session, you can get tickets to attend and even participating in grilling MP's during "Question Time". The Member's Hall is located directly beneath the flagmast.
There are educational exhibits related to the historic events in Australia, the development of the nation's government, and so forth. There is a portrait gallery of Australian Prime Ministers. Documents on display include a precious copy of the Magna Carta (1 of only 4 originals from 1297) and the original Commonwealth of Australia Constitition Act of 1900. There is a documentary called "Open House" in the Viewing Room that depicts the design and construction processes surrounding the new Parliament. It was interesting to see the proud artists and their respective designs for the variety of paintings, mosaics, tapestries, sculptural reliefs.
The Queens Terrace Cafe, on the second floor, features Australian comfort foods like meat pies. It is adjacent to the Queen's Terrace, an outdoor patio with outstanding panoramic views of Canberra. There is a noble statue of Queen Elizabeth II standing regally in the terrace. The Parliament Shop has loads of interesting souvenirs, again with a strong emphasis on Australian-made products. If you have some postcards or letters, you can even get them postmarked at the Parliament's very own Australian Post.
+61 (2) 62777111
This temporary exhibit was free and did an excellent job of illustrating the collective spirit of Australia. There was even a national TV special in Australia celebrating some of the people depicted by the colorful Peoplescape. This impressive art project seemed to be the talk of the nation at the time of our visit, other than the ultimately unsuccessful bid of the "Socceroos" to qualify for the men's World Cup soccer tournament versus Uruguay.