Saturday, 1 November 2014

17 - 22 October 2014 - Canberra

We left the Blue Mountains and headed out via Bathurst to Canberra. There is little to report on the journey except that we travelled about 400 km to get to Canberra. We stopped at our preferred caravan park in Canberra only to find it was completely booked out! They gave us two alternatives and recommended the EPIC Caravan Park. We phoned EPIC and were told they were about to close the office but we could stay at the overflow section and see them in the morning. We arrived to find it was a section of the Canberra showgrounds that had been converted into a caravan park and the overflow area was close to a busy road. Anyway we setup and had dinner and a noisy night.

In the morning we organised to move to the main park which was quieter except there were tons of cars and trucks coming and going. We discovered it was Saturday (yes, you lose track of time and the day of the week when travelling like this) and the farmers market was in full swing right on our doorstep. So, off we went to the market to buy all sorts of nice fresh goodies to stock up the fridge and pantry. In the afternoon we headed into the city to look around the shops and look for the restaurant Keith enjoyed many years earlier. We found the restaurant, the Charcoal Grill, and also had a massage which was needed after all the walking in the mountains. We then headed to the Ainslie Football Club for dinner and to watch the final Bledisloe Cup rugby game. Unfortunately the Wallabies were beaten on the stroke of full-time.

Sunday arrived and we headed off to the War Memorial and Museum which was excellent. We had a guided tour and then walked around and had lunch in the cafe. After the lunch we headed off to Parliament House and arrived just in time to join the afternoon tour. We learned a lot about our parliament and how our democracy works. One fascinating item we saw was Australia's very own Magna Carta. This is one of only 4 originals in existence and it was right here in a showcase for all to view! For those who don't know or remember what the Magna Carta is, then here is a description from Wikipedia: 'The Magna Carta was the first document imposed upon a King of England by a group of his subjects, the feudal barons, in an attempt to limit his powers by law and protect their rights.' The charter is widely known throughout the English speaking world as an important part of the protracted historical process that led to the rule of constitutional law in England and beyond.

Monday was cloudy and cold when we headed to the Mint for a tour of the coin making process. The Canberra Mint is responsible for minting all of Australia's circulating coins as well as coins for a number of other nearby countries. It was suggested that coins and notes will be gone in about 8 years time and we won't even be using cards - all transactions will be done electronically with a smartphone! In the afternoon we headed to Cockington Green to look at the miniature village. Well, what an awesome place! The first section has replicas of many British landmark buildings and structures with the second section being the international section with well-known buildings from around the world. The gardens are made from miniature trees and plants (not bonzai plants) which are all lovingly created and manicured with lots of humour thrown in for good measure. The flowers were spectacular in the gardens too. We also took a ride on a miniature steam train which was hand-build 30 years ago by steam enthusiasts and lovingly maintained and run by the local operator and engineer. In the evening we went out to dinner to the Charcoal Grill for a really good meal.

Tuesday was a bit of a 'chores' day with shopping and then a quick visit to a walk-in aviary which was not that spectacular but we did get to hand-feed many birds.

Our last day in Canberra we drove out to Tidbinbilla to look for wild koalas. The last remaining wild koalas in the ACT are in a sanctuary which is a large fenced area to protect them where they do live wild although it is more like a very large zoo enclosure. We did get to see one koala sleeping high up in the trees. There was a memorial plaque to Lucky the koala who survived the 2003 fires and who died in 2008. We also walked through the wetlands and saw many birds as well as long-necked turtles.

Inside the dome of the War Memorial
A Lancaster Bomber
Parliament House
The House of Representatives
The Senate
The 700 year old Magna Carta
The Canberra Mint - proof making section
The Sydney Olympic medals
Cockington Green - main section
Cockington Green - Magnificent gardens
Cockington Green - Hill sculptures
Cockington Green - International section
Miniature steam engine
Dinner at the Charcoal Grill
Musk Lorikeet
Now you see me, now you don't!
A wild koala

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