07 October 2008

A Visit to Canberra

" In fact, I keep expecting to see concrete cows everywhere!...“Daddy, which shop does Kevin Rudd work in?” My initial response was to say “a closed shop” but I bit my tongue"

It all happened just over a week ago. No Worries and I were relaxing at home when all of a sudden I had an idea. Now this is not a common event. Far from it, really. So when this happened I got very excited. The idea revolved around the forthcoming NSW State holiday (Labour Day).

As the long weekend was approaching faster than a City Rail train I though it would be good to take our daughters to Canberra for the Floriade (flower festival) and also to see Parliament House. They are now of an age where they would probably appreciate the excursion to Australia’s capital.

No Worries concurred with me. As the drive from Sydney to Canberra is just under three hours all we needed to do was find some accommodation and we were set. Courtesy of Mr Google, this didn’t take too long to arrange. The next day we informed the gals that we were taking them to Canberra. Their response was a “stunned silence”. Maybe they knew what Canberra was like. Then again, they had probably never really heard Canberra mentioned too many times before.

As for myself, I have been to Canberra on many occasions and can’t say that I am a fan of the city. True there are things to see – Parliament House, War Memorial, National Gallery, National Museum and so on. However, as Canberra was deliberately planned I find it sterile and as such a bit like Milton Keynes in the UK. In fact, I keep expecting to see concrete cows everywhere! (
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Concrete_Cows). Also, it’s great fun going around the two road ‘circuits’ to get to the opposite side and on to Parliament House.

The day arrived and we drove down to Canberra which took just on 3 hours. The girls were getting more excited as they didn’t know what to expect. We arrived in downtown Canberra (if there is such a thing) and checked into our hotel. Normally, this would only take a few minutes but given the lack of staff it took nearly 45! Naturally things aren’t too rushed in the capital city!

We rested for a while and headed to Floriade in the late afternoon where there was a large contingent of people admiring the flower displays. As we entered we were told that the park would close soon. We didn’t mind as our two daughters were frantically taking pictures of every flower imaginable.

The next day we checked out (encountering snail pace service at the hotel reception yet again) and drove to the main Floriade display. The weather was cool and sunny. After we entered the park dark clouds came over and for the next 40 minutes we took shelter as we had rain, wind, hail, thunder and then sunshine. Certainly fun for the ducks, but not necessarily for us humans.

The storm passed and again our daughters took lots of photos of the flower variety. No Worries too was enjoying the day. Finally, after a couple of hours we left the park and headed over to Parliament House.

Now our daughters know that the Prime Minister of Australia is Kevin Rudd and we have told them that he works in Parliament House and helps make decisions for the whole country. Naturally, we have kept it basic as at their age they probably don’t want to know about fiscal policy, inflation rates and taxation! However, anything Dora the Explorer or Mr Men related and you can talk to them to the most finite detail.

As we entered Parliament House our eldest daughter saw the gift shop there and asked “Daddy, which shop does Kevin Rudd work in?” My initial response was to say “a closed shop” but I bit my tongue and told her that he didn’t work in a shop!

We then walked around Parliament House and went to the House of Representatives and to the Senate. The girls seemed to enjoy looking at all things parliament related. My youngest was still getting confused about where Canberra was (totally understandable in my opinion). She kept asking if Canberra was in Australia. I was tempted to say ‘no its in a world of its own’ but reneged.

After this we headed to the Canberra Centre (shopping centre) and had a late lunch and browsed at a few shops before heading to one of the suburbs in outer Canberra to pay a quick visit to some friends of ours and their children.

Finally, we left there in the early evening and made the trek back home stopping off at McDonalds for a late dinner. We arrived home at 10 O’clock and got the girls to bed. It was only then that I realised that the only thing I had purchased whilst in Canberra for No Worries and I was in fact, an ironing board cover!

What more can I say!

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