The blog is not finished! But after the Theft (yes, capital letters), the want/need to update the blog took second fiddle to dealing with the Theft and just finishing the trip sans computer. Since being home, it's been hard to get that motivation to complete it. But I will. Ever so slowly. Please be patient!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Political Capital

Days 443-444, February 13 – 14, 2012

The Australian Capital of Canberra is not really a tourist hot spot. It’s not near any beaches, and the city itself isn’t laid out in a very helpful manner. And beyond the Parliament and typical Capital City monuments to wars past, there’s not much to see. And with so few touristy things in the city, affordable places to stay are few and far between.

But that’s not to say, that in-between the consular work I had to do, that I didn’t enjoy myself. In fact, I found the full day there to be quite illuminating in a couple aspects.


To get from Melbourne to Canberra was a bit of a gong show as there’s no railroad that goes all the way to the Capital City (what?!). Luckily, buying the tickets are quite easy as the tickets are bought as a joint set and the bus line is run by the same train company. When the train arrives at the final station, buses are there waiting to take people the their correct destinations.

Though, considering it’s a politics town, why they don’t make it easier for people to get to is beyond me (carbon footprint of the politicians must be enormous!). I won’t complain too much though as that’s all I seem to be doing about Australia up to this point.

View from the bus. Some random lakeside town.IMG_1077

The first part of my day in Canberra was taken up by some business, which I won’t touch upon as I’ve already ranted here. It was time to actually see this city!

Everyone knows what a political junkie I am. Hell, I stayed up most of the night while in Portugal to listen to the results of my own countries federal election. Knowing that, of course I was going to go and check out Australia’s Parliament building.


The design and layout of the building is, like many modern buildings, a function of symbolism:

Outside, there’s the red and brown coloured walkway to represent the land, mixed in with Aboriginal artwork to represent the original inhabitants of the continent . . .

And then the Foyer, and its use of marble and timber to represent the arrival of Europeans . . .

And then the Great Hall, and one of the world’s largest tapestry’s, make references to the settlement of the continent . . .

I managed to hop into a free tour of the building that was already underway by the time I entered and learned a great deal of this symbolism and about the Australian Parliamentary System (don’t worry, I won’t bore you with it). When the quite brief tour was finished, I immediately checked my bag and stood in line to hopefully get a seat to watch Question Time (NERDGASM!). Luckily I got in and got to watch what would be an interesting prologue to an upcoming political battle within the governing Labor Party.

At one point in the quite rambunctious proceedings, a member of the opposition stood up to address the Minister of Foreign Affairs. Because of where I was sitting in the gallery (behind the Government), I couldn’t see who it was. And with no names given, I wasn’t really aware as to why to following exchange garnered so many laughs from the politicians and the people listening:

While the new leader of the Maldives says he did not bring about the coup, reports have surfaced that he was involved in coup preparations that began weeks earlier.
Does the Foreign Minister agree that the new leader should tell the full truth about his involvement in the coup?”

Basically it was a little jab at the fact the the Minister of Foreign Affairs used to be Prime Minister before he lost the confidence of his party and Julia Gillard – his then Deputy Prime Minister – was elected as leader of the party, and therefore Prime Minister. I didn’t understand any of this until later when I noticed a photo of the Minister and saw that it was Kevin Rudd.

Then I laughed.

I checked out the rest of the building afterwards, enjoying the modern styles and comparing them to the somewhat old world styles of the Canadian Parliament back home.

The Members HallIMG_1091

Australian SenateIMG_1095

Parliament House rooftopIMG_1109

I wandered the city after. Sort of aimlessly, but mostly guided by a trail of geocaches (hardly surprising). Probably my most unexpected find though was the so-called Aboriginal Tent Embassy in front of the old parliament building. When I stumbled upon it, they had been encamped there since 1972 as a method of raising awareness and protesting for more rights for the Australian Aborigines. Most people I noticed were ignoring the scattering of tents, probably out of habit considering how long it’s been there.

Me? I sat down with a couple of elders and had a lengthily chat on what little I knew about Canada’s treaties and learned some interesting tidbits about the relationship of the Aboriginals and the government in Australia (like having no Treaties at all). It was a fascinating hour to sit and talk.




The rest of the day passed by quite quickly as I was dashing in and out of a scattered rainstorm. As the sun was beginning to settle below the horizon, the rain let up enough to allow me to experience the National Carillon on Aspen Island.


Take a listen:

It was a great and relaxing way to finish a day that started off so stressful.

Refreshing too once this storm released its payload.IMG_1169


  1. Looks like there's something interesting around every corner!

  2. That there is. Sometimes you don't need the typical "touristy" stuff. Though it'd still be nice to have more than one or two hostels to choose from. :)