Before I had been assigned to a project work in Australia, I thought that Sydney was the capital city of Australia. My colleague at work actually asked me, “Do you know what’s the capital city of Australia?” And I replied to him “It’s Sydney right?” and then he responded me “No”, then I answered him again, “Don’t tell me it’s Melbourne”, then he responded to me again with “No”. And I paused in a while to think, but honestly I was surprised because I was wrong all a long. Then my colleague smiled at me and he said “It’s Canberra”. Well, I never heard the name of the city. I am not familiar with the name. With that conversation with him, I learned something, I was wrong in thinking that Sydney is the capital of Australia.
I lived in Melbourne for quite a long time that gave me a chance to see not only the city but major cities or almost the whole country. With a 4-years temporary permanent residence visa which eligible to work in Australia, in that 4 years I came back to Australia for 5 times and live there for more than 1.5 years, gave me a lot of opportunities to see the huge continent country like Australia.
Like other cities that not so popular to tourists, Canberra receives perception that it’s not like Sydney and Melbourne. I met few people who shares with same sentiments when I asked them about the city. I always received a comment that there is nothing to see there.
But because I planned to see Australia as a whole, Canberra was already in my list. Why? Its’ where the White House of Australia can be found. I was also intrigue how the city was created. It’s one of the city that I learned to be a planned city. Canberra has been created to resolve the conflict between two major cities of Australia, the rivals between Sydney and Melbourne for being the capital city of the country. Unlike Canberra, the two cities has been discovered and settlement arose where huge city has been born. Canberra is the same, but because it is located at the inland, unlike most cities in Australia that has been born at edges of the country, its location is somewhat not strategic to become a big city. And Australia decided to place in that city the national government offices of the country.
Looking back with the reason how the city was developed, Australia decided a very expensive decision just to address the competition between Sydney and Melbourne. I got a chance to see and visit the two cities and even myself will not immediately favor one city over the other and say which specific city deserved to be the Capital City of Australia.
Another reason why I decided to join a tour in Canberra is to find out why most people say there is nothing to see in Canberra. I wanted to defy that perception and see it for myself.
If you had read some of my posts, you know that I used weekend as opportunity to travel. This is one of my quick travel to Sydney wherein I just passed the airport and stayed in the hostel in the city. I booked my flight from Melbourne to Sydney via Virgin Australia and when I returned to Melbourne I booked my flight via Jetstar. The flight is customized to leave Melbourne late Friday night and leave Sydney early Sunday morning. I had my hostel accommodation in Sydney Central YHA for 2 nights and booked a day tour from Sydney to Canberra through colourfultrips.com. The tour was 13 hours, it was long due to travel time needed between two cities. The tour happened last Saturday of June 2013.
I woke-up early in the morning and prepared early for the tour. The tour picked me up in the hostel. That day, the weather was quite gloomy and it had pouring rain before we left Sydney. We traveled to Canberra for around 3 hours. Before reaching the center of Canberra City, I had a chance to see it from a distance. The city is in inner land which technically in New South Wales but became a territory.
Canberra is located in a pretty flat place which partially surrounded by nature reserves in the south. Well if you are adventurous, flat place can be a disadvantage. In my personal preference, it’s interesting if a place can offer us a lot of things to do right? But for me, seeing another place is already an interesting to do. It’s not just to show that I’d been in that place but the feeling or experience to be in that place. I am always like this in every places that I had a chance to visit.
Canberra is a quiet city. During the tour I learned that because national governments offices has been placed in the city, most people live around the city are employees who work in government. The city is also the location of national embassies of different countries including mine. The impression the city left on me was, it’s a refreshing city and a balance one.
So you are wondering what’s so special with Canberra? For me like mountains, where every mountain has its own identity, each city has its own as well. Canberra is called a Bush Capital of Australia. And it’s has reason for it. This is a city that is surrounded by forests, farmlands and nature reserves. The city may not have Opera House of Sydney and it may not have Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) of Melbourne but Canberra has something to offer on its own too.
Some places to enjoy in this so-called Australian Capital Territory are:
5. Captain Cook Memorial Jet
6. National Embassies
The list above is not the only places to see in the city, but these were the places that I had a chance to see while I was in Canberra.