Days 270-271 Tuesday-Wednesday January 15-16, 2008
Canberra to Sydney, Australia
Did I mention before how much we like Canberra? The capital of Australia turned out to be an incredible city. Tuesday we set out to see a few more of the sites around town. After leaving the hotel, we started our day at the Old Parliament House. This undersized building housed Australia’s government until the new much larger Parliament House opened in the 1970’s.
After finding a place to park, we headed inside and were immediately greeted with a smile. At the front entrance, Shawn Reece was given a paper with a puzzle on it. He was told to solve the puzzle by using the information he learned as we made our way through the different areas of the building. The lady told him that if he used his investigative skills and found the correct answer that she would give him a prize. The prize proved to be motivation enough for Shawn Reece and worked to keep him interested throughout the tour.
Unlike the day before in the new building, at the Old Parliament House we were allowed to wander around on a self-guided tour. Most of the major rooms we visited were similar to their counterparts in the New Parliament House, only smaller. For example, we saw the House of Representatives colored in the traditional green as well as the Senate Chambers which were decorated in the traditional red. Both rooms were quite a bit more “cozy” and old fashioned than their more modern counterparts.
Since this building is no longer used to house Australia’s government, it has been turned into a sort of museum. The benefit of this is that many of the areas that are off limits in the new Parliament House are accessible here. Perhaps the most interesting part of visiting the Old Parliament House though is the vintage 1970’s décor. From the prime minister’s office to the opposition wing, the building is full of old wooden desks and typewriters. It is decorated the same way it was when they ceased using it for day to day governmental affairs.
On our self-guided tour we spent very little time in many of the rooms. Of course, we found the Prime Minister’s office rather interesting and our favorite part of the tour was sitting in the Senate President’s chair in the hallway. After an hour we had “investigated” most of the areas pretty thoroughly and Shawn Reece had solved his puzzle, so he claimed his prize and we left.
From the Old Parliament House we headed to the National Art Gallery which is located nearby. The National Art Gallery is housed in a modern concrete building. As is fairly standard in these types of museums, this gallery houses both traditional and modern art. We found that most of the exhibits feature Australian artists. For us, the most interesting section concentrated on the many different styles of Aboriginal art.
By the time we left the art gallery and got some lunch at a nearby mall, it was well into the afternoon. At this point we decided to visit the National Library where I took advantage of their free Wi-Fi access. This worked out well since I needed to work on the website and Shawn Reece had school work to complete. After leaving the library, we headed back to our hotel and settled in for the night.
When Wednesday morning came around, only one thought was on our mind. We were excited that this was to be the day that we would finally get to Sydney. After loading up the car, we decided to squeeze one more activity in before leaving Canberra. On the way out of town, we visited the National Museum of Australia. The National Museum of Australia is another of the numerous free attractions in Canberra. The outside of the museum is quite modern and very attractive to look at.
Once inside the museum, we made our way to an interactive exhibit where each of us was asked to build a vehicle of the future. Before doing this, everyone’s picture was taken and then imprinted on their car. It was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, this was probably the most fun we had at the museum. A couple of the major exhibits were closed for updating, so other than our futuristic vehicle fun, we only had a couple of areas on Australian history to look at which didn’t really hold our attention. Before long we were back in the car and on the highway to Sydney
After looking at hotel prices in Sydney, we pinned down just how many days we wanted to stay in the city and decided to bid for a hotel on Priceline. This enabled us to get a good deal and to stay in a decent hotel. Our bid “won” us a room for six nights in a Holiday Inn near Darling Harbor in Sydney’s Central Business District. The hotel ended up having a great location once we actually made it there in our car. You see, getting to the Holiday Inn in the rental car did not prove to be as simple as it seemed.
The drive from Canberra went pretty smooth until we hit Sydney’s city limits. Once Sydney was within sight, it took us an hour to get into the CBD because of heavy traffic. I had done research prior to leaving Canberra and knew how to get to the hotel, but the online map didn’t tell me that the Holiday Inn is located on a one way street which can only be accessed by making a left hand turn. (Equivalent to a right turn in America) It literally took us around thirty minutes once we located the street to get going in the right direction to make the left turn. To say I was frustrated is a MASSIVE understatement.
Originally we were going to drop our bags at the hotel and return the car on Wednesday evening so that we could be free to sightsee on Thursday. However, after the driving fiasco, my nerves were shot and the last thing I wanted to do was get back on Sydney’s horrifically crazy streets. I quickly decided that we would return the rental on Thursday morning, since it wasn’t due back until noon anyway. Our hotel was located adjacent to Chinatown, so after settling into our room we headed to a nearby food court for some Chinese food before packing it in for the night. We are EXTREMELY excited to be in Sydney and can’t wait to get a glimpse of the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge.
The Coomer Family