Sunday, December 23, 2012


A strange city. Actually an urban area. In 1913 the place was chosen to be the capital of the newly formed federal state called Australia (1901). It was just a sheep station at the time. Designers were put to work and they shaped the new capital. They built a damm in the river, so that there was a lake dividing the place in two parts. They picked three hills and made them the corners of the parlementary triangle. In short, the result is a city of a good 350.000 inhabitants, grouped around this triangle in, again, an enormous area of suburbs with one- and two-storey houses. What you see is vast open spaces, wide motorways, hardly any people. The suburbs are hidden between the parks and the trees. If you want to go somewhere you need a car. Some people use their bikes. This is made a good way of transport here by the efforts of a group of enthousiastic bike-riders, called PedalPower, of which our hosts are prominent members. They have been very succesful in their lobbies for seperate bikepaths and more of the kind. There is no tangible city-centre. There is something what they call city: it's just an enormous shopping mall where one gets lost, at least we did. We couldn't find our bikes back!!
Parliament house (old and new) is impressive and makes you think of the need and valueof democracy. We were so lucky as to see one of the few copies of the Magna Carta, the document considered to be the base of British democracy and of great significance for the development of the devision of power and human rights for all the western world, as well as the UN. The war memorial is another highlight. The Australians, in their 100 year history as a state, appear to have been involved in many global conflicts. This involvement is often explained by the eagerness of the new nation to be seen as an active member of the world community.
Then there is the National Gallery of Australia. There was a special exhibition of Toulouse Lautrec going on. Great. Also the rest of the collection, Aboriginal, Australian, Asian and European art is worth a visit. It took us 3 visits indeed to see everything. All in all we had to pedal away about 75 k in this “city” to see the things mentioned.  

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