Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Week Three - Canberra

Time to play some major catch up by sharing what I've been up to the last several weekends. The semester is flying by!

Week 3 was pretty low-key. It was my first week on call, which was incredibly quiet, but it limited how far I could be away from the building.

The highlight for the week was an overnight field trip with my political science class to Canberra, the nation's capital. Described as a cemetery with streetlights by my professor, the city is a tad weird. Sydney and Melbourne couldn't decide who should be the capital so, naturally, they decided to build a city from scratch in between the two existing metropolises.

Neither Parliament nor University were in session, so the town was rather dead when we visited, but we still visited a few cool spots.


Day 1, we visited the National Museum of Australia, a comprehensive look at Australian history and culture. History in Australia is a peculiar thing. It's much shorter than American history (the east coast of Australia was first encountered by Capt. James Cook in 1770 v. Christopher Columbus' discovery of the New World in 1492) and they're also much more candid and honest about injustices forced onto Aboriginal people. Until now, I never noticed or realized how little we, as Americans, talk about our relationship with American Indians and the indigenous people of North America. Australia seems much more conversational and apologetic about the topic, while we continue to ignore our native people groups. (History length and population size/ratio are potential reasons for this, no doubt.)

TL;DR It was a great museum


The Australian War Memorial was a another very large museum which looked at Australian involvement in military conflicts. It also acts as a memorial for fallen Australian soldiers and holds the tomb of the unknown Australian soldier. Each day is closed with the Last Post ceremony.

Coming from a military family, it was a great experience and an insightful look at Australian military involvement.


Night life in Canberra is pretty nonexistent. We had breakfast for dinner at a delicious tavern, then stopped by a chill Mexican cantina, saw the incredibly sad film "12 Years a Slave," ran through some sprinklers, star gazed for a few minutes and then passed out at our hotel.


Day two, we visited Australia's legislative houses.

New Parliament House, opened in 1988, is a super snazzy and contemporary building. It houses the House of Representatives, the Senate, portraits of all the past PMs, and one of the original copies of Magna Carta.


Old Parliament House was used from 1927-1988 (even though they were federated in 1901.) It feels very 70s, which is funny because they're pretty serious about preserving their 70s historical artifacts (hence the white gloves.) Again, their concise history is interesting.

We reenacted the dismissal of PM Gough Whitlam, a very famous moment in Australia's political history. Similar to the assassination of JFK, everyone knows where they were when it went down. Its a tiny bit complicated, so I'm not going to try and explain it... #wikipediaarticle


Like any good Americans, we found a cafe inside Parliament to watch a bit of the Super Bowl and the half time show.

Oh and our bus kind of broke down and didn't have AC for the trip back in 90+F temps.

It was a packed two day field trip, but it was mad enjoyable and engaging.

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