Saturday, June 1, 2013

Touring Canberra with Some Blokes

Hello Mates!

Well, we have made it to our last day in Canberra and Jayson was right we did have a group weigh-in! Collectively, we came out to be 1,439.2kg! Not too shabby if I do say so myself. Today we woke up to gloomy skies and rain, which remained consistent throughout the rest of the day. Not the best circumstance for a day packed with tours and site-seeing however we still learned a lot about Australian history.
After breakfast this morning at AIS, we hopped on a bus tour of the capital of Australia with our guide John. John gave us some preliminary background information about Canberra as we drove to our first stop. He told us that the designers of Canberra were two Chicagoans, Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony Griffin. Being a Chicagoan myself, I was pretty fond of the fact I was in a city they designed. John mentioned in the initial background info that the Griffin’s modeled Canberra after our capital city Washington DC. After seeing the layout of the city from parliament steps we were able to see the similarities.
As John continued the tour, one fact we found particularly interesting was brothels are legal. In fact, they are governmentally run establishments.
When we got to our first stop we got to the majestic Mount Ainslie Lookout Point, which is 846 meters above sea level. Unfortunately, once we got there we had a beautiful view of pure fog. It was a bit of a disappointment, but we trekked along anyway and ended up at the Australian War Memorial.
At the War Memorial we walked around soaking up all the history of the Australians involvement in World War I, World War II, and other wars. After some self-obtained knowledge, we all gathered to watch actual footage from World War II from the eyes of the Australian Air Force. This was insightful because I feel as an American we sometimes don’t understand the sacrifices other countries made.
Next on our trip we stopped by the Australian Parliament House. When we walked into the foyer, John quickly explained that the numerous amounts of pillars we saw were meant to represent all of the trees that were cleared for construction. As we made our way through the large building our first major stop was the House of Representatives. As a group, we all found it fascinating that there was story behind why the House of Representatives had a green room. John said the green room was meant to match the color of Eucalyptus leaves. The earthy green color of the House was later contrasted by the vibrant red of the Senate. The Senate red resembled the color of the Eucalyptus tree when it is in full bloom. Both the Australian House and Senate are very similar to their English counterparts, however the designer of Canberra used the unique Eucalyptus colors to add an Australian flair to the building. Also in the tour of Parliament we saw many different works of art and one of the four remaining copies of the Magna Carta.
We then left the Parliament House and headed for the Australian Museum. On our way to the Museum John drove us through Embassy Drive. This is where the Embassies and High Commissions for other countries are located. It was intriguing to see the different architectural designs for each country. The majority of us were amazed at how much larger the U.S. embassy was compared to the others.
After that we finally made it to our last stop at the Australian Museum. Most of us were exhausted by this point, but we kept going and were marveled with the history of the aboriginals, and their artifacts. After a long day of learning and site-seeing we were ready to head back.
I would like to thank John, our tour guide, for providing us with great enthusiasm and information. John was very knowledgeable, but we enjoyed his light-hearted sense of humor as well. For instance, he told us this joke… “What is the difference between unlawful and illegal? Unlawful means against the law and illegal is a sick bird”. This was only one of the many jokes he told along with some funny Australian lingo like, chunder and bloke. John also put us Americans in our place when he kept telling us that we were not pronouncing Australia correctly.
After the tour, most everyone at this point went back to their rooms to start preparing for the long train ride ahead. We enjoyed our last free dinner AIS provided to us, even though I ran right into the revolving door when trying to enter the dining hall. Overall, I think all of us learned a lot of valuable things today and over our whole stay in Canberra.

Thanks again to Lisa, Linda, Regina, and Shanna for providing us with a well-planned and enjoyable week. We cannot wait to see what Melbourne has in store for us, but time sure is flying by! We will keep you posted on our travels, but Kerby JOOOONES will be back on Monday to blog about our first day in Melbourne!

No Worries,

Walkway leading to the tomb of the unknown soldier

House of Representatives


Money stairs at the Australian Mint

Australian Museum

John, our tour guide, and myself

At least two people learned something today ;)

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