If you ask Americans what the capital of Australia is, their answer will almost always be: Sydney. These people, are wrong. I was one of those people before arriving to Australia. The capital of Australia is actually Canberra. It is pronounced “Can-Bruh” and I highly recommend learning how to say it correctly otherwise you will receive funny looks and be laughed at. I would know!
Canberra is in the Australia Capital Territory. It is roughly a five hour drive from Newcastle. My housemate Claire is from Canberra and she was planning on going home for spring break and offered to take me with her. I eagerly jumped at the change to see the capital of Australia as well as meet her parents. There is just something more welcoming and comfortable about staying with a local family than traveling in hostels. It definitely affected the way I viewed the city. Instead of comparing Canberra to the much larger Sydney, or the opulent Washington D.C., I just took it for the small political town that it was an enjoyed its charm.
Hitting the Road!
Claire and I set off in the early afternoon and stopped by Macca’s for dinner. Usually, I would never set foot in a McDonald’s, but I wanted to try something that isn’t offered in the U.S.. I ordered the southwest chicken burger and thought: “Perfect! It will remind me of home!” Their interpretation of southwest is just putting tortilla chips inside. I wish I could say I was disappointed, but it actually tasted better than anything I had ever eaten at McDonald’s as a kid. Maybe everyone was right. Australian Macca’s is better!
After our pit stop and several more hours of driving we finally made it to Claire’s parent’s house just outside the ACT. This is the sunset from the drive. I don’t believe any where will ever have sunsets that measure up to the ones in New Mexico.
New Parliament House!
Just several days before I arrived in Canberra the Prime Minister of two years Tony Abbott lost his position to Malcolm Turnbull. The entire experience was bizarre for me because never in U.S. history has a president been impeached. So for a Prime Minister to lose his position without a nationwide vote was confusing. The Prime Mister is not directly elected by Australian citizens. He is the head of the major party that citizens vote for. The two major ones are Liberal Party and Labor Party. The party in control at the moment is the Liberal Party. A majority of Australian citizens hated Abbott and nationwide delight and mocking happened when he was replaced. In New Parliament House this was in one of the displays. I found the inconvenience apology hilarious. New Parliament House is not at all the same as the White House. It is not where the Prime Minister lives, it is for political work only. Inside there are separate wings for the Senate and House of Representatives. There are also displays throughout the building like a copy of the Magna Carta, Aboriginal art, gifts from foreign nations, and a Prime Minister portrait gallery. It is a great place to learn about how the Australian government works and gain more understanding of the successes and flaws of our own nation’s political system.
Whenever I mentioned I was going to eat in Canberra the first question I was asked was: “Are you going to go to Brodburger?!” This burger resturant is definitely worth all the hype! It is easily one of the best burgers I’ve had in my entire life! It’s also located in the same building as the Canberra Glassworks. Which is a glass making studio where you can watch artists as they make blown glass art!
This cafe is known all over Australia for their milkshakes. They are called “Freakshakes” and they are perfect for people who love to brag about what they eat on Instagram! This milkshake was supposed to be the highlight of my Canberra trip. Sadly, this was one of the worst milkshakes I have ever had. The pie on top was delicious, the whipped cream was so rich, but the actual liquid inside the cup? It tasted like milk that had caramel sauce dumped inside. The sauce was not even stirred, it just all settled to the bottom. Claire said hers tasted like chocolate milk. It was a nice thing to try, but I probably wouldn’t eat one again. I much prefer a milkshake form my local Three Monkeys Cafe in Newcastle!
My first Lamington!
The best part about staying with Claire’s family is eating local Australian dishes! This is a Lamington and it is essentially sponge cake with chocolate sauce on top and covered in shredded coconut. It is a well known desert that originated in Australia. I think it is a famous Australian dessert for a reason! I can eat this kind of cake all day!
There are so many things to see in Canberra. From the war memorials to the museums and monuments. However, I went during the annual spring festival called Floriade. Thousands of flowers are planted and bloom making gorgeous designs in several flower beds. This year the theme was “Reflection” and each flower bed was designed to commemorate Australia and New Zealand Army Corps solders who fought in WWI. Each flowerbed was equally as beautiful as the last. I spent hours walking around the flower beds. I could not get over how many flowers there were in one place and I could not resist sticking my face in them and inhaling deeply. My body took revenge on me for doing that when I woke up with hay fever the next day. I’ll leave you to enjoy the flowers!