Tell the truth! How many of you thought the capital city of Australia was Sydney?? It is a common answer – just like thinking the capital of Turkey is Istanbul….but, nope, for a second time. Canberra is the capital (and for Turkey – Ankara), and in many ways it is similar to Washington: lots of tree-lined avenues with large, imposing buildings; a slower pace of life than the country’s largest cities (Sydney and Melbourne); and government workers walking around in professional dress, with access badges attached to their shirts.
It is a pleasant city, largely due to the trees and the artificially-created lakes. The “new” Parliament House replaced the former one in 1988. The “old” building was intended for 200 workers. In the 1980s, it was crammed with 2,000 employees, so clearly, it was time for a new building. The Parliament House is full of symbolism, from the colors used to the materials utilized in its construction. Our tour was advertised as 25 minutes in length, and it was; but we had asked a lot of questions, and afterwards our wonderful tour guide, Hamish, bumped into us, started talking with us, said he had some time to kill, and took us on an extended private tour, pointing out things not included in the public tour….including introductions to two of their resident fossils, Shawn and Russell (see the photos below). He was very knowledgeable and delightful, and we found that his other passion was the same as ours – travel.
Also, we need to acknowledge another wonderful man in Australia who has truly touched us, in both Sydney and Canberra…dear Fred! We meet people from other countries and visit them when we get on their home turf, and they are always amazing and gracious. We met Fred when he sat next to us at the Sydney Town Hall Christmas Concert on December 19. We had to stop talking when the music started, but afterwards he invited us out for coffee to continue our discussion, which was so fun. Then, he invited us out for a full day exploring Palm Beach and the Barrenjoey Lighthouse. He drove us around all day, and we spent the day walking, talking, and eating! We then met him for dinner last week, talked up a storm, and he asked us to his home for dessert. Finally, in Canberra, where he had lived for several years, he met up with us, as he was in town on business. “Let’s have coffee” turned into a six-hour tour of the city, the foreign embassies, a few lookouts, drinks, coffees, and dinner at a Japanese restaurant!! Fred is a professional geologist, and at every stop we heard something of the area’s geology. He is fascinating, charming, generous, always enthusiastic, and just a great Aussie! Thanks, Fred! You really made our time with you memorable.
We spent some time watching a Boston Dynamics robot walk around the sidewalk near the National Library. People were all taking photos and videos, as it looked sort of creepy, slithering along like a cockroach. We purposely stood in front of it, watching to see what it would do. Its “head” is a constantly swiveling camera, so of course it stops when confronting any obstacle. Its legs keep “marching” as he decides whether to go to the left or right, or turn around completely. Everyone was fascinated. We suppose most people have seen the online demonstration videos of robots dancing and performing tasks with other robots. Anyway – a delightful 15 minutes of sharing a little awe with others over something that won’t draw any attention at all in another 10 years or so. (Remember your smile, and delight, when you first played with a Smart Phone? Or when you heard that you could now take a – PHOTO – with a phone?? Like that!)
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