Canberra Travel Guide

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Canberra's 'Floriade' Flower Fest Welcomes Spring With Giant Fire Organ

September 24, 2009 at 5:08 PM | by | ()

Australia's tiny capital city of Canberra is somewhere tourists often stop by to simply visit Parliament House or the national War Memorial, but in the Down Under spring (which would be now), it actually comes alive with something better than stuff from the history and geography curriculum: it's time for Floriade.

This month-long festival is now in full bloom and runs right through until October 11. From its origins as a rather stuffy garden show, Floriade has turned into a hip reason to head to Canberra and even has the Floriade NightFest up and running—it's this week until Sunday, and has outdoor films, a Glow Bar, live music and most impressively, the "Pyrophone Juggernaut"—the largest hand operated multi-octave fire organ in the world, which basically spews fire while making noise.

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Australia Gets a Gander at Washington's Pens

May 8, 2009 at 12:32 PM | by | ()

Aussie tourism peeps are twitching with excitement in Australia's capital Canberra, because tomorrow sees the opening of a promising new museum in the majestic Old Parliament House building.

The Museum of Australian Democracy will have its ribbon cut by former Prime Minister Bob Hawke, also widely celebrated as the only Aussie politician ever to hold a world record for beer drinking. Although this new museum will be packed with nifty multimedia stuff and marks the completion of an impressive makeover for the old parliament building, it seems as though everyone is most excited about George Washington's pens.

Apparently, a writing set once used by General Washington is on loan to the museum, and this trip down under marks its first outside of the United States. If you can see past the pens, you'll also find out the workings of Australian democracy and get to take part in some (fake) decision making. The way we see it, democracy is working pretty well for Australia if beer drinking record-holders can become Prime Minister.

Related Stories:
· Museum of Australian Democracy [Official Site]
· Democracy Museum Breathes New Life Into Old House [The Australian]
· Canberra Travel Guide [Jaunted]

[Photo: TiagoPereira]

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Speed From Canberra To Sydney (Some Day)

February 13, 2009 at 9:21 AM | by | ()

Australian planners have been worrying about Sydney and its need for another airport at some stage in the next decade or two. Some think they can give up worrying now because there's quite a tidy solution: building a high speed rail link from Canberra and its existing airport.

Although it seems crazy at the moment to imagine flying to Sydney via Canberra, the thought is that a fast train could make the trip in just 50 minutes, turning little capital Canberra into an outlying suburb of Sydney. There's talk of extending such a rail link down to Melbourne too.

The only tiny problem is the expected cost of up to A$59 billion (almost $40b), but at least it would be cheaper than alternative plans that involve building entirely new airports. All this could revolutionize the way we travel around south-east Oz, but don't hold your breath, because this exciting newness could be ten or twenty years away.

Related Stories:
· Sydney to Canberra in 50 Minutes [The Age]
· Australia Travel Guide [Jaunted]

[Photo: Tilly Dog]

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Southern Hemisphere Winter Travel: Canberra Fireside Festival

August 6, 2008 at 9:30 AM | by | ()

Aussie capital city Canberra isn't really known as a hot tourist spot, but when it's winter Down Under anyhow, then turning up for the annual Fireside Festival definitely sounds like an attractive proposition.

Fireside has events to suit all kinds of tastes: There are orchestras playing, campfires with hot chocolate, degustation menus, sheep musters and a candlelit cinema. Events run all the way through to August 24 when fireside jazz and a slow food festival round out the month.

If you're going to visit Canberra--a place often passed over for the more exciting coastal cities--enjoying it by a fireside is probably the best way to do it. BYO logs to keep it extra warm.

Related Stories:
· Fireside Festival [Official Site]
· Winter Thrills Canberra's Fireside Festival []
· Canberra Travel coverage [Jaunted]

[Photo: scui3asteveo]

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In The Money in Canberra

April 26, 2007 at 9:50 AM | by | ()

There's no better way for a money-loving capitalist to spend a holiday in Australia's capital, Canberra, than by making a visit to the Royal Australian Mint, where most of Australia's coins are made. The Mint's exhibition galleries are currently undergoing major renovations to make for a better visitor's experience.

Sadly for us, increased security probably makes it impossible for us to carry out a few souvenir coins in our boots, but we can still check out exhibits explaining both the production and design of Australia's currency. All kinds of cute stuff gets on the back of Aussie coins, from kangaroos and a platypus to even the royal wedding of Charles and Diana. Plus you can find out that Australia nearly didn't have dollars: other names considered for their currency were royals, australs, or, after the sheep, merinos! Entrance to the Mint costs zero merinos, but you can spend plenty at the gift shop.

[Photo: xlynx]

Related Stories:
· Australian For Museum [Jaunted]
· Canberra Mint Worker Filled Boots [Jaunted]

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Tulip Summit Brings Pansies Together

September 5, 2006 at 7:49 AM | by | ()

If you're a fan of pretty flowers you must get ready for Floriade in Canberra, Australia. The 2006 version runs 16 September to 15 October--that's the middle of spring Down Under, remember--and last year they managed to get almost 1.5 million flowers and bulbs blooming at the same time. This year the theme is Carnivale: The World on Show and floral exhibitors from 16 countries will rubbing their green thumbs together to impress festival-goers.

But the bit that really impresses us is that in conjunction with this year's Floriade, the World Tulip Summit will be held in the southern hemisphere for the first time. We know that there are experts for everything, and why not be a tulip expert: You probably get to spend a fair bit of time in the Netherlands (and there's other good stuff there), and the rest of the year you can hop around the world on jaunts to various tulip summits. What's more, you're constantly surrounded by pretty things. Some days we really think we've missed our calling.

[Image via faerietail/Flickr]

Related stories:
Holiday Ideas: Canberra in Bloom [The Australian]

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Australian for Museum

August 22, 2006 at 9:15 AM | by | ()

With the important sounding name of National Museum of Australia, you'd think this 6,600 square meters of exhibition and display space in the capital city Canberra had been around for decades. In fact it's relatively new, opening in 2001 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of Australian federation. And because it's new, we find it pretty impressive. It's housed in quirky colorful buildings, sometimes without any apparent structure or meaning, but somehow it works (and doesn't fall apart).

Featuring collections exploring both the settlement of Australia since 1788 and the much longer history of Aboriginal life, you'll find the skin of a now-extinct Tasmanian tiger (not to be confused with the much less elegant Tasmanian devil) and the heart of super-fast Australian racehorse, Phar Lap. You can even see the dress of baby Azaria Chamberlain, the child allegedly taken by a dingo whose story inspired Meryl Streep's whine of "a dingo took my baby" in A Cry in the Dark. Right now, curators are preparing 2007's special exhibition on the Miss Australia quest, which used to find Australia's most glamorous woman until it was deemed politically incorrect in 2000. Don't worry though, they just renamed it and carried on with a politically correct version.

Related stories:
The Devil in Disguise [Jaunted]