Thursday, June 1, 2017


Hi everyone! Today we started the day with a 7:30 breakfast and then got on the road for a big day of touring all over Canberra. Our bus driver John, who is quite the character, picked us up and drove to our first stop: Mount Ainsisle. We were lucky that John happened to be a history buff so he acted as our tour guide for most of the day. As we drove to the top of the mountain, John gave us a brief history of Canberra. He explained that today was Anzac Day (Australian New Zealand army core), which honors all the Australian soldiers that gave their lives fighting in different wars most notably in    the Boer war in South Africa, Vietnam, and Korean wars and World Wars 1 &2.. As we drove through the ANZAC section of Canberra we could see different memorials and statues honoring the fallen solideirs of these different wars. Canberra was founded in 1913 but due to the first Workd War was really made the capital city in 1927. When we got to the top of Mount Ainsisle we had a beautiful view overlooking the whole city. Walter Griffin and Marion Mahoney were the two people that contributed to the design of the city and the lookout point on which we got to view the whole city was respectively named after them.  If you can see in the picture below Mount Ainsisle is entirely covered by eucalyptus trees. Also the mountains, that you can faintly see in the background are known as the snowy mountains. One might not expect this when thinking of Australia but, the snowy mountains accuamate more snow than even the Swiss mountains in s cold Canberraa winter season. The ski season there is set to open around sometime next week! The beautiful lake you can see in the picture is actually a pretty recent development with the dam only being built in 1962. Canberra is broken down into what is known as 5 satellite cities and from this view we can see almost all of the different cities. The hostel we stay at is in the city known as the city center. In the picture below, the white building towards the bottom of the mountain is known as the High Court which would be like our Supreme Court back in the US. Though we wouldn't think so today, in the summer Canberra can get quite hot reaching temperatures of 110 degrees Fahrenheit! Because of this and the flammable properties of the eucalyptus trees Canberra can be prone to a number of forest fires, or bush fires as their known in Australia. Most notably in 2003 there was such a severe fire that it almost completely wiped out the whole city of Canberra if it wasn't for a sea breeze that day that slightly changed the course of the fires. Luckily, after 1 month the eucalyptus trees can begin to regenerate after only 1 month. That is why today the remains of that fire are hardly noticeable.

Our next stop was the Australian national museum. As you approach the museum you struck by the building's unique architecture. John explains that this design is a tribute to the boating design that was used in sailing race that Australian had won in the Americas Cup. In the museum, were primarily on our own and split into groups of 3 or 4. Some of the highlights of the museum include seeing the the Paddle Steamer Enterprise, which is one of the world's oldest paddle steamers. After careful restoration it is the largest working exhibit at the museum. Another highlight of the museum is the Circa exhibit. Here, in a rotating theatre objects from the museums collection, along with images sound and music tell the story of Australia's history from the continents deep time to the present. One favorite exhibit of students, was the Eternity gallery, which brought to life the personal stories of over 50 both extraordinary and everyday Australians. My personal favorite, was the Old New Land gallery which examines Australia's diverse and unique species and environments by exploring how people have adapted to the land over time. Some other favorites were the Landmarks gallery and the The First Australians gallery. The Landmarks gallery explores Australian history since the time of European settlement through stories of different Australian places from across the continent. The First Australians gallery extends over 2 levels and traces the experiences of Aborginal and Torres Straight Islander people which highlights their spirituality, diversity, unique identity, and survival.

After such a busy morning, we then stopped at the Canberra food court for lunch. After fueling up on everything from salads, Chinese food, and gelato, we headed back to the bus for the next stop on our tour- The Parliment house.

The Australian Parliment is equivocal to the US senate. As we walk in John is quick to point out all the symbolism that surrounds both the inside and outside of the building. The outside of the building displays the Australian crest which has both an emu and kangaroo on its emblem. Though they are both native animals of Australia the true symbolism behind this is that because both these animal can only move forward it is symbolic of the Australians people belief that they cannot move back but can only move and progress forward. As you walk towards the entrance you can notice the curved architecture of the building which is supposed to represent the Australian people coming together. When you walk inside, there are big marble pillars located throughout which represent the trees seen around Australia. Also, the Parlimount house is specifically located so that if the doors to the senate house are opened the Prime Minister is directly looking at the Australian war memorial. This serves as remainder to the Prime Minsirer of those who gave their lives fighting for their country. After touring around the building we were fortunate to sit in on a actual senate meeting and could hear the current issues that the Prime minister spoke about. Of course we also got to hear all the arguing that took place! Lastly we went to the rooftop of the building enjoying another scenic view on this beautiful sunny day. We noticed there being special grass in onc section and John explained that when the house was first built on the hill it was not allowed for any government building to look down upon the people. So, to avoid this the house was built into the hill and the grass was then brought back to symbolize that the Australian people are above the government. John also pointed out and American memorial that can be seen off in the distance. This is especially important because of its impressive structure and also its location in a very prestigious area in Canberra. This shows the gratitude the Australians have to the US for their aid during  WWII and represents the strong relationship and allies that Australia and the United States are.

After our tour we were in for a treat because our trusted tour guide John knew we all wanted to see wild kangaroos(different than just seeing them in an animal sanctuary) and promised us he would find some for us and he did not dissappoint! We pulled up to a nearby park and saw a huge mob(pack) of kangaroos. There must have been at least over 50 kangaroos all scattered around this park. Though kangaroos are mostly scared and timid of humans usually running away if we may get too close  they also can be very dangerous if they feel threatened or to to protect their territory. As we  slowly got off the bus the alpha kangaroos, known as the big buck, got up and moved a few steps towards to show he was ready to defend his territory. Luckily, we all knew to keep a safe distance and didn't run into and problems with the mob! We were able get close enough for some great pictures though! We then drove to the Australian war memorial, passing all the different embassies on the way.

Our last stop of the day was the Australian war memorial. We began the tour by passing through the memorials of different wars that Australians had fought in: WWI, WWII, The Boer War, Korean War and a general memorial  for the Australian army. Though it had many memorial sites, it is also primarily a museum that displays different historical artifacts and provides relevant historical information. After looking around we all gathered to watch these great interactive videos that War memorial was showing. The 3 videos we watched were on the Lacsaster bombings during WWI, the military advancement of aerial attwck during WWI and lastly a video about the syndey harbour attacks, which were when 3 midget Japanese submarines came into the Sydney harbour and almost destroy Sydney harbour along with the the syndey bridge. Luckily, they were all able to destroyed with 2 being destroyed by American and Australian submarines and the other destroying itself and only 1 Australian submarine got destroyed in the process. Amazingly, today was actually the 75th aniversay of the attacks as they occurred on May 31, 1942. We ended the day here at the tomb of the unknown soldier where every day a wreath is placed to honor a soldier who died in battle. Because today was the 75th anniversary of the syndey harbour attaxks one of the Australians that was died in the destruction of the submarine was honored today. Also, dignitaries from Japan were also there to honor both Australians who have died but also there own countrymen who died fighting for their country.

Of course after such an eventful day, we were all ready to eat! We went to Outback Jacks ( a more authentic Australian Oitbaxk restaurant) . We all got big plates of ribs, steaks, and even crocodile! Today was also the first night of the  Game of Orgin Match. This is basically like the super bowl of rugby league between New South Wales and Queensland where the best players that were born the respective states face off against each other in 3 games and tonight was the first night! Even though NSW had lost the last few years this year they went into the match as the favorites and were able to come away with a win tonight with a score of 28-6. Go Blues!

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