It all seemed sort of counter-intuitive. I mean, how were we having such a good time in a place renowned for being irreparably dull with few redeeming features?
The penny dropped, really, when it was pointed out by Robyn Archer - Creative Director for the Centenary of Canberra - that your average garden-variety reference to Canberra from our media is a negative one.
Canberra's done this...it's cut funding to that...Canberra hasn't stopped the boats...it's broken another election promise...Canberra has dudded us again...bloody Canberra!
That had never occurred to me before.
Destinations wrestle relentlessly for the attention of prospective holiday makers, and have an insatiable appetite for PR. But not Canberra's kind. This is not good PR. This doesn't make you think "Hey Honey, forget (insert your favourite place here) how about we go to Canberra next holidays?"
It's a tough handle to shake.
But that's not Canberra. As we discovered, the real Canberra is a fascinating place. Home to real Canberrans (yes, they do exist) who enjoy the fruits of fresh local fare and fine dining, an active outdoor lifestyle 90 minutes from both the snowfields and the coast, and a cultural scene probably unmatched anywhere in the country.
|The Roll of Honour: Australian War Memorial, Canberra.|
|Australian War Memorial, Canberra.|
|With Gurrumul: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra.|
|Getting up-close and personal with James Angus's Geo Face Distributor outside the National Portrait Gallery entrance.|
|Interpretive workshops for kids at the National Portrait Gallery|
|Morning tea in the courtyard of Old Parliament House|
|In the Senate - Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House|
|In the House of Reps at the Museum of Australian Democracy, Old Parliament House|
|Q&A with Philippe Rizzo - Australian gymnast and Australian Institute of Sport scholarship holder.|
|Shooting hoops with the future stars of Australian basketball - Australian Institute of Sport|
|Getting papped on the steps of Old Parliament House|
|The Burley-Griffin's masterplan for the design of Canberra|
I'm starting to think Walter might have nailed it.
Canberra is where it is because of a spat between Melbourne and Sydney. And for many, I think that's the problem...it's a bit neither here nor there. Sure, it's in the middle of nowhere but, for mine, that's part of the magic. Approaching by air or road it just kind of slowly appears, nestled comfortably in the landscape, Lake Burley Griffin sparkling, a striking geometry revealing itself with each crossing of the dramatic avenues and axes that more than hint at the significance of this place.
Our long weekend there was a cracker. We did and saw lots but I reckon we could have done with another day or two to see some of the rest of it.
We're going to have to go back.
> The Human Brochure