March 6, 2005

We started out early, today. Having been exhausted and asleep by 9:30 last night, we were all up by 7:00 this morning. I had an opportunity to go for a run on Glebe Point road. I saw some lovely old houses and beautiful flora such as a Plumeria tree. I haven't seen one of those since Hawaii. We decided that we wanted to get right on the road toward Canberra ("Can-bra"). It was a great drive once we got out of the city. Navigating the streets of the Sydney area proved to be tricky. I have to learn to read maps that I'm just not used to and streets don't seem to make sense. Andy and I are both learning to drive opposite of what we're used to. On the way to Canberra, we stopped at a little town called Berrima, just to explore. It was very quaint with early to mid-19th century buildings. We had "morning tea" at the White Horse Inn, which was a very old house. The food was great: pork and sage sausage and toast with homemade plum jam.

Canberra, the nation's capital, is a really neat city. It was designed by a contemporary of Frank Lloyd Wright, named Walter Burley Griffin. He laid the city out in a triangle with the surrounding natural features of the land as axes. The Parliament Building is at the apex of the triangle with the other two containing the defense and commerce sections of the city. We visited the National Capital Exhibition, a museum dedicated to the design of Canberra. Afterward, we found the commerce district where there was a great mall. We found some lunch and enjoyed the shops there.

We also saw the Parliament Building, which is also very unique in its design. We learned that tomorrow at 2:00, the Senate and House will be having question time which, like the British Parliament, is when the opposition party questions the majority party on tough issues. Andy loves watching those on TV so we will probably stay tomorrow to see it. It will mean getting into Melbourne very late or stopping somewhere along the way, but we think it will be worth it. In the building we went to the roof and looked out over the city and up at the unique flagpole, which has four legs supporting it, forming a pyramid type shape on top. We also saw the two main chambers for the House and Senate, as well as the great hall where they have dinners and big parties.

After the Parliament Building we got to our motel, the Canberra Carotel Motel, about 10 kilometers north of the city center. This is a nice, quiet motel with camping and cottages. I bought some cute children's books for friends and took some time to read them. After a rest, we took the advice of our host at the motel and found some fast food in a suburb called Dickson a few kilometers up the road. Even the McDonald's has an Aussie flare to it. I got a McOz burger, complete with sliced beet. We then enjoyed walking around a Woolworths store. Here, they are actual grocery stores as opposed to the five and dimes we're used to in the States. It is so interesting to walk around a grocery store and compare the differences in the food and items. The most interesting section is the candy section. Some are the same as we have in the States but many are either similar with a few variations or completely different and strange. For instance, there is what they call a "Milk Bar" which I believe is white chocolate but they claim it's mostly milk. Then, there's the Cadbury selections. Aussies must love Cadbury because there are about a couple of dozen varieties of Cadbury candy bars. Each of us chose what looked to be the best candy bars for us and then enjoyed the rest of the store. I was interested in the meat section. They sold stuff I've never seen in grocery stores before, including tripe, cow heart, whole shrimp with the eyes still intact and other items that would give most of us Americans the willies, including Vegemite. I have yet to try this but I am sure I will.

After Woolworths, we decided to go see the Telstra Tower; a telecommunications tower that has been turned into a tourist attraction. The view was spectacular and they even had a miniature of the tower, which became my first miniature of the trip. After the tower it was time to turn in. We need to be ready for another big day tomorrow. We should be seeing a couple more museums and, of course, question time.